Nigerian citizen and APC Special Assistant to Ogun state governor, Abidemi Rufai has been exposed in the United States for widespread unemployment benefits fraud, in what seems like a vast network of fraudulent activities with his accomplices.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI after several months of investigation arrested Mr Abidemi Rufai at J.F. Kennedy airport as he was about to leave the United States.
He has been arrested by the US FBI for a widespread fraudulwnt activities that seemed to have covered over 10 states in the United States and may warrant more arrests to uncover more of his accomplices.
At the moment he is being charged by FBI in Washington DC for $350, 000 but a video obtained by The Republican News shows that the fraud uncovered in many states may be linked to him and his accomplices in their fraudulent team activities. Also a tweet by FBI Seattle confirms the case
The video obtained by The Republican News painted uglier picture of the activities of Mr Abidemi Rufai against the Social Security Department. It stated that he used identity of over 100 people to falsely claim unemployment benefits.
The FBI uncovered that in 10 states, Hawai, Missouri, Main, Montana, New York, Ohio, Pensylavainia, Wiscoson, Michigan others, that he and his accomplices took millions of dollars from unemployment funds.
From the report seen by The Republican News, it is estimated that $642m unemployment benefits are paid to fraudsters of which $369m has been recovered, this leaves a whopping $273m still unaccounted for.
The United States has said there is no plan to relocate its Africa Command from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any other part of Africa despite the worsening state of insecurity in the region.
The US gave the response barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari, appealed to the US government to consider relocating AFRICOM to Africa to assist Nigeria and other adjoining countries to combat worsening terrorism, banditry and other security crises.
The President made the plea in a virtual meeting with the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, on April 27.
Germany-based Africa Command (AFRICOM) is the US military headquarters that oversees its operations in Africa.
Buhari’s request followed a series of recent military casualties in Nigeria’s decade-long fight against Boko Haram terrorists, fresh expansion of the insurgents’ bases to Niger and Nasarawa States, and heavy waves of abductions and killings by bandits in the North.
Buhari said, “The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively, by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region.
“Compounded as the situation remains, Nigeria and her security forces remain resolutely committed to containing them and addressing their root causes.
“The support of important and strategic partners like the United States cannot be overstated as the consequences of insecurity will affect all nations, hence the imperative for concerted cooperation and collaboration of all nations to overcome these challenges.
“In this connection, and considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider relocating AFRICOM headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa and near the Theatre of Operation.”
However, the US government on Thursday ruled out any plan to relocate AFRICOM from its current base in Germany to Nigeria or any part of Africa.
According to the United States Department of Defence’ Pentagon, previous studies have shown that the cost of relocating AFRICOM from Germany to Africa is very huge.
In an emailed response to Saturday PUNCH, the Pentagon said although it would continue to value Nigeria and other countries in Africa as important partners, the American government would not consider relocating AFRICOM to any part of the African continent at the moment.
This newspaper had asked if the US would consider Nigeria’s request to relocate AFRICOM to the continent.
“It would be inappropriate to speculate on any future actions. However, at this time, moving this headquarters (AFRICOM HQ) to Africa is not part of any plans, but USAFRICOM’s commitment to their mission, our African and other partners, remains as strong today as when we launched this command more than a decade ago,” US Pentagon spokesperson, Ms Cindi King, said.
King also ruled out any plan to consider Buhari’s request in an ongoing global US defence review.
She said, “Although there is an ongoing Global Posture Review, the relocation of Combatant Command headquarters is outside the scope of its assessment. In the case of AFRICOM, previous studies have concluded that the cost associated with the relocation of this headquarters is significant and likely to incur the expense of other engagement opportunities and activities that more directly benefit our valued African partners.
“We greatly value the partnership with Nigeria and appreciate President Buhari’s recognition of the United States’ positive contribution to African peace and security, as well as other regional partners that have made similar past pronouncements. The United States remains committed to continuing our close partnership with African countries and organisations to promote security and stability.”
It’s ‘near impossible’ for America to accept Buhari’s invitation –Campbell, ex-US ambassador
Meanwhile, a former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, has listed reasons why it is “unlikely or near impossible” for the US government to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart in Germany to Nigeria or any part of the continent.
He said aside from the fact that the cost of doing so is very huge, the Nigerian military had proved to be a difficult partner for the US over the years.
