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Jefferson Scandal, $145 PTF Fund … 3 Reasons Nigerians Worry About Atiku’s Possible Emergence as President

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On May 28, Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s vice president between 1999 and 2007, emerged as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant for the upcoming 2023 general election.

Atiku’s latest emergence made it the fifth time he would attempt to be Nigeria’s president. He had made unsuccessful attempts under the All Progressives Congress (APC) and also with his current party, the PDP.

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While the Adamawa State-born stands a chance in the 2023 election, being the candidate of a major party, several Nigerians are worried about his possible emergence. Here are some of the reasons.

THE WILLIAM JEFFERSON SCANDAL AND VISA DENIAL BY THE USA

In 2004, Atiku, then the vice president of Nigeria, was mentioned in a bribery and corruption scandal involving William Jefferson, a US congressman from New Orleans.

Jefferson was accused of demanding a $500,000 bribe from two telecommunication firms in America to help facilitate the award of contracts in Nigeria.

During an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the congressman was videotaped while receiving $100,000 bribe from an investor with a claim that it was meant for Atiku.

A subsequent raid of Jefferson’s home in Washington also revealed that he had cash stuffed in frozen food boxes.

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The congressman ended up spending five years in jail, and Atiku denied being in any deal with him.

“I have consistently maintained that I had no improper relationship with former Congressman Jefferson. My relationship with him was purely official and it was in an effort to attract foreign investors to Nigeria,” the vice president said.

Despite being later vindicated by a Jury’s decision to acquit Jefferson of trying to compromise Atiku, the vice president was denied visa entry into the United States after his tenure ended as vice president in 2007.

TRANSFER OF $40M BY ‘JENNIFER DOUGLAS’ INTO US BANK ACCOUNTS

In 2010, The US Senate alleged in one of its special reports that Jennifer Douglas, Atiku’s fourth wife, helped him move over $40 million to the United States.

A Senate committee claimed the money was ‘suspect funds’ sent from banks outside the US into over 30 bank accounts opened by Atiku’s wife between 2000 and 2008.

The committee also claimed that the US Security and Exchange Commission alleged that Atiku’s wife received over $2 million from Siemens AG, a major German company, during the same period.

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The report stated that Siemens AG not only pleaded guilty to the charges but also confirmed that it made the payments into Douglas’ account. Atiku’s wife would however maintain that she was innocent.

Despite the weighty allegations, Atiku said he was not corrupt and that anyone who had anything against him should come forward with it.

In all, the former vice president has not been a regular visitor to the United States, and many think that’s because he could be arrested.

OBASANJO’S CLAIM THAT ATIKU STOLE $145M PTDF FUNDS

In 2014, Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, published a three-volume memoir titled My Watch.

In Chapter 36 of the book, Obasanjo linked Atiku to the embezzlement of $20 million, which his administration was supposed to deploy for Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF).

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The former president also claimed another $125 million to fund PTDF during the 2003 fiscal year was mismanaged by Atiku.

However, while testifying before the Senate Ad-hoc Committee on the PTDF funds, Atiku said Obasanjo should be held accountable for the mismanagement of funds at the agency, and not him.

Atiku also alleged that the money ‘got missing’ during the debate on the proposed third term for Obasanjo.




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