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Buhari Apologises To MKO Abiola Family |The Republican News

Buhari-honours-Abiola1

 

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, openly apologised to the late Chief MKO Abiola, winner of the June 12, 1993, presidential election, for the injustice done to him by the Gen. Ibrahim Babangida led military junta.

This is even as he assured that “Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of Justice again.”

The election of June 12, 1993, poll said to be the freest and fairest election in the nation’s history was annulled by the military president, Gen. Babangida.

President Buhari tendered the apology at the investiture of Chief Abiola as Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR) at the State House Conference Centre, the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.

“On behalf of the Federal Government, I tender the nation’s apology to the family of late MKO Abiola, who got the highest vote (in the election) and to those that lost their loved ones in the course of the June 12 struggle,” President Buhari said before getting guests to observe a minute’s silence in honour of those who died.
He said the ceremony was not intended to open old wounds, but to right the wrongs of the past.

According to him, the decision to honour MKO Abiola and to declare June 12 Democracy Day followed years of clamour by the activists, statesmen, groups as well as the family, associates, and friends of the late businessman and politician should be accepted “in good faith” as this will help the nation move forward.

“We cannot rewind the past but we can at least assuage our feelings, recognise that a wrong has been committed and resolve to stand firm now and ease the future for the sanctity of free elections,” he said.

“Nigerians will no longer tolerate such perversion of justice. This retrospective and posthumous recognition is only a symbolic token of redress and recompense for the grievous injury done to the peace and unity of our country.”

Buhari added that by moving past the negatives of the struggle, Nigerians would be able to fully benefit from June 12.

“Our action today is to bury the negative side of June 12 – side of ill-feelings, hate, frustration, and agony. What we are doing today is celebrating the positive side of June 12,” he said.

“Nigerians, of their own free will, voted for Chief MKO Abiola, and Babagana Kingibe – the presidential flag bearer and running mate of the Social Democratic Party in the 1993 elections.”

He accused the government of the day of cancelling the elections when it was clear who was going to be the winners.

At the event, the late Chief Gani Fawenhinmi and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe were also conferred with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

Speaking on the Abiola family’s behalf, Hafsat Abiola, one of the daughters of the late icon, who said Buhari’s apology was “very touchy” said the gesture was unexpected considering the relationship that existed behind him and the late Abiola

Hafsat told the audience that Abiola was already rehearsing how to deliver his inauguration speech as the president before the election was annulled.
In an emotion-laden voice, she said her late mother told her how Abiola was standing before a mirror to rehearse his inauguration speech.

“He was born Yoruba but he loved Hausa people, Kanuri, Efik, Igbo people, he loved all, you just needed to be a Nigerian and MKO was your man. If he could help he would do.

There are so many things he already did to show and that was why the people of Nigeria rewarded him with the mandate of June 12, 1993. But we know that he was never able to deliver that speech but in many ways, the event that transpired later revealed to Nigerians the eloquence in his heart, the fidelity of his commitment and even his own deep abiding wish that if there was any way his own actions would in any way compromise the people of Nigeria, MKO preferred to die, he preferred to leave the earth rather than compromise on you, on your integrity as a people and your sovereignty as a nation, which was why even the day before he died when he was still being pressured, he asked the question, how do you shave the people’s heads in their absence? “…And when he died, we accepted his body and have watched in Nigeria as year after year till now, the 25th year, you the people have suffered and he was not recognized at all.

“President Muhammadu Buhari, Nelson Mandela it was who said, ‘It always seems impossible until it is down.’ Who would have ever believed given the relationship that you had with Chief MKO Abiola that you would be the instrument God will use to honour this man and to bring recognition and healing to the country.

“You apologised to my family and it touched my heart. You know that I also lost my mother in this struggle; so that apology meant so much. Let me use this opportunity, on behalf of the Chief MKO Abiola because I know what he would have done, I use this opportunity to apologise to you, to apologise to your family, anything that he might have done to harm you and to harm your family,” Hafsat said.

Also speaking, Kola Abiola, the first son of the business mogul said the Abiola family accepted both the award and the apology.

“We thank you for taking the decisive measures to strengthen our democracy and guarantee our future by reconciling our past,” he said.

Chief Abiola’s running mate, Kingibe, said by recognising June 12, Buhari has contributed the noblest chapter to the checkered history of Nigeria’s nationhood.
Kingibe recalled Abiola as a man of great wit and persuasive powers, full of energy and a great philanthropist truly committed to improving the lot of the poor masses.

Also responding, Muhammed, the son of Fawehinmi, human rights activist and legal icon described Buhari as the first sensitive and reasonable head of state to have listened to the people and acted accordingly. “Today is symbolic because it shows the entrenchment of unity all citizens of this country regardless of your tribe, ethnic background, religious beliefs because we are all Nigerians.”

