Wednesday, 23 March, 2005, 15:34 GMT
Wabara is the third most important man in Nigeria's government
Members of Nigeria's national assembly have condemned President
Olusegun Obasanjo for alleging some of them took bribes to pass an
After a closed-door meeting, members of the House of Representatives
released a statement speaking of their "anger".
Senate President Adolphus Wabara has denied reports carried in
several newspapers that he had resigned.
The president has promised to tackle corruption but it remains seen
as one of the world's most corrupt countries.
Mr Obasanjo on Tuesday sacked Education Minister Fabian Osuji
following an anti-corruption investigation.
In a national radio and television address, Mr Obasanjo said Mr Osuji
had paid a total of $400,000 (£212,000) to several MPs, including Mr
Mr Wabara's spokesman Henry Ogbulue says the senate president would
only stand down if he was convicted of wrong-doing by an internal
He earlier denied that any money changed hands while he tried to
smooth the passage of the education budget.
"The legislature cannot wallow in corruption and expect the outside
world to take our pleas for debt relief very seriously" --
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
Obasanjo's thankless task
"It is a disheartening event that the number three man in the
government hierarchy [senate president] in the country is involved in
this sordid matter," Mr Obasanjo said.
The president wants to root out corruption as he campaigns for the
reduction of the country's $35bn (£18.5bn) foreign debt.
Mr Osuji, released on Sunday after being held by government
investigators for several days, has made no comment.
He is the second minister to be dismissed for alleged corruption
since Mr Obasanjo took power in 1999 pledging to clean up Nigeria's
He revealed that Mr Osuji would be prosecuted by an independent
commission on corrupt practices.
Nigeria's National Assembly would be handed a dossier detailing the
six MPs' role in the scandal, while other government officials would
be dealt with separately, Mr Obasanjo said.
Obasanjo has talked tough on corruption since 1999
In a stark warning to other ministers suspected of corrupt practices,
Mr Obasanjo said investigations would continue into other areas of
parliament and government.
"It is the responsibility of the National Assembly to cleanse itself,
to show to Nigerians that it deserves their respect, to rebuild
public confidence and to flush out those members who continue to
derogate and degrade its integrity and stature," he said.
And he warned that Nigeria's attempts to gain international debt
relief would be harmed by continuing corruption within the political
"The legislature cannot wallow in corruption and expect the outside
world to take our pleas for debt relief very seriously."
Nigeria, which is Africa's largest oil producer, is seen as one of
the world's most corrupt countries, according to watchdog
EFCC to arraign Tafa Balogun next month
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will arraign the
former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Tafa Balogun for trial
Competent sources at the EFCC who asked not to be named revealed
yesterday in Lagos that ``we have sufficient evidence to arraign the
former IGP before a competent court of law very soon,'' according to
a News Agency of Nigeria, NAN report.
``When we have enough evidence to prosecute him, what can we wait
for?'' the source asked, saying "we will arraign him along with other
police officers and men found to be involved in corrupt practices.''
Asked whether the former IGP would be arraigned with some of the
serving senior officers such as deputy inspectors-general and
assistant inspectors-General who served with him, the source said
that they were not indicted in any of the corrupt practices.
The source said a commissioner of police (name withheld) may be
arraigned along with Balogun and some other junior officers who are
involved in one way or the other, while a significant number of them
would be used as prosecution witnesses.
The source could not indicate the court and venue where Balogun would
Balogun was removed following the submission of comprehensive reports
to the Presidency by the commission over allegations of corrupt
practices leveled against him last January. EFCC has reportedly
traced 11 different bank accounts operated by the former inspector
general at a local bank using different companies in addition to
landed properties and houses recovered in Lagos and Abuja. Balogun
was also accused of money laundering activities running into billions
He was appointed IGP on March 6, 2002 and removed from office last
January 18. Balogun served in various capacities as Commissioner of
Police in Delta, Rivers and Abia, as well as AIG zone 1, Kano from
where he was appointed IGP.
EFCC declares Abacha, six others wanted
Oluyinka Akintunde and Tobi Soniyi, Abuja
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has declared a brother
to Late Gen. Sani Abacha, Alhaji Abdulkadir and six others wanted, in
connection with alleged economic and financial crimes.
The EFCC, which confirmed this on its website on Tuesday, listed
others on its wanted list as Olafemi Ayeni, Olugbenga Ajala, Sadiq
Abubakar, Toye Oluwafemi, Badiru Adeyinka and Adegbulugbe Adetunji.
