WIKILEAKS: NIGERIA – El-Rufai was homeless & about to drive Taxi-cab before OBJ Appointed Him. Okorocha Embezzled Millions From Airport Authority – US Ambassador

  • Governor El-Rufai is at the center of the corruption allegations. Well-known to PolCouns, he was homeless and seeking a loan to import a taxi from the UK
  • Rochas Okorocha, when he was head of the National Airport Management Authority (NAMA)  was caught and dismissed for embezzling millions through an inflated contract

UNITED STATES. Classified By: Ambassador John Campbell for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

NIGERIA. (U) Transparency International recently released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index for 2005, showing that there are now five countries in the world perceived to be more corrupt than Nigeria. In 2004, only two countries had been listed as more corrupt. As expected, the GON both claimed credit for the “improvement” in position, and denied that there was still a corruption problem in Nigeria.

(U) The World Economic Forum has released the results of a survey finding improvement in Nigerian firms’ perceptions of corruption in the country. For example, from 2002-2005, the percentage of Nigerian firms that believed public funds in Nigeria were diverted due to corruption decreased from 100% to about 75%.

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5. (U) The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, continue to grab headlines, as newspapers eagerly report the rumored targets of EFCC investigations. Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) chairman Mustapha Akanbi stepped down on September 29 and was replaced by another former Supreme Court justice, Emmanuel Olayinka Ayoola. Meanwhile, the EFCC and the ICPC have won only a single conviction of a high-level public official: former Inspector-General of Police Tafa Balogun, fired for corruption, pled guilty to minor obstruction charges and received a sentence of just six months, less time served.

-Corruption Remains Pervasive, from the Top Down –

Orji Uzo Kalu:

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(U) For example, in a widely-circulated August 22 letter to President Obasanjo, Abia State Governor Orji Uzor Kalu accused Obasanjo of corruption, listing a number of dubious deals, including:

–Cancellation of the contract for the construction of the national stadium in Abuja, only to re-award the contract to a different vendor at a higher price.

–Use of public funds for capital improvements at two private schools secretly owned by Obasanjo.

(C) The President’s chicken farm in Otta is one of the largest in Nigeria. A Presidential spokesman said in November 2004, in order to explain Obasanjo’s personal wealth, that the farm generated about $250,000 per month in income, though it was nearly bankrupt in the late 1990s. Regardless of whether the current income figure is accurate, at least some Nigerians think it is unlikely that Obasanjo’s military pension and benefits were the sole source of investment for establishing this huge enterprise, valued by a construction engineer involved in the construction at more than $250 million.

Governor Rochas Okorocha:

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–The head of the National Airport Management Authority (NAMA), Rochas Okorocha, was caught and dismissed for embezzling about $1 million through an inflated contract; Obasanjo then appointed him as a senior aide, without requiring Okorocha to repay the stolen funds. Okorocha was eventually fired on July 13 in a cabinet reshuffle, but went on to start a political party for his renewed presidential ambitions.

–The recent auction of oil blocks included some firms bidding, sometimes with no prior ties to the oil industry, that were linked to Obasanjo associates, including Daukoro, Rivers State governor Peter Odili, Ogun State governor Gbenga Daniel, presidential advisor Andy Uba, presidential chief of staff Abdullahi Mohammed, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Nasir al-Rufai and PDP Board of Trustees Chairman Tony Anenih.

Nasir El-Rufai:

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–El-Rufai is at the center of the corruption allegations. Well-known to PolCouns eight year ago, when he was homeless and seeking a loan to import a taxi from the UK, al-Rufai is said to have recently purchased seven upscale properties in a posh Abuja neighborhood.

His demolitions of commercial and residential buildings in the capital have reportedly provided an opportunity for himself and several of his friends. After demolishing residential properties in Kubwa, the land was reallocated to several of his friends and to an investment company he allegedly owns. The community of Chika, where about two square miles of development was demolished in December, has allegedly been allocated to the same group of people.

Chief Bode George:

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–Chief Olabode George, current PDP National Chairman (Southwest) is a close friend of President Obasanjo and a leading proponent of the Third Term Agenda. He is one of the people accused of financial recklessness in the affairs of the National Port Authority, where he was chairman when the financial scandals were allegedly committed. He was retired from the Navy in the 1990s by the Babangida Administration after serving as military governor of Ondo State from 1987 to 1990 in addition to other military postings.

Chris Uba & Senator Andy Uba:

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–Chris Uba, recently appointed to the PDP Board of Trustees, admitted rigging during the 2003 elections and attempted to kidnap the governor of Anambra state to try to collect payments for his efforts. Linked closely to several vigilante groups in the state, he is widely believed to be responsible for the burning of many state government buildings in Awka, crimes that have yet to be solved.

(C/REL UK) Obasanjo himself is believed to be one of the owners of Suntrust Petroleum. And questions remain about the Obasanjo Library project, which collected enormous sums of money from government contractors, banks, industrialists, and state governors, ostensibly for the construction of a presidential library, the plans for which are vague. It is widely believed throughout the country that Obasanjo and his son, Gbenga, are major shareholders in the newly reorganized Zenith Bank and UBA Bank as well as in airlines and the telecommunications sector.

Billionaire Aliko Dangote:

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(C/REL UK) The Bureau of Private Enterprises oversaw the privatization of many government-owned business, including sugar, steel, rice and other sectors. It is widely believed that the privatization exercise benefited both the President, through Aliko Dangote, and the Vice President, through various agents.

————— What Can We Do? —————

(S/REL UK) While we cannot prove all of these accusations in a court of law, their significance is that they are widely believed both among political figures and among that part of the general public that is politically aware. It is in the USG’s interest to support Nigeria’s efforts to root out corruption and, while our positive public pronouncements contribute to the environment, the biggest influence we can have is the judicious use of U.S. visa revocation for corrupt practices, as provided by Presidential Proclamation 7750.

Though we are unable to identify every corrupt official, the Mission is compiling a list of some prominent and egregious corrupt officials from throughout the country. This list will take into consideration the individuals, levels of corruption and the impact on Nigerian stability of a 7750 decision.

The list could be expanded in many directions, but the Mission feels that such an effort would demonstrate the sincerity and seriousness of the USG’s commitment to good governance and, if these individuals are found ineligible, that finding could contribute greatly to entrenching the precepts of good governance and accountability in Nigeria.

FUREY

Edited version

Source: Wikileaks  :https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06ABUJA483_a.html

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