In an emailed interview with Saturday PUNCH, Campbell, who is the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington, DC-based think-tank, said, “From an American perspective, moving AFRICOM’s headquarters after 14 years in Stuttgart would be a major undertaking.
“However, should the AFRICOM headquarters move, it is unlikely – if not impossible – that it would be to Africa, with its logistical challenges. Some in the US Congress support moving AFRICOM’s headquarters to the United States as a cost-effective alternative. For example, South Carolina’s senators, both Republican, have advocated moving it to Charleston, the site of large US military installations.
“It is mostly a matter of money. Moving AFRICOM to Africa would require the construction of a sophisticated installation in areas where the basic infrastructure may not yet have been developed. Moving it to the United States would mean making use of already existing but underused installation (e.g., perhaps Charleston) that could be quickly and more cheaply expanded, if necessary.”
The ex-envoy, however, said Buhari’s request marked a reversal of Nigeria’s official opposition to AFRICOM plans to move it to the continent 14 years ago.
“The shift likely reflects the conclusion that the security situation in West Africa and Nigeria is out of control, spurring a willingness to consider options hitherto unacceptable. Buhari argued that AFRICOM’s headquarters should be closer to the theatre of operations. He also seemed to imply greater US involvement in West African security, including a kinetic dimension in the context of greater Western support for West Africa’s response to its security threats.”
He recalled that when President George W Bush established AFRICOM in 2007, a military-civilian hybrid command in support of Africa, African official reaction was largely hostile, seeing the effort as “neo-colonialist.”
Campbell said, “The Nigerian government took the lead in persuading or strong-arming other African states against accepting the AFRICOM headquarters, which was thereupon established at Stuttgart, Germany, already the headquarters of the European Command.
“In addition to opposing AFRICOM in the first place, the Nigerian military authorities have been largely uncooperative with the US military. Hence, the US military involvement in Nigeria, beyond limited training operations, is minimal, and the country does not host any American defence installations.
“Successive Nigerian governments have wanted to purchase sophisticated American military equipment but have rejected US oversight. In fact, Nigerian purchases of US military materials have been rare, despite their high-profile, ultimately successful purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucanos – sophisticated aircraft.”
Why US can’t relocate AFRICOM troops from Germany to Nigeria –Chatham House fellow
Corroborating Campbell’s view, an Associate Fellow at the United Kingdom-based Chatham House, Matthew Page, said there was no prospect of the US relocating its AFRICOM HQ from Germany to any part of Africa.
Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute headquarters whose mission is to provide authoritative commentary on world events and offer solutions to global challenges.
Page said, “There is absolutely no prospect of this happening. A combatant command headquarters is an administrative node that requires enormous physical infrastructure and thousands of personnel (and their families) to sustain it. They need to be able to safely live, work, and send their children to school locally. The Nigerian government is unable to safeguard the lives of hard-working Nigerians, never mind a US military installation that would be a juicy target for a terrorist attack.
“With the exception of European Command and Africa Command – which for longstanding historical reasons are located and headquartered in Germany – all combatant commands are located in the United States. These commands do have forward elements and subordinate commands based in the theatre of operations, such as Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) based in Djibouti. But these typically are task-specific and have a light local footprint. The United States is not – and doesn’t want to be – an imperial power with permanent military outposts on the continent. Nor should African leaders be asking it to become one.”
Page, who was previously with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, further said, “I am sure the Biden administration was puzzled by President Buhari’s invitation, given that Nigeria has been a reluctant and difficult security partner for the United States. The Nigerian Army has long viewed US military engagement in West Africa with deep suspicion, shunning deeper ties and ignoring Washington’s calls for security sector reform and human rights improvements. Inviting AFRICOM to relocate to Nigeria is the equivalent of proposing marriage before going on a first date.”
Nigeria, other African leaders must take responsibility for citizens’ security –Expert
However, a counter-terrorism expert and Senior Researcher for the Lake Chad Basin Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, Dakar, Senegal, Dr Akinola Olojo, has said that Buhari and other African leaders must take responsibility for the security of their citizens, noting that the entire burden cannot be pushed on foreign countries.
He spoke against a backdrop of Nigeria and African countries getting US help in the fight against terrorists and other criminals in the region.
Olojo said, “The relocation of the United States Africa Command from Germany to Africa would depend on a number of factors anchored on the foreign policy priorities of the US in the current period. Beyond this, however, is the need for Nigeria (and African countries) to be sincere with a self-interrogation regarding whether the relocation of an external entity such as AFRICOM will address Africa’s challenges of insecurity.
