A SaharaReporters investigation into criminal activity in the United States by one Aisha Buhari confirms that the perpetrator is not the First Lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari.
SaharaReporters began its latest investigation following the circulation of reports that Mrs. Buhari—wife of President Muhammadu Buhari—was involved in a bribe scheme in 2002 in which she wired the sum of $170,000 to disgraced former US Congressman William Jefferson.
The current hysteria around allegations that Mrs. Buhari was involved in this fraudulent transaction as retaliation from the embattled Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose, who had some of his Zenith bank accounts frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr. Fayose, who is prone to public outbursts, has been at the center of several high-profile scandals including the Ekitigate scandal in which he faces allegations of using money from the Office of the National Security Adviser to rig the gubernatorial election in 2014. Following the freezing of his bank accounts earlier this week, Mr. Fayose resumed attacking President Buhari and his wife, accusing them of corruption. He has also reportedly been sponsoring fabricated stories connecting the First Lady Aisha Buhari to the William Jefferson scandal.
The genesis of the allegations linking the current First Lady with the $170,000 transaction has arisen from a sentencing memorandum concerning Mr. Jefferson, who was convicted of corruption in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In the memorandum, “Aisha Buhari” appears once, on page 22, stating that the money was transferred to Mr. Jefferson from a Nigerian bank account in her name.
New York Times reporter Barry Meier published an elaborate report in 2007 titled “Teed Up: Golf, K Street and Nigeria” which prominently featured Mr. Jefferson, “Aisha Buhari,” and the former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Victor Attah.
Mr. Meier wrote at the time of “an unlikely cast of characters” seeking “a multimillion-dollar public spending spree initiated by Mr. Attah, an ambitious politician who wanted to be Nigeria’s next president.”
According to the account, middle-aged Aisha Buhari entered into the story when, by happenstance, she entered a non-descript Washington DC-based pharmacy and began chatting with a security guard. During that conversation, she allegedly told him that she was the daughter of the former military ruler, General Muhammadu Buhari. Following that conversation, the security guard later introduced Aisha Buhari to DC-based lobbyist Richard Hines.
The assembling of these personalities, more than ten years ago, laid the foundation for the criminal activity that followed.
SaharaReporters could not ascertain when or how the tale of Aisha Buhari evolved from a US-based woman claiming to be the daughter of former General Muhammadu Buhari to the Aisha Buhari, who is married to present-day President Buhari.
However, SaharaReporters investigation into the events around the illegal financial transactions involving an Aisha Buhari and any connection with the First Lady of Nigeria led our investigators to multiple sets of court records in Virginia courts.
SaharaReporters found no fewer than six legal cases involving an Aisha Buhari in the Fairfax County General District Court. The earliest date of these cases in the registry is October 19, 2012, with the most recent heard on March 31, 2016. Most of these cases involve debts or wage garnishment.
Also notable is that one case, which was heard on December 3, 2015, was appealed by a defendant named Aisha M. Buhari at a time that Nigeria First Lady Aisha Buhari was clearly in Nigeria. This is in addition to a pattern of alleged civil and criminal cases against an Aisha Buhari following the incidents reported by the New York Times in the mid-2000s—a time when now First Lady Aisha Buhari was living in Nigeria.
SaharaReporters investigation found that there is another Aisha Buhari, living in the Virginia area: the same Aisha Buhari who claimed to be President Buhari’s daughter but who actually has no relationship with him.
During the course of our investigation, we found that a property was sold on June 27, 2014 by Aisha Buhari to one Chiagozia Agbarakwe for $380,000. Evidence shows that that Aisha Buhari purchased the property in 2013 for the sum of $335,000, putting her in Fairfax County, Virginia, during that period.
In addition to court evidence, property records, and a list of known addresses belonging to an Aisha Buhari living in the United States, the New York Times in 2007 photographed the Aisha Buhari, who claimed to be the daughter of then General Muhammadu Buhari.
SaharaReporters has also obtained a copy of Aisha Buhari’s Nigerian International Passport, which shares the same profile as the photograph published in the New York Times, but she clearly looks nothing like the First Lady Aisha Buhari.
SaharaReporters contacted many of the aggrieved individuals who filed legal cases against Aisha Buhari, or their legal counsel, but none wanted to go on record due to the sensitive nature of their legal proceedings. Several of them did, however, confirm that Aisha Buhari was in the United States during the time her alleged activity took place.