Daily Archives: December 3, 2007

Mystery Over Obasanjo’s Declared Assets Deepens

DID former President Olusegun Obasanjo comply with the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which makes it mandatory for them to declare their assets on assumption of office and at the expiration of their term or tenure?

Officials of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) are not willing to comment. But the records reveal that Obasanjo did not declare his assets on assumption of office in 1999.

Besides, it, remains a mystery how much the former president is worth.

In the assets declaration register of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) that keeps records of when each public officer collected a form, took the oath and returned it (the form) to the Bureau, the column for Chief Obasanjo is blank.

The register states that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar collected the assets declaration form on May 25, 1999; swore on May 28 and submitted the form to the CCB on June 1, 1999.

The late Chief Bola Ige, then Minister of Power and Steel is recorded to have collected a form on June 29, 1999, swore on June 30 and returned it (the form) same day.

Other notable members of the Obasanjo cabinet whose names appear on the register and are certified to have declared their assets in 1999 include Lt-General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, then Minister of Defence, Lt-General Aliyu Muhammed Gusau (rtd), National Security Adviser, Alhaji Sule Lamido, Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Ufot Joseph Ekaette, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Daniel O. Chuke, Minister of Special Projects.

The fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution stipulates that every public officer shall immediately after taking oath of office submit to the CCB a written declaration of all his properties, assets and liabilities and those of his unmarried children under the age of 18 years. It is also mandatory for every public officer to declare his assets at the end of every four years and at the end of his term of office.

Although the register states that Chief Obasanjo declared his assets in 2003, there are discrepancies in the record. He was said to have picked the declaration form on September 15, 2003, swore on May 23, 2003 and returned the form on October 14, 2003. He swore to the form four months ahead of the collection date. The declaration form was submitted by Mr. Bodunde Adeyanju, one of his special assistants.

“I believe he declared his assets, but the records are secret,” a source said.

Atiku who was harassed by the Code of Conduct Tribunal in the build-up to the 2007 general elections, declared his assets in 2003, the register states. He collected a form for the first declaration on April 15, 2003; swore on May 27 and submitted (the form) to the CBB same day. He picked another form for the second exercise on May 27, 2003; swore on June 6, and returned it same day.

Frantic efforts made by The Nation to clarify the issues on Obasanjo’s assets declaration with the CCB met a brickwall. CCB’s Executive Secretary Mr. Sam Saba refused to entertain questions.

The bureau’s spokeswoman Iyabo Akinwale said she was not competent to answer questions on the former president’s assets.

However, she disclosed that 1,126 cases were pending before the Code of Conduct Tribunal involving council chairmen, councillors and former governors across the six geo-political zones.

On the assets declared by the incumbent president, vice president, and governors, the CCB said it was in the process of verifying them. Thereafter, it would be in a position to determine whether they are authentic or not.

Eminent Nigerians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been putting pressure on Obasanjo to declare his assets. For instance, Lt-General Danjuma had challenged Obasanjo to tell Nigerians how he raised money to revive his Temperance Farm, Ota and acquired tremendous shares in some companies.

An Abuja Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) on Good Governance and Accountability has asked Obasanjo to explain where he got money for massive construction of Bells University of Technology, Badagry; the ultra modern motel in Ota Farm, which it said could pass for a five-star hotel. The group, which claims that Obasanjo is worth several billions of naira in solid and liquid assets, wondered how a man who had just N20,000 in the bank as at May 1999, could have amassed such stupendous wealth legitimately within eight years.

It will be in Chief Obasanjo’s interest and self esteem to let Nigerians know the value of his assets through public declaration of what he has acquired, the value of his assets through public declaration of what he has acquired, the group insisted.

 – The nation


2007 poll: Atiku Heads For Supreme Court Again

Former Vice-President and presidential candidate of the Action Congress, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; and his running mate, Senator Ben Obi, have filed an appeal at the Supreme Court challenging the refusal of the Court of Appeal to allow the European Union observers to testify that the presidential election was rigged.

In the notice of appeal obtained by our correspondent, Abubakar raised three grounds,asking the apex court to set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal and an order allowing him to call the witnesses.