“The ultimate burden of responsibility for ensuring the human security of African citizens lies on the leadership or governments in Africa. The presence of French troops supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force for nearly a decade has not really solved the fundamental or root causes of the crisis affecting Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with global partnerships when it comes to addressing insecurity. Besides, challenges such as violent extremism have a transnational character and in early 2020, the US and Kenya launched a joint terrorism task force. As long as such frameworks are mutually beneficial, this is good.
“However, the governments of Nigeria and countries in Africa must begin to live up to the responsibility entrusted to them by citizens. In other words, leadership in Africa must inspire and drive the process for implementing the different policy frameworks and national action plans which already exist on the continent.”
Meanwhile, a government official familiar with US operations said even if the US chose to relocate its AFRICOM to Nigeria or any part of the West Coast, it would come with its own challenges which might affect Nigeria or its neighbours adversely.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “Bringing AFRICOM to Africa or Nigeria will be a major problem for Nigeria and the African continent. Bringing AFRICOM to Nigeria, for example, will be tantamount to inviting or attracting all the enemies of the US, including global terrorist organisations, to the host country. Such a host country will become a subject of attack from terrorist organisations.”
President Joe Biden had in February stopped the planned withdrawal of US troops from Germany that was ordered last year by the Donald Trump administration but had never actually begun, Associated Press reported.
Biden said the troops’ pullout would be halted until the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin did a review of America’s troops presence around the globe.
Austin, he said, would ensure that “our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities.”
In a statement, Austin said the US Department of Defence would conduct “a global force posture review of U.S. military footprint, resources, strategy and missions.”
The review, he said, “will inform my advice to the commander in chief about how we best allocate military forces in pursuit of national interests. The review will be led by the acting undersecretary of defence for policy, in close consultation with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
Last year, President Trump announced that he was going to pull out about 9,500 of the roughly 34,500 US troops stationed in Germany. The US has several major military facilities in the country, including Ramstein Air Base, the headquarters for US European Command and US Africa Command, and Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre, the largest American hospital outside the United States.
Trump’s order met resistance from Congress as well as from within the military, which has long relied on Germany as a key ally and base of operations. Trump announced the troop cuts after repeatedly accusing Germany of not paying enough for its own defence, calling the long time NATO ally “delinquent” for failing to spend two per cent of its GDP on defence, the alliance benchmark.
Austin hinted at a likely reconsideration of the order in a conversation with his German counterpart.
German officials believe the order will be rescinded by the new administration, and the German Defence Ministry said that in Austin’s call with his German counterpart, he “emphasised that Germany is highly valued as a station and that American soldiers feel very comfortable here.”
“The US continues to consider its presence in Germany as an important part of joint security,” the Defense Ministry said.
■ Seven Republican Senators vote with Democrats to convict
■ The Senate found Trump not guilty of inciting insurrection after a majority of Republicans voted against convicting the former president.
By Dareh Gregorian
The Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection largely along party lines, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in U.S. history and the second for Trump.
Only seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress. The final vote was 57 to 43, far short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction.
Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted guilty.
The vote means the Senate cannot bar Trump from holding future federal offices.
Moments after the vote concluded, the former president issued a statement praising his legal team and thanking the senators and other members of Congress “who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”
With control of the Senate split 50-50, the House managers always had an uphill battle when it came to convincing enough Republicans to cross party lines and convict a former president who is still very popular with a large part of the GOP base.
In his closing argument, House manager Joe Neguse, D-Colo., argued, “The stakes could not be higher. Because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning.”
Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., urged the senators to think of the future.
“Senators, this trial, in the final analysis, is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are,” Raskin said.
Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen, meanwhile, insisted his client did nothing wrong and maintained he was the victim of vengeful Democrats and a biased news media. He called the impeachment proceedings a “charade from beginning to end.”
The managers’ task became more difficult Saturday when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in an email to his colleagues that he would vote to acquit since Trump was already out of office.
“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” the influential Kentucky Republican wrote in the email, which was obtained by NBC News.
McConnell, who’d rebuffed Democratic efforts to start the trial while Trump was still in office, had condemned Trump’s conduct after the riot and said he’d keep an open mind about voting to convict — something he’d ruled out entirely during Trump’s first impeachment trial last year.
McConnell suggested in the email that Trump could still face other penalties.
“The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House,” he wrote.