Stop eulogising Abiola’s tormentors – Soyinka

Also, Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka lauded President Buhari’s apology to the late Abiola as a bold step, saying he least expected the president to do so. He, however, admonished him to stop admiring and displaying loyalty to a man he tagged late MKO Abiola’s “Tormentor-in-Chief.”

Buhari had last month eulogised the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, who clamped the business mogul in jail for about five years, for working to provide roads, education and healthcare.

He wondered why President Buhari will continue to display loyalty to a man he described as “one of the worst dictators in the history of the country.”

“Mr President since we are honouring heroes of democracy today, I like to request that you manage to stop creating confusion in the minds of Nigerians. It is not possible to honour MKO Abiola in one breadth and admire his tormentor in another breadth. Loyalty is all very well but loyalty can become perverse if that loyalty is retained to an individual, who if he were alive today would be before the International Court of Crimes against humanity, the one who broke the laws of Nigeria, international laws, pauperised this nation. It is confusing if professional loyalty is carried so far as to be accorded such an individual.”

Soyinka also canvassed for the extension of recognition to others who took part in the June 12 struggle which culminated in the present civil rule.

“All that is left to me is to plead so that we do not forget the nameless, the unsung heroes and heroines of that struggle. A number of names have already been listed but I will like to include one of the pioneers, the instigators of the physical confrontations with that dictator, Comrade Ola Oni, who mobilised a number of people and fought the goons and slaves and surrogates of that dictator in that auspiciously named stadium in Ibadan, Liberty Stadium.  But above all, I want us always to remember that individual which we are principally celebrating today, the man who reappeared and represented himself, who did not understand the word surrender, saying my name is Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, I am back to reclaim my mandate.”  (The Sun)

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June 12: Stop Showing Loyalty To Abiola’s ‘Tormentor-in-Chief’, Soyinka Tells Buhari

Wole-Soyinka
                  Prof. Wole Soyinka

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to stop admiring and displaying loyalty to an unnamed individual whom he referred to late MKO Abiola’s “Tormentor-in-Chief.”

Some are of the opinion that he had referred to the late Head of State, Sani Abacha, who clamped the business mogul to jail for about five years.

Abiola died in prison.

Although Soyinka did not mention Abacha’s name specifically, the Nobel laureate said it was confusing for Buhari to honour Chief Moshood Abiola on the one hand and be admiring the late politician’s “Tormentor-in-Chief” on the other.

He wondered why President Buhari will continue to display loyalty to a man he described as “one of the worst dictators in the history of the country” and who should be having his days in court for crime against humanity.

Soyinka said that in a private meeting with Buhari, he had also raised concerns over how the President could be saying his administration was fighting corruption, whereas a major road in the Federal Capital Territory is named after a “corrupt former leader.”

He said he was not satisfied with the response he got from Buhari.

He called on the President to consider establishing a Hall of Shame for those who have wronged the country, just as he puts up Hall of Fame for the nation’s heroes. (Punch)

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Adebanjo, Fayose, Others Blast Buhari For Praising Abacha |The Republican News

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Buhari addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York

FILE PHOTO: Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Kamarudeen Ogundele, Friday Olokor,  Olaleye Aluko and Oladimeji Ramon

A coterie of political enthusiasts on Wednesday berated President Muhammadu Buhari for commending the late military dictator, Gen. Sani  Abacha.

The coterie, during separate interviews with The PUNCH on Wednesday, described Buhari’s statement as a distraction.

The President had on Tuesday said, “I don’t care the opinion you have about Abacha, but I agreed to work with him and we constructed roads from Abuja to Port Harcourt, Benin to Onitsha and so on.”

Commenting on the statement,  the Chairperson of the Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola. Akiyode-Afolabi, asked, “How can anyone laud Abacha for anything? A looter, a dictator, a killer? The President missed it! Whatever the context, that statement is unwarranted. It’s a distraction, Mr President should respect Nigerians. We all know what Abacha did. Buhari cannot rewrite history.”

He benefited from Abacha’s dictatorship –Afenifere chieftain

Also, a chieftain of the Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo,  said  Buhari spoke well of Abacha because he was his appointee and benefited from the deceased’s dictatorial regime.

Adebanjo said President Buhari had lost his credibility and should not be taken seriously.

He stated, “Buhari worked under Abacha and why are you surprised by his support for Abacha?

“Here is a President who has lost his credibility and some Nigerians are still taking him seriously. I have always spoken about the anti-democratic ideals of Buhari but his supporters at that time told me that Buhari had changed to a democrat.

“From the beginning, President Buhari has always insisted that Abacha did not steal. He said these things repeatedly during his campaigns, but his government has been recovering money looted by Abacha so I am not surprised with Buhari’s comments.”

However, the  President of the National Council of Tiv Youths, Dr. John Akperashi, said the statement had exposed Buhari’s unstable posturing and further confirmed the notion that his purported fight against corruption was selective and self-serving.

He stated, “Abacha’s corruption is legendary. Till today, the nation is recovering his looted funds stashed away in various banks overseas in hard currencies.”

