The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2019 general election, Atiku Abubakar, has been found to have paid foreign experts up to $180,000, an equivalent of N64.8 million, to facilitate his January visit to the United States and get him recognized as president by the Government of the United States of America, documents obtained by the ICIR have shown.
To achieve the twin plan, different contracts were filed with the US Department of Justice in February and April this year by Abubakar, the PDP and those enlisted for the jobs.
Such documents are considered public records and their filing is required by the US Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.
In one of the agreements with registration number 6637, Abubakar agreed to pay John Barnett $150,000 to facilitate a trip to Washington DC, the US capital.
Barnett, in a letter dated November 29, 2018, and written to Abubakar to accept his offer, agreed to facilitate his trip “for an event to be hosted on your behalf by the Atlantic Council on December 20, 2018, between 2-3pm.
“I, in conjunction with Bob Horn of the law firm Husch Blackwell will facilitate meetings with the Atlantic Council, US Aid, the US Chamber of Commerce and others based oh their availability during your visit to Washington, DC.”
Blackwell is a litigation and business law firm in the US with expertise in international trade, government contracts, information governance, public policy and government affairs.
“The primary purpose of setting up these meetings was to obtain a visa for Mr. Abubakar to come to the United States,” revealed another part in the registration statement’s second exhibit.
It added: “We attempted to set up a meeting with the Atlantic Council for Mr. Abubakar, but that meeting ultimately never occurred. No outreach was done with respect to USAID or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”
In attempting to obtain a visa for Abubakar, according to the document, the help of the Political Counsellor at the US Embassy to Nigeria, Anton Smith, was sought multiple times.
It also revealed that the aim of the contract itself is the “election of Atiku Abubakar to the Presidency of Nigeria”.
Twelve years since his last visit, Abubakar finally travelled to the US in January.
During the trip, he lodged at the Trump International Hotel, had a meeting with Nigerians, met with Congressman Chris Smith, and spoke at the US Chamber of Commerce.
The contents of the documents obtained contradicts the statement of the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who said Abubakar “was invited to attend functions”.
Abubakar himself said his trip to the US was not lobbied for but an invitation.
Another $30,000 to get US recognition as president
Atiku’s battle for recognition as Nigeria’s duly elected president in the last general elections is not restricted to the local judicial system. He and the PDP are also spending to influence the US government to grant him this recognition.
In a second document obtained by The ICIR with registration number 6654, it was disclosed that he hired Fein & Delvalle PLLC, a Washington DC-based law firm, for the “provision of legal, consultancy and public advocacy services to encourage Congress and the Executive to forebear from a final declaration and recognition of a winner of the 2019 election” until outstanding legal challenges to the declared results have been resolved without influence or manipulation.
This was for a lump sum of $30,000, to cover office space rental, domestic travel, among other expenses, and will last for a total of 90 days.
The United States government has, however, already congratulated Muhammadu Buhari “on his re-election” shortly after the election. A week after its conduct, a statement released by Michael Pompeo, US Secretary of State, described the exercise as “a successful presidential election” and noted “the assessments of international and domestic observer missions affirming the overall credibility of the election”.
Fein & Delvalle is to consult with Congress members towards passing House and Senate resolutions to restrain from a final recognition of a winner pending a fair determination of the legal issues, draft articles and op-eds “to spotlight the issues in Nigeria post-2019 presidential election and to promote the rule of law and due process in resolving electoral disputes in Nigeria”, and finally “make television and other media appearances to engage in public advocacy discussions of these issues”.
“Fein & Delvalle PLLC will establish and operate a Situation Room located in their Capitol Hill offices at 300 New Jersey Ave., NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C,” read a letter addressed to Atiku Abubakar by the firm and attached to the form.
“A Nigerian Barrister and trusted confidant of Your-Excellency, Dr. Lloyd Ukwu, will assist in the operations of the U.S. Situation Room, which will be a focal point for information forwarded by your Nigeria-based Command Center Situation Room and otherwise obtained to execute strategies to secure
international/and United States endorsement of your efforts to defeat the flagrant violence and illegalities orchestrated by the APC and President Buhari to corrupt and compromise the February 23, 2019, presidential election in subversion of the will of the Nigerian People.”
The firm also agreed to convince the United States that an Atiku presidency would “open a fresh arid new chapter in Nigerian politics in order to accommodate its pluralism and ethnic, religious, and tribal diversity while fostering liberty equality, freedom, and due process”.