He also asked the Supreme Court to compel the Court of Appeal to reopen his case to enable him call the witnesses.

The vice-president said that the justices of the court of appeal erred in law when they held that witnesses subpoenaed on the order of the court could not testify unless their witnesses’ statements on oath were filed along with the petition.

According to him, frontloading of witnesses in election petition does not absolutely preclude oral testimony as enjoined by the Evidence Act and paragraph 40 (1) of the First Schedule of the Electoral Act, 2006.

He said that his application to call election monitors came under exceptional circumstances permitted by Section 4(5) of the Practice Directions for Election Petitions.

The notice of appeal reads, “The refusal of the court below to give directions for the subpoenaed witnesses to testify shut out the petitioners from effectively putting their cases across, thereby violating petitioners right to fair hearing as guaranteed under section 36 of the 1999 constitution.”

He explained that documents tendered upon subpoena were not permitted to be related to the petitioners pleadings by the witnesses subpoenaed.

The subpoenaed witnesses whose appearance are in contention are the Country Representative of the European Union Observation Mission, the National Secretary of Justice Development Peace/Caritas Nigeria, the National Coordinator of the Transition Monitoring Group, the country Director of the Democratic Institute, the Country Representative of the International Republican Institute, the Director-General of the Nigerian Television Authority, and the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency.

The others are the managing directors of the Channels and the AIT television stations.

The Court of Appeal had last Thursday dismissed Abubakar’s application to give oral evidence.

The court ruled that the application was not ‘meritorious’ and was dismissed.

The presiding Justice of the court, Justice James Ogebe, had in his ruling on the application held that Abubakar’s motion did not meet the expectations of the Fourth Schedule to the Practice Direction.

Yar’Adua, Atiku in Secret Talks

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and former vice president and Action Congress (AC) presidential candidate in the April 21 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, have held private talks at Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, THISDAY can now reveal.
The meeting was held for two hours last week without the knowledge of most presidential aides at the Villa.
Apart from the issue of a possible withdrawal of the petition filed by Atiku against Yar’Adua’s election which came up for discussion at the meeting, other issues discussed included the Adamawa State governorship election recently nullified by the tribunal sitting in Yola, the state capital.
THISDAY gathered that the meeting between Yar’Adua and Atiku was a follow-up to the earlier ones arranged for them by Second Republic president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, and former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon.
Sources said like the Yar’Adua-Atiku meeting, the previous meetings were premised on the need to persuade Atiku and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, to withdraw their petitions at the tribunal.
At another meeting in Daura on the matter, a former chairman of First Bank Plc, Dr. Umaru Abdul Mutalab, was said to have led a group of prominent politicians from the North to meet Buhari.
But they failed to persuade the ANPP candidate to withdraw his petition against President Yar’Adua’s election.
The meeting between Atiku and Yar’Adua, according to sources, took place between 9 pm and 11 pm last Tuesday.
It was learnt that only a few senior government officials and security agents were aware of the talks.
The meeting was said to have held in a relaxed atmosphere and the discussions frank and cordial with both leaders expressing their views on the contending issues.
THISDAY learnt that no definite agreement was reached on the withdrawal of Atiku’s petition as the former vice president was said not to have given the President a firm commitment on the issue.
However, the meeting is said to be a preliminary one and other follow-up meetings are expected to hold later.
But THISDAY learnt that, at the talks, Atiku demanded neutrality from President Yar’Adua on the forthcoming fresh governorship election in Adamawa State where the tribunal has voided the election of the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate, Admiral Muritala Nyako.
Nyako’s election was nullified by the tribunal on the ground that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) excluded the AC candidate, Mr. Ibrahim Bapatel, from contesting the poll.
Both the Presidential Villa and Atiku Campaign Organisation were not willing to confirm or deny the talks last night.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the President on Communications, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, said he was not in Abuja and that he would confirm and contact THISDAY.
But efforts to reach him later proved abortive.
Also, Media Adviser to the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Mr. Garba Shehu, said he was not in a position to confirm the talks.
Some Northern religious and political leaders have been at the vanguard of persuading both Atiku and Buhari to drop their petitions against Yar’Adua’s election arguing that the President should be allowed to rule since he is a Northerner like them.

– Thisday