Opening arguments began on Wednesday, with House managers blaming the riot on Trump’s months-long campaign to cast doubt on the 2020 election, and his repeated assertions that the only way he would lose was if the election was “stolen.” They focused on his fiery speech on the morning of the Jan. 6 riot, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” — and his refusal to take action after they did.
Trump declined a request from managers to testify at the trial, and refused to even submit a statement for it, facts Raskin urged senators to keep in mind on Saturday.
“I ask any of you, if you were charged with inciting violent insurrection against our country, and you’re falsely accused, would you come and testify? I know I would,” Raskin said.
The trial was the fourth of an impeached president. No president has ever been convicted.
President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday offered its “strong support” to Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the World Trade Organisation, AFP reports.
The move marks another sharp split with former President Donald Trump who paralysed the organisation and opposed the former Nigerian finance minister who was backed by many other countries.
The US Trade Representative in a statement cited her “wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy” and said she had “proven experience managing a large international organization.”
The PUNCH had reported early Friday that South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, Okonjo-Iweala’s sole opponent in the race for the top job, withdrew her bid to lead the WTO leaving the former Nigerian Finance Minister as the only remaining candidate for the job.
Yoo was said made the decision after discussions with the United States and other major nations, and took various issues into account “comprehensively” including the need to revitalize the multilateral organization, according to a statement from Korea’s trade ministry on Friday.
All along the selection process which started mid last year, the 66-year-old former minister had said she remained positive of becoming the first African and first female director-general in the 25-year history of the WTO despite ‘hiccups’.
Okonjo-Iweala serves on Twitter’s board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance as well as a special envoy for the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 fight. (Punch)
The United States of America says Nigeria’s performance on security and provision of the most basic infrastructure is horrendously low and urged it’s citizens and other intending visitors to reconsider visiting Nigeria.
The US Embassy, on its website recently, described Nigeria in very unflattering terms. It harps on two major albatrosses, namely crude infrastructure and poor security.
“Anyone familiar with the Nigerian terrain knows full well that its performance in these two areas is horrendously low”, the Embassy wrote.
For instance, on health, the embassy said Nigeria has well-trained health professionals but lacks good health facilities. It particularly notes that many medicines are unavailable, including medications for diabetes and hypertension.
It says that medicine should be purchased with utmost caution because counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a common problem and distinguishing them from genuine medications may prove difficult.
The expose’ also says that Nigerian hospitals often expect immediate cash payments for the health services rendered. It thumbs down the emergency health services in the country, saying that they are practically non-existent, and circumscribed by unreliable and unsafe blood supply for transfusion.
It then counsels intending visitors to Nigeria to consider Europe, South Africa or the United States itself for treatments that require such services. It notes, quite sadly, that “ambulance services are not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas.”
The embassy, further speaking on water supply in Nigeria, noted that “no areas (in Nigeria) have safe tap water.”
It added that roads are generally in poor condition, causing damage to vehicles and contributing to hazardous traffic conditions.
“By the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, the approved lifespan of water pipes is five years. Sadly, these pipes have hardly ever been replaced since they were laid decades ago, so it is proper to consider pipe-borne water wherever it exists in the country as unsafe. It is clear that even ice blocks brewed from such unsafe sources are not to be trusted for human consumption. In the areas of roads and safe traffic”, it wrote.
It also berates the public transport system, describing it as unsafe throughout the country. According to it, “public transportation vehicles such as buses and motorbikes are unsafe due to poor maintenance, high speed and overcrowding.” Sadly, it is not certain that governments across the country have ever considered the import of this damning description on the US website, otherwise they would have taken concrete steps to make the country a truly modern society.
President Donald Trump has finally conceded and announced to cooperate with the transition of power to the President-elect, Joseph Robin Biden. Trump in his live broadcast called for peace and reconciliation though he still maintained that he was calling for protection of democracy. He wants the election processes to sanitise eligibility of voters, via checking the process of voting, those who are allowed to vote.
Trump has since the election maintained that he will not concede because he believed he won the election by a landslide, something that is clear is only in his own head and not reflected in any facts and figures from the election so far.
The link below leads to the live broadcast by President Trump during his concession speech where he called for peace and reconciliation. Many now want him to pay for creating the scenario that led to desecration of the seat of democracy in the United States.
Following the backlash from the rioters who invaded the Capitol building and the House of Representatives Chamber and offices, especially that of the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, many have called for impeachment and resignation of the President.
