Friday, 24 May 2013
Ibori’s $15 Million Bribe Funds: Andy Uba, Chibuike Achigbu Beat Retreat
In interviews with lawyers, EFCC officials and two PDP officials, SaharaReporters has learnt that Andy Uba, a former domestic aide during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, and a little known, small-time businessman named Chibuike Achigbu, have abandoned their illicit conspiracy to claim the $15 million cash confiscated by the EFCC from former Governor James Ibori of Delta State.
SaharaReporters had reported yesterday that Mr. Uba, now a senator from Anambra State, had hatched a plan with Mr. Achigbu to claim ownership of the funds.
A legal source disclosed that the two men beat a retreat after reading an investigative report by SaharaReporters that unmasked their plan. “Chief Andy Uba and Engineer Achigbu were so scared that they immediately instructed their lawyers to discontinue with the case,” said the source. SaharaReporters confirmed that Mr. Achigbu’s lawyers were in court today to officially withdraw the claim.”
Ex-Governor Ibori had offered the $15 million dollars as bribe to Nuhu Ribadu, the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in an effort to persuade the EFCC to abandon its investigation of Mr. Ibori’s extensive money laundering activities. Mr. Ibori had hauled the cash to Mr. Uba’s residence in Abuja for onward transfer to the then EFCC chairman. Not only did Mr. Ribadu reject the bribe, he got the funds deposited at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
But the funds have been mired in controversy after Attorney General of Nigeria Mohammed Adoke and the Delta State government filed separate lawsuits over ownership of the cash.
A bizarre twist was introduced when Mr. Achigbu, whose Facebook page lists him as an executive at Chimons Gas Ltd., swore to an affidavit claiming that he had raised the disputed funds as campaign funds to support PDP candidates during the 2007 elections. Mr. Achigbu alleged that he handed the funds to Mr. Andy Uba, and that the former presidential aide reported handing the cash to current EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde.
Our correspondents spoke today with several acquaintances of Mr. Achigbu. They described him as a practiced 419 scam artist who used to own a gas station that he has since sold. One source from his hometown said, “Chibuike is well known as a ‘wayo’ player who has never seen one hundred thousand dollars talk less $15 million.”
In the now withdrawn affidavit, Mr. Achigbu claimed that he gave the $15 million cash to Mr. Uba who in turn handed it to the EFCC to enable the anti-corruption to determine that the money was legitimate before plowing it into the PDP’s campaign funds.
But several sources within the EFCC as well as lawyers familiar with the case disclosed to our correspondent that Mr. Achigbu was a mere front for Mr. Uba. “The truth is that Andy Uba devised a scheme to corner the cash that Chief Ibori had offered to Nuhu Ribadu as a bribe,” said one of the sources.
A lawyer familiar with the case described Mr. Achigbu’s affidavit as “laughable and detestable,” adding that he would not be surprised if Nigeria’s Attorney General, Mohammed Adoke, was part of the deal. “It’s a pity, but Mohammed Adoke has become even worse in corruption than Aondoakaa,” said the lawyer, adding that President Goodluck Jonathan “should ask the IG of Police to seriously investigate the issue and interrogate both Engineer Achigbu and Uba for conspiring to defraud the country.”
An associate of Mr. Uba told SaharaReporters that the former aide to Mr. Obasanjo admitted to close friends that he knew about Achigbu’s affidavit, but claimed that the lawyers hired by his front did not frame the case well.
In the affidavit, a copy of which was obtained by SaharaReporters, Mr. Achigbu alleged that he had become estranged from Andy Uba shortly after handing the $15 million to the former presidential aide. He claimed that he received a desperate phone call on August 27, 2012 from Mr. Uba. According to his affidavit, Mr. Uba pleaded with him not to hang up the phone, and then stated that the $15 million being claimed by the Delta State government was the same campaign funds Mr. Achigbu had handed to Uba, and which Uba gave to Mr. Lamorde.
In paragraph 19 of the fraudulent affidavit, Mr. Achigbu stated that, “Dr. Andy Uba informed the Intervener/Applicant that [Uba] was shocked to find that the money in question was the money [Achigbu] gave Dr. Andy Uba which he in turn released to the EFCC to investigate before allowing same to be donated and accepted by PDP to fund their election campaigns in 2007.”
One lawyer involved in the case told SaharaReporters that “any intelligent child would have realized that Senator Andy Uba’s fingerprints were all over Achigbu’s shoddy affidavit.” He added, “It is clear that Chief Uba was the mastermind of this attempt to hijack funds that belong to the people of Delta State.” Echoing the lawyer, an EFCC official told SaharaReporters that “the scheme by Dr. Uba is appalling. Such act is unbecoming of a man who calls himself a senator.”
An official at the PDP headquarters in Abuja told SaharaReporters that the party was not aware of the said funds allegedly collected for its candidates by Mr. Achigbu. According to the official, Mr. Uba told him that he only met Mr. Achigbu once in his life. He quoted Mr. Uba as stating that Mr. Achigbu accompanied former Governor Ibori to meet with Mr. Obasanjo at the Villa.
Another PDP official said he thinks the party would support the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Uba if it is established that he hatched the plan to illegally claim funds that were seized from Mr. Ibori as part of an anti-corruption investigation.
In paragraph 24 of his affidavit, Mr. Achigbu asserted that “Dr. Andy Uba has offered to depose to the foregoing facts on oath before this Honorable Court…”
Andy Uba/ Chibuike Achibu Affidavit Of Claim On Ibori's $15 Million Bribe