Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has refused to back down on his allegation that Mrs Aisha Buhari, was involved in the bribery saga that saw a member of US House of Parliament, William Jefferson, jailed for 13 years.
Fayose had last month, said the President’s wife was named in $170, 000 bribery scandal.
“There was a judgment against the wife of the President, where she wired $170,000 to Jefferson that was convicted in the Halliburton scandal, Fayose had said.
The Governor said that was the reason the President’s wife has not ventured into the States for fear of arrest.
Mrs. Buhari had through her counsel, Mary Ekpere & Co written a letter dated June 22, 2016, to the Governor demanding a retraction of the statement or face a legal action. She had said she was not the Aisha named in the scandal.
In a reply by Fayose’s counsel, Mike Ozekhome, the Governor insisted he stands by that statement.
But in a July 8 letter, Ozekhome affirmed that the statement made regarding her involvement was “correct and justified in law,” having been factually premised on an existing court judgment.
The letter read, “Our client has referred to us your letter dated 22nd June, 2016, on alleged defamation of the character of your client, Her Excellency, Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, with firm instructions to reply to and reject same in its entirety.
“Our client states and reaffirms categorically that the statement he made as regards the involvement of Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of President Buhari, in the Halliburton scandal, is correct and justified in law; having regards to a court judgement convicting one Mr William Jefferson for bribery in the Halliburton case.
“Therein, the name of the President’s wife featured conspicuously. At page 22 of the said judgment delivered by the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, USA, in criminal No 1: 07CR209, the said Mr William Jefferson was sentenced at 9.00am on November 13, 2009, by Mark D, Lytle. Your client, Mrs Aisha Buhari, was specifically mentioned in the judgment. The judge referred to Exhibits 36-87 in the following words, for clarification;
“See also Government Exhibits 36-87 (6/26/02 $170,000 wire transfer from account in Nigeria in the name of Aisha Buhari to an account in the name of The ANJ Group, LLC, identifying “William Jefferson” as Beneficiary)… Given the age of the defendant, the severity of the sentence calculated by the Probation Office, the defendant’s frequent travel overseas and unexplained wire transfers from overseas locations to financial accounts used by the defendant, the defendant cannot rebut the presumption at sentencing that he is a risk of flight.
“The said Williams Jefferson is currently serving a jail term in the USA and to the best of our client’s knowledge; this judgment has not been challenged, or set aside by any Appellate court of law anywhere in the world.
“The statement of His Excellency, our client, is therefore correct and justified, same having been factually premised on an existing court judgment above referred to.”
On the immunity enjoyed by Governor Fayose against civil and criminal proceedings, Ozekhome said: “Your attention is also hereby drawn to Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, on the immunity enjoyed by our client from civil or criminal proceedings for the period that he occupies the office of the governor of Ekiti State.
“You may therefore advise your client to wait until after 16th October, 2018, when our clients tenure expires. When that happens, we shall join issues with your client in a competent court of law, in the event that your client does not have a change of heart.”
All these are coming on the heels of a clean bill of health given to Mrs Buhari by the US government.
The acting Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General, Lagos, Frank Sellin, disclosed on Tuesday, that it was untrue the President’s wife was wanted in the US and was avoiding travelling to the country.
In a message, Sellin said, “We have no information to provide on this matter.”