Two of the suspects, Adeyinka and Adetunji, according to the
commission, had relocated to the United Kingdom.
The agency stated, "Anyone with information on the whereabouts of
these wanted persons should contact EFCC offices on 15A Awolowo Road,
Ikoyi and Plot 1017 Coree Bay Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja or the nearest
police station or security agency."
A son of the late head of state Abba Abacha, is also set to face
trial in Switzerland in connection with looted funds stashed away in
the country's banks.
Abba was arrested on December 9, 2004 in Neuss, Germany, while
allegedly attempting to close an account of which he was the sole
Late Sani Abacha, who died in June 1998, is believed to have siphoned
over $2.2 billion, which he invested in several countries, including
Britain and Switzerland.
Switzerland returned $200 million to Nigeria at the end of 2003
following settlements between parties to the money and the Nigerian
authorities, as well as seizure orders issued by the prosecutor's
office in Geneva.
The out-of-court agreement between Nigeria and the Abachas were
reached in May 2002.
It was agreed that the late general's family could keep $100 million
provided that his son signed an agreement enabling foreign banks in
Switzerland and elsewhere to return to Nigeria a further $1 billion
of the allegedly looted money.
The Swiss Government is also set this month to repatriate another
$458 million out of the $505 million kept by the late Abacha in some
banks in the country.
The Punch, Wednesday, March 23, 2005
I won't step down yet — Senate President
IN SPITE of his indictment in a national broadcast by President
Olusegun Obasanjo, the President of the Senate, Chief Adolphus Wabara
on Tuesday said he will not resign yet.
He insisted that he wanted the Senate to probe him and determine
whether he should leave office or not.
But he has up till April 5, 2005 to make up his mind because the
Senate had already adjourned for Easter Break and the Rules of the
Senate demands that the President must report to the Senate in
Wabara made his position known both at a close session with Senators
and during a consultation with some of his friends last night at his
Apo Quarters, Abuja.
An aide of Wabara who spoke in confidence said, "On a personal note,
the President of the Senate said he won't resign yet. That is
"He said he has already taken a decision not to resign. He told his
trusted friends that he will allow the Senate to investigate the
findings of the EFCC.
"He maintained that in his statement to the EFCC, he clarified that
he did not collect any money. He expressed surprise that Obasanjo did
not call him or discuss the EFCC's report with him."
The decision not to resign was a reconfirmation of his earlier
submission at a close session with senators earlier on Tuesday.
He was also said to have reiterated his earlier stance that he never
demanded for nor received any bribe from the minister and that he was
a victim of circumstantial evidence.
Overwhelmed by a pall of silence, he allegedly turned to Senator
Ifeanyi Ararume and said, "It takes a man to always be a man and I
have said this before when Emmanuel Anosike was leaving the Senate.
"I would leave when the Senate so desires and you will not even need
to spend money for my removal,"
Our correspondent slearnt that during the close session, an Ad-Hoc
Committee headed by Senator David Mark and members from each of the
six geo-political zones was set up to investigate the bribery
But senators loyal to Wabara were said to have opposed the
composition of the committee; thereafter it was dissolved immediately
and the Ethic and Privileges Committee asked to conduct an
Asked whether the Senate investigation would replace that of the
Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Wada said EFCC has no
capacity in law to convict anybody.
He said: "All it can do is to investigate and not convict,"
Shortly after the close-session, the Special Adviser to the President
Olusegun Obasanjo on National Assembly Matters, Senator Florence Ita-
Giwa arrived the Senate with the EFCC report.
Sources said there also a covering letter from Obasanjo, addressed to
the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ibrahim Mantu.
A senator told our correspondents that the covering letter contained
Obasanjo's directive to Wabara to resign from office or risk
impeachment. It also contained names of senators who were
investigated by the EFCC and found guilty and what the Senate should
do to them.
Some of the senators however argued that the President has promoted a
breach of the law because it was not the duty of the EFCC to
investigate allegations of bribery.
They also argued that where appropriate bodies conducted such
investigations, the report should not have been submitted to the
President but to the police for the prosecution of those found
Immediately after the report was submitted, the PDP national chairman
arrived for the rescheduled caucus meeting but was ushered straight
to Wabara's office where they had a close-door meeting for about an
When he emerged from the meeting, Ali who was surrounded by four
armed secret service men moved straight to where his car was packed
outside and drove off with Mantu.
