On May 16th, 13 days to the end of his tenure, Obasanjo announced to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, the award of contracts worth N756 billion. That proposal sailed through the council like a greased pig in a slaughter house. As Frank Nweke, then Minister of Information, explained, N70 billion of this would be for the resuscitation of textile industries in Nigeria; N58.6 billion for the second Niger Bridge; its maintenance was to gulp N42 billion. The companies to execute the projects were not named.
Three days earlier, FEC, approved N16.53 billion port harbours reconstruction in Lagos; N20 billion, expansion of the Lagos airport; N4.8 billion, building of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, permanent accommodation; and N1.39 billion for the Ministry of Defense’s permanent residence for participants of War College Training Course in Abuja; N1.4 billion, conversion of steam and head for the power plants; N47.4 billion, conversion of the Alaoji Power Plant to double circuit; N3.5 billion for procurement and repair of two boilers at the Egbin Power Station in Lagos and N233 million was for fixing the Agege-Lagos Road.
THE ENTIRE N850BILLION WAS EMBEZZLED!
YET the same Obasanjo had the effrontery to accuse #GEJ of corruption among other things? And people are taking him serious? Nigeria is indeed a country filled with many people who cannot think for themselves – where everything is sacrificed at the altar of ethnicism and religion.
Corruption in Nigeria under Obasanjo administration
President Obasanjo used his position to corner considerable shares of Transcorp, a blue chip company that was formed overnight to corner juicy contracts and make fat company acquisitions. It was incorporated in November 2004 and officially launched on 21 July 2005, at the Presidential Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja, with Obasanjo as the special guest of honour.
The Transcorp matter was so serious that Chief Gani Fawehinmi, the human rights lawyer, dragged the former president to the Code of Conduct Bureau. He wanted Obasanjo tried over the activities of Transcorp and his shareholding in the company seized or forfeited to the federal government as provided for under item 18(2)c of the Code of Conduct for public officers contained in the fifth schedule, part 1 of the 1999 Constitution.
Fawehinmi lamented that during its formal launch on Thursday 21 July 2005, Obasanjo announced some concessions to the corporation as part of government support and encouragement.
These include: Licence to build a 400,000-barrel per day refinery, licence to build an independent power plant, access to the federal government cassava project for the construction of cassava processing exports facility, designed land mass for the construction of free port facilities, continued support to help open up market on the African continent and to make Transcorp a partner in Nigeria’s current policy on private/public partnership, creating additional opportunities to develop large scale projects in oil and gas, power and information and communications technology, ICT.
As Fawehinmi put it, the company acquired three prime business interests from Nigeria: four oil blocks, OPL218, 219, 209 and 220 allocated to it on 21 July 2005 by Obasanjo when it was launched; Nicon-Hilton, Abuja in October 2005 for $105million and NITEL on 3 July 2006 for $750million.
The lawyer noted that the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, and Chairman of Transcorp, Dr. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, admitted before the House of Representatives that the former president is a subscriber to Transcorp through Obasanjo Holdings Limited.
He added that, the admission by the Trustees–Elder Daniel Atsu and Barrister Lucky Egede–of Obasanjo Holdings Limited compounds the constitutional illegality of the ex-president’s involvement in Transcorp. Obasanjo Holdings Limited, the lawyer maintained, is the nominee of President Olusegun Obasanjo in Transcorp and acts on behalf of the president as a cover.
He argued: “for the president to allocate oil fields or blocs as the Minister of Petroleum Resources to Transcorp, a company in which he has substantial shares, is clearly an abuse of office contrary to section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides that, “the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
The former president used his influence to sway the purchase of NITEL and Nicon-Hilton Hotel in favour of Transcorp, a practice which Fawehinmi regarded as “a corrupt act and violation of the code of conduct.”
The Presidential Library
When Obasanjo launched his N7 billion library project, government contractors, banks, businessmen, governors, government functionaries and hangers-on fell over one another to donate N4 billion, while the oil majors operating in Nigeria put in US$20 million. Those who donated were a consortium of banks – N622million; 36 state governors – N360million; MikeAdenuga-N250million; Aliko Dangote and friends- N200million; Femi Otedola- N200million; Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA community- US$1million; Ogun State governor-N100million; Obasanjo Holdings- N100million; Sunny Odogwu-N100million; Arisekola Alao-N100million etc.
Also, Fawehinmi took Obasanjo to court, saying that he abused his office and violated the constitution because, the presence of the big donors meant he used his office to “force” out the money from the corporate organisations and those seeking one favour or the other.
Excess Crude Account
When he was in power, Obasanjo withdrew N2.1billion from the excess crude oil funds. That was in March 2006, when he explained that he wanted to use the money to supplement the cost of the extension of the national census. However, the former Nigerian leader failed or refused to inform the National Assembly or those who elected him into power for almost three months.
