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EXPOSED: Atiku Paid Experts N64.8m For US Trip, To Boost His Presidential Bid [DOCUMENTS ATTACHED]

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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

Credit: ICIR

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Fire Ravages Katangowa, Lagos Market [PHOTOS]

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An early morning fire has engulfed Katangowa Market in Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway on Monday.

The fire outbreak which started around 3.15am destroyed the entire stretch of fairly used clothes’ shops opposite the Central Mosque in the market.

As of the time of filing this report, men of the state fire service and officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency were on the ground to put off the fire.

Also on the ground are policemen from the Okeodo Divisional Headquarters to prevent the looting of unaffected shops.

See photos:

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Stay Away From Duty Posts, NASU, SSANU Direct Varsity Workers As Strike Begins

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Academic activities will be paralyzed in the universities across the Federation from today as the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Educational Institutions and the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), have issued a directive to all their members to stay away from their duty posts from Monday.

The unions, under the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of NASU and SSANU, also warned their branches that the strike is “total and comprehensive” and that “no form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management,” during the strike.

The directive was dated 16th August 2019 and signed by the General Secretary of NASU, Comr Peters Adeyemi and the National President of SSANU, Comr. Samson Ugwoke.

The directive which was addressed to all branch chairmen, Joint Action Committee of NASU and SSANU, also warned that any defaulting branch would be sanctioned.

They were directed to fully mobilize their members and ensure full compliance, as the leadership would not hesitate to sanction any defaulting branch.

In the first phase, the directive said the strike will last for five days, as a result of government failure to attend to their demands after the expiration of the 14-day ultimate earlier issued to the government. The Ultimatum ended on Sunday.

The Ultimatum read: “Following the expiration of the 14 day ultimatum given to the Government and its failure to show firm commitment towards resolving the following issues: Payment of Earned Allowances; University Staff Schools matter; Renegotiation of 2009 Agreements; you are hereby directed to embark on a five (5) day strike effective from Monday, 19th to Friday, 23rd August 2019.

“Be informed that the strike is total and comprehensive for the five days. No form of concession or internal arrangement should be made with management while all members must be directed to stay away from their duty posts.

“Kindly recall the decision of the National Executive Councils of the two unions to the effect that Branches that default in compliance should be sanctioned.

“The National leadership shall not hesitate in this regard. You are hereby directed to fully mobilize your members and ensure full compliance.”

(Nigerian Tribune)

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BIG STORY

Presidency Queries FIRS Boss Babatunde Fowler Over N12.6Trillion Tax Collection

Peter Okunoren

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The Presidency appears displeased with the taxes the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has collected in the last three years.

This is despite the fact that the FIRS generated the largest revenue in the nation’s tax history when it collected N5.3 trillion in taxes in 2018 and is targeting N8 trillion in 2019.

The Presidency conveyed its displeasure at the FIRS’ collection efforts in a query issued to the Executive Chairman of the FIRS Mr. Tunde Fowler by the Chief of Staff to the President, Alhaji Abba Kyari.

The query circulating in the social media titled: “Re: Budgeted FIRS Collections and Actual Collections”, reads: “Your attached letter (FIRS/EC/ECW/0249/19/027 dated 26 July 2019) on the above subject matter refers.

“We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

“Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.

The query marked “Restricted” added that “we observed that the actual collections for the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what were collected between 2012 and 2014. Accordingly, you are kindly invited to explain the reason for the poor collections.”

Kyari directed Fowler “to respond by 19 August 2019.”

The development has raised questions over the propriety of the query, given that there is no Minister for Finance and the query did not come from the Permanent Secretary of the ministry.

In January 2019, Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Tunde Fowler, announced in Lagos that the Service broke its collection records by generating N5.3 trillion from taxes collected and is targeting N8 trillion for 2019.

According to Fowler, the N5.320 trillion collection is considered to be the highest revenue ever generated by FIRS in history.

The highest in FIRS was N5.07 trillion generated in 2012 under Ms. Ifueko Omoigui.

Fowler said “FIRS’ generation of N5.3 trillion is significant as it was at a period when oil prices averaged $70 per barrel. Oil price was at an average of $100 to $120 per barrel between 2010 and 2013.”

In realizing this milestone, the FIRS boss noted that the non-oil component of the N5.320 trillion is N2.467 trillion that was (53.62 percent), while the oil element of the collection was N2.852 trillion (46.38 percent). From audit alone, the FIRS collected N212,792 billion from 2,278 cases with a huge reduction in audit circle.

In spite of this achievement, Tunde Fowler lamented that “while we have been steadily increasing revenue collection over the years, our cost of collection has actually been going down. In 2016, we collected N3,307 trillion, in 2017 we collected N4,027 trillion and in 2018 we collected N5,320 trillion.

“Meanwhile, the cost of collection as a percentage of actual taxes collected has been reducing; in 2016 it was 2.6%, in 2017 it was 2.49% while in 2018 it was 2.14%.” The FIRS is entitled to 4% cost of collection.

He added: “The Service has been making tremendous efforts in also increasing the amount of non-oil revenue it collects. The non-oil collection has contributed 64.99% in 2016, in 2017 it contributed 62.25% and in 2018 it contributed 53.62%.

“This represents the government’s focus on increasing non-oil sources of revenue and the diversification of the Nigerian economy.”

(The Nation)

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