Ex-AG Niyaz targeted with street harassment after anti-PPM comments

Niyaz Ibrahim.

Former auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim was harassed on the street on Monday, after recent media interviews in which he claimed Maldives would fall back into dark days if the opposition PPM comes back to power.

Niyaz, who served as auditor general during former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration, was one of first people to blow the whistle on the MMPRC graft scandal. However, the PPM-run parliament amended the Auditor General’s Act and dismissed him.

He continued to speak out against alleged acts of corruption carried out by the PPM administration. He famously gave an interview to the Al Jazeera documentary Stealing Paradise, after which he lived in self-exile for the remainder of the PPM administration, due to threats against him and his family.

As PPM eyes a comeback with Dr. Mohamed Muizzu in the presidential election runoff on Saturday, Niyaz has been giving interviews to media, warning against electing another PPM administration. He said that putting PPM back in power would push Maldives back into a climate of fear and corruption.

He was targeted on the street on Monday.

A video posted on social media shows an individual following Niyaz with a phone camera as he drives his motorbike, parks it, and entered the BML Islamic complex in Male’, all the while hurling accusations against him.

The harasser accused him to receiving funds stolen from MMPRC, and criticizes him for speaking out against PPM.

Niyaz told Sun he plans on reporting the incident to the police.

He said that he was the right to freedom of speech, and does not deserve to be harassed for exercising that right.

“This shows how people from PPM are incapable of digesting political views that are different from their own. That was one of the key features of the PPM administration – lack of tolerance for personal freedom. If anyone should speak out against the crimes carried out during their administration, then they resort to slander,” he said.

Responding to accusations by the person that Niyaz’s family business was being run on corrupt funds, he said that he hasn’t invested “a single laari” in his family’s business, and has no involvement in it.

“The business was already up and running before my appointment,” he said.

“If I had received money from [former vice president Ahmed] Adeeb, investigative agencies would already be aware of that.”

The video of the incident sparked different opinions. Pro-government supporters saw this as an example of what is to come in a PPM administration.

However, the person who committed the act insists that he did not make any direct threats against Niyaz, and described allegations otherwise as a crime in itself.