Obasanjo made a mistake for not jailing Buhari –Fani-Kayode

Also, a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, on his twitter handle said that Obasanjo should have jailed Buhari for allegedly looting the Petroleum Trust Fund.

He stated, “The greatest mistake that OBJ made was not to prosecute and jail @MBuhari for (the alleged) looting of the PTF funds. I saw the report and it was shocking. Billions of dollars had vanished. OBJ summoned him and showed him the damning report. Buhari (allegedly) begged like a baby. Sadly OBJ let him off the hook.”

On his part, a former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan,  Reno Omokri,  berated Buhari.

He asked, “What type of anti-corruption crusader chooses Abacha, a proven thief, who was also a blood-thirsty buffoon, as his mentor? When I schooled in England, my university had a module on Abacha’s thievery. This is the man Buhari aspires to be; the man who exiled Tinubu and NADECO (the National Democratic Coalition)?”

Fayose mocks Buhari, Obasanjo

But the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has mocked President Buhari and Obasanjo over their latest disagreement on the $16bn allegedly spent on power during the tenure of the former President.

Fayose on his twitter handle said that he was enjoying the public display of “brickbats” between the two leaders.

The governor said that he had been vindicated by his earlier warning that those who brought Buhari would regret it.

He said, “I am enjoying these latest brickbats between President Buhari and ex-President Obasanjo. They should keep exposing themselves for Nigerians to know what they have been hiding.

“Nigerians should remember I warned that those who brought Buhari will regret entrusting him with power.”

Obasanjo recently criticised Buhari and asked him not to seek re-election in 2019.

Buhari on Tuesday said that Obasanjo had questions to answer regarding the $16bn he spent on power project.

Obasanjo in his reply said that the president was ignorant and urged him to read his book “My Watch” to understand the matter.

But the President of the Middle Belt Youths Council,  Emman Zopmal, said Abacha managed the country far better than Buhari.

He stated, “Conversely, Buhari for mere political hypocrisy, has been changing his position on whether Gen. Sani Abacha depleted the national treasure or not. He has of recent, talked about using the $360m Abacha looted funds for some projects but suddenly he is now applauding him.”

Probe Obasanjo, Jonathan over $16bn power projects, SERAP tells Buhari

Meanwhile, a human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to refer the alleged mismanagement of $16bn power projects fund to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission.

The advice came on the heels of lamentation by Buhari on Tuesday that a former President (Olusegun Obasanjo) claimed to have spent $16bn on power projects without any electricity to show for it.

But SERAP, in a statement on  Wednesday by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said apart from the $16bn, Buhari should also cause the alleged squandering of a total of N11tn in the power sector between 1999 and 2015 to be investigated.

According to the group, the said N11tn was squandered under ex-Presidents Obasanjo, the late Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan under the guise that the money was being spent to provide regular supply of electricity in the country.

SERAP said Buhari should be determined to ensure that anyone found culpable in the alleged fraud was prosecuted after an investigation by the anti-graft agencies.

It said, “We welcome the focus by President Buhari on the massive allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the power sector and urge him to expand his searchlight beyond the Obasanjo government by ensuring accountability and full recovery of the over N11tn squandered by the three administrations.

“It is only by pursuing all the allegations and taking the evidence before the court that the truth will be revealed and justice best served. This is the only way to conclusively address the systemic corruption in the power sector and an entrenched culture of impunity of perpetrators.

“Addressing impunity in the power sector should be total. This would help to improve the integrity of government and public confidence and trust in their government.

“It would also serve as a vehicle to further the public perception of fairness and thoroughness, and to avert any appearance of political considerations in the whole exercise.”

SERAP noted that lack of regular electricity supply in the country had occasioned many other problems, including lack of access to potable water.

It added, “The failure by successive governments to tell Nigerians the truth about allegations of corruption in the spending of not just the $16bn but also the over N11tn spent by three governments on electricity supply amounts to a failure to ensure that energy services/electricity services are progressively made available, on the basis of equality and non-discrimination, to the whole population, including those most disadvantaged, such as the fringe dwellers and the rural poor.”

The statement further read, “The total estimated financial loss to Nigeria from corruption in the electricity sector starting from the return to democracy in 1999 to date is over N11trn. This represents public funds, private equity and social investment (or divestments) in the power sector.

“It is estimated that this may reach over N20tn in the next decade, given the rate of government investment and funding in the power sector amidst dwindling fortune and recurrent revenue shortfalls.

“SERAP in 2016 sent a petition to the then acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Water Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen. Last year, SERAP published a report, ‘From Darkness to Darkness: How Nigerians are Paying the Price for Corruption in the Electricity Sector.’ The report shows how the country has lost more megawatts in the post-privatisation era due to corruption, impunity, among other social challenges.

“The report accuses Dr. Ransom Owan-led board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of settling officials with millions of naira as severance packages and for embarrassing them with an alleged N3bn fraud.

