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Atiku And His History Of Helping Friends With Public Funds

Atiku Abubakar who recently promised to use his position if elected as President, to continue enriching his friends even if he cannot enrich his family, is really a man of his words

The below excerpts from a Sahara Reporters article in February 2007, reminds us all of how Atiku Abubakar used his position as Vice President to enrich himself and his friends, to the detriment of the public purse

A thief who evades justice will always have the opportunity to steal again. A leopard can never change its spots.

In the course of his eight years stewardship, Mr. Abukakar has managed to corner controlling shares in Bank PHB, controlling shares in Intel, an oil services company with operates in Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe; controlling shares in AP Petroleum, which he was forced to divest recently in a hail of controversy regarding the ethics of his management of the country’s privatization program. Added to all these assets must be included the control of huge assets in real estate in Yola where today he has 146 houses; the largest print press in Northern Nigeria; and the control of the Faro private water business.

The vulnerability of the vice president, who in his two-term tenure has recorded N60 Billion worth of bank transactions, has always made it easy to point at elite corruption to illustrate the subversion of Nigeria’s national efforts at constructing a fair, accountable and transparent polity this much was raised by the BBC interviewer earlier today. The vice-president was cited for diverting $125m from a public trust fund into his personal businesses. The $125m was diverted from the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF).
An excerpted part of a recent presentation by the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the Nigerian Senate Ad Hoc Committee on the Probe of the PTDF renders the issues in a graphic brief: “[b]Atiku Abukakar is the Vice President of Nigeria and he was the one overseeing the activities of the PTDF. He inaugurated the Interim Management Committee of the Fund in September 2000.He played prominent roles in the approvals for release of PTDF funds and their placement in two banks. The VP had an outstanding interest in the placement of the PTDF funds in these two banks. For one, even the $125 million for the implantation of some specific projects was not utilized for that purpose, rather because of their diversion to their placements in the two banks (TIB & ETB). Prior to the placements of the PTDF funds, the Vice President held several meetings with either the ES (Executive Secretary of the PTDF) alone and sometime the ES and Mike Adenuga to discuss modalities regarding the placement of the funds either in TIB or ETB. The placements were done at the detriment of the Fund as they were made at interest rates below the average CBN Minimum Rediscount Rate (MRR) even when he was strongly advised against that.”

“The request for the release of the $20 million, was predicated on the issue of the ongoing projects being executed by the Fund, whereas it was not so. The funds were released again by the VP and were sent straight to the same placement in TIB. This second release according to reports was done without the knowledge and approval of the President and the FEC[/b], even though the President’s own pattern of management of the Petroleum Resources ministry pointed to the fact that both the VP and the President might have shared. As these funds were hitting the two preferred banks, “loans” were packaged by TIB, even without adequate collateral, for his long time friend and business associate, Otunba Oluwole Johnson Haliru Fasawe through NDTV and Mofas. In Mofas, one of the directors is Alhaji Adamu Abubakar, a son of the VP. Through the VP’s name was not stated as a director of Marine Float, evidence abounds that the account is controlled by him. First, the VP admitted he paid N30million for the property from that account; secondly, most of the beneficiaries from the account are his friends, associates.

“Similarly, as the funds were hitting ETB, Otunba Mike Adenuga made $20million deposit for Globacom license, the second national carrier. A little scrutiny of the equity ownership structure of the company revealed that Otunba Mike Adenuga lied about the ownership of the company. When the transfer of the $50million by PTDF from its account in UBA Plc New York was made in ETB, Mike Adenuga gave the Vice President the sum of N322million (i.e. N300m on 27/11/02 & N22 on 06/03/03) through his Marine Float account domiciled in Bank PHB Plc through his aides- Akinyera and Ajibade. N21 million was paid to the VP through a draft raised in the name of Umar Pariya, his Personal Assistant.
The Vice President held several meeting with the US Congressman Williams J. Jefferson both in Nigeria and abroad in relation to business ventures, which included NDTV and Rosecom.net, an ISP. When the business relationship between NDTV and iGate collapsed, his assistance was sought to extinguish the outstanding approximately $2million already paid by NDTV. Even though he denied assistance on extinguishing the amount, he accepted, conveying a letter from US Congressman Jefferson to the Honorable Minister of Communication Chief Cornelius Adebayo in relation with iGate and Rosecom.net business venture.

“The VP’s business interest in NDTV was confirmed when he made an initial deposit of N30million in January 1, 2003 from his Marine Float account in Bank PHB Plc for the purchase of the N200million property being used as NDTV Head Office. His interest also influenced the placement of PTDF funds in TIB from where Otunba Fasawe obtained “loan” and completed the payment of N170million for the property at the Wuse. The VP’s interest in NDTV is further buttressed by the fact that he even acted as a referee to Otumba Fasawe for the sourcing of the licensing of NDTV in Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC). Investigation also revealed that the Vice President severally met contractors of NDTV at Jada, his hometown on his interest in the company.”

The burden of proof on Mr. Abubakar today therefore will rest on how he hopes to construct a coherent argument that his two decades of public service in the customs department is enough to make him the multi-millionaire and one of the nation’s richest business men; and how he wants to lead a nation struggling to crawl out of the quagmire created by a reputation of grand corruption when he could supervise such brazen deal making at PTDF and seek to legitimize it as normal and appropriate state policy. As for us at Saharareporters, we are still awaiting the promise made to us by the VP to publicly declare his assets and ship over to us the Ghana-Must-Ghana bag containing all the oil contracts awarded by President Obasanjo in the last 7-years!