Unconfirmed report said Wabara had already given his resignation
letter to Ali and that Ali was sent by Obasanjo to collect the letter
or he would initiate impeachment measures against him (Wabara).
But the House of Representatives has welcomed President Olusegun
Obasanjo's nation-wide broadcast.
It said that Obasanjo's broadcast had vindicated Speaker, Alhaji
Aminu Bello Masari's position, who had before now advised members to
live above board.
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Publicity, Mrs. Abike
Dabiri, who spoke with our correspondents shortly after the
president's speech, said that the internal investigation, which had
begun, would go beyond the Education Committee which is now under
Dabiri said, "This is how the Speaker conducts himself. The House
under his leadership stands firmly against corruption and it would
not sweep anything under the carpet.
"We have 360 people in the House and we can not be the same," she
A member of the House, Dr. Haruna Yerima, had last month, accused
some of his colleagues of collecting bribe before passing budget of
ministries and parastatals.
Yerima, was consequently suspended for 30 days, which was reduced to
Asked whether Yerimah had not been vindicated, Dabiri said that his
suspension had to do more with his blanket or sweeping indictment of
members and denigration as those who conduct debate in beer parlour
A source said told our correspondents that another chairman of the
House Committee was also being investigated for corrupt practices.
Efforts to speak with the Executive Secretary of the National
Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, proved aborted.
However, his Press Secretary, Mr. Ibrahim Yakasai, said he just heard
the latest development on the Nigerian Television Authority.
He added that he was on his way to the office to meet the executive
secretary to get details of the matter.
He, however, promised to get back to our correspondents.
The National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin,
however, said that the decision to sack Osuji and hand him over to
ICPC was a selective justice, noting that others who committed the
same offence were still in government or have been given "a soft
landing owing to party affiliation."
Odumakin said that for the government to successfully wage its war
against corruption, there was the need to ensure that all those
indicted were made to face the law.
He said that Wabara and the other members of the National Assembly
should not be given a soft landing but also punished according to the
The Punch, Wednesday, March 23, 2005
The Indicted Men
By Joseph Ushigiale, 03.23.2005
Senator Adolphus Wabara
He represented Abia South senatorial district and was first elected
into the Senate in 1999. He was a member of the House of
Representatives in between 1992 and 1993.
His re-election in 2003 was dogged by controversy when his opponent,
Elder Dan Imo of rival All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) claimed
victory at the polls.
His return to the Senate, few days to the inauguration, was
facilitated by an Abuja High Court ruling presided over by Justice
Yet, in spite of the fact that Wabara had to struggle to return to
the senate, he confounded pundits by emerging senate president in a
manner many suspect was designed by the presidency.
His tenure last year witnessed the first financial scandal in which
former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai
alleged that the leadership had requested for a gratis of about N54
million to facilitate his clearance as a ministerial nominee.
He has survived several other scandals and that may have bolstered
him to elect to intervene in the seeming face-off between the senate
education committee and the Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji
in which about N55m allegedly changed hands.
Unlike other Senate Presidents before him, it is quite an irony that
Wabara who set out to provide good governance to sustain democracy
would succumb to the temptations which as described by President
Obasanjo based on the report of the EFCC, the Senate President is a
key dramatis personnae in the bribery scandal.
Senator Azuta Mbata
Mbata was a second time senator and has represented Rivers East
senatorial zone since 1999. He has occupied several committee
chairmanship positions including that of Appropriation. His senate
sojourn climaxed in his becoming a senate President Extempore who
filled the vacuum after late Dr. Chuba Okadigbo's exit from the
position. He supervised the emergence of Chief Anyim Pius Anyim as
His closeness to Wabara under the present dispensation was believed
to have ensured that the two men are now indicted in the current
scandal. At 45, and with a bright future ahead of him, the former
businessman turned politician rather has dimmed his star by his
involvement in the education ministry bribery scandal.
Senator Chris Adighije
He was a first time senator representing Abia Central on the platform
of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He trained as a geologist but
went into politics in 1990 when he emerged as the National Treasurer
of the National Republican Convention (NRC).