“The authorities must undertake a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation as to the reasons why corruption charges were withdrawn, and recover any corrupt funds.

“The report also called for the reopening and effective prosecution of corruption allegations, including the alleged looting of the benefits of families of the deceased employees of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria levelled against a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali.

“The report shows how the Obasanjo administration spent $10bn on NIPP with no results in terms of increase in power generation. $13.278,937,409.94 was expended on the power sector in eight years while unfunded commitments amounted to $12bn. The Federal Government then budgeted a whopping N16bn for the various reforms under Liyel Imoke (2003 to 2007) which went down the drains as it failed to generate the needed amount of electricity or meet the set goals.

It alleged that the government handed over the transmission company to a Canadian company, Manitoba, to manage and under a management service contract of over $200m.

It stated, “ Findings also show that the Transmission Company of Nigeria could not execute most of its approved 44 projects after having 50 percent of its N30bn 2016 budget released to it. Funds were released from Eurobond. $23.6m allegedly paid to Manitoba Hydro International  of Canada to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria would appear to be without due process.”  (Punch)

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THIRD FORCE: Nobody Can Intimidate Me, Says Obasanjo |The Republican News

 

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Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo

 

Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that nobody can intimidate him on the third force, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM), that he has been promoting across the country in order to rescue the country from collapse.

He recalled how former Military Head of State, the late Gen Sani Abacha jailed him for an offence he did not commit, asking for the whereabouts of Abacha today.

Obasanjo disclosed this when he addressed thousands of CNM members during a town hall meeting held at the Trans Amusement Park, Bodija, Ibadan, yesterday.

National Coordinator of the movement, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and former governor of Osun State, said that verifiable members of CNM have scaled over three million, adding that the movement would participate in all the elections scheduled to hold this year in the country.

The  meeting was also attended by a former Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja; former secretary to Oyo State Government, Chief Olayiwola Olakojo, who is the Oyo State Coordinator of CNM;  another ex-SSG in the state, Chief Ayodele Adigun; and one of Obasanjo’s close associates,  Oyewole Fasawe; as well as a legal luminary, Hammed Raji  (SAN), among others.

According to Obasanjo, “For me, I don’t think there is anyone that can intimidate me. Let me remind you, I have gone through many things. I have been jailed without committing any offence. Where is the person that jailed me?”

Obasanjo, who urged members of the movement, which he said would become a political party soon, not to give in to any form of intimidation from the powers that be either individually or collectively,

Though speaking in parables, he inferred that God that made it possible for a sitting president to be defeated in 2015, would also make it possible for another sitting president to be defeated again in 2019, saying it is time for the youths to take over.

His words: “Some people believe that those that are in position,  whether they are doing well or not, they must continue to be there. But when we say they must not be there, they will want to fight back. They will hold many things to wreak havoc, but everybody must be prepared. It will not be easy to wrest powers from them. If you think it will be easy to liberate Nigeria, you are deceiving yourself. “But the God that did it yesterday, will do it again today. We have seen this before. In this Nigeria, we have had a situation that we had five political parties and the five parties nominated one person as the candidate for the presidency. If only his nuclear family has voted for him, he would have won.

“Our God is wonderful. God laughed. Now, God is laughing. When the time came, God revealed that He’s God. He is the omnipotent, omnipresent and eternal, who can do all things and who can make all things possible. But if we are leaving things to God, we have to do our own side.

“I want to repeat what I have always said and don’t get me wrong; once this movement becomes a political party, I will no longer be a member of that party. But my concerns for Nigeria will not diminish. My struggle for the good of Nigeria is the progress of Nigeria,  unity of Nigeria,  development of Nigeria will not diminish.

“Even now, I get people from other parties, coming to me to seek advice. I don’t belong to them. I don’t have anything to do with them, but I give them advice. So, that situation will continue. I will continue to look for the good of Nigeria wherever I am and whenever.

“The CNM, even when it becomes a political party, or it joins others, it cannot do it alone. There would have to be a grand alliance… But let me assure you of one thing, having got this far, I will not leave you high and dry, and I know God will continue to be with us. But don’t ever think that it will be easy. Men of valour don’t run away from challenges and it is the same thing with women of honour, except lazy men and women. But they said our youths are lazy.

“Recently, I was in the United States and I said our youths have gone through many things on the Sahara, in Libya and Mediterranean,  and somebody would say they are lazy; their great, great grandfathers would never try to go that far.

“The opportunities and facilities that people like us enjoyed, including those that said it should not be like that, if we give these youths half of what we enjoyed,  they will perform miracles. Education is the best gift that a nation can give to its youths. It is the best gift and preparation for life. Are we doing enough of that?

“The work has started. Some people may be laughing at you and make the jest of you, don’t be bothered with that.  Listen, permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) are your instruments. If you have not collected yours, go and collect it. If you are not yet registered,  go and register. Let us tell them in all urban and rural areas that PVCs are what we will use. They are the keys to open the doors.”

