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The 53 Suitcases Were Owned By A Norther Ruler - Atiku (2017). Did He Lie?

 

The issue of 53 suitcases has characterized several presidential electioneering campaigns since 1999.
Most notable is the 2011 presidential campaign. In an interview published in the Vanguard, 21 March 2011 Candidate Buhari directed his interviewers to channel further questions on the 53 suitcases to Atiku Abubakar, the person in charge of customs at MMA when the incidence occurred.
Atiku in a riposte acquitted himself and blamed “rude and crude” soldiers from Buhari’s headquarters for the slip This doesn't tally with his current proclamation that Buhari has a history of bringing looted funds

Again on May 3, 2017, Atiku shed further light on the 53 suitcases in an interview with Thisday and reported by several media outlets
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said the importation of 53 suitcases when he was in charge of customs was done by a northern ruler

- He said the saga almost cost him his job

- The former vice president applauded the role played by the late Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo

Alahji Atiku Abubakar, former vice president, has revealed what truly happened in 1984 over the importation of 53 suitcases when he was in charge of customs.

This Day reports that Atiku made this revelation on Wednesday, May 3 during the inauguration of an education endowment fund in memory of the late former Managing Director of Daily Times, Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, at the Shehu Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja,

Atiku said the importation of the 53 suitcases was done by a first class northern ruler in 1984 which was during the military administration of Muhammadu Buhari and that the saga almost cost him his job as customs officer in charge of Murtala Muhammed Airport.

He said: “I was a young officer in 1984 in charge of Murtala Muhammed Airport while Ojo was a correspondent of The Guardian covering the airport. We got to know each other because apparently, there were some things we both believed in. Ojo was radical and I was radical, he believed in transparency and straight forwardness.

“Then this policy of change of the national currency came into effect by the military government. It was on a weekend when the issue of the 53 suit cases came up. I wasn’t at the airport because it was a weekend and I was the officer in charge of the place and so, there were beat officers conducting the affair

“The plane landed on the VIP section and the ADC to the Head of the federal military government came in with a military truck and personnel and drove straight to the aircraft and offloaded those suit cases and did not allow the Custom officers to do their work, and drove away.

“All the custom officers could do was to make an entry into what we called station dairy. If you are a policeman, custom or military man, you should know what a station diary means. It is a diary where we record all incidents as they happen.”

Atiku recalled the Ojo played saying “because he was such an investigative journalist, he got the report. He wasn’t there and normally, a station dairy is not a public document, but our own document. Somehow, Ojo, because of his inquisitiveness, came to know of that entry and from the extract of that entry, he told the world about the improper importation of 53 suit cases.

“I resumed duty on Monday and was confronted with national headlines about the 53 suit cases and without clearing from my headquarters, I just confirmed that there was such an importation and that investigation was being conducted.

“I was summoned to the headquarters and queried why should I confirm the report, and I said I did because it happened, and I met it in the station dairy. I was threatened with expulsion or dismissal from service and I said I was ready if that was an offence.

“The controversy raged on and the bureaucracy insisted that I should be fired and the then Minister of Finance who happened to be Dr. Soleye, said: ‘What is Atiku’s offence that you want him fired?’ As the minister, he over ruled the bureaucracy and I retained my job.”

He said the saga showed the kind of person Ojo was when it came to work.

“He was completely dedicated to investigating and writing the truth. No matter what you do or try to do, he will go ahead and write the truth.

“Since that moment, we struck a very close relationship. When I had the opportunity to work with him again, I did not hesitate to give him an appointment as one of my Special Advisers...

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