When he set out for the senate, he raised expectations by promising
to work for the welfare of the people as well as improve on the
quality of life of his constituents. If the EFCC report is found to
be true, then Adighije could be accused of betraying people's
Senator Emmanuel Okpede
He was elected in 2003 to represent Nasarawa South senatorial zone.
Born in 1960, Okpede, a holder of the University of Jos doctorate
degree in Philosophy, has held several appointments including that of
the Director General and later Commissioner for Education between
1992 to 2002. On his election, he promised to accelerate development
in the education sector as well as maintain national stability.
Senator Badamasi Maccido
He was elected as an ANPP senator to represent Sokoto North in 2003.
Born in 1961, Maccido graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University,
Zaria (ABU) with a Bsc in Building Engineering. He once served as a
commissioner in the Governor Attahiru Baffarawa administration. He is
a son of the present Sultan of Sokoto, alhaji Muhammadu Maccido.
Senator Abdulazeez Ibrahim
He was the chairman, senate commitee on education and represented
Taraba Central. Born in 1957, Ibrahim holds two degrees in
Engineering and Business Administration from the Ahmadu Bello
University, Zaria. He was elected as senator in 1999 and 2003.
Hon. Matazu Garba
He won the best legislator's award for 2002 for his contributions to
legislation under the present dispensation. Born in 1961, Garba was
elected twice in 1999 and 2003 on the platform of the PDP to
represent Musawa/Matazu Federal constituency. He holds a doctorate
degree in Philosophy from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and
headed the now controversial House Committee on Education.
Hon. Osita Izunaso
He represented Ohaji-Egbema-Outa-Oru West Federal Constituency in Imo
State. Born in 1966, he graduated from the Universities of Jos and
Calabar and earned BA (Hons) and MBA degrees respectively. He was
Chief Press Secretary to former Senate President Evan Enwerem and
later served as , Adviser to Imo State government before contesting
and winning the federal seat to represent his constituency. He
promised to articulate the provision of quality representation as
well as promote democracy.
Hon. Gabriel Suswam
He was elected twice in 1999 and 2003 to represent Katsina Ala/Ukum/
Logo Federal Constituency in Benue State. He graduated with a
Bachelors degree in law from the University of Lagos and has held
such legislative committee positions as chairman House service
committee and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Prof. Fabian Osuji
He started an illustrious career in the academia where he rose to
become a professsor at the University of Nigeria (UNN). Osuji's
sojourn into politics started in the 90s when he constested and lost
the governorship race to Senator Evan Enwerem. He was the Social
Democratic Party (SDP) candidate.
He was appointed by President Olusegun Obasanjo as one of those from
the academia and posted to the ministry of education to help rescue
the falling standard in the schools. Before he stumbled last week, he
was already making surreptitious moves in pursuit of his governorship
ambition in 2007 in Imo State.
How EFCC nailed Wabara, Osuji others
Interim investigation report in the case of official corruption involving Federal Ministry of Education and members of the National Assembly by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
1. Professor Fabian Osuji
2. Senator Adolphus Wabara
3. Senator Chris Adighije
4. Senator John Azuta Mbata
5. Senator Ibrahim Abdulaziz
6. Hon. Dr. Shehu Matazu
7. Senator Badamasi Maccido
8. Senator Emmanuel Okpede
This report deals with the case of official corruption and diversion of public funds which is being investigated based on intelligence report gathered by the commission from the beginning of 2005. Thus prompting detailed investigation.
Facts of the case: The Commission in its continuous effort to address and control all forms of economic and financial crimes including corruption has been gathering intelligence reports on incidence of fraudulent activities and one of such reports is an allegation of official corruption levelled against some Senators and the Minister in charge of Education in respect of the 2005 budget. The specific allegation of official corruption was that some members of the National Assembly demanded from the Minister of Education who in turn offered to the members of the National Assembly some amount of money in order to smoothen the process of passing the ministry’s 2005 budget. The amount of money involved is the sum of N55 million.
Investigation: As soon as the report was received, investigation commenced immediately. The following witnesses who mostly are staff of the Federal Ministry of Education were invited for interview and they volunteered statements. Subsequently, the principal suspects were invited for interrogation whereby they volunteered statements under words of caution. However, some of the principal suspects (Senator A. Ibrahim and Hon. Dr. Shehu Matazu) could not be reached for interrogation as they are said to be outside the country (in Malaysia).