Obasanjo explained that the CNM could “only achieve its objectives by transforming and being part of whatever it is as a political party. I just want to join in assuring you that the philosophy of what we have is CNM, and what it will transform to will not be different.

“We have not had a political party in this country that is grounded in the grassroots. All our political parties are elitist. We have not got a party in this country that has given a pride of place to the youths.

“The youths under 40 years old form more than 65 percent of our population. Now, who will tell you that because you are under 40, you cannot play a very significant role in the affairs of your country?

“I was Head of State when I was under 40. Now, France has elected a president that at under 40 years old. Botswana has just a vice president at 32 years old. Now, what we are saying is that the youths must be given a pride of place.”  (The Sun)

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Achaba’s Loot: We’ve Returned Money To Buhari, Says Swiss Envoy, FG Denies Return

Sani Abacha

Late Gen. Sani Abacha

We’ve returned money to Buhari govt -Swiss envoy

• We don’t have such information –FG

• I never asked Nigeria for extra pay –Foreign lawyer

Aidoghie Paulinus; Uche Usim, Abuja

Controversy has continued to trail the $321 million Abacha loot with the Switzerland government and the Federal Government sharply disagreeing over the whereabouts of the money.

While the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Chad, Niger and the Economic Community of West African States, Eric Mayoraz said his government has returned the money, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun said the Muhammadu Buhari-led government has no information about the return of the said $321 million by the Government of Switzerland.

But the ambassador who spoke exclusively with Daily Sun in Abuja insisted the money has been deposited in the Nigerian account with the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland.

He directed Daily Sun reporter to find out from the Minister of Finance, Adeosun, where the money actually is.

“The money has been put on a bank account of Nigeria at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, but it belongs to Nigeria. And now, it is in the process of being put on the national bank account here in Nigeria.

“But you should ask the Minister of Finance where the money actually is because it is not anymore in Swiss hands, it is in Nigerian hands since the beginning of this year,” Mayoraz said.

The Bank for International Settlements, a global financial institution owned by central banks, fosters international monetary and financial cooperation and equally serves as a bank for central banks.

Mayoraz said in collaboration with the World Bank, the Swiss Government has put in place, a mechanism to ensure that there is no case of the disappearance of the funds like it happened in the past.

He said the money would be used for the National Social Safety Net Programme, a programme of the Presidency.

“So, this is cash transfer for the poorest Nigerians. The programme exists already and now again, I don’t know if this particular money was already used for this or if it is still waiting.

“But the programme is there, there is monitoring also from the World Bank, together with the Nigerian Ministry of Finance and the Presidency on its repatriation.

“Also, I think it is an important part to mention that the Nigerian civil society, Reverend Ugholo, and his association, are part of the monitoring of this money.

“I think this is a common interest from Switzerland, Nigerian government and the World Bank that the money goes to the people of Nigeria and avoid a situation that the money would disappear again,” Mayoraz added.

But Adeosun who spoke through her Special Adviser on Media, Oluyinka Akintunde, said she had no knowledge of the return of the money recovered from the late former military head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha.

“I don’t have any information with respect to the return of $321m Abacha loot by Switzerland,” she maintained.

When asked about other Nigerians who may have their funds trapped in Swiss banks, Mayoraz declined comment alluding to the confidentiality of the process.

Mayoraz, however, recalled the memorandum of understanding signed between the Nigerian Ministry of Justice and the Swiss Government on bilateral mutual legal assistance, saying that if such request emanates from the  Federal Government, the Swiss Government will follow up and will freeze the money.

Recall that during the inaugural Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in Washington, United States, in December 2017, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Government of Switzerland, Nigeria and the World Bank to repatriate the sum of $321 million said to have been stolen by former head of state, late General Sani Abacha.

The Federal Government had through the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Justice Reform and Open Government Partnership (OGP), Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, said the funds would be used for social protection programmes, and called on civil society organisations and the media to monitor the use.

Short of calling Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Swiss lawyer hired by the Federal Government since 1999 to work on recovering the late Abacha loot, Enrico Monfrini has denied asking for additional fees.

The denial came on the heels of a syndicated article in Nigerian media seeking to justify the duplication of Monfrini’s job by the AGF.

An online news portal, TheCable had reported the engagement of another set of Nigerian lawyers for a fee of $17 million (about N6 billion) for a job already completed by Monfrini.

TheCable had reported the engagement of the services of two Nigerian lawyers- Oladipo Okpeseyi, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and Temitope Adebayo- for a fee of $17 million (about N6 billion) for a job already completed by Monfrini.

But Monfrini denied the allegation that he demanded additional fees, hence the decision to hire new counsel to facilitate the recovery of the looted fund trapped in the Swiss account.

“I am not asking any additional fees from the Federal Republic of Nigeria in respect of funds which I have recovered on behalf of the latter during the last 20 years,” he said, adding that any allegations against him “would just be a lie.”