The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi has called on Vice President, Mike Pence to invoke 45th Amendment, which will lead to impeachment of Trump. Though Mike Pence has maintained that he will not invoke 25th Amendment. Many have also said that there is no need for such process since there is only 13 days left for the inauguration of the President-elect, Joe Biden.
Though, the president claimed in his speech that he called on national guards but evidence points to vice-president for making such call that helped to restore order at the Capitol building.
One Congressman said that every day that Trump remains a president is a grave danger to democracy of the United States. Some have called for his resignation, something many would consider mission impossible judging from the character of a man who refused to accept the election and the outcome irrespective of his unsuccessful legal tussles.
The good news is that the man has finally conceded and the process of handover will now commence and the fear of any escalation has now subsided. The institutions of the democracy have finally won.
‘To this day, many people in Nigeria think I killed him.’
That was the opening line in the riveting account of the last hour of the late Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola as told by Ambassador Susan Rice. She was one of the visiting American diplomats in whose presence the presumed winner of the 1993 presidential election died on 7th July 1998. More significantly, Rice was the one who served Abiola the famous last tea. For the past 22 years, the former National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama has refrained from speaking on what exactly happened that day. But in her memoir, “TOUGH LOVE: My story of the things worth fighting for”, Rice recounts not only how Abiola died but also confirmed the street gossip about the last hour of the late General Sani Abacha.
In the memoir, Rice also recounts how she was conceived in Lagos during the two years her parents spent in Nigeria at a time her father was helping in the establishment of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) after independence. As the American diplomat with Africa as her brief, Rice also recalls many of the crises on the continent, especially the one that eventually led to the death of Col Muammar Ghadafi in Libya and the encounters she had at different times with African leaders, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo who on one occasion was “nonchalantly hurling well-picked chicken bones—much to our amusement—backward over his shoulders across the presidential suite.” Now, let’s begin with the story of one of the most momentous periods in Nigeria’s political history from Rice, a former US Ambassador to the United Nations: The death of Abacha and Abiola.
In early July 1998, I traveled to Nigeria with Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Pickering, who was then among the most senior career Foreign Service Officers. As assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, I had gotten to know Pickering, my immediate boss, as a wise, fast-talking, and deeply knowledgeable diplomat. Having served as ambassador to six major countries and the United Nations, Pickering had seen and heard almost everything. The purpose of our trip to Nigeria was to encourage a responsible political transition. The nasty former dictator, Sani Abacha, had died a month earlier in the company of prostitutes. Viagra was reportedly involved. His interim successor was a moderate leader, Abdulsalami Abubakar, who hoped to shepherd Nigeria through a democratic election to select its new leader.
A primary objective of our visit was to meet the wrongfully imprisoned opposition leader, Moshood Abiola. He was the presumed winner of Nigeria’s 1993 election, but the results were annulled, and he was later arrested. We hoped to negotiate his freedom so that he could participate in the upcoming election.
Along with Pickering and U.S ambassador to Nigeria Bill Twadell, I met Mr. Abiola in an austere government guesthouse on the vast presidential complex in the capital, Abuja. A large and imposing man, Abiola came with his minder shortly after we arrived. Pickering, a former ambassador to Nigeria, knew Abiola from years past and greeted him warmly. Abiola, robust and happy to see us, sat on the couch and began to tell us how poorly he had been treated during his four years in prison. He was wearing sandals and multilayered traditional Nigerian dress. I noted that his ankles were swollen.
About five minutes into the conversation, Abiola started to cough, at first mildly and intermittently, and then wrackingly with consistency. He said he was hot, so I asked his dutiful minder, “Please turn up the air-conditioning.” Noticing a tea service on the table between us, I offered Abiola, “Would you like some tea to help calm your cough?”
“Yes,” he said, with appreciation, and I poured him a cup. He sipped it, but continued coughing. Increasingly uncomfortable, Abiola removed his outer layer, leaving one layer on top. I shot Pickering a worried glance.
The coughing became dramatic. I told the assembled men, “I think we better call for a doctor.” No one argued. The minder immediately placed the call. Abiola asked to be excused and went into the bathroom of our meeting room. When he emerged, he was bare-chested and sweating profusely, barely able to talk. He lay down on the couch writhing and then rolled facedown onto the floor. The doctor arrived promptly, took a quick look at him, and declared that Abiola was having a heart attack and must be transported to the hospital immediately. The men labored to lift the heavy Abiola into a small car, and we rushed to the nearby, rudimentary presidential hospital. I grabbed his eye-glasses off of a side table where he left them, his only belonging, thinking of his daughter Hafsat in the U.S whom I’d met before we left. The doctors worked on him, furiously, but within an hour they pronounced him dead.