Prof. Peter Okebukola: He is 54 years. He is the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC). He stated that on December 3, 2004, he was invited by the Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji, along with some of his directors including the Deputy Director, Accounts, Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Director, Inspectorate and the Director, Higher Education and Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr. P.S. Abdu (the Permanent Secretary was not around) to a meeting in the minister’s office. At the meeting, he was informed of the request by the National Assembly that the Federal Ministry of Education should contribute N50 million in order to facilitate the passing of the ministry’s 2005 budget. He was informed that the money should be raised by the parastatals of the ministry. He indicated that the NUC had no such money but that a loan of N20 million can be given to the ministry. He then requested for an official directive/application for the loan. The ministry applied for the loan vide its letter Ref: HME/FME/31/VI/188 dated 3rd December 2004. The NUC granted the loan as evidenced by payment voucher reference number NUC/URC/1132/12/04 and cheque number 31417062 dated 03/12/04 for N20 million.
Dr. P.S. Audu: He is 58 years. He is the director, Higher Education and Acting Permanent Secretary. He stated that on December 3, 2004, he was invited to a meeting by the minister along with the Director of Administration, Dr. B. Ibe, Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. O. Ilesanmi and the Acting Director, Finance. That the minister told them that the leadership of the National Assembly demanded for N50 million to enable them pass the ministry’s 2005 budget. The directors said that the amount of money was high and could not be raised from within the ministry. It was then resolved that the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, a parastatal under the ministry, be contacted. He later came and joined the meeting that the executive secretary was told that the ministry needed to raise some money. That the executive secretary said that he cannot release any amount of money without the consent of his management hence he demanded for a letter of request from the ministry. He further stated that he was called out of his home at night around 9p.m by the minister and was asked to direct the finance department to release the sum of N55 million to rescue Suleja Academy.
Mr. Olu Ilesanmi: He is 57 years. He is the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics. He stated that between Monday, November 29 and Friday, December 3, 2004, he attended a meeting presided by the minister in the minister’s conference room. He said that the director, finance and accounts or deputy director as well as the executive secretary, National Universities Commission, were in attendance. The minister told them that he attended a political meeting the previous night and was told that the ministry had not been doing PR as was expected and that unless the ministry came up with N55 million, the ministry’s 2005 budget will be badly treated by the Senate. Therefore, the main purpose of the meeting was to ascertain how to raise the money and deliver it latest by noon the following Monday. Because of the large amount of money involved, it was all agreed that the only viable option was to get any of the buoyant revenue generating parastatals, NUC, JAMB, ETF, to raise the money. It was then that the executive secretary of NUC was invited to the meeting and he was sympathetic to the problem and offered to help.
Dr. B.B. Ibe: He is 52 years. He is the director, Administration. He stated that a meeting was held in the conference room of the minister on December 3, 2005, on how to get the National Assembly to pass the 2005 budget. He said that the amount of N50 million was needed to be given to the members of the National Assembly. He said that they were all saddened by this demand because the ministry had been going through a lot of financial difficulties. As a result, the executive secretary of NUC was invited to assist and to lend the ministry the sum of N20 million which is to be given to the Senate and House Committee on Education.
Mr. Frank Ike: He is 58 years. He is the deputy director, Finance. He stated that he attended a meeting in the minister’s conference room where the minister, other directors and acting permanent secretary were in attendance. They were told that the ministry needed N55 million to lobby the National Assembly committee. He was directed to source money from any place as this was an emergency situation. Having had a bad experience with the staff on salary shortfall, he had no option than to look for money in order to avert the ugly situation. The only money available to the ministry was the funds of Association for Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). He was informed that the NUC had agreed to give a loan of N20 million to the ministry and had to source the balance of N35 million. Subsequently, the following day, he collected a cheque of N20 million from NUC and cashed it and also cashed the cheque for N35 million from the ministry. The money was brought to the minister’s conference room and was later taken to Senator Adighije’s house at Apo legislative quarters in the company of the minister. The minister then called Ngozi Obichere, the secretary of the Senate Committee on Education. At that point he left the minister and secretary of the Senate committee with the money.
Mr. Andrew Ugwu: He is 43 years. He is the head messenger in the ministry. He stated that in December 2004, he was invited by Mrs. Mohammed, Assistant Chief Accountant, Central Pay Office (CPO) to the minister’s office where they were asked to assist in removing some bags of Ghana-must-go containing some money which they loaded into the CPO’s office vehicle. Thereafter, himself, the deputy director, finance, one Mr. Njoku, one Benson and the bus driver drove in the bus behind the minister in his own jeep and proceeded to a house located at Apo legislative quarters, as he later discovered. They offloaded the money under the supervision of deputy director, finance, inside the house where they met the minister already seated. They then drove back to the office leaving the minister behind.
