An anti-corruption advocacy group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, has urged the United States of America to revoke the visa of a former governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje.
Goje, who is currently a senator, was charged with N5bn fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He had been standing trial since 2011 but the office of the Attorney General of the Federation took over the case from the EFCC this month, and subsequently withdrew the charges.
The withdrawal of the charges came days after Goje dropped his ambition to contest the office of the Senate President, against the decision of his party, the All Progressives Congress, which wanted Ahmed Lawan to be Senate President.
Goje met with President Muhammadu Buhari, who was believed to have persuaded him to drop his Senate President ambition.
HEDA had sued the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, alleging that the AGF office abused its power of nolle prosequi on the grounds that the charges against Goje were not withdrawn in the interest of the public.
In a statement on Sunday by its Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, HEDA said it had petitioned the US, calling for Goje’s visa to be revoked.
Suraju said the petition was sent to President Donald Trump, through the US Secretary of State, Mr Micheal Pompeo, and the US Embassy in Nigeria.
According to Suraju, HEDA urged Trump to order the withdrawal of Goje’s visa or to deny him visa if he does not have one yet “in accordance with the dream of the US founding fathers who vowed to prevent the US from being turned into a haven for people strongly suspected to have committed heinous financial crimes.”
He said, “Our demand is premised on corruption allegations of N25bn levelled against Goje and widely circulated by credible Nigerian media.
“Sequel to this, the EFCC carried out detailed and diligent investigations for about 10 years spending about N250m of taxpayers’ money and resulting in the matter being charged to court before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court, Jos, Plateau State.
“The allegations that led to the eventual arraignment of the senator before the Federal High Court, Jos was that while serving as governor of Gombe State, he was alleged to have converted N25bn of public fund to personal use.
“Many media reports indicate that the withdrawal of the case was linked to a political favour Goje had offered the Presidency in the run-off to the election of the Senate President which produced Ahmed Lawan.
“We write this request to demand that a man of this kind of political standing with dirty stains of corruption allegations should not be allowed to hold an American visa or if he already has one, it should be revoked.”
HEDA cited an October 22, 2018 report by The PUNCH Newspaper, stating that “Gombe (which Goje governed) is one of the states in the North-East of Nigeria with high epidemic rate of poverty.
“One of the other vices aside corruption that sat side by side with poverty in Gombe State is poor education as exemplified with over 600,000 out-of-school children, (a development) fuelled by corruption perpetrated by the former governor.”