Dr. Iyabo Bello-Obasanjo has reacted to the allegations by M. Schneider, an Austrian company, that she used false identity to do business with them.
Also, Prince Albert Awofisayo, the former chairman of the Nigerian subsidiary of the company, has dismissed allegations levelled against him by the company.
Both of them spoke in separate interviews with THISDAY.
Iyabo said she was not directly involved in the business. “I know Prince Awofisayo. Sometime ago, he invited me to be part of a business he wanted to do. Some of these proposals work, other times they don’t. Prince said I should not worry, that he would fund the entire project. I told him since I was a commissioner, it could raise issues of conflict of interest. We agreed to go into the business all the same. Prince formed a company and did all the ground work. We agreed that I should use a different name, yes, because in law there is nothing wrong with that. Even the arbitration panel in Paris, on which a judge of the high court of England sat, agreed that legally, there was nothing wrong in that.
“The company put in bids for the power projects without any input from me. It went through a normal, transparent process. I didn’t even know anybody at NEPA, so I could not have influenced anything. The company won the contracts. It is true that I used a pseudonym. It was Prince Awofisayo who funded the whole project. I did not put in a penny and I did not receive a penny from it.
“The truth will come out someday. This is pure blackmail. Because their business relationship has gone bad now, they now want to drag me in an unnecessary controversy. This is unfair. They are trying to use the media to destroy me because I am Obasanjo’s daughter. Does it mean because I am Obasanjo’s daughter, I cannot do anything again in this country? I have worked hard all my life. I am a PhD holder by dint of hard work. Does it mean I cannot even do anything again in my life without people trying to make a big issue out of it?”
Prince Awofisayo told THISDAY he was out of the country but would speak on the controversy as soon as he returns.
He said the Austrian company had resorted to blackmail because of its failure to prove its case in a court of law.
“I am the sole promoter, financier and initiator of M. Schneider Energy Nig. Limited,” he said. “Iyabo is someone I have known for a long time. I wanted her to be part of the business and I invited her. Reluctantly, she agreed to join. What these Austrian guys are doing is unfair. They just want to blackmail the woman. When we couldn’t forge a good working relationship, our deal collapsed. I took them to the International Court of Arbitration and I won. They went to the court in Nigeria and lost, yet they are trying by all means to blackmail everybody. I have all the documents with me. We will sit down and discuss everything when I return to Nigeria. I am not saying don’t write your story, but you owe me the duty of getting all the facts right. They have lost every case against me, that is why they are resorting to blackmail.”