The first $1 million deal
As far as the 2019 general elections go, the latest revelations bring the number of deals struck with US lawyers and lobbyists by Atiku Abubakar to a minimum of three.
In September, the PDP, on behalf of its presidential candidate, also signed a one-year contract with Ballard, President of Ballard Partners, a popular lobbying firm based in the US ostensibly to lobby the American government in advancing its interests.
The agreement’s recitals stated that “it shall be the Firm’s duty to consult with the Client and advocate on its behalf those issues the Client deems necessary and appropriate before the US federal government.”
It added: “Issues and objectives may include, but not be limited to, enhancement of US-Nigerian relations, strengthening and advancing democratic values and the rule of law in Nigeria, with a special focus in the coming months on maintaining political and security conditions free of intimidation and interference in order to ensure the success and fairness of Nigeria’s national election for president in 2019.”
It is believed that what could have been a long-term travel ban affecting Atiku was waived by the US government as a result of services rendered by the lobbying firm.
Click HERE to view all attached documents
8 Nigerian ATM Robbers Sentenced To Death In UAE
Eight Nigerians, all men, have been sentenced to death in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates(UAE) for a string of robberies at money exchanges and cash machines(ATMs) across the emirate in December 2016.
The ninth Nigerian, found guilty for possession of stolen money was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
He will be deported after serving his prison term.
The Gulf News reported that the Nigerian denied the charge against him and said that one of the accused’s brothers asked him to transfer Dh60,000 to an account in Nigeria.
All the convicted Nigerians were not identified by both the Gulf News and Khaleej Times, all local newspapers, which reported the trial.
A total of 20 suspects were initially held for attacking security guards in four violent attacks at ATMs and money exchanges across Sharjah in late 2016. Out of 20 suspects, nine were convicted.
Some of the accused confessed to their crimes while others denied the charges levelled against them.
The verdict was handed down by Judge Majid Al Muhairi of Sharjah Criminal Court on Wednesday.
The eight-member gang attacked security trucks and entered establishments by force and threatened and assaulted staff and members of the public with bladed weapons in a spate of robberies, three of which were carried out on the same day on December 18, 2016.
The gang — who were all in the UAE on visit visas — were said to be highly organised and plotted a string of orchestrated attacks to ambush security trucks that were transporting money boxes to and from ATMs, and at least one money exchange in Sharjah.
The first robbery took place at a Dubai Commercial Bank ATM on King Abdul Aziz Street where Dh340,000 was stolen, then two days later they attacked an ATM in Al Safeer Mall in Al Nahda fleeing with Dh700,000, and an ATM in Muweilah where they stole Dh710,000. A fourth attack at a money exchange office near National Paints was foiled by police.
The gang of 20 was arrested in record time but police confirmed that only a portion of the stolen money — almost Dh1.8 million — had been recovered, as the gang members had divided the money among themselves and transferred it to their home country.
Suspects were taken into custody in cooperation with police in Dubai, Ajman and Fujairah.
The gang committed the heists at the busiest times of day when streets were crowded, which added to the confusion and enabled them to escape, said police.
In each robbery the assailants struck quickly before police could arrive, the attackers however could not evade security cameras and police were able to recognise the suspects through surveillance footage captured at the exchange house in the mall.
Video footage showed the suspects attacking security guards, making off with cash, and in one of the robberies slashing the hands of a security guard with a knife before running away with money boxes.
Police believe the suspects had monitored and tracked the security trucks used to transport money for a period of time before launching the attacks took place.
A prosecutor told Gulf News on Thursday that as per the law, a group of people who threaten the life of others while committing robbery are subject to the death sentence, however an appeal is expected to be launched and the sentences could get downgraded to life imprisonment.
The trial appeared unconnected with the arrest of five Nigerians in March this year, who robbed a Bureau de Change operator of Dh2.3 million (N225.4 million) in Sharjai, Dubai.
The suspects were identified as Chimuanya Emmanuel Ozoh, Benjamin Nwachukwu Ajah, Kingsley Ikenna Ngoka, Tochukwu Leonard Alisi and Chile Micah Ndunagu.
The five Nigerians reportedly barged into the BDC on March 20 and smashed the glass barrier between the customers and the staff, stole the money in multiple currencies and fled.
Two employees at the exchange were injured as they resisted the robbers. One of them managed to notify the police. The Sharjah Police coordinated with forces from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to nab the suspects from four emirates within 48 hours after the robbery was committed.
A top police official said the suspects came to the UAE on visit visas on March 18.