Working with then-attorney-general of Nigeria, Mohammed Adoke, Monfrini had traced about $321 million to Luxembourg.

The monies were recovered and kept in the custody of the attorney-general of Switzerland, awaiting final return to Nigeria.

Monfrini said he did not know why Nigeria decided to appoint other lawyers.

“Upon the election of President Buhari, the newly appointed minister of justice and attorney-general, Malami, appeared to prefer using the services of other lawyers in Nigeria and elsewhere,” he had claimed.

It was also reported that Nigeria would pay $17 million (over N6 billion) to the freshly engaged lawyers who would “help” with the repatriation of $321 million allegedly stolen by Abacha.

The  $17 million is nearly thrice more than what was already paid to Monfrini for the same job.

“This is a case of re-looting Abacha loot. A simple letter from the office of our attorney-general of the federation to the Swiss attorney-general requesting the repatriation of the funds to Nigeria consequent upon the signing of a MoU was all that was required to consummate the deal.

“From nowhere, Malami went and appointed another set of lawyers to do his job for him, and for few million dollars too,” a senior official of the ministry of justice said.      (The Sun)

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I left Prison Broke, My Children In USA Unable To Pay Tuition Fees – Olusegun Obasanjo

 

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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo

 

• Reveals how Ford, Turner rescued him from ‘financial mess’
• Speaks on his pastoral work in prison

