In the 1970s, former military leader Yakubu Gowon stole half of the funds in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and stashed it away in the United Kingdom.
This is according to a UK member of parliament (MP) Tom Tugendhat.
The MP, who is the chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee representing Tonbridge and Malling, made the comment while UK lawmakers discussed about sanctioning Nigerian officials of Lekki shooting on Monday.
“It is a tragedy that we are all witnessing,” Tugendhat said.
“The pressure this time is not foreign colonialism, the pressure instead is corruption, violence and attempts to control.
“We need to call out corruption. We need to use powers we have in this country to stop those who are profiting.
“Some people would remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half of the central bank, or so it was said, and moved to London,” Tugendhat said.
Tugendhat said UK “banks, sadly, have been used” to proceeds of ill-gotten loot of Nigerian politicians, saying it was time to begin targeted sanctions.
“The UK is in an almost unique position to actually do something against those who have robbed Nigeria,” Tugendhat said.
UK parliamentarians debated a petition on Monday over the brutal crackdown of Nigerian Army on EndSARS protesters.
The lawmakers agreed that members of President Muhammadu Buhari and the military should be targeted for economic deprivation and also prevented from entering the UK.
The Buhari administration has insisted it committed no wrongdoing in its handling of the protesters, while the military said its response to the protests followed the constitution and extant rules of engagement.
Some Nigerians have taken to social media to defend Gowon.
Yakubu Gowon, 86, ruled as the head of state of Nigeria from 1966 to 1975. He ruled during the deadly Nigerian Civil War which resulted in the death of three million people, most which were civilians.
Gowon took power after the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup and was overthrown in the 1975 Nigerian coup d’état.