Sanwo-Olu Unveils Inauguration Committee Ahead Of Swearing-In
Lagos State Governor-elect, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Thursday unveiled an inauguration committee that will usher in his administration on May 29th this year.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, who was in the company of his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, presented the committee members at his campaign office on Awolowo Road in Ikoyi.
A statement signed by media officer to the Governor-elect, Gboyega Akosile said the committee is chaired by the Director-General of Babajide Sanwo-Olu Independent Campaign Group (ICG), Mr Tayo Ayinde, while the Lagos State APC Women Leader, Honourable Mrs. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas and Mr. George Osifeko will serve as Vice Chairmen respectively and Mrs. Titi Oshodi will act as secretary.
While unveiling the inauguration team, the governor-elect said the committee is mandated with a responsibility of organizing a smooth programmes that will usher in his administration. The committee is also billed to reach out to Nigerians in corporate and political sectors, stakeholders and various interest groups locally and internationally to grace the swearing-in.
Sanwo-Olu urged members of the committee to co-operate and work diligently in achieving their mandate. He also tasked the team members to streamline their activities with the plans of the outgoing government and work with security agencies in order to have smooth transition.
Mr Ayinde assured the governor-elect and his deputy of the committee’s readiness to organize a seamless swearing-in programme.
He pledged the committee members’ readiness to work assiduously towards achieving an inauguration ceremony that will become a reference point in annals of political events in Nigeria.
”I want to assure your Excellencies that sitting before you are highly experienced men and women who have contributed tremendously to various industries. I can attest to their individual capacity to deliver on the terms of reference of a smooth inauguration ceremony.” Ayinde State.
Other members of the committee include:
Mrs. Obiageli Onu
Mrs. Funke Bucknor Obruthe
Alhaji Abdullahi Enilolobo
Mr. Kamal Salau-Bashua
Mr. Olatunji Disu
Mr. Kappo Emmanuel
Mr. Bolaji Durojaiye
Mrs. Olabopo Odiachi
Mr. Bimbo Onabanjo
Mr. Ajala Rasaq
Mrs. Taiwo Abiodun
Mr. Gboyega Akosile
Mr. Lanre Adeyinka
Mr. Sesan Daini
Atiku Should Produce His Academic Credentials, I’m Far More Qualified – Buhari Tells Tribunal
President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to produce his academic credentials before the Presidential Election Tribunal.
Buhari said this in his response to allegations contained in the petition by Atiku and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, before the tribunal.
Buhari, in a response filed on April 16 by a team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said that the claim by Atiku and the PDP that he was not qualified to stand for election to the office of the President was a lie.
Buhari told the Tribunal that he was far more qualified to stand for the election than Atiku.
The President insisted that it was Atiku who was not qualified for the election.
President Buhari insisted that he never “at any time, provided any false information in Form CF00] submitted to the lst respondent, either in 2014 or 2018.
“The affidavit of compliance to the 2019 Form CF001 was correct in every material particular.
“In filling Form CF001 in 2014 and 2019, respondent was not oblivious of the constitutional qualifications stipulated in Section 131 of the Constitution and interpreted in Section 318 of the same Constitution.
“Petitioners themselves are also not oblivious of the fact that respondent possesses far more than the constitutional threshold expected for a candidate contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The respondent avers that he is far more qualified, both constitutionally and educationally, to contest and occupy the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the 1st petitioner (Atiku); and that in terms of educational qualifications, trainings and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria, he is head and shoulder above the 1st petitioner in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals, and experience.
“Respondent states further that it is the 1st petitioner, who is not qualified to contest the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and challenges the educational credentials and certificates of the 1st petitioner.
“1st petitioner is hereby given notice to produce and tender his educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates.”
The President gave his educational resume as: “Elementary School, Daura and Maid’adua (1948 – 1952), Middle School, Katsina (1953-1956, Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina (1956-1961).”
Buhari condemned the entire petition filed by the PDP and Atiku, and told the Tribunal that they are more about pre-election issues, which the Court of Appeal, sitting as a tribunal lacked jurisdiction.
He also argued that the petitioners told lies against themselves in the petition and made conflicting claims which the tribunal cannot grant.
For instance, Buhari noted that while the petitioners claimed to have won the last presidential election and also won elections in many states in the south-south and south-eastern part of the country, they also urged the court to nullify the election and order a fresh presidential election.
Burari argued that by virtue of Section of 137of the Electoral Act, petitioners cannot question the results of elections in states where they claim to have won and still retain themselves as petitioners.
Buhari faulted the petitioners’ claim that the election was marred by corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.