Jefferson Bribery Scandal: EFCC May Invite Atiku, Fasawe, Others Next Week

Indication has emerged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will next week grill former Vice President and a chieftain of All Progressives Congress, Abubakar Atiku over the bribery scandal, that culminated in the jailing of US Congressman, Williams J. Jefferson in 2009.
According to a source, Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party and others will be asked to face a crack team of the EFCC operatives.
The source confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari has been notified.
There has been calls to re-open investigation into the scandal involving top ranking Nigerians including the former Vice President.
The source told this paper that the case will be re-opened following calls by Nigerians to start all over again in a case that attracted international attention, when on June 4, 2007, a Federal grand jury indicted Jefferson on 16 charges related to corruption, bribing high-ranking officials in Nigeria, including the then Vice President, in order to facilitate potential financing for iGate business deals. Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in imprisonment in November 2009.
Jefferson told an undercover agent that Atiku had requested for $500,000 to facilitate i-Gate getting mouth watering deal in the telecommunications sector where Atiku as the Vice President supervised Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in charge of selling off government owned assets in public businesses.
But in Nigeria, nobody was ever investigated, indicted or sentenced, leading to calls by well meaning Nigerians for the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration to re-open the case if his administration’s claim of fighting corruption is to be be comprehensive and total.
This, it was learnt, prompted the EFCC to re-open the case and invitation extended to those concerned.
Several calls and SMS put across to the mobile line of the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, to confirm the invitation, were not replied as of the time of filing this report.
Atiku’s ordeal started in 2006, when the US requested that the EFCC investigate Atiku and others over the Jefferson’s case.
The preamble stated that under the terms of a mutual legal assistance treaty subsisting between the governments of the United States of America (USA) and Nigeria, the USA authorities through United States Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice via a letter Ref: MEWPW:KDL:AV 1 File 182.23818 dated June 22, 2006, requested the Economic Crimes Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to assist the US Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) ongoing investigation of Congressman William Jefferson of violations of federal law, including offences involving bribery of public officials, wire fraud (deprivation of honest services and scheme to defraud), bribery of foreign public officials and conspiracy.
The US Authorities specifically requested the Nigerian Authorities to locate and provide the documents and information on some government officials/institutions, private companies and individuals in relation to the official acts of the Congressman in promoting US business ventures in Africa as it relates to IGate/ NDTV business joint venture, iGate/Rosecom joint venture among others.
The request of information revolves around the following individuals and companies.
The individuals include Atiku Abubakar, Otumba Fasawe, Vernon Jackson, Maureen Scurry a.k.a Maureen Edo and a company NDTV (owned by Fasawe, among others).
In compliance with the request, the EFCC undertook the investigation and interviewed as many of the named persons and companies as possible.
In the course of its investigations, the EFCC stumbled upon likely violations of Nigerian laws relating particularly to alleged conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds, corrupt practices and money laundering by some Nigerian public officers and other persons. The relevant information was provided to the US Authorities and a comprehensive report submitted to then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The report identified several persons that may have violated the following laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, like the Penal Code Act, the Anti-Corruption Act 2003, the EFCC Act 2004, the Money Laundering Act 2004, the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act and some provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria relating to conduct of public officers.
It was against this background that President Obasanjo in 2006 set up an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to examine the Report and make specific recommendations concerning member(s) of cabinet and other public officers that were named and investigated.
The Administrative Panel was chaired by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Honourable Minister of Justice, Bayo Ojo, SAN with the following as members, Otunba Bamidele Dada, Minister of State, Agriculture, Obiageli K. Ezekwesili, Minister of Education, Maj Gen A. S. Mukhtar (Rtd), National Security Adviser and Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, Minister of the FCT.
On the basis of the findings, the Panel said “the VP should be indicted and held accountable for the various acts of embezzlement and fraud that took place in PTDF with his approval and under his supervision.”
However, no action has ever been taken on the report
Speaking recently, one of those mentioned in the bribery case, Fasawe said: “I invested considerably in the business – even having to approach my bank for further investments.
“Unfortunately all went down the drain having been dealing with a fraud and a dupe in a person of Jefferson who used his office and the image of his nation to convince me iGate was a reputable Telecommunication Equipment Vendor.”
The PDP chieftain stated that he had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, under former President Obasanjo’s regime to help him retrieve the money he invested in the transaction.
He said, “My monies are still tied up in the US.
“It is high time the Nigeria Government liaised with the government of the United States to help me repatriate my monies running into tens of millions of dollars.
“The matter is in court as I speak, with AMCON joined as a party to the suit. This is an opportunity for President Buhari to look into the matter and bring all connected to book. Since the matter is in court, I may not be able to say much.”
Noting that the failed transaction landed him in detention for nearly a year, Fasawe said, “The sad incident caused me money, time and honour.
“So it is very upsetting to have anyone trying to open this old wound and spicing it up with further controversy, ” he said.

Author: News Editor

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