Demands intensified this week for the sack of Bashir Magashi as President Muhammadu Buhari’s defence minister, fuelled by a PREMIUM TIMES report that uncovered his sordid past as one of those who stole Nigeria’s wealth under dictator Sani Abacha.
The article, published exclusively on Wednesday, detailed how Mr Magashi, a retired major-general, stole a huge amount of public funds during Mr Abacha’s junta and banked it abroad, a method typical of both Mr Abacha and others who stole under him.
At least $550,000 of the stolen fund by Mr Magashi was later detected by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s investigation of the now infamous ‘Abacha Loot.’ About $3 billion of the Abacha Loot had been recovered out of at least $5 billion estimated by Transparency International.
Of the $550,000 (N200 million today) that was traced to Mr Magashi, he was immediately asked to return $400,000 and keep the rest to himself – an arrangement he accepted after pleading with the administration not to file fraud charges or take any action that would humiliate him before Nigerians.
The retired military chief headed several strategic departments throughout his career, including as commander of the elite Brigade of Guards and the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA).