Is Nigerian leader’s pal ‘fantastically corrupt’? Friend of African president accused of stealing £500million
* Muhammadu Buhari seen by some as leading the battle against corruption
*But worrying allegations swirl around one of Nigerian leader’s close allies
*Rotimi Amaechi accused of misappropriating £338m commission probing sale of state assets
*Also accused of diverting £140m of state funds into Buhari’s presidential campaign
When David Cameron was caught on camera last week before an anti-corruption summit describing Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’, the African state’s president rallied to the Prime Minister’s defence by agreeing with him.
But although Muhammadu Buhari is seen by some as leading the battle against corruption, worrying allegations swirl around one of his close allies.
Rotimi Amaechi, who travelled with the president to the summit, is Nigeria’s transport minister and is said to have bankrolled Buhari’s presidential campaign.
In the Nigerian press he has been dubbed ‘ATM’ – the American term for cash machine – because of his ability to produce vast sums of money at short notice.
He remains in his post despite being accused of misappropriating £338million by a commission investigating the sale of state assets.
Some of that money is likely to have come from UK taxpayers, who gave the country £1billion in aid over five years to 2014, including £248million in 2014 alone.
Separately, Amaechi is accused of diverting £140million of state funds into Buhari’s presidential campaign, with reports he paid for media, consultants and private jets.
The allegations come as the president stands accused of enjoying a lavish lifestyle while many millions suffer in poverty.
A leaked draft budget for 2016 showed the Nigerian government earmarked £16million for the refurbishment and maintenance of the president’s official residence, Aso Rock Guest House, in the capital Abuja.
There was also a request for £13million for building a VIP wing at a hospital used by families of the president and his ministerial team.
Mr Amaechi has denied the allegations against him.