Former President Olusegun Obasanjo's long-term ally and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stalwart, Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, the businessman mentioned in the alleged bribery scandal involving an ex-US Congressman, Williams Jefferson, has described Governor Ayodele Fayose's public accusation against Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, wife of Nigeria's president, as "fallacious, baseless, misinformed and defamatory."
Mr. Fasawe, in a statement signed by him and released to the press in Abuja, exonerated Mrs. Buhari whom he said was never in any way connected with the transaction.
"We were the ones in government, and she was never a member of our party or my business associate. So, how could she have been involved in the first place," he queried.
Although Mr. Fasawe claimed to know the said convicted former US congressman in the course of business exploration, yet he vehemently opposed Mr. Fayose's position that President Buhari's wife was part of the deal in any way.
"It was one venture that went awry based on misplaced trust. I was convinced the Triple Play Cable Television Network was the future of home entertainment in Nigeria. I invested considerably in the business - even having to approach my bank for further investments,” Mr. Fasawe said.
“Unfortunately, all went down the drain having been dealing with a fraud and a dupe in a person of Jefferson who used his office and the image of his nation to convince me iGate was a reputable Telecommunication Equipment Vendor. I am sure the bulk of the story is in the media, because I petitioned EFCC and the then President Olusegun Obasanjo,” he added.
Mr. Fasawe continued by saying “nothing concrete was done by the then leadership of EFCC. My monies are still tied up in the US. It is high time the Nigeria Government liaised with the government of the United States to help me repatriate my monies running into tens of millions of dollars. The matter is in court as I speak, with AMCON joined as a party to the suit. This is an opportunity for President Buhari to look into the matter and bring all connected to book. Since the matter is in court, I may not be able to say much. However I seek justice, I seek the intervention of Mr. President. As a matter of fact, a petition to this effect is in the offing to be submitted to the presidency any moment from now.”
The Ondo State-born business mogul also lamented how the failed business gamble snuffed away his freedom and landed him in detention for nearly a year.
"The sad incident caused me money, time and honor. So it is very upsetting to have anyone trying to open this old wound and spicing it up with further controversy. I, therefore, advise Governor Fayose and his handlers to please desist from this unprovoked attack and unsolicited defamation to the person of Mrs. Aisha Buhari. No one should hide behind immunity clause to trample upon the rights and reputation of others with impunity," Fasawe warned.
It will be recalled that Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on Monday through press reports had revived the alleged role played by Aisha Buhari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, in the bribery scandal involving U.S. Congressman Williams Jefferson.
According to media reports, "Mr. Fayose distributed a link to the U.S. Department of Justice website holding court documents where Mrs. Buhari was alleged to have transferred suspicious funds to a convicted former American congressman, William Jefferson.
"In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, Mr. Fayose said President Buhari was far from being a clean man.
“Even the President cannot claim to be an angel,” the governor said, in reaction to the freezing of his Zenith Bank account by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“The estate he built in Abuja is known to us. His wife was indicted over the Halliburton Scandal (sic). When that American, Jefferson, was being sentenced, the President’s wife was mentioned as having wired $170,000 to Jefferson. Her name was on page 25 of the sentencing of Jefferson. We can serialize the judgment for people to see and read.”
"The governor’s Special Assistant on New Media, Lere Olayinka, later circulated links to and copies of the court document detailing Mrs Buhari’s mention in the scandal.
"The documents showed that in some of the exhibits tendered in convicting Mr. Jefferson of bribery, a Mrs. Buhari was mentioned as transferring $170,000 to the American politician using a firm as proxy.
“Government Exhibits 36-87 (6/26/02 $170,000 wire transfer from account in Nigeria in the name of Aisha Buhari to an account in the name of The ANJ Group, LLC, identifying “William Jefferson” as Beneficiary),” the U.S. Government Sentencing Memorandum said on page 22."
"Mr. Fayose’s comment sparked a recollection of how Mr. Jefferson, between 2000 and 2005, used his position as member of the U.S. House of Representatives to offer illegal services to private companies for cash rewards.
"Mr. Jefferson and his family, according to U.S. authorities, received about $367,500 through his firm, ANJ Group, for services rendered to iGate, an American broadband technology provider.
"An indigenous firm, Netlink Digital Television, had signed a joint venture with iGate to set up digital satellite TV and broadband Internet services in the country. NDTV was owned by Oyewole Fasawe, a PDP chieftain at the time.
"Mr. Jefferson was contracted to help promote iGate and NDTV partnership in Nigeria.
"Following a lengthy trial, Mr. Jefferson was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
"Although Mr. Fasawe was arrested in 2005 by the EFCC, he was never convicted.
"A report released by the EFCC on June 22, 2006, about the bribery scandal indicated that the commission investigated accounts held by Mrs. Buhari, including one she had with Citizens Bank.
"A 2007 New York Times article detailed how Mrs. Buhari told an acquaintance in Washington that she was a daughter of a former Nigerian head of state and a friend of Mr. Jefferson.
“As the pair struck up a conversation and subsequently became friends, Mr. Assiba, then a security guard, said she told him that her father was the former military ruler of Nigeria, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and that her American friends included politicians like Mr. Jefferson of Louisiana.”