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Ex-auditor general hits back at reinstated lawmakers

Niyaz drew fire from the former ruling lawmakers in a Twitter spat last week.



Former auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim has hit back at corruption and bribery allegations levelled by former ruling party lawmakers who recently regained their seats. 

A Twitter spat started last week when Niyaz criticised plans to hand the dozen reinstated lawmakers coalition tickets without a primary. He also expressed interest in contesting for his native Thinadhoo constituency in the March 2019 parliamentary elections.

The former Progressive Party of Maldives lawmakers were complict in the outgoing administration’s “atrocities” before they defected to the opposition, Niyaz suggested.

He drew a storm of tweets from some of the MPs who accused him of corruption and “hiding” in self-imposed exile while others “carried out jihad against injustice.” Niyaz was planning to “parachute in with a suit on and bid for a job after spending three years away from the heat,” MP Mohamed Mustafa tweeted.

Speaking to the Maldives Independent, Niyaz denied allegations of buying a flat, taking loans from the finance ministry and using official trips for personal matters.

The allegations were made by MP Mustafa and an account called “Voice of 12 MPs.”

“These are completely false allegations. Even when I was Auditor General and up until now, I have never bought a flat or tried to buy a flat. It’s because I do not have that much financial capacity,” he said.

“I worked in the auditor general’s office since leaving school, so I know public finance regulations. I know that an individual can’t take a loan from the state. My colleagues in auditor general office and finance ministry know that I was one who most opposed taking money from the state.”

The lawmakers were “staging a concerted effort to attack me in a very personal way,” he added.

“I just expressed my opinion without attacking them personally. I believe they are scared of the truth. We all know their role in sending the nation down the drain,” he continued.

“They were elected to represent the people but they failed their duties from day one. That’s an undeniable fact. I am allowed to say that. They say, I am coming back now to try and get a position in the incoming government. I have not and will never ask or beg for a government position. I am not like these MPs. I will not abuse the situation for my personal gain. I am confident I can work the right way and earn halal money and support my family.”

– MMPRC scandal –

Niyaz also denied allegations made by MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed about a 2014 audit of the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation.

“Does the independent Auditor General Niyaz have to seek permission from the president before investigating corruption against a minister? Were you not hiding out in Sri Lanka when the 12 MPs did jihad against the tyranny of President Yameen,” the Dhidhdhoo MP tweeted.

“You suddenly return to Malé and greedily go after the Thinadhoo seat now that we’ve defeated Yameen. If you had the courage, why were you hiding?”

Niyaz said he met and alerted the president about the MMPRC corruption in mid-2014 “because it was mandated by the Audit Act. And not before investigating it, it was after the investigation and the report was made ready.”

Niyaz, who fled into exile in late 2016 after appearing in an Al Jazeera exposé, long maintained that he had personally raised concerns with the president over millions funnelled through the MMPRC to companies linked to then-tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

But Yameen accused him of harbouring “a personal grudge against Adeeb.”

He was contentiously sacked by the ruling party-controlled parliament a day after the MMPRC audit report was released in October 2014.

At the time, Niyaz challenged the “unconstitutional” dismissal at the High Court. He was removed four years before the end of his seven-year term through amendments brought to the audit law.

“I think MP Latheef does not know this, that’s what happens when uneducated people like Latheef is elected to parliament,” he told the Maldives Independent.

A second special audit of the MMPRC – commissioned by the president after vice president Adeeb was arrested on suspicion of orchestrating an assassination attempt in September 2015 – blamed the failure to take action after the 2014 audit for “paving the way” for the theft of US$79 million from state coffers.

The damning February 2016 report exposed the embezzlement of resort lease payments.

The dozen former ruling party lawmakers were meanwhile deemed to have lost their seats in July last year when they joined the opposition behind former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

There was a public backlash last week when Gayoom announced that all four coalition partners have agreed to support to their re-election.

The 12 MPs were barred entry to parliament until the Supreme Court ruled last month that its July 2017 anti-defection ruling was misapplied by the Elections Commission.

Some of the MPs say they deserve coalition tickets uncontested due to their “sacrifices” in coming out against the president and losing their seats.