It was only after the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriation began to turn its gaze in that direction that Obasanjo wrote a letter to the House of Representatives, claiming $17,290,067 (about N2.1 billion) was withdrawn after he had convened an emergency meeting of the stakeholders–some state governors and the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission members.
However, analysts maintained that Section 80(3) of the 1999 Constitution states that no monies shall be withdrawn from any public fund of the federation, “unless the issue of those money has been authorised–not by governors or stakeholders–by an Act of the National Assembly.”
Petroleum Trust Development Fund, PTDF
Obasanjo was the first to stir the hornets’ net on this matter when he accused Vice President Atiku Abubakar of corrupt enrichment. According to the EFCC document which Obasanjo dangled with glee, Atiku was alleged to have diverted a sum of $125 million approved for the operation of the PTDF to the Equatorial Trust Bank, owned by Otunba Mike Adenuga, and Trans International Bank, TIB, which, thereafter, gave N400 million to MOFAS Shipping Company, owned by Otunba Oyewole Fasawe. EFCC also connected Adenuga’s payment of $20 million for his Globacom licence to PTDF money lodged in his bank.
From October 2003, according to the document, MOFAS paid more than N500 million to Umar Pariya, Personal Assistant to the former Vice-President, while N61 million was paid by the company directly to Atiku and N60 million directly to Musa Garba, a contractor who works for Atiku’s ABTI American University. Atiku responded with a ballistic missile that threw Obasanjo off his perch. Speaking through his media aide, Garba Shehu, Atiku said that Obasanjo, his family, businesses, native community and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, benefited from the PTDF money.
He revealed that Bodunde Adeyanju, Obasanjo’s Personal Assistant, made over 100 visits to TIB, Abuja, located at Tofa House in the Central Business District, between 1999 and 2004. “The truth of the matter is that there is a big linkage between Chief Obasanjo and Otunba Fasawe, contrary to the claims that the President has made.
There are cheques worth over N100 million issued to IBAD Nigeria Limited, a construction company solely owned by Obasanjo, from Fasawe’s MOFAS TIB accounts,” Garba revealed.
Shehu charged further that Fasawe made some direct payments to Obasanjo’s Africa Leadership Forum, ALF, and to the Obasanjo Campaign Organisation. “Also, a TIB Abuja branch cheque of N4 million was issued to Ibogun-Olaogun Development Association on 26th February, 2004. Ibogun-Olaogun is Obasanjo’s village,” Garba added for effect.
Garba spilled the beans further, claiming that from 1999 to the elections in 2003, Adeyanju, on behalf of Obasanjo, collected over N3 billion from MOFAS account at TIB, Abuja branch. Atiku further revealed to the Senate Committee on the Fund how Obasanjo paid a staggering N250 million of PTDF money to a lawyer to register a company, Galaxy Backbone.
Like a possessive, jealous husband, Obasanjo clung to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources under which is the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. Chief Audu Ogbeh once told TheNEWS: “I was National Chairman of PDP for over three years. I was also honorary Special Adviser on Agriculture.
I know and I was told by many ministers that President Obasanjo did not for once bring any memo for the award of oil bloc or contract in the petroleum sector to council.”
Obasanjo, through his Chief of Staff, General Abdullahi Mohammed (retd.), allegedly used the NNPC to unilaterally award contracts without regard to tender or competitive bidding. As reported by this magazine in the past, Mohammed, in a letter entitled, “Request for Revalidation of Approval for NNPC funding on the Nigerian Navy” and dated 18 August 2006, merely stated the importance of procurement of spare parts for the Navy and Obasanjo directed NNPC to award the contract.
Ten days later, Mohammed approved a contract for the local refit of NN ships and procurement of spare parts at the cost of N4.63 billion.
Obasanjo also wrote a letter to the then Group Managing Director, NNPC, Engineer Funso Kupolokun, asking the corporation to fund the training of 50 individuals and establish media and operational centres in Abuja, Warri and Port Harcourt for N1.19 billion.
This lack of due process also manifested in the award of contracts handled by Kinetic Ltd., which supplied 193 Cobra Armoured vehicles for the Nigerian Army at the cost of $35.7 million and was paid through Bankers Guarantee No. 550-0-0446905 with Invoice No. STK/2007/088B.
This contract was fixed in January 2007 by the former Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Owoye Azazi, on behalf of the Federal Government. Singapore Kinetics was, through the NNPC, given an “advance payment”of $35.7million.
Falana, in his suit, alleged that from 1999 to 2007, Obasanjo had withdrawn over N1trillion unauthorised and un-appropriated by the National Assembly, from the NNPC account and the Federation Account.
Source: The News Magazine
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