As Minister of Finance under the government of Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s returnee Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, steered public contracts to her brother worth up to $50 million, with the help of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Nasir El-Rufai, yet another WikiLeaks US cable issued in 2006 says.
The contracts were said to have been awarded to the man, identified only as “JonJon,” for consulting work for the ministry.

The detailed cable, which spells out corruption allegations against a variety of powerful Nigerians, are contained in a cable in which the United States was considering response to the corruption machine in Nigeria.  Entitled “CORRUPTION: NIGERIA "IMPROVES" TO SIXTH-WORST IN THE WORLD...WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?” it followed the release by Transparency International of its 2005 Annual Corruption Perceptions, and it was written by the Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr. John Campbell.

It showed the ambassador considering using the tool of U.S. visa revocations under Presidential Proclamation 7750 to punish corrupt Nigerian public officials, after noting that President Obasanjos anti-corruption campaign was widely perceived to be nothing more than a political witch hunt by President Obasanjo, a view supported by examining cases targeted at high-level officials. 

Mr. El-Rufai was himself one of those profiled in the cable, where he is identified as having been known to the Embassy eight years earlier “when he was homeless and seeking a loan to import a taxi from the UK.” 

Since that time, wrote the ambassador, El-Rufai was 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.

The cable pointed out that despite all of the headlines being grabbed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, that Commission as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), had won only a single conviction of a high-level public official:, former Inspector-General of Police Tafa Balogun, who received a sentence of just six months, less time served.

Mr. Campbell pointed out that corruption in Nigeria remained pervasive from the top down.  “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; and
•    Use of public funds for capital improvements at two private schools secretly owned by Obasanjo.

“Obasanjo's response was to agree to be "investigated” by the EFCC, which reports to the President.  When the EFCC invited Kalu to provide evidence to support his accusations, Kalu refused, pointing out that the EFCC was not an independent investigative body and had no authority to prosecute the President, and the investigation died out.”

The report also profiled Obasanjo Farms in Otta.  “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 (ref A).  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.

Still on Obasanjo, Ambassador Campbell wrote: “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 Edmund Daukoru, 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.”

The report also said of Obasanjo that he was 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.”

The ambassador wrote that each of the nation’s 36 state governors donated 10 million naira (about $75,000) to the Obasanjo library project.   “Following a public outcry, the library organizers stated the donations were from the governors' personal funds, but several governors backpedaled from their commitments, claiming they had made no such pledges.  When a Lagos lawyer filed a code of conduct complaint alleging conflict of interest in the President's receiving these donations from recipients of government funds, Obasanjo invoked the immunity clause of the constitution, and the complaint died out.”

Some of the other notable people profiled include:

•    “Mr. Fix-It” Tony Anenih, who “was indicted by the National Assembly for the sum of 300 billion Naira (approximately $2.4 billion) missing from Ministry of Works and Housing while he was the minister.  The missing money is widely believed to have paid off 2003 elections  "expenses," including to Balogun, in addition to lining his own pockets.

•    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, 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.

•    Edo State governor Lucky Igbenedion purchased a $6 million mansion in London in 2000 through a series of shell companies, a year after he was elected governor.  He has two Ferraris on the premises.  He also owns reputedly the most expensive residence in Abuja, estimated at $25 million.

•    Delta State governor James Ibori owns two London estates. The properties were purchased for $3 million and $4 million, respectively, after Ibori was elected governor.  Through a shell company registered to his London-based wife, he offered for public auction an ongoing supply of 6 million barrels of oil per month.  When reporters confronted his wife, the shell companies abruptly changed their directors so that Ibori's wife was no longer listed.

•    Rivers State governor Peter Odili has built an impressive portfolio from his corrupt dealings as governor of one of the oil-rich states in Nigeria since his first election in 1999. Beginning his political career as a medical doctor with a small private clinic in Port Harcourt, he now hosts
extravagant events and boasts that it would not have been possible "before he became governor."  Further, he is widely suspected of being directly responsible for facilitating massive irregularities in both the 1999 and 2003 elections. His own state officials have claimed that Odili has employed militia groups, many of which are responsible for the continuing unrest in the delta region.

The ambassador said that that the biggest influence the United States could have on the situation in Nigeria was the “judicious use” of U.S. visa revocation for corrupt practices, under US law.

“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,” he wrote.  “This list will take into consideration the individuals, levels of corruption and the impact on Nigerian stability of a [US Presidential Proclamation] 7750 decision.

He said that list could “be expanded in many directions,” but the United States Mission in Nigeria felt that 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.”

  Full text of cable:

Reference ID     Created     Released     Classification     Origin
06ABUJA483     2006-02-28 12:03     2011-08-30 01:44     SECRET     Embassy Abuja

VZCZCXRO1467
PP RUEHMR RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #0483/01 0591203
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 281203Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4748
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNFB/FBI WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ABUJA 000483
 
SIPDIS
 
SIPDIS
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/01/2016
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KCOR KDEM CVIS NI
SUBJECT: CORRUPTION: NIGERIA "IMPROVES" TO SIXTH-WORST IN
THE WORLD...WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
 
REF: 2004 ABUJA 1991
 
Classified By: Ambassador John Campbell for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
 
-------
Summary
-------
 
¶1.    (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.
 
