Nigerians have condemned the appointment of Bashir Magashi as Minister of Defence despite his involvement in the stealing of $550, 000 public funds in 2006, according to a report by Premium Times.
Magashi, 74, a close friend of former military dictator, Sani Abacha, served as a military governor of Sokoto State from 1990–1992.
He was also appointed Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna in 1998.
Magashi’s improprieties was exposed in 1999 after then President, Olusegun Obasanjo, hired a Swiss lawyer, Enrico Monfrini, to track and repatriate funds stolen from Nigerian coffers.
Monfrini discovered Magashi had stashed away stolen funds at the Jessey, United Kingdom, branch of Bank PNP Paribus. The account had $550,000 (about N200m at N362 to a dollar).
On October 26, 2006, the National Security Adviser via memo NSA/A/225/I/C, updated Obasanjo on the cases of Magashi and four others.
The account (held for Magashi) has a total deposit of $550,000 and it remained intact until it was frozen in 2001.
The NSA confronted Magashi, who admitted wrongdoing, saying the money was a proceed of illegal crude oil allocation Abacha made to members of the Provisional Ruling Council under his government.
The officer was not a registered oil trader at the time and being a public servant, it was illegal for him to directly engage in private businesses.
Reacting to the development on Wednesday, some Nigerians on Twitter condemned the President Muhammadu Buhari administration for selecting Magashi as minister.
According to @Dann_10, “When those in public offices have alleged criminal records or hidden secrets home and abroad, expect the international community to view your country as one being led by unworthy people that can’t be trusted.
“The image of the country is dented not only by fraudsters, also by these fellas.”
Aminu Bello tweeting @AbBaminu32, said, “I’m beginning to lose confidence in this is govt.
“Why is it that any criminal is giving a portion to continue the deadliest act of looting?
“Eighty per cent of the present cabinet members are thieves. Some are quashed off their trials as they join the party. This is bad!”
@EkpedemeUkpong said, “I never expected anything different from this from a so called corruption fighting government.
“Yet, some people will continue support this government of thieves. We deserve what we got because we have refused to learn from our mistakes.”
Abba Umar Madaki tweeting @Abbamadaki said, “It’s not just one man, a handful of them stole from Nigeria and now they are in the corruption fighting cabinet of Buhari.”