THIRD TERM FALL-OUT: OBASANJO SEEKS ATIKU’S IMPEACHMENT
The bad blood generated over the failed third term bid is expected to culminate in a major political crisis this morning (Thursday) as President Olusegun Obasanjo seeks the impeachment of Vice President Atiku Abubakar by the National Assembly.
Last night, the President forwarded a memo to Senate President Ken Nnamani on the purported findings of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) investigations of alleged wrong doings by the Vice President.
The drama began this morning at the Federal Executive Council meeting when President Obasanjo presented the so-called findings of the EFCC to Council members for deliberation.It was smuggled into the Council agenda as “extraordinary matters”.The President then asked Atiku to leave the Council chambers to allow members to discuss the matter.But before taking his leave, Atiku gave the President a memo, protesting against the fact that he had not been given a copy of the EFCC report that the Council was being invited to deliberate upon.
The EFCC, ostensibly acting on a request made by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to question a number of people connected with the agency’s investigation of U.S. Congressman William Jefferson over a bribery case, had sought Atiku’s clarifications on his relationship with Jefferson.
Atiku in his response maintained that the Congressman had written through the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, DC seeking a meeting with the Vice President concerning a communications business in Nigeria.Atiku forwarded the letter to the Ministry of Communications for necessary action.Although he granted the Congressman an audience at his residence in Maryland last year, he categorically denied any untoward business deals with Jefferson.
The EFCC acting under the pretext of assisting the FBI with its investigations, brought up the matter of the placement of deposits in Equatorial Trust Bank and Trans International Bank by the Petroleum Training Development Fund (PTDF), a parastatal of government under the supervision of the Office of the Vice President.The Commission wanted to know why PTDF placed $110 million at ETB owned by Chief Mike Adenuga and $20 million in TIB, substantially owned by Oyo and Osun States. PTDF had deposited money in 14 banks, including the two.
The Executive Secretary of PTDF had recommended the placement of the deposits in the local banks because they would attract higher interest than they could if left in overseas banks.In fact while foreign banks were offering 3% to 4 %, the Nigerian banks offered more than 10%. It was on the basis of the sound business judgment that the Vice President recommended the request to the President who immediately approved.PTDF went on to earn over N1 billion interest from its deposit at ETB.The bank has also paid back the money following government’s recall of public funds in commercial banks.As for TIB, the bank has been acquired by Spring Bank with its assets and liabilities.In other words, not a single kobo of PTDF has been lost in the transaction.
The EFCC as well as an administrative panel raised by the President under the leadership of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice are raising issues over what they called “coincidences”.These are: that Adenuga was able to pay the 10% deposit for the Globalcom license shortly after ETB received the deposit, and that Otunba Oyewole Fashawe was able to secure over N700 million loan from TIB shortly after the PTDF deposit.
Atiku told the EFCC and the administrative panel that he had no way of knowing or determining how the banks used their deposits. His main consideration was the safety of the deposits in the banks.
Other issues raised by the investigators are: that Otunba Fashawe donated a building to ABTI Academy owned by the Vice President (Fashawe had also donated a building to Africa Leadership Forum, an NGO owned by President Obasanjo and Otunba Mike Adenuga is at present constructing a library at Obasanjo’s The Bells University worth over N1 billion); and that Fashawe gave N3 million cheque to one of the aides of the Vice President (Fashawe had similarly given cheques to an aide of the President).
It is important to know that EFCC has gone beyond the Jefferson case to unrelated issues in a desperate effort to nail the Vice President. Also, it is noteworthy that the President and the EFCC did not deem it fit to avail the Vice President of its findings before sending it to a foreign government (the US).In the last few months, the President has been using state security apparatus to harass, intimidate and threaten to block the Vice President’s legitimate aspiration to contest the 2007 presidential election.
The Vice President waived his immunity andcooperated with both the EFCC and the administrative panel (comprising Attorney General Bayo Ojo, FCT Minister Nasir El-Rufai, Education Minister Oby Ezekweisili, National Security Adviser Sarki Muktari and Minister of State for Agriculture Bamidele Dada) because of his belief that no one is above the law and the conviction that he has nothing to hide in spite of the clear breaches of protocol and procedure.
Once again, the Vice President would like to restate that he has no intention of resigning the office into which the Nigerian people voted him in 2003. He remains committed to serving out his tenure of office and defending the integrity of the Nigerian constitution and democracy.He would like to assure millions of his supporters to remain calm because arbitrariness and intolerance of opposition are antithetical to a democracy.
Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organization, Abuja