Muhammadu Buhari ‘no apologies Just return my money’
Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, was overheard telling Queen Elizabeth II that Afghanistan and Nigeria were “fantastically corrupt countries,” and “possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”
He made the comments at a Buckingham Palace party on Tuesday, in advance of a summit meeting in Britain on the topic of corruption, and they created considerable awkwardness.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said through a spokesman that he was “deeply shocked and embarrassed” by Mr. Cameron’s remarks , but he did not rebut them.
Asked if Nigeria was “fantastically corrupt,” Mr. Buhari responded: “Yes.”
Mr. Buhari, who has devoted himself to rooting out graft in Africa’s largest economy, added, “I am not going to demand any apology from anybody.”
He then turned the tables, in a sense, on the British, asking for their help in securing the “return of assets” that were taken out of Nigeria by corrupt officials and business people and are now held in British banks.
Mr. Buhari’s anticorruption campaign in Nigeria escalated last fall with the arrests of Diezani Alison-Madueke, a former oil minister, and Olajide Omokore, the chairman of a Nigerian oil company. A former defense minister, Bello Haliru Mohammed, was charged in January with corruption.
Plummeting oil prices have set off an economic crunch in Nigeria, one of the world’s top oil producers.
Mr. Cameron, tried to smooth over the gaffe on Wednesday. Without backtracking, he said Afghanistan and Nigeria had taken “remarkable steps forward” to counter corruption, and praised their leaders for “battling hard” to address the problem.
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