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Nigeria leaders indicted on corruption charges

[JURIST] A Nigerian senate committee indicted President Olusegun Obasanjo [official profile] and Vice President Atiku Abubakar [official profile; JURIST news archive] Wednesday on corruption charges for diverting public money to private interests. In February, a senate panel indicted Abubakar on corruption charges [JURIST report] for the alleged diversion of $145 million dollars of public money belonging to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) to his private businesses, as well as allegations of receiving more than $4.6 million dollars in bribes. The committee also reported that Abubakar had transferred $20 million out of the PTDF account without the president's approval but that Obasanjo had given "illegal" approval of government projects worth more than $27 million. This is the first time that the senate committee has accused Obasanjo of corruption. Senate committee members resigned after being pressured to block the release of the report and its publication before the general elections in April.

Abubakar is currently embroiled in a high-profile feud with Obasanjo. Last year, Obasanjo tried to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third presidential term [JURIST report]. Abubakar opposed the move, indicating that he would be running for president himself. In October 2006, Abubakar was charged with corruption [JURIST report], a charge Abubakar says was retaliatory. Last week, Abubakar filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the Nigerian electoral commission [official website] after it issued a ruling prohibiting him from running in the upcoming presidential elections. The commission cited the Nigerian constitution [text], which bars candidates indicted for crimes before a court or executive panel from running for president, for its decision. BBC News has more.

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