November 23, 2006
pre-determined conclusion on the PTDF is to pronounce my humble self,
Atiku Abubakar, Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, guilty
of fraud and embezzlement, in order to satisfy the callous and mischievous
aims of those who seek to rely on the provisions of Section 137 (1) (i) of
the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (“the Constitution”
Petroleum Technology Development Fund (”PTDF”).
Much has been said and written about the PTDF, its activities and its finances. Much of this has been prompted by a stark ignorance of how the PTDF operates and is funded.
For clarity's sake, it is pertinent to set out the true position as follows: The PTDF is a “Fund” strictly speaking i.e it comprises of money that has been set aside for a special purpose. The PTDF does not operate like a Federal Ministry or a government parastatal that has funds allocated to it for its activities. The PTDF is its own financier in that its funds already exist and reside with it.
The PTDF funds its activities primarily from income earned from investing the money comprised in its fund. Until July 2004 when Mr. President directed that all government ministries, agencies and departments should return their accounts to the Central Bank of Nigeria (“CBN”), most of the PTDF's funds were in the custody of several Nigerian commercial banks (including, for example, First Bank, Union Bank, City Express bank, Hallmark Bank, Trade Bank, Platinum Bank, Bank of the North, among others), earning varying sums as interest on these investments. It is the interest income derived from these investments that the PTDF utilises in funding its various day-to-day activities. The EFCC, in its report, has sought to portray the investment of funds with Equatorial Trust Bank (“ETB”) and Trans International Bank (“TIB”) as matters arising out of the ordinary, whereas, the opposite is the case. The PTDF has always engaged in the investment of funds in the normal course of its activities.
In April 2003, acting upon a memo presented by his Special Adviser on Petroleum & Energy, Dr. Rilwanu Lukman, the President-In-Council authorised the PTDF to execute certain special projects designed to enhance its capacity building activities throughout the country. These projects were, initially, estimated to cost a total of US$125 million, and this sum was approved to be set aside by the PTDF to execute these projects.
When the Federal Executive Council approved $125m for then PTDF, the Executive Secretary raised a memo to me seeking approval to place the money in banks to generate money for the agency because it will take some time before the agency designs projects and secure Due Process approval for the projects. The money was placed in Equitorial Trust Bank and Trans International Bank at the rates prevailing in the banking sector at that time.
Equatorial Trust Bank/Globacomm/Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr.
The EFCC has alleged that I approved the investment of PTDF funds in ETB (and TIB) in order to promote business interests in which I am purported to own interests. This irresponsible, untrue and unsubstantiated allegation has been made simply to lend credence to the other spurious claims made in the EFCC report. Without any shred of evidence whatsoever and without asking any questions of anyone in that regard, the EFCC states in its report that a certain Prince Akinyera, a director and shareholder of Globacom, is “believed to be fronting” for me for the shares held by him in Globacom. For the avoidance of doubt, I wish to put it on record here that I do not own any shares in Globacom Limited and certainly do not own the shares purported to belong to Prince Akinyera.
I have also noted the mischievous allusion by the EFCC to the so-called “coincidence” of Globacom being able to pay for its Second National Operator (“SNO”) license soon after the investment of funds in ETB by the PTDF. Firstly, I wish to state that I have no control over ETB, its operations or whom it lends money to. If the EFCC is of the view that ETB has advanced an illegal or unauthorised loan to any of its customers (including Globacom), then, it is incumbent on the EFCC, as a law enforcement agency, to inform the CBN of this fact and seek CBN sanctions on ETB. Thankfully, however, Globacom and its bankers have caused a newspaper advertisement to be published setting out the circumstances surrounding the payment for the SNO license and none of this involves the PTDF, or my humble self.
I need not say more about the illogicality of the EFCC under this heading other than to point out that, in my simple understanding, banks are in the business of receiving deposits and advancing loans to their customers.
Trans International Bank/NDTV/Mofas Shipping/Otunba Johnson Fasawe.
The same principles that apply to ETB will apply with equal force to TIB. I will add, however, that the EFCC has attempted to make much hay from this matter by asserting that “as soon as” funds were invested by the PTDF with TIB, the bank immediately granted loans to NDTV and Mofas. This, the EFCC did in its mischievous attempt to draw a causal link between my approval to the PTDF to invest funds in TIB (which, in any event, was not my initiative) and the advancing of loans by TIB to some of its customers, namely, Mofas and NDTV. In characteristic fashion, however, the facts of the matter do not support this false claim. The facts are that I first granted approval to the PTDF to invest some funds in TIB (as well as ETB) as far back as 29th April 2003. Yet, according to the EFCC's very own report, TIB did not advance its first facility to NDTV until 20th October 2003 and Mofas until 22nd October 2003. This is a period of approximately 6 (six) months. Surely, that cannot be said to be “as soon as” the funds were invested with the bank! Surely, the bank would have utilised these funds in some other financial activity in that 6 (six) month period! Surely, there is no nexus between the approval of the investment in TIB and the advancement of loans by TIB to its customers other than that to be expected in the normal course of banking operations!