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has disclosed that he left prison broke in 1998 after he was released by former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar following the death of General Sani Abacha, then head of state on June 8, 1998.
Obasanjo, who claimed he had no money by the time he regained his freedom after serving in Kirikiri, Jos and Yola prisons for about four years however revealed that the Ford Foundation and the founder of the Cable News Network (CNN), Mr Ted Turner, surprisingly gave him a lifeline through the sum of $150,000 that was donated to him and which enabled him to settle the tuition fees of his children, whose studies were almost truncated by his incarceration.
The former president, who shared agonising memories of his prison experience at a recent programme organised by Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International (CRFI) of the Redeemed Christian Church of God at the Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, however, revealed how he became born again in prison and won souls for Christ.
Obasanjo was sentenced to life jail in 1995 by the Abacha junta after he was tried by a military court on trumped-up charges of felony and conspiracy to overthrow the Abacha government, an allegation the former president denied with evidence.
But exactly one week after Abacha passed away on June 8, 1998, under unclear circumstances, Obasanjo was released from the Yola Prison by the administration of Abubakar.
Giving the testimony on how God rescued him from Abacha’s plot to inject him with viral poison at the fellowship recently, Obasanjo said he was broke immediately after he regained his freedom from the Yola Prison, revealing that he had no cash at that time to settle the tuition fees of his children, who were studying in the US.
Before he left the Yola Prison, Obasanjo said he resolved “to live a new life – quiet, peaceful and possibly private. But it was surprising when I got to the airport; a presidential aircraft was already waiting for me. I did not believe it. When I arrived Lagos, two cars with pilots were waiting to convey me to my residence. I held my peace.”
Shortly after he returned home, Obasanjo said he decided “to travel to the US for two reasons. First, I needed to see my children. When I was in prison, they could not pay their tuition. One of them was not allowed to continue because he could not pay his tuition.”
On this ground, the former president said it was very urgent that he travelled to the US to visit his children, even though he was confronted with the paucity of funds to settle their tuition.
“I did not have money after I returned from prison. And the experience was agonising. I did not even have money to settle their tuition and upkeep. As a father, I decided to travel first to see my children after a long time and second to encourage them, even though I did not have much with me at that time.
“To my surprise, the federal government provided me with a presidential aircraft to take me to the US. I was equally surprised at the way the federal government then treated me. My transformation was so sudden. I said this is not ordinary. It is God in action.”
Obasanjo cited the need to appreciate former US President, Jimmy Carter, an American media mogul, Mr Ted Turner, Ford Foundation and other associates that tirelessly fought for his freedom as the second reason he decided to travel to the US.
He disclosed that he first visited Carter, whom he said, played significant roles in the global campaign for his release and subsequently Ted Turner, whom he described as his good friend.
“Both Carter and Turner fought hard for my release. When I got to Carter, he was happy to see me. Before we started discussing, he asked me if I had seen my friend, Ted. I said I had not seen him. He said Ted had been asking of me. He advised me to visit him before I travelled back to Nigeria. I assured him that I would visit him. He also told me about the roles Turner played to secure my release from Abacha’s claws. He said he really tried for me and that I should visit him in appreciation.
“After I left Carter’s place, I visited Ted. Oh, Ted was so glad to see me. He said you would need some money.
I asked him why he was asking such question when I just returned from prison and I had no money. He looked at me and smiled.
“Turner then asked his secretary to give me $50,000. After I received the cash, I looked somehow unhappy and I did not say anything. He discovered I was not too excited about the money he asked his secretary to give me. He asked me why I was not looking happy.
“I told him directly that the money was not enough. I said you knew your friend had been in prison for a long time and that the money you gave me would not be enough. He smiled at me again and directed his secretary to add $50,000. I received $100,000 from Ted alone. I was relieved that I got some money to settle my children’s tuition.”
From Turner’s office, Obasanjo said he visited the office of Ford Foundation in New York because he was the sole African on its Board of Trustees before Abacha framed him in a coup plot that landed him in prison.
At Ford Foundation, Obasanjo said: “I was well-received. After we had a short discussion, I was asked if I had checked my account balance. I said there was no need to check it because I did not have any money in my account. I was advised to check my bank account.
“I did not know Ford Foundation was paying honorarium into my bank account. Ford was treating me as though I was attending its conferences, programmes and seminars. I was surprised to find a balance of $50,000 in my bank account. I got $150,000 during my trip to the US.
“Oh, I was so happy that I had more than enough to settle my children’s tuitions and other outstanding issues. I later visited my children, and they were all happy to see me after a long time. At some point, there was no hope of meeting again with what Abacha did to me. I settled their tuition. I shared my experience with them. I encouraged them to always trust God. And I returned to Nigeria after my mission. At the time I was released from the prison, I was really broke. But Ford and Ted rescued me from a financial mess.”
After he returned to Nigeria, Obasanjo said the pressure was mounted on him to contest the 1999 presidential election, which he said, was difficult to resist at some points where leaders from different parts of the country kept calling him to consider contesting the election.
When he could not resist it, he said he had to travel to South Africa to seek advice from the late President Nelson Mandela and an Anglican Bishop and social rights activist, Bishop Desmond Tutu.
When he sought Mandela’s advice, Obasanjo said the late president simply told him “to do whatever my instinct told me. I did not argue with him. But I was comfortable with Mandela’s piece of advice.
However, he explained how Tutu strongly encouraged him “to contest the election if my people wanted me to serve them. If your people said they wanted you to be their leader, you had to do what they wanted or do you want to disappoint them?
“Tutu told me to go back home and honour my people. I was not really comfortable with his piece of advice. Honestly, I was more comfortable with what Nelson Mandela told me than what Desmond Tutu told when I visited at different times.”
But Obasanjo said he made up his mind to contest the 1999 presidential election the day he opened his Bible “to the Book of Esther and read about the elevation of Mordecai and Haman.”
After reading Mordecai’s story, he said he came “to a conclusion that God was talking to him. I also came to a conclusion that God wanted me to serve my fatherland again. Despite what some people said, I served two terms and Nigeria is still together.”
In spite of his agonising experience during incarceration, Obasanjo said he decided to live the rest of his life for God, which he said, explained why he became pastor at the Kirikiri Prison.
While at Yola Prison, Obasanjo narrated how he met an inmate, Baba Ali, stating that “Baba Ali was a hardened criminal. He was the leader of Arewa Boys, a group of armed robbers in the North. Baba Ali commanded so much respect in the prison.
“If an armed robber came to the prison, he must first of all pay homage to him. If he was going out, he would go to him and ask for instruction on what to do next. I preached Christ to Baba Ali. He said I should not worry him because God can never forgive him.
“Baba Ali told me not to bother him at all because he had killed so many people in his life. He said he had drunk the blood of so many people. He said he had eaten the flesh of so many people. He said God would never forgive him. He said I should not waste my time.
“I left Baba Ali for a while. But I told him one day that you are not coming to fellowship. I encouraged him to start coming to the fellowship. He repeated what he told me at the first time that God would never forgive him, citing different evils he had done in life.
“I said Baba Ali, whether you killed only one person or a thousand people, you are a murderer. Have you forgotten that Moses was a murderer, but God used him to bring His people of Israel out of Egypt? David was a murderer, but God called him a man after my heart.
“Baba Ali was touched. He eventually surrendered to God. When I was leaving the prison, I promised to send Baba Ali to Bible College if he was able to make it. Baba Ali was released three years after I left Yola Prison. But I had become President then.
“Baba Ali came to Aso Rock to meet me. I reminded him of my promise to send him to Bible College. He said he was ready to go to the Bible school. So I sent him to the seminary, Baba Ali spent two years in the seminary. Today, he is a pastor of a Baptist Church.
“What is more? He was the sixth of the 11 children his parents had. He lived a terrible life, but God changed him. Maybe, he was one of the reasons Abacha sent me to prison. Baba Ali’s younger brother took after him. He has also become a pastor.”
Apart from evangelising in all the prisons he served and pastoring the fellowship in prison, the former president said he eventually wrote a book, ‘Sermon from the Prison’, which gave a detailed account of his evangelistic and pastoral activities while in the prisons.
CRFI, a non-denominational fellowship was established by the General Overseer of RCCG Worldwide, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, with a mission to reach men and women in the middle and upper echelons of every society worldwide with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
National Coordinator of CRFI, Pastor Edmond Ayoola, explained that Pastor Adeboye established the fellowship out of concern for those, who occupied privileged positions in politics, business, industry, commerce and government so that they could benefit from the gospel of Jesus Christ and escape the wrath of the end time. (ThisDay)
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Abacha Killed Yar’Adua With Lethal Viral Injection, He Wanted Me, Abiola Dead -Obasanjo

 obasanjo
                            Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

ARUKAINO UMUKORO

A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, revealed on Saturday that the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha wanted him, the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and the June 12 hero, the late Moshood Abiola, died while in prison.