We braced for violence. Abiola’s sudden and mysterious death would hit like a bombshell in Nigeria’s political tinderbox. Conspiracy theories would spread like metastatic cancer. Serious unrest throughout Nigeria was possible. Washington would hyperventilate, since it’s not every day a major figure drops dead with senior U.S officials. His family would need to be told. And, urgently, Nigeria’s acting president would have to hear directly from us, even though his minister was present at the hospital and knew how it went down.
Ambassador Twadell panicked and urged me and Pickering to rush to the airport and leave the country immediately. “Hell no,” we said. This delicate situation required deft management, not a hurried exit in a cloud of suspicion.
Right away, I called National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, my former boss, briefed him, and dictated a White House press release. Then we went to the Nigerian presidential palace to relay the entire drama to the acting president. We urged him to issue a careful statement to announce the establishment of an autopsy by international experts, in order to quell rife speculation and limit the potential violence. The acting president did both.
Next, Pickering, Twadell, and I went with former Nigerian Foreign Minister Baba Kingibe to see Abiola’s wives and daughters. All of us walked in together, but soon I realized that I was effectively alone in the room with these distraught women. The men had hung far back and left the job to me—just like the pouring of the tea. I proceeded to explain that their husband/father was dead. He had died of an apparent heart attack that began in our meeting. The doctors did all they could to save him but could not. The ladies’ wailing was so intense, it haunts me to this day.
We briefed the press, and I returned to the U.S embassy to write the official cable to report what had happened. As a senior official, I almost never wrote up cables summarizing meetings but in this case there was no more efficient way to ensure we got this very important history straight.
As I was typing, I heard in the distance on the CNN a familiar voice of indignation. It was none other than the Reverend Jesse Jackson, then serving as President Clinton’s special envoy for the promotion of democracy in Africa. Reverend Jackson served capably in this role, and with good intentions, but on this occasion, I could have throttled him. He was riffling about how Abiola died under suspicious circumstances in a meeting with U.S. officials. I could not believe my ears—our own guy implying we were killers! Immediately, I placed a call to his longtime aide Yuri and asked them to shut the Reverend down. “Please, just get him off the set.” That happened, even as I was still watching the segment.
We stayed overnight in Nigeria to try to calm things, offer any needed assistance to the government, and make an orderly departure. Fortunately, despite deep public upset, no significant violence occurred. The autopsy eventually confirmed the cause of death as a heart attack. Nonetheless, it was Nigeria where conspiracy theories abound. The most popular, which still has currency over twenty years later, is that I killed Abiola by pouring him poisoned tea.
From that experience, I found that being a woman policymaker comes with unique hazards. The men would not have offered, much less thought, to pour the tea. They may have swiftly called for a doctor. They may not have been able to break the bad news to the wives. Not for the first time, it was I, not they, who took the public fall for a crime nobody committed.
NOTE: Rice also wrote a brief on her Nigerian connection:
Almost immediately after their wedding, my parents moved to Lagos, Nigeria, where Dad had been sent by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as a research advisor to help establish the Central Bank of Nigeria in the wake of the country’s independence. Mom took leave from the College Board and worked for the Ford Foundation as an educational specialist for West Africa. Their two years in Nigeria, punctuated by travel around West Africa and Europe, were, by all accounts, enjoyable. They amassed an impressive collection of Nigerian art, including valuable sculptures that were a visual fixture of my upbringing. I was conceived in Nigeria. Toward the end of their stay, Mom became pregnant with me, and I have long amused myself with the hypothesis that my origins in Nigeria, combined with my Irish and Jamaican ancestors, explain a lot both about my temperament and attraction to all things international. (Factnote)
**threatens to seek legal redress against sponsors or publishers of such “false information”.
Wife of Brigadier-General Charles Nengite, Chizoba, has denied allegations that between $11m and $15m was found in her bank account in the United States.
Mrs Nengite also said allegations that she was being investigated for money laundering in America were false.
She threatened to seek legal redress against sponsors or publishers of such “false information”.
There were reports last December that the Nigerian Army detained Brigadier-General Nengite following the discovery of $16m in a bank account belonging to his wife.
