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Ex-president Goodluck takes refuge in Ivory Coast amid fears that the EFCC plans to arrest him

FORMER president Dr Goodluck Jonathan has taken up residence in Ivory Coast in what appears to be him moving into permanent exile following reports that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may arrest him if he returns to Nigeria.   Internationally praised for accepting the results of the last presidential election and standing down after losing to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, Dr Jonathan, has kept a low profile since leaving office. However, his government was wracked with corruption and investigations into what went on shows that large sums of public cash were diverted into private accounts by his officials.   Several of these former officials have implicated Dr Jonathan in the transfers, saying that he authorised them but so far the Buhari administration has been careful not to move against Dr Jonathan personally as it would attract widespread local and international condemnation. Dr Jonathan recently visited the UK as part of an international tour but last week, rather than return to Nigeria, he took up residence in neighbouring Ivory Coast.   Several sources close to the ex-president, also blamed the heightened attacks on oil and gas installations by Ijaw militants in the Niger Delta to what they claimed was the decision by President Buhari to renege on his promise that his predecessor had nothing to fear from him after he handed over the reins of power on May 29 last year. Immediately after his electoral victory in 2015 and at his presidential inauguration, President Buhari, in what was seen as a political gesture, had stated that he would not go after his successor, despite allegations that the former president had presided over widespread corruption during his five year tenure.   However, since Dr Jonathan’s departure, anti-corruption agencies led by the EFCC have swept in on several associates of the former president. They have been accused of money laundering, diversion of public funds and contract scams, mostly linked to the defence sector contracts and the purchase of arms used for the prosecution of the war against Boko Haram.   In recent weeks, the EFCC has in addition to arresting and prosecuting several public office holders who served in the Jonathan administration, arrested some of his closest allies, including his cousin, Aziobola Robert, in connection with a $40m pipeline surveillance contract and his former principal secretary and confidant Hassan Tukur. These arrests were said to have shaken the former president, given that they were the two persons closest to him during his presidency.   Apparently, Dr Jonathan was reliably warned by security sources of the plan to arrest him once he stepped into the country, hence his decision to seek exile in Ivory Coast. Almost two months ago Dr Jonathan visited the US, after which he travelled to London to be with his children for a few days, preparatory to his return to Nigeria.   However, while in the UK, he was warned by sympathetic officials in different arms of government of the decision to arrest him once he returned to Nigeria. On getting wind of the plan, Dr Jonathan, contacted a few West African leaders including the President Alassane Outtara of Ivory Coast, who offered him a safe haven until the coast is clear for him to return to Nigeria.

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