The federal government has demanded an apology from the British government over the “unsubstantiated” claim by a member of its parliament that Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria’s former head of state, looted the public treasury.
Ferdinand Nwonye, spokesman of the ministry of foreign affairs, in a statement on Friday, said Nigeria has also demanded that the statement be retracted.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the UK parliament foreign affairs committee, had accused Gowon of looting half of Nigeria’s central bank when he left office.
Speaking at the parliament’s recent debate on the #EndSARS crisis, Tugendhat said: “Some people will remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half of the Central Bank, so it is said, and moved to London.”
However, the MP did not provide any evidence or source to support his claim.
Nwonye said the ministry, upon learning of the claim, “immediately sought an apology and retraction of the unsubstantiated allegation from the British Government”.
He said the federal government also consulted with Charlotte Pierre, head of Africa Department of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, who “expressed strong reservations on the comment of the Parliamentarian”.
The statement quoted Pierre as saying “the said comment of the MP does not reflect the views of Her Majesty’s Government and the British Government has no mechanism for controlling the actions and speeches of members of the Parliament.”
It added that she urged Nigeria to “discountenance the said comment of the MP, as Her Majesty’s Government has nothing to do with it”.
Gowon had “described the MP’s claim as “rubbish”.
He had told the BBC: “What the MP said was just mere ridicule and I don’t know as to where he cooked up such statement. I served Nigeria as much as I could and my achievements during those years are available to everyone.”