He stated this at a dinner programme organised by an inter-denominational Christian organisation, Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 39 Chapter.

The former president alleged that Yar’Adua was poisoned by Abacha’s killer squad, adding that he was to be next victim, but that he was saved by God’s divine grace.

Obasanjo said, “Two people had earlier told me Abacha promised that three of us would not come out of prison or detention alive; myself. Shehu Yar Adua and MKO Abiola. And two of them did not come out alive. So, that I came out alive, maybe God has a purpose. And therefore if the purpose is for me to serve the people and by so doing,  serve God, then so be it.

“Abacha claimed that I was plotting a coup. I wasn’t the first to be arrested. When Shehu (Yar’Adua) was arrested, I tried to plead for his release. When Abacha said he didn’t know about Shehu’s arrest, I said to him, ‘the number two man in this country cannot be arrested without you knowing.’ He then said he would go and find out.

“In Abacha’s plan, he left God out of it and because he left God out of his plan, it (his government) eventually failed. There is God’s hand in the life of each and every one of us and every institution. I believe that very well.

“When I was arrested, they took me to a house in Ikoyi (Lagos) and that became my abode (I was) in isolation, for three months.

“In the meantime, there were national and international pressures for my release, (former US) President Jimmy Carter was one of the world leaders that came to ask for my release. Some African leaders like Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe came. I believe it was because of those pressures that I was released from isolation in Ikoyi where I was under house arrest.”

Obasanjo described the day he was court-martialled and sentenced as one of the ‘worst days in his life.’

He said, “I must say that that day, in a split second, it felt like the worst day in my life. What flashed through my mind was that I was forever ruined. I asked myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this? Is this what I get for serving Nigeria?’ But then, I told myself again that this was not done to me by Nigeria, but that one man did it for me.”

Obasanjo said he and Yar’Adua were detained in Jos and Port Harcourt prisons because they were the best prisons in the country at the time.

He said, “I was to go to Jos (prison) and Yar’Adua was to go to Port Harcourt (prison). In Jos, I was visited by my colleagues, including Yakubu Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, many of our colleagues, and then family members and friends.

“Then a decision was made that I was becoming too popular in Jos prison and I had to be transferred to. Yola prison which is a native authority prison and I don’t need to tell you what life was there.

“In Jos prison, before I was transferred to Yola prison, they had decided that Shehu Yar’Adua and myself should be poisoned. So, they took him from Port Harcourt prison to Abakaliki. In the process, he was injected with the virus that killed him. The same was supposed to be done to me. The man who came took me from the prison to a guest house in the GRA in Jos,  said, ‘We know you have a problem with cholesterol so I have to take your blood for a test.’ Then I said, ‘Not on your life, I don’t have any problem with cholesterol.’

“I was slightly diabetic. But God had taken care of it because I was checking my blood sugar almost on a daily basis and it had become better than normal. So, I refused him (the man) touching me with anything. So, they took me to Yola and he said, ‘when you get to where you are going, we will come again.’”

The former president said he was saved from being poisoned by a doctor and specialist in the prison.

“The doctor was a professional man in charge of the General Hospital in Yola. He listened to my case that I needed special food because I was diabetic. He said the specialist would come to see me. The specialist turned out to be somebody from Okeogun in Oyo State. Two, he was a Baptist, and three, he had heard about me and knew me. So, he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t let anybody touch you with anything.’

“Within three weeks the man that came to me earlier returned again and said he wanted to take my blood. I said, ‘No, you have to get my doctor to come and take my blood for you.’ That was the arrangement between me and the doctor. And my doctor came and he brought a syringe and he took my blood and gave it to him. He now asked the man, ‘When would we have the result? ’The man said, ‘Within 24 hours of my getting to Abuja.’I haven’t heard the result until today.”

Obasanjo said after his release from prison, he gave into pressure to contest for the presidency and he ended up becoming president for two terms by the grace of God. “Nigeria that was a pariah state became a darling (of the world).

“What is the lesson for me? I developed in prison but unfortunately, I was not able to sustain it. Maybe because there was nothing else to do in prison except to pray and fast. I used to fast a lot. On three occasions, I fasted for seven days, no water, no food… a unique power was given to me by God.

“In all these, God did not leave me alone, and I know that.  I say to people that God has never let me alone nor disappointed me in spite of all. I am a sinner. It is not because of my goodness, but because of the grace of God, and the grace of God continues to abound.”  (Punchng.com)

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