¶2.    (S/REL UK) Corruption remains widespread in Nigeria at
all levels of the private and public sector.  The arrests in
London of the Bayelsa and Plateau State governors barely
scratched the surface of the endemic corruption at the
federal, state, and local level.  The current campaign to
ferret out corrupt officials is widely perceived to be
nothing more than a political witch hunt by President
Obasanjo, a view supported by examining cases targeted at
high-level officials.  Section 308 of the 1999 constitution
gives immunity from civil or criminal prosecution to the
President, Vice President, Governors, and Deputy Governors,
and many holders of these offices have clearly taken
advantage of this privilege.  There is no such immunity from
U.S. visa revocation under Presidential Proclamation 7750,
however, and post plans to submit further requests for
revocation of visas of corrupt public officials. End Summary.
 
--------------------------------------------- --------
Transparency International: Nigeria's a Little Better
--------------------------------------------- --------
 
¶3.    (U) Transparency International (TI) 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:  Chad, Bangladesh,
Turkmenistan, Myanmar, and Haiti.  In 2004, only Bangladesh
and Haiti had been listed as more corrupt.   Nigeria's
absolute rating increased slightly, from 1.6 (out of 10) to
1.9, though the range of the confidence interval could have
placed the country anywhere in the bottom nine.  As expected,
the GON claimed credit for the  "improvement" in position,
saying it was evidence of the Obasanjo administration's
reforms.  And as expected, the GON also faulted TI's
methodology and denied there was still a corruption problem
in Nigeria.
 
¶4.    (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%.
 
¶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:  on November 22, 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
--------------------------------------------- ------
 
¶6.    (U) Corruption remains widespread in Nigeria at all
levels of the private and public sector.  The arrests in
London of the Bayelsa and Plateau State governors have barely
scratched the surface of the endemic corruption at the
federal, state, and local level.  Section 308 of the 1999
constitution gives immunity from civil or criminal
prosecution to the President, Vice President, Governors, and
Deputy Governors, and many holders of these offices have
clearly taken advantage of this privilege.
 
¶7.    (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:
 
ABUJA 00000483  002 OF 004
 
 
 
--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.
 
Obasanjo's response was to agree to be "investigated by the
EFCC, which reports to the President.  When the EFCC invited
Kalu to provide evidence to support his accusations, Kalu
refused, pointing out that the EFCC was not an independent
investigative body and had no authority to prosecute the
President, and the investigation died out.
 
¶8.    (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 (ref
A).  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.
 
¶9.    (S/REL UK) It is also widely believed that the
President's inner circle also reaps hefty rewards with
impunity.  Some frequently cited examples are:
 
--Edmund Daukoro, recently named Minister of State for
Petroleum Resources, was charged in 1994 for embezzling some
$47 million as a managing director of the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).  The charges were abandoned,
and Daukoro's political career soared when Obasanjo took
office in 1999.
 
--Senator Florence Ita Giwa, indicted for misappropriation of
funds by the Idris Kuta Panel in 2000, was pardoned along
with other indicted senators, and she was named a special
advisor to Obasanjo when she left office.
 
--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.
 
--Anenih was indicted by the National Assembly for the sum of
300 billion Naira (approximately $2.4 billion) missing from
Ministry of Works and Housing while he was the minister.  The
missing money is widely believed to have paid off 2003
elections  "expenses," including to Balogun, in addition to
lining his own pockets.
 
--Minister of Finance Ngozie Okonjo-Iweala is said to have
steered contracts to her brother (JonJon) with the help of
al-Rufai.  The contracts, said to amount to about $50
million, have been paid for consulting work for the Ministry.
 
--Al-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 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
 
ABUJA 00000483  003 OF 004
 
 
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, 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.
 
¶10.   (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.
 
¶11.   (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.
 
¶12.   (C/REL UK) Meanwhile, at the state level, the personal
excesses of several governors indicate that they are finding
ways to supplement their government salaries:
 
--Edo State governor Lucky Igbenedion purchased a $6 million
mansion in London in 2000 through a series of shell
companies, a year after he was elected governor.  He has two
Ferraris on the premises.  He also owns reputedly the most
expensive residence in Abuja, estimated at $25 million.
 
--Delta State governor James Ibori owns two London estates.
The properties were purchased for $3 million and $4 million,
respectively, after Ibori was elected governor.  Through a
shell company registered to his London-based wife, he offered
for public auction an ongoing supply of 6 million barrels of
oil per month.  When reporters confronted his wife, the shell
companies abruptly changed their directors so that Ibori's
wife was no longer listed.
 
--Rivers State governor Peter Odili has built an impressive
portfolio from his corrupt dealings as governor of one of the
oil-rich states in Nigeria since his first election in 1999.
Beginning his political career as a medical doctor with a
small private clinic in Port Harcourt, he now hosts
extravagant events and boasts that it would not have been
possible "before he became governor."  Further, he is widely
suspected of being directly responsible for facilitating
massive irregularities in both the 1999 and 2003 elections.
His own state officials have claimed that Odili has employed
militia groups, many of which are responsible for the
continuing unrest in the delta region.
 
--Each of the 36 state governors donated 10 million naira
(about $75,000) to the Obasanjo library project.   Following
a public outcry, the library organizers stated the donations
were from the governors' personal funds, but several
governors backpedaled from their commitments, claiming they
had made no such pledges.  When a Lagos lawyer filed a code
of conduct complaint alleging conflict of interest in the
President's receiving these donations from recipients of
government funds, Obasanjo invoked the immunity clause of the
constitution, and the complaint died out.
 
---------------
What Can We Do?
---------------
 
¶13.   (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
 
ABUJA 00000483  004 OF 004
 
 
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

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