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Turai Yar'adua hosted to a lavish party by controversial oil businessman, Kase Lawal of CAMAC International

April 3, 2008
More shady details have emerged about Mrs. Turai Yar'adua's activities during her recent trip to Houston, TX.

Last week, in a report titled “Turai Yar’adua is the new Andy Uba,” Saharareporters had disclosed that “First Lady” Turai Yar’adua was in the U.S. to cement corrupt deals with some players in the oil industry.

Part of Turai Yar’adua’s curious itinerary was to be chief guest at a lavish reception party hosted last Wednesday Mr. Kase Lawal, a fugitive from Nigeria.

The shadowy Mr. Lawal is the Chief Executive Officer of Houston, Texas-based CAMAC International Corporation. One source who is close to Mr. Lawal described him as “well wired into the Texas oil magnate community.”

Mr. Lawal’s company, CAMAC International, is one of the 28 beneficiaries just granted approval by Umar Yar'adua to lift about 60,000 barrels each per day of Nigerian oil.

Since Saharareporters published an investigative report about Mrs. Yar'adua’s nepotism, greed and control over her husband’s regime, her aides and hired sycophants have called Nigerian editors and written to us to insist that she visited Texas on a mission to sign a partnership agreement with a Texas Hospital related to cancer issues in Nigeria.

But CAMAC's role in openly sponsoring a party for her is one of the pointers to the fact that oil deals were the real focus of her trip.

Mr. Lawal has long been a fishy presence in Nigeria’s oil sector. During the Ibrahim Babangida regime, Mr. Lawal used his closeness to then Petroleum Minister Rilwan Lukman to broker some questionable oil sector deals. He was also involved in oil deals in South Africa where he reportedly acted as a front for major ANC party stalwarts.

Mr. Lawal, a big player in the seamy and corruption-ridden world of Nigerian oil business, escaped from Nigeria several years ago amid a scandal that was going to see him prosecuted.

He began his effort at image rehabilitation when a few of his contacts got the U.S.-based Nigerian Lawyers Association to bestow a special award on him in New York City in 2007.

Saharareporters reported that Nigeria's Attorney General, Michael Andoakaa, whose office should be seeking Lawal's extradition, was on hand to lend official credibility to the fugitive's so-called "honor" by the NLA.

In 1999, Lawal was indicted and arraigned by Nigerian police authorities on charges of stealing an oil block belonging to the late Maiduguri-based businessman, Mai Deribe. The police charged Lawal and his staff before a Lagos High Court.

Shortly after the institution of the case, Lawal, who is highly connected, reportedly bribed both the then Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation to intervene by 'killing' the case.

As the main suspect, Mr. Kase Lawal—who holds dual Nigerian and US citizenships—fled Nigeria, leaving behind his staff members led by one Mr. Osahon to face the consequences. A warrant of arrest was issued against Lawal while Osahon and others were lined up to face trial.

In a curious development, the then Attorney General quashed the case by claiming that only the office of the Attorney General of the federation was empowered to initiate prosecution against criminals.

The case became a subject of protracted litigation known as Osahon V. FGN (Federal Government of Nigeria). The case tested the power of the police and other security agencies to initiate criminal prosecution. After victories by Attorney General at the High Court and the Appellate Court, the Supreme Court in 2006 ruled that the police and other security agencies could initiate criminal proceedings without express permission from the AGF's office. The ruling effectively empowered the police to prosecute Lawal and co. for their crimes.

However, Lawal is yet to face trial for his crimes. Instead, he has operated from several countries abroad while continuing to serve as a front for several business interests of politically exposed persons in the Nigerian oil sector.

Saharareporters was unable to confirm whether Mr. Lawal's CAMAC International has any business dealings with Mrs. Yar'adua, who returned to Nigeria on Monday.

When Saharareporters contacted Mr. Lawal's company to confirm the reception for Turai Yar’adua, a CAMAC spokesperson, Kimberly Nichols, told our reporter that the company sponsored the "African Cancer Prevention Group" to host Mrs. Yar'adua as corporate citizens. She said that Mr. Lawal did not host Mrs. Yar'adua to a private party. When asked to comment on the status of Mr. Lawal's case with the police, she declined any comment on the issue saying she doesn't know anything about that.

As earlier reported by Saharareporters, Mrs. Yar'adua is fast becoming the new Andy Uba of the Yar'adua regime. As soon as we published an extensive report about her underhand deals, a worried Turai Yar'adua began to threaten reprisals for her aides whom she blames for ratting her out.

Mrs. Yar'adua is known to be hostile to the private media. Since her husband usurped power through rigged April 2007 elections in Nigeria, she has pressured him not allow members of the independent private media in Nigeria to travel with the presidential convoy. She handpicks and sanctions reporters from the official propaganda media to travel with her as well as her husband.

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