Adjusting in his seat, Atiku responded as follows: “Certainly, Nigeria has a corruption problem. There is no doubt about that. In my view, corruption is the use of your privileged position to either enrich yourself, your relatives or even your friends. In other words, abuse of office.”
Kadaria went further to probe Atiku’s time in office, beginning with his time as a Customs officer at the Apapa Ports and the setting up of a logistics company that did clearing and forwarding while he was a Customs officer. She also asked if Atiku would consider that an abuse of office.
Atiku said: “Well, it was an issue of share purchase. At that point, it was very very lawful for any public officer to purchase shares.
You must remember, I don’t know how old you were, there was indigenisation decree which was passed by the then military government which allowed public officers to legitimately acquire shares in the attempt to indigenise most of the companies that were operating at that time that were owned by expatriates.”
Responding to the question on the fact that the company was set up with another shareholder, an Italian, with the focus as clearing and logistics, Atiku responded: “It is not correct. The company was not registered as a clearing and forwarding agency at the time. It was a registered company to undertake logistics in oil and gas and that is what it still does, no more, no less.”
Continuing, she asked: “This company metamorphosed in 2006, and was given extended 25-year concession in some key ports in this country. But more than that, it was given monopoly for the oil and gas sector, at a time you were the Vice-President of Nigeria. Do you see that this could be a moral problem?”
Atiku answered: “Again, you’re very very incorrect. The issue of monopoly was not there. There were still companies that we met in the ports that were doing exactly what the company was doing. So, there is no question of monopoly. It is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. There was no monopoly at all. There was competition and there is still competition.”
The conversation continued:
Kadaria: This information is on your company’s website, by the way.
Atiku: You should have also crosschecked to see whether what the company is saying is correct or not.
Kadaria: Your company made a mistake on whether you have a monopoly?
Atiku: It is possible.