In a move, the corrupt minister of education has been given the boot. This allows your moderator to provide the background story and related matters.
Nigerian Leader Sacks Education Minister
World - AP Africa
ABUJA, Nigeria - Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo fired his
education minister Tuesday, accusing him of bribing lawmakers with
almost $400,000 to increase his yearly budget, and said the
minister's accomplices included the Senate leader.
Obasanjo made the allegations in a televised address Tuesday evening
following newspaper reports that Education Minister Fabian Osuji had
been arrested for bribery last week.
Under Nigeria's constitution, the Senate leader — currently governing
party member Adolphus Wabara — is the No. 3 person in the government.
Obasanjo accused him and several other senators, all by name, of
taking bribes worth $398,550 from the education minister.
Minister held, Senators face arrest
Osuji detained in Wuse as aides disappear
By Collins Edomaruse in Lagos and Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 03.19.2005
Saturday, March 19, 2005
When it rains, it pours. The gale of arrests, over an allegation of
indu-cement of members of the National Assembly Com-mittees on
Education by the Minister of Education, Professor Fabian Osuji, who
was arrested in Abuja, Thursday over plans to jerk up the ministry's
votes in this year's budget, is spreading fast. Several members of
the the National Assembly may soon be arrested as the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) intensifies its effort to bring
the culprits to book. Osuji who is cooling his heels in a Wuse,
Abuja detention centre is said by family sources to be co-operating
with EFCC investigators. According to a member of his family who
spoke to THISDAY, "we don't want him to be a scapegoat and we have
urged him to name all in this scandal."
Already, Principals of Fede-ral Government Colleges, who were said
to have raised the N50 million allegedly distributed to members of
the Education Committees of the National Assembly, have been
summoned to Abuja for interrogation by the EFCC.
Last night, an insider, who is a principal officer of the National
Assembly, gave THISDAY a graphic account of how the booty was
He said a "very senior" principal officer of National Assembly
suggested to the embattled Minister that there was the need for his
ministry to make some money available to the education committees to
enable them do a "good job" on the budget.
The minister, the source continued, accepted the suggestion and
promptly instructed principals of the Federal Government Colleges
across the country to raise N50m so that the ministry's budget could
be "jerked up".
He also disclosed that, upon the delivery of the booty to the
National Assembly, the principal officer, who acted as the
facilitator in the deal, pocketed N20 million and passed N30 million
to the committees, to be shared on an equal basis of N15 million
"The committee members frowned at it and asked that it be returned
if it could not get N40 million and the remainder of N10 million
conceded to the facilitator. But he (the facilitator) did not bulge.
The committee members accepted and shared it.
"But a member of the House committee turned down his share and
accused the lawmakers of corruption. This irked his colleagues and
he was subsequently suspended.
"Armed with a sense of an unjust treatment, the suspended lawmaker
took his case to the EFCC and wrote everything he knew about the
matter and submitted to the Commission.
"The Commission then invited Osuji and confronted him with the
allegation or petition. The minister admitted giving the money to
the facilitator for an onward delivery to the lawmakers and he was
subsequently detained," the source added.
But when contacted on the phone last night, an aid of the
facilitator, told THISDAY that the story was scandalous. "I can tell
you there is no truth in it. My boss is too busy to be distributing
money to committees. Nothing of that nature happened," he insisted.
Meanwhile, Osuji, who was picked up two days ago by the EFCC, was
still at press time cooling off his feet at the Commission's offices
But THISDAY was also told that the minister's continued detention
may not be unconnected with the desire of his interrogators to track
down more officials of the ministry to ascertain the level of their
involvement in the failed deal.
The ministry's Perma-nent Secretary and other top officials were
last night said to have been in hiding.
Besides efforts to reach Osuji's aides including his Chief Press
Secretary, Mr. Tony Ohaire, his personal assistant Mr. Tobs
Agbuegbu, proved abortive as all their phones which rang initially
were later switched off.
A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdullahi Yerima, had
blown the whistle on massive corruption in the National Assembly,
for which he was subsequently suspended. His suspension was
advertised in national newspapers. He had alleged, among other
things that lawmakers were collecting GSM recharge cards from MTN on
a monthly basis. He also said ministers were bribing their way in
the National Assembly to have their votes "jerked up".
At the National Executive Council meeting two weeks ago, President
Olusegun Obasanjo had reportedly advised the ministers to come and
confess to him if they knew anything about the budget bribery
scandal. He warned of "dire consequences" if they failed to comply
with his advice.