Mr. Njoku F. Ejike: He is 40 years. He is a staff of CPO working under Mrs. Mohammed. He stated that sometime in December 2004, between 6 and 7pm, Hajiya Mohammed requested him to join some other staff to carry some money to the minister’s office in company of the deputy director, Finance. “We the carried the money into the ministry’s bus and went to Apo Legislative Quarters where the deputy director, Finance asked us to offload the money into the house.” Thereafter, they went back to the office leaving the minister behind.
Ngozi Obichere: She is 40 years. She is a Senior Legislative Officer and Secretary, Senate Committee on Education. She is also the administrative officer of the committee. She stated that on December 3, 2004, she was instructed by her chairman, Senator Ibrahim to proceed to Senator Adighije’s house where she met her chairman and the Minister of Education where they discussed the budget which the House and Senate Committee on Education were handling. That the minister sought the committee’s understanding in the processing of the ministry’s 2005 budget and brought some amount of money. Then her chairman requested that she should call the chairman of House Committee on Education, Dr. Shehu Matazu, Senator Okpede and Senator Maccido to come to Senator Adighije’s residence. During the budget session, there was a disagreement as to see or not to see the minister over making presentation as to what improvement they want in their 2005 budget. This led to his making a promise to do something about bringing some money to the committee which he did on December 3, 2004. As the meeting was going on, he said that since he had fulfilled his promise, he hopes the committee will take another look at the ministry’s budget. She further stated that sometimes during committee discussion, the secretary will be requested to step outside the room when certain matters are discussed especially when it has to do with finances/welfare packages. To this extent, one’s knowledge of all that transpired will be limited to what one is allowed to be part of. She was then directed to work on the ministry’s budget after the minister brought some money to them on December 3, 2004. That she was given N1 million only by the chairman which she shared with some of her staff.
Hajiya Hafsat Mohammed: She is 41 years. She is the Acting Chief Accountant of the ministry. She stated in the first week of December 2005, the Deputy Director, Finance called her in his office and said that they should go to NUC and collect a cheque. At the NUC, he signed a payment voucher and a cheque of N20 million was given to him. They proceeded to Wema Bank and cashed the cheque and took the money to the minister’s office.
Mrs. Paulina I. Olaniyi: She is 48 years. She is the cashier of the ministry. She stated that in the first week of December 2004, Mrs. Mohammed gave her a cheque of N35 million written in her name to cash it at Equitorial Trust Bank, Abuja. Mrs. Mohammed told her to take the money to the minister’s office
Prof. Fabian Osuji: He is 63 years. He is the Minister of Education. He volunteered his statement under words of caution. That in December 2004, the Senate and House Committee on Education had practically completed action on the President’s budget as it related to education for 2005. He was informed that the committee did not intend to invite him although they had invited all the heads of parastatals and agreed with them on what to do. He became alarmed because in September 2004, and earlier, he had serious problem with the salaries of staff in the ministry and the unity schools who had in fact embarked on various forms of action against the administration because of unpaid salaries and advances. This is because the 2004 budget as submitted by Mr. President had been seriously modified to the disadvantage of the ministry but in favour of the parastatals. This is because his ministry had not done any PR for the committees, in spite of their approval of over N100 billion appropriation for the ministry. They were thus determined to get even with his ministry this time around. Through the assistance of Senator Adighije, a meeting was held with the chairman of the Senate and House Committee on Education as well as the appropriation chairman in the RESIDENCE of the SENATE PRESIDENT to try and resolve the impasse.