More importantly, officials of TIB interviewed by the EFCC have stated categorically (as contained in the EFCC report) that the only basis upon which TIB granted the loan to NDTV was that NDTV had secured the commitment of the US Exim Bank to finance the rest of the cost of the project, which was put at US $38 million. It begs the question, therefore, that if NDTV was relying on PTDF funds to finance its business activities, as alleged by the EFCC, why was it also negotiating with the US Exim Bank for export guarantees/credit facilities and the Sofitel Corporation for credit facilities.
As regards NDTV and Mofas, I wish to state categorically that I have no interests, investments or shareholding whatsoever, directly or indirectly, in any of these two companies. I do know Otunba J. O. Fasawe, the Chairman of NDTV and Moffas, respectively, and I count him as one of my friends. He is a long time friend and a prominent member of my political party, the People's Democratic Party (“PDP”). I do not, however, have any business dealings whatsoever with him, nor am I involved in any way in or with any of his companies or businesses.
Please Note: After the Vice President’s letter to the Senate, Spring Bank (which acquired TIB) wrote a letter to the PTDF on 9th October and acknowledged by the PTDF on 11th October, 2006 notifying it that the $20m deposited with it has matured and that $150,000 accruing interest has been credited into its domiciliary account and that the $20m has been turned over on the same terms and conditions. This confirms the contention of the Vice President that no money has been diverted or lost in the transaction with the TIB.
Marine Float/Umar Pariya.
Marine Float is one of three companies that were placed at the disposal of the PDP and the Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign Organisation to receive campaign contributions and donations towards achieving our aim of securing re-election in the presidential elections of 2003. Otunba Fasawe was one of the principal fundraisers engaged by the PDP and the Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign Organisation to seek donations and contributions towards the prosecution of this campaign. Despite the relative success at raising funds, the actual amount expended through this account far exceeded the amounts raised such that, well after the elections in 2003, there was still a large debit balance remaining due to be repaid to the bank even after the elections had been concluded. As a result, even though the elections had been prosecuted and won, fund raising efforts did not end there, as there was a debit balance to be retired.
The records of all the payments to and from Marine Float are with the EFCC and I need not bore you here with a rehash. Suffice to say that, to the best of my knowledge, not one Naira of PTDF funds were paid into Marine Float's account at any time whatsoever, either directly or indirectly. If the EFCC is of the opinion that this account has been operated in an improper manner, it is well aware of its responsibilities under the law and I would enjoin it to be alive to those responsibilities.
I will only add that any payments to Marine Float account by Otunba Fasawe are all in line with his responsibilities as a principal fundraiser for the PDP and the Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign Organisation. Any payments by Otunba Fasawe to Mr. Umar Pariya, one of my personal aides, which was not a payment that relates to the personal affairs of Otunba Fasawe and Mr. Pariya (both gentlemen having been closely associated for well over 20 years), were payments made for the account of the PDP or the Obasanjo/Atiku Campaign Organisation, as the case may be.
Congressman William Jefferson/I-Gate Corp-NDTV/I-Gate Corp-Rosecom.Net
I understand that Mr. President has informed you that he ordered the investigation into this matter based on a letter he received from Congressman William Jefferson alleging that PTDF funds were used to pay I-Gate for the business venture between I-Gate and NDTV.
Firstly, I will repeat what I have said time and time again regarding Congressman William Jefferson - I do not have any relationship with Congressman Jefferson other than the usual courtesies, which someone in my position will be expected to extend to someone in Congressman Jefferson's position. For the avoidance of doubt, it is pertinent to point out that Congressman Jefferson is a prominent member of the US Congress; he is also a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus of the US Congress as well as being the Chairman of the US Congress Sub-Committee on Nigeria. It is in these various capacities that I have met and interacted with Congressman Jefferson.
To the best of my knowledge, Congressman Jefferson was involved in a business relationship/transaction with NDTV and I-Gate under which NDTV paid Congressman Jefferson/I-Gate the sum of US$6.5 million. According to Otunba Fasawe, the Chairman of NDTV, this business relationship/transaction could not proceed further because of a dispute arising between the parties. Otunba Fasawe informed me that he was taking all steps possible to recover the US$6.5 million that NDTV had paid to Congressman Jefferson/I-Gate Corporation and had written a petition to Mr. President to seek his assistance in getting a restitution of the monies his company had paid to Congressman Jefferson/I-Gate. Contrary to the information that has been placed at your disposal, it was, in fact, Otunba Fasawe that first petitioned Mr. President to seek his intervention in obtaining a refund of his company's money. It was in response to this petition that Congressman Jefferson wrote a letter to Mr. President in July 2004, where he sought to obfuscate issues by alluding to the monies having been obtained from or through the PTDF, a letter that Mr. President now claims is the basis upon which he ordered an investigation into this matter.