He was said to have been held by the Army’s Special Investigations Bureau, a department that handles matters relating to fraud and money laundering.
But Mrs Nengite, in a statement through her lawyer, Taofik Adeleke, described publications linking her to any such money as “false and malicious”.
Adeleke said, “A false allegation by unknown sources was made against our client insinuating that our client was involved in money laundering activities.
“The said publications specifically stated that monies ranging from between $11m to $15m was found in our client’s private account in the United States of America and that our client is under investigation by the authorities in the United States of America.
“The false publication caused Mrs Nengite and her family a lot of undue embarrassment thus necessitating the need to refute the wrong information now in the public domain.
“We wish to state unequivocally on behalf of our client that the information is not true.
“At no time was such an amount of money or any huge sums of money found in our client’s account to warrant the false and malicious publication.”
According to Adeleke, the woman had “never at any time been invited, interrogated or questioned by authorities in America as falsely claimed in the said publication.
“The false information in the public domain is only an imagination in the mind of mischief makers.” (Sahara Reporters)
The tussle for the Imo State Government House has taken a new turn, with Ndi Imo abroad under the aegis of Imo Diaspora Coalition for Justice and Democracy petitioning United States President Donald Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi over last week’s controversial judgement by the Nigerian Supreme Court removing Governor Emeka Ihedioha and replacing him with Hope Uzodinma.
The coalition in the petition which has gone viral faulted the verdict as illogical and requested a visa ban on those who delivered it. The petitioners a statement issued over the weekend announced that they have set the goal to get 1,000 signatures by Wednesday, January 22, 2020.
The petition reads:
“Dear President Trump,
“Nigeria’s Disgraceful Partisan Supreme Court Must Reverse Her Recent Perverted Ruling or Be Placed on Visa Ban or no Fly List, Including Members of their Immediate Families
“The Nigeria’s Supreme Court recently in what has been described a “judicial coup”, overturned the landslide Imo State Governorship electoral mandate, given to Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and handed victory to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Party candidate, Hope Uzodinma, who came a distant fourth position in the election. Imo State is a totally Christian State!
“On March 9, 2019, during Nigeria’s gubernatorial elections held in Imo State Nigeria, the incumbent APC Party candidate, Hope Uzodinma lost in this highly Christians concentrated enclave to a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), candidate, former Speaker of the National House of Representatives Rt. Hon Emeka Ihedioha, a Knight of the order of St. Christopher of the Anglican Communion, and three others. According to official figures of the electoral umpire – the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the results were as follows;
1. Accredited voters is = 823,743.
2. The total valid votes cast is = 714,355
3. Rejected votes = 25,130
4. Total votes cast (Line 2 Plus 3) is = 739,485
The top four candidates received the following number of votes:
“On the basis of the above the INEC declared Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha the winner. However, thereafter all the losers went to court, with Hon Ihedioha sustaining his win at the tribunal, and again at the appeal court. Then at the Supreme Court something strange and yet inexplicable happened, the Supreme Court accepted previously tendered and INEC rejected 213,699 votes from Mr Hope Uzodinma, the fourth placed candidate which was adjudged to be fake and unreliable by the trial Tribunal and concurred by the Court of Appeal.
“They added these fake votes to the official INEC declared votes for him of 96,458 to give Mr Uzodinma the winning votes of 310,153.
“But in a haste to gain foothold in this Christian enclave of Imo State, through their proxy Mr Uzodinma (a notorious character who had been indicted by a Presidential Task Force on fraud for diverting over $11m meant for dredging a government sea port channel and currently has a bench warrant for his arrest issued by an Abuja Magistrate Court for issuance of N200 million naira dud cheque amongst other criminal infractions) they forgot simple Arithmetic.
“When that whole fake results were added without adjustment to other figures, it brought the total votes cast to 928,054 , which is not only higher than INEC declared total valid votes cast of 714,355 but total number of accredited voters of 823,743 for the election. Yet, the Supreme Court in a bizarre judgment awarded more votes to the fourth placed candidate, that inflated total votes cast above the number of voters, and made him winner. When confronted in private, two of the justices said, “we were under instructions”.
“Nigeria legal system allows for Supreme Court to reverse itself in certain circumstances including where the judgement was obtained by fraudulent representations as in the case herein.
“It is based on these that we are calling on the partisan-agenda driven Nigeria’s Supreme court to review and reverse their decision, within ten days, or be sanctioned alongside their immediate families with visa ban and/or put on international No-fly list.