At the meeting, he was made aware that the committees had jointly resolved not to approve the education budget unless some PR was done for the committees. The SENATE PRESIDENT HIMSELF emphasised the need for the Ministry of Education to come forward with necessary PR or risk its budget not being passed as proposed by Mr. President. This was on a Thursday and the ministry was given up to Monday at 2pm to come up with a proper PR or forget the budget. The next morning, he summoned a meeting of his Acting Permanent Secretary, Acting Director of Finance and Director, Planning, Research and Statistics and put the problem before them. There and then, they informed him that he was in fact blamed for the shortfall of the year as he did not authorise any form of PR for the Senate and House Committees. The directors subsequently agreed amongst themselves to source funds from outside the ministry for some PR for the committees. That he was aware that the NUC had volunteered to provide some loan for the purpose. There was also a possible source from ADEA conference fund. The following Monday the money, N55 million, was delivered to the Senate and House Committees at the residence of Senator Adighije. The Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Ibrahim, the House Committee Chairman, Dr. Matazu and the Appropriation Chairman, Senator Mbata were all present. Following the PR the issues were resolved.
Senator Adolphus Wabara: He is 56 years. He is a Senator representing Abia South Senatorial District and President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He said that sometime in December 2004, Senator Chris Adighije went to see him in his house. Senator Adighije told him that the Minister of Education is having problems with the Senate and House Committee on Education and members refused to grant audience to the minister to defend the 2005 budget. Senator Adighije gave a number of reasons why members of the two committees are at odds with the minister. Senator Adighije pleaded with him to intervene on behalf of the minister.
He agreed to intervene and summoned a meeting of the two committees. The meeting was held in his official residence at the Apo Legislative Quarters on the agreed date. The leadership of the two committees as well as the minister in the company of Senator Adighije and Senator Mbata were in the meeting. The leadership of the two committees expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the minister during their oversight visit to the ministry shortly after the year 2005 budget was presented to the National Assembly. He pleaded with the leadership of the two committees to grant the minister audience to defend his budget. He said that at no time during the meeting was any form of monetary demand made from the minister. So also, that no money was given to him or in fact anybody by the minister.
Senator John Azuta-Mbata: He is 45 years. He is a second term Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, Rivers State. He is also the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation and Finance. He stated that on December 3, 2004, he stumbled into a meeting at the SENATE PRESIDENT’s house. He was not invited but admitted into the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to make peace between the chairmen of the Education Committees of the Senate and House of Representatives on the one hand and the Minister of Education on the other. There were some complaints arising from certain committee oversight observations about the Ministry of Education. Having listened to both sides, the SENATE PRESIDENT admonished them to cooperate and pleaded for understanding between them. There was no discussion of financial benefit of any type neither was any money given to him subsequently.
Senator Chris Adighije: He is 60 years. He is a senator representing Abia Central and a member of the Senate Committee on Education. He stated that about mid-November 2004, after attending several of the joint meetings of the Senate and House Committees, he realised that the Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji was not in the good books of the two committees. He called the attention of the SENATE PRESIDENT who intervened to smoothen the soured relationship. The SENATE PRESIDENT invited Prof. Osuji for a meeting with the Education Committee members in his (SENATE PRESIDENT’s) residence on a Thursday night, possibly November 30, 2004. Those present at the meeting were the chairman, Senate Committee on Education, the Chairman, House Committee on Education, the Chairman, Appropriation Committee, Senator Mbata, the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Education, Senator Emmanuel Okpede, Senator Badamasi Maccido and himself. Also present was the secretary, senate committee, Mrs. Ngozi Obichere. At the meeting, the committee chairman narrated how difficult the minister had been and had neglected to do PR for the committee right from the preparation of the 2004 budget. Accordingly, the committee was not going to invite the minister to defend the 2005 budget. At the end of the deliberation, the SENATE PRESIDENT CLEARLY ASKED THE MINISTER TO HONOUR ANY PROMISES HE HAD MADE TO THE JOINT COMMITTEE WHICH THEY CLAIMED WAS N50 MILLION. THE SENATE PRESIDENT ALSO URGED THE MINISTER TO TRY AND RAISE THE MONEY BY MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2004.
By the evening of 3rd December 2004, Prof. Osuji called him to say that he had assembled the money and that he would like to take it to his house. He also requested him to inform the committee. He did so and the two chairmen, Senators Okpede and Maccido and the Secretary, Senate Committee, assembled in his house before the minister’s arrival with the money. The money was handed over to the chairman, Senate Committee who IMMEDIATELY disbursed it. He admitted receiving N4,750,000.00. He did not know exactly how the rest was shared but he knew that the SENATE PRESIDENT WAS GIVEN N10 million, Senator Mbata got N8 million. He was requested to hand over their share to them since they were not at the meeting. The SENATE PRESIDENT later collected his share from his house while he took Senator Mbata’s to his house early the next morning. When the matter came up last week, THE SENATE PRESIDENT insisted that the whole money be returned and to LIE about everything in order to PROTECT THE IMAGE OF THE SENATE. Last Sunday, the SENATE PRESIDENT assembled the entire money, N55 million and sent it to his house in jute bags. This is the same money that was handed over to the EFCC.