In July 2005, Congressman Jefferson met with me in Washington DC in the company of a Ms. Lori Modi, who he introduced to me as “an investor” in his business. At this meeting, Congressman Jefferson informed me that he had teamed up with another Nigerian company called Rosecom and sought my assistance to intervene to help preserve the sanctity of a contract which, he said, I-Gate/Rosecom had entered into with NITEL PLC. He gave me a letter he had written to me to that effect which I forwarded through the normal official channels to the Ministry of Communications.
Since that last meeting with Congressman Jefferson, I have learnt that Ms. Modi is cooperating with the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (“FBI”) into allegations of bribery and fraud, which she had leveled against Congressman Jefferson relating to a sum of US$3.5 million which she, allegedly, paid to I-Gate Corporation to repay NDTV.
I have sought to provide you with all this background material because it is pertinent that you are availed of all the facts before arriving at your conclusions.
Finally, the EFCC sought to draw linkages between NDTV and me by alleging that I am, somehow, involved with the company without providing any cogent evidence in that regard. It begs the question: Is it possible that I would be involved with NDTV and still not only agree to meet with Congressman Jefferson to discuss his new partnership with Rosecom, but also help forward his letter to the Ministry of Communications for necessary action? Is it possible that, I would be involved with NDTV which is being owed US$6.5 million - and still not only meet with Congressman Jefferson but also seek to help him advance the cause of I-Gate/Rosecom to the detriment of NDTV?
EFCC/Administrative Panel of Inquiry.
I have said much about the antics of the EFCC in the handling of this case but a little more specificity is required. The EFCC has again found itself in the unenviable position of being a willing tool in the hands of those whose sole agenda in life has become the quest to prevent Atiku Abubakar by all means possible (legal and illegal) from contesting the presidential elections in 2007. The EFCC claims in its report that its investigations are pursuant to a Request For Assistance that it received from the United States Government. Yet, this Request For Assistance is only dated 22nd June 2006. All the investigations the EFCC has been carrying out (and all the arbitrary arrests and detention of my known friends and associates) predate the receipt of this Request For Assistance. It would appear, therefore, that the Request For Assistance is a convenient excuse for the EFCC . The agency had already been given the answer; it only needed to find a way to work itself to this answer. Or, how else can one explain a situation where, as the EFCC claims in its report, the EFCC's “investigation was initiated at the instance of a request from the United States Department of Justice” in relation to I-Gate/Congressman Jefferson, yet in its findings contained in pages 30-36 (seven pages) of its “detailed” report, the EFCC made references to I-Gate just 6 (six) times whereas Congressman Jefferson is not even mentioned at all! Conversely, in the same findings of this “detailed” report, Atiku Abubakar/Vice President is mentioned 19 (nineteen) times. It begs the question, therefore, was the EFCC really investigating the I-Gate/Congressman Jefferson matter or did it have a more sinister pre-determined conclusion in mind? I urge you to judge for yourself.
In concluding, I would like to state here categorically that the findings of the EFCC as contained in its report dated 24th August 2006 and the contents of the report of the so called “Administrative Panel of Inquiry” based on the EFCC report, as they purport to relate or refer to me, are totally false, baseless and unsupportable by the facts in this matter. I would urge you to address your minds accordingly and consign these reports into the dustbin of history where they belong.
Finally, I cannot but end this letter without adding a note of caution. It would appear that in the quest by certain elements in our body polity to have their way by any means necessary, decorum, truth, due process, individual rights, and the sanctity and inviolability of our constitution, have all become casualties, sacrificed on the altar of convenience, all in the name of achieving the dastardly goals these agents of calumny have set for themselves. This is wrong. This is dangerous. This cannot be allowed to continue.
We must remember that power is bestowed by God and conferred by the dear citizens of this country. Atiku Abubakar is only one man. That he occupies the position of Vice-President today is by the grace of God. That he will occupy any position other than that which he holds today can only be, if it is bestowed by God and conferred by the citizens of this country. In the unrelenting quest to destroy Atiku Abubakar, we should be careful not to destroy the office he holds - that of the office of Vice-President, and all our other structures and our constitution, because the office does not belong to Atiku Abubakar and, one day, he surely will relinquish it. If we destroy all of these just because of Atiku Abubakar, what is the future for our democracy? What is the future for our country? What is the future for our children and generations yet unborn?