“The compromised Justices who delivered this atrocious ruling and who we demand sanctioned, if they fail to reverse their fraudulent judgement are
“Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad,
“Justice Kudrat Kekere-Ekun,
“Justice Sylvester Ngwuta,
“Justice Olukayode Ariwoola,
“Justice Aminu Sanusi, Amina Augie, and
“Justice Uwani Abba-Aji.
“We need your intervention Mr. President!
The petition was signed by the following:
Eddie Oparaoji; Matthew Mbanaja; Chijike Ndukwu; Chiwuikem Ihediwa; Adaugo Vivian Agwuocha; Hyacinth Nwachukwu; Jerry Uchechukwu; Joy Mmegwa; Anyanwu Benedict; Benson Ifeanyi; Kelechi Eberechi; AIhetuge Paschal; Ntim Jonathan; Nneoma Jonathan; Festus Nnodim; Patricia Ndubuisi; Uchenna Nomso; Chidiebere Madumere; Noble Ndubuisi; Flavius Ndubuisi; Goodness Nwafor; Eusebius Emereole; Calista Nnadi; Victor Chikere; Petrus Onyeokoro; Ugochukwu Nwanna; Michael Ishiguzo; Stan Ogadinma; Amam Nwaopara; Ejike Ozoemena; Zeph Achilonu; Isidore Nwoko; Basil Ugwo; Chima Ozioma; Marcel Njoku; Lucky Toochukwu; Ken Obijuru; Emeka Ebiringa; Paul Nwankwo; Michael Izundu; Joshua Ohanu; Christopher Ihekaire; Stella Amanze; Judith Ahamefule; Silas Etoh; Flavor Onyakachi; Luke Chilaka; Chinonso Udeze; Canice Onu; Charles Umudim; Obasi Agwulonu; Nathan Nkemakolam; Vitus Gozie; Bartholomew Akachi; Thomas Abara; Nwada Akanegbu; Kelechi Wilson; Chizoma Samuel; Enyinna Azuogu; Nnenna Onuoha; Austin Ibeawuchi; Obi Chetachi; Fidelis Okoronkwo; Alphonsus Madubuchi; Daniel Uka; Lawrence Unachukwu; Helen Nwachukwu; Philomena Ogbuja; Deborah Opara; Declan Agwulonu; Polycarp Ejekam; Suzanna Ikeh; Ekene Dimkpa; Stephen Ejiogu; Magellan Ebomuche; David Aso; Damian Ukaga; Kyrian Asoluka; Peter Ezeude; Joseph Okwu; Tunde Ibekwe; Nwalozie Obinna; Ahunna Chidebere; Chinedu Chiedozie; Esther Nweze; Bentley Ogbonna; Thed Clement; Chizoba Nwuzor; Nosike Ebirim; Uchenne Chimezie; Gabriel. C. Madu; Kings Nnaji; Chinemerem Daniel Owuliri; Anthony Egbuhuzor; Robert Unegbu; Eddie Eze Ojukwu; Olelewe Nwamaka; Godwin Osuagwu; James Osuagwu; Charles Ihejirika; Donatus O. Ekeanyanwu; Kate Nwaete-Nwanedo; Patrick Iroegbu; Charlie Ogbuehi; Ibeh Tobechukwu Cynthia; Ndukwu Prisca; Chuks Ikedigwe; Chimaeze Amadi; Prince Ferdinand Alilonu; Moses Ohaegbuchi; Anne Nkwocha; Colman Ejerenwa; Njoku Obioma; Esther Anosike; Olivia Anyanwu; Bismarck Njoku; Austin Ifeanyi; Anad Daberechi Ezebunwa; Chisom Ezebunwa; Zara Blessing; Eburuche John; Ogechi Ugwo; and Julius Udekwe. (Expressnews)
The leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu has revealed that the push for agitation has received a revelation by the top countries and the declaration will shake the whole world after the announcement will be made by the United Nations, United States , and European Union body in 2020.
According to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu who gladly received the news and urged all IPOB members to keep the celebration mood high without violence.
Nnamdi Kanu has urged all IPOB members that Biafra freedom will be announced in 2020 and the joy, jubilation and celebration of Biafrans will shake the whole world.
IPOB has reacted to the news that the only joy is to achieve Biafra freedom in 2020 and all the Biafrans across the world has joined hand in hand to the push for Biafra referendum.
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