Findings: Investigation so far conducted based on the statements obtained and evidence gathered, the following facts were established.
• That the 2005 budget proposals submitted by Mr. President to the National Assembly was the main subject of the corrupt practice that led to this investigation.
•That the Senate and House Committees on Education, chaired by Senator A. Ibrahim and Hon. Dr. Shehu Matazu, did not want to favourably consider the budget proposal of the Federal Ministry of Education.
• That the Hon. Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji, got wind of the fact that his ministry’s budget proposal would not be treated fairly hence he decided to get in touch with Senator Chris Adighije, a member of the Senate Committee on Education.
•That a meeting was organised between the Hon. Minister, Prof. Osuji and the SENATE PRESIDENT, Senator Adolphus Wabara with Senator Azuta-Mbata, Senator Adighije, Senator A. Ibrahim and Hon. Dr. Shehu Matazu in attendance.
•That the Senate and House Committees on Education demanded for PR before they would grant audience to the Hon. Minister of Education, Prof. Osuji, to defend the ministry’s 2005 budget.
• That the SENATE PRESIDENT equally emphasised on the need for PR to be made available to the National Assembly otherwise the budget proposal of the Federal Ministry of Education would not be favourably considered.
•That the Hon. Minister took the request to his ministry, called a meeting with all his principal officers, including, the Ag. Permanent Secretary, Dr. P.S. Abdu, the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. Olu Ilesanmi, The Director, Administration, Dr. B.B. Ibe, the Deputy Director, Finance, Mr. Frank Ike, with the executive secretary, NUC, Prof. Peter Okebukola, in attendance. He informed them that the ministry must raise N55 million immediately and deliver to the National Assembly to avoid being treated unfairly.
•That the executive secretary, NUC, Prof. Okebukola, sympathised with the ministry and offered them N20 million as loan.
• That the meeting also agreed to take N35 million from ADEA conference funds.
• That the deputy director, finance, Mr. Ike together with the Assistant Chief Accountant, CPO, Hajiya Hafsat Mohammed, went and collected the N20 million cheque from NUC and cashed it at Wema Bank, Abuja, while another cheque for N35 million was issued in the name of the cashier of the ministry, Mrs. Paulina Olaniyi, which she cashed at Equitorial Trust Bank, Abuja.
• That the entire amount of N55 million was first taken to the minister’s conference room at the Federal Secretariat and thereafter conveyed to the residence of Senator Chris Adighije at Apo legislators’ quarters. The team was led by the Hon. Minister, Prof. Osuji, his aides including the deputy director, Finance, Mr. Ike, the head messenger in the office of DDF, Mr. Andrew Ugwu and Mr. Njoku F. Ejike, a staff of CPO in the Assistant Chief Accountant’s office.
•That the entire amount of N55 million delivered to the house of Senator Adighije was in the presence of Senator A. Ibrahim, Hon. Dr. Matazu and Senator Mbata.
•That the entire amount of N55 million has been recovered and is with the commission.
•That the Secretary, Senate Committee on Education, Mrs. Ngozi Obichere, admitted being given the sum of N1 million which she shared with her staff.
In the light of the foregoing, particularly the statements of Prof. Fabian Osuji, Senator Chris Adighije and Ngozi Obichere, it is clear that a case of bribery and corruption has been established against THE SENATE PRESIDENT, Hon. Minister of Education, Senator Chris Adighije, Senator Okpede, Senator Ibrahim A. Abdulaziz, Senator John Azuta-Mbata and Hon. Dr. Shehu Matazu. The entire amount has been recovered.
The civil servants mentioned including the Acting Permanent Secretary, Dr. Abdu, DD Finance, Mr. Ike, Director, Administration, Mr. Ilesanmi, Director Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. Ibe and the executive secretary, NUC, Prof. Okebukola, did AID and ABET the minister in taking public funds to give to members of the National Assembly as bribe. So also Ngozi Obichere, the secretary of the committee, who admitted collecting N1 million.
Efforts are being intensified to conclude investigation and take all necessary steps to bring the culprits to justice.