Only this week, the out-going President of National Association of
Nigerian Students (NANS), Mr. Tony Nwoye had alleged that the
Ministry of Education gave a large chunk of the N6.5m to ensure that
government candidate emerge as the new President of NANS.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Murktari Shehu
Shagari, has denied reports that he has been invited by the
Independent and Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) over financial
In a chat with THISDAY yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary in the
Ministry, Chief Olugbayo Ogunleye said that the Water Resources
Minister has never been invited to the ICPC either formally or
He disclosed that ICPC had written a letter late last year following
a petition it received against the Ministry over an unpaid adverts
amounting to N4.7 million.
"It is true that there is a petition to the ICPC concerning unpaid
advertisements and the Agency had written to the Ministry to confirm
whether the Ministry has paid or yet to pay for the advert
"The only letter sent to the ministry was addressed to the Director
of Finance and Account and we are not denying the fact that we are
owing some media organisations for adverts placed. But the Minister
of Water Resources has never been invited to answer questions
pertaining to financial impropriety as contain in a newspaper report
today," he said.
BY SIMON ROBINSON
"Monkey they work, baboon they chop" goes an old Nigerian saying. The people work while their leaders eat. Not Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Nigeria's combative Finance Minister has rolled up her sleeves since her appointment last year by President Olusegun Obasanjo. A former World Bank vice president, Okonjo-Iweala, 50, was lured back from Washington to her oil-rich yet impoverished West African nation of 130 million to fix its chaotic finances and clean up corruption. The bottom line: the Nigerian government exported $20 billion worth of oil last year, but its people still scrape by on an average wage of just a dollar a day. Okonjo-Iweala's mission is to make sure more of those billions go to roads, schools and health care.
Fixing Africa's broken giant is no easy task. Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International ranks Nigeria the second most corrupt place in the world, after Bangladesh. Oil money has often been wasted in kickbacks and bribes. The country's economy h! as struggled with years of mismanagement. Okonjo-Iweala, who studied at Harvard and M.I.T., has begun trimming Nigeria's bloated civil service, cut fuel subsidies and begun accounting for all the money the government spends. She has also helped set up an antifraud team to crack down on "419" letter and Internet advance-fee scams, which bilk everyone from unsuspecting pensioners to large banks by convincing them to part with their money on the promise of a cut of hidden "millions." The team has already caught more than 500 people.
Yet to hear her tell it, she's on the receiving end. "I've been very grateful for what my life has become," says Okonjo-Iweala. "My motivation is to take whatever knowledge I have and put it to the use of my country." Other ministers, who earn around $6,000 a year, initially questioned her hefty (more than $240,000) salary, paid by the United Nations in a program to repatriate Nigeria's best brains. The scam artists want to kill her, she says,! because they don't like her meddling. But Okonjo-Iweala, a mother of four, can play tough too. When President Obasanjo announced he had removed the vital budget and planning departments from her ministry, Okonjo-Iweala quit, returning only when the President backed down.
Improving Nigeria's image, she says, is as important as fixing its economy. "It is a sense of anger that drives me. Anger that this country [and] the Nigerians that I know are being maligned by a small percentage," she says. "You have to do something to clean this up. You can't always look up to other people do to it. The fight begins with you." And with that, she gets back to work.
Swiss returning 458 mln dollars in Abacha assets to
GENEVA, Feb 16 (AFP) - Switzerland will return 458
million dollars (352 million euros) plundered by
Nigeria's late dictator Sani Abacha to the west
African country, after a last ditch legal challenge by
the Abacha family was swept aside, Swiss authorities
Switzerland's Federal Tribunal sided with the
government's decree last August ordering the
restitution of the final instalment of funds frozen
in Swiss banks for several years, in a ruling released
The tribunal accepted one part of the Abacha
family's appeal relating to another 40 million
dollars, saying there was not enough proof of alleged
corruption involving a contract to rebuild Nigeria's
However, those outstanding deposits must remain
frozen in Switzerland until the Abachas can prove the
money was not obtained illegally, the tribunal ruled.
Abacha, who died in 1998, is suspected of having
looted the Nigerian central bank to the tune of about
2.2 billion dollars when he ruled Africa's most
populous nation from November 1993 to June 1998.
Switzerland has already returned to Nigeria about
200 million of the 700 million dollars frozen in Swiss
bank accounts since 1999.
But lawyers acting for the Nigerian government have
warned that they were still uncovering the trail of
more cash secretly hoarded by Abacha and his
associates around the world.
Apart from Switzerland, Nigeria has also asked for
help in tracing looted assets in Britain, the Channel
Islands, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the
Switzerland is seeking the extradition of Abba
Abacha, one of the sons of the late dictator, who was
arrested in Germany in December on suspicion of money
laundering and fraud.
Abba was detained in a hotel in the northwest
German town of Neuss after trying to withdraw 70,000
euros (92,080 dollars) from a bank account frozen at
Investigators believe most of the plundered assets
have been controlled by Abba and his brother, Mohamed
Abacha, since their father died. Both were legal
parties in the Swiss court appeal.