Written by Taiwo Adisa:
TOP officials of Western powers, including the United States of America (USA), United Kingdom, (UK), Canada and the European Union (EU), have given clear indications to the Nigerian government that they are placing visa restrictions on aides of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who are believed to be orchestrating political confusion that could endanger Nigeria’s democracy.
In separate representations to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan in the last one week, sources confirmed that the Western authorities have also compiled names of such “trouble makers” in the country and forwarded same to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering body, for the investigation of their alleged stupendous wealth.
Sources close to the administration confirmed to the Nigerian Tribune that while some of the Western governments made representation to the Nigerian authorities through their ambassadors in Nigeria, others actually sent special envoys.
It was gathered that a special envoy of the UK government actually met with the acting president behind closed doors on Saturday.
A source said that the delegation also included the UK Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr Bob Dewar, who led the team with a special message to the acting president.
Though the meeting was held behind closed doors, a source close to the government said that the discussions centred on how to stabilise the Nigerian democracy.
It was gathered that the UK government had, on its own, identified those described as ‘trouble makers’ in Nigeria, who are regarded as orchestrating political confusion in the country.
The acting president was told that, henceforth, such persons would be placed under scrutiny in the UK and that their names were being forwarded to the FATF.
It was gathered that while some of those involved have only earned salaries all their life, their offshore accounts are fatter than those of well known businessmen.
Sources said that there was the suspicion in the Western countries that some of those who have earned illicit funds could be willing tools and agents of terrorism.
It was also gathered that these Western governments were ready to seize assets of any of the targeted officials which could not be defended.
“There could be the likelihood of prosecutions at the end of the day but I guess they came early to inform the Nigerian authorities such that it will not be news to them when some Nigerians start facing serious times in the Western countries,” a source said.
It was learnt that the Western countries are seriously seeking the intervention of FATF to isolate the channels by which the said officials moved huge sums from Nigeria in recent years.
“They decided to inform Nigeria early enough because they would require the cooperation of the Nigerian authorities,” a source said.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister, Mr. Gordon Brown, has written to Dr. Jonathan, expressing the support of his administration for the Nigerian leader and listing areas the two countries need to urgently collaborate.
The letter, dated February 26, 2010 and signed by the Prime Minister, stated the support of the UK’s government to Jonathan’s commitment to the fight against corruption and finding a lasting solution to the problems of the Niger Delta.
Brown welcomed the inaugural speech by Jonathan on February 9, stating that the UK was ready to continue to partner Nigeria on the path of progress.
Some of the priority areas the UK hoped Jonathan would concentrate on and further collaborate with the West included the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Niger Delta, electoral reform, the fight against corruption and the fight against international terrorism.
The letter reads: “I am writing to congratulate you on taking up your new role as Acting President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“As you know, we firmly believe that principles of abiding by the constitution, together with democratic values, non-violence and the rule of law are fundamental to resolving political and constitutional issues. I commend the efforts made by the Executive Council of the Federation, the National Assembly and the Executive to promote a peaceful and democratic solution to the recent uncertainty.
“The UK has long been a committed friend and partner of Nigeria and have continued to give strong and constructive support during the recent difficult weeks. I welcomed the commitments you made in your address to the nation and would strongly support you on the need for electoral reform and democra-tisation, tackling corruption and bringing peace and stability to the Niger Delta.
“We face joint challenges internationally, including in the fight against global terrorism. We remain committed to help you tackle poverty and make real progress towards the MDGs. I hope we can work together on these and other issues.
“I also look forward to working with you closely on the UN Security Council. We hope that you will be able to support strong UN action in response to Iran’s failure to address international concerns over its nuclear programme and its breach of five UNSCRs.
“We remain committed to help you tackle poverty and make real progress towards the MDGs, in particular I hope we can work together to support the 1-Goal campaign and education for all in advance of the South African World Cup this year. I hope we can work together on these and other issues.
“We extend wishes for President Yar’Adua’s recovery and I look forward to meeting you in the not too distant future.
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