How OBJ tried to use EFCC to hunt Mike Adenuga because of Atiku, IBB- Awujale
Written By Anike Temitope Jegede
The Awujale of Ijebu Ode, Oba Sikiru Adetona, has disclosed how former President Olusegun Obasanjo tried to use the EFCC to hunt the Chairman of Globacom, Mr. Mike Adenuga, when he held sway as Nigeria’s president.
The revered monarch who made this disclosure in the autobiography of his new book said that the former president deliberately set Nuhu Ribadu, the then EFCC chairman, against Adenuga just he wanted him to make indicting statements against his vice, Abubakar Atiku and former head of state, Ibrahim Babangida.
It would be recalled that the EFCC was on the trail of some money belonging to the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF), but the monarch revealed that there was really more beneath the veneer.
Adetona said for Obasanjo to be successful in his plot to nail Atiku and Babangida, he ordered the Nuru Ribadu-led EFCC to arrest Mike Adenuga at his Lagos residence on 9 July, 2006.
He also narrated how his intervention was able to secure the release of Adenuga who was asked by the security operatives to be reporting at their Abuja head office from time to time.
He said: “While Mike was in Abuja, he was counselled to see Obasanjo to extricate himself. For four days, he made attempts to see Obasanjo but was unsuccessful. After a few days in Abuja with no case pressed against him by EFCC, he returned to Lagos. Not long afterwards, and in the heat of this mess, Obasanjo did two things that puzzled me.
“He called Mike to meet him at a social event in Lagos –Engr. Olapade’s birthday celebration. Mike and Obasanjo were both captured by press photographers in the newspapers at the event. Following the celebration, Obasanjo asked Mike to accompany him to Ota. It was in Ota that he solicited for the construction of the Administration Block of his university, Bells University in Ota. Mike agreed and Carchez Turnkey Projects Ltd handled the project for him.
“It appeared the whole matter, the EFCC hunt, simmered and Mike continued about his business. On a trip to Ghana, he ran through his Nigerian daily newspapers and discovered that the situation was unfolding in a more revealing version. The EFCC had arrested Mohammed Babangida. Mike read between the lines and proceeded to the UK on exile. When I visited the UK, Mike came to see me, and wanted me to facilitate a meeting with Obasanjo so that he could present his side of the case.
Adetona said that the allegations against Adenuga were that Abubakar Atiku, the former Vice-President, gave him (Mike Adenuga) money from the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) which were invested in Mike’s bank, Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB), and that the funds were used in paying for the Globacom licence.
Also that as a result of the connection , Atiku was a major shareholder in Globacom, and that Atiku used his clout to ensure that PTDF money got into ETB.
He continued that it was also accused that General Ibrahim Babangida, the former Head of State, was also a major shareholder in Globacom.
“It was not enough for Mike to merely present his case to EFCC, for it seemed the EFCC was under some remote control. The Presidency was after Atiku. Atiku at some point was the Chairman of the PTDF; an attempt was being made to indict him for alleged illegal and unauthorized channelling of PTDF money into Globacom. All sorts of rumours were flying around and the Presidency wanted to pin down the case against Atiku. If Ibrahim Babangida also fell into the trap, so much the better” he said.
Adetona also said: “Mike told me how he had raised money through the BNP Paribas Bank in France and how he paid to New York for the Globacom licensing fees. All the money involved could be traced with supporting documents to France and New York in the form of a huge loan. The Bank BNP Paribas on its part had a letter stating clearly their involvement in the transaction and Mike wanted to present this among other documents to President Obasanjo.
“I called Obasanjo and relayed the facts as I had them from Mike to him. I requested for his fax number so that I could fax Mike’s letter explaining all the transactions and the Bank of Paribas letter to him. As soon as he gave me the fax number, I faxed the documents to him. Still, Obasanjo was not satisfied.
“It seemed that it was all a ruse because they were really after Atiku and Babangida and wanted Mike to implicate them. Mike refused to cooperate. If he was not going to cooperate, they thought, harassment would do it. On 19 August 2006, I made a statement to the press asking Obasanjo to caution Nuhu Ribadu, the head of the EFCC, about his mode of operations. I denounced the harassment of citizens by EFCC and urged them to go to court if they had anything concrete against anyone.
“While Mike was in exile, we shared a moment of relaxation together. We took a holiday together in south of France with some members of our families. I had with me my wife Olori Kemi, my daughter, Ronke and Oba Adekoya, the Dagburewe of Idowa. Mike came along with his two daughters and his niece.
“While on this holiday, the President of France, Jacques Chirac, was going to be holding a conference with African Heads of State in Nice. Coincidentally, we got to know that Obasanjo was booked to stay in the same hotel where we were staying. Later, we learnt he had changed his mind and would not be attending the conference. Then not long afterwards, we were told he had decided to attend after all. By the time he finally decided to attend, all the rooms in the hotel were fully booked and he was now booked into another, Embassy Hotel, which was a stone’s throw from when we were. I got to know that he would check in at 8.00am on the day of the conference. At 8.330am, I went to his hotel and took Mike along with me.
“From the reception, I spoke to him on the phone. When he asked from where I was speaking, I told him I was downstairs in the lobby of his hotel! He said he would send someone down immediately to lead me up to his suite, and he did so. I left Mike behind in the hotel lobby. When I got to his suite, there were already a number of people in the corridor, in his living room and the dining room waiting to see him. His ADC took me straight to see him in his bedroom. I had hardly settled down when he started talking to me about his deputy, Abubakar Atiku. He was at daggers drawn with Atiku.
“When he exhausted all he had to say about Atiku, he jumped on Theophilus Danjuma, his estranged friend. They fell out after Danjuma had served him as Minister of Defence. I sat there just listening. He needed to get a lot off his chest. He told me how would leave the Chirac conference immediately after the opening because he wanted to attend a PDP campaign in Gombe at 5.00pm that same day. He was lead campaigner for the PDP and Umaru Yar’adua for President.
“He reeled off a number of events where he was going to be engaged in the coming months, including the opening of the Obajana Cement Factory. Wait a minute! Something struck me at the mention of Obajana Cement Factory.I told him that I had heard that he and Aliko Dangote jointly owned the cement factory. I told him that I heard Dangote was fronting for him in the venture. His reply was to query whether I believed what I heard. I countered by saying whether I believed it or not was irrelevant to the question that I had asked him. He said nothing further on this.
“I told Obasanjo that Mike Adenuga was in Cannes and that I had brought him with me. He was waiting in the foyer downstairs. I told him that the reason I brought Mike along was that it was not unlikely that Obasanjo would hear that Mike was in Cannes while he was in town and would deem it discourteous if Mike did not show up to pay his respect. Now that I had told him, that Mike was downstairs, it was now up to him, if he wanted to see Mike, to send someone to bring him up.
“Obasanjo objected to Mike coming to see him in his suite. Instead, he said he would see Mike downstairs on his way to the conference. At this point, I volunteered to go downstairs and wait with Mike. Obasanjo again objected, insisting that he and I should go down together. Soon after, his ADC came into the room to remind him about the time. He went into his bathroom, got ready and we went to the lift with his Foreign Minister.
“When we got down, Mike came forward to greet him. ‘I have nothing against you, it is a matter of principle’ Obasanjo told Mike. Mike in turn said, ‘Your Excellency, I understand. Thank you.’ That was all the exchange they had”
The monarch pressed further that he had a meeting with Obasanjo when he left office in 2007 where he asked him to tell Mike Adenuga to return home.
Adetona added: “I requested that he should leave the matter until after lunch and it would be tackled on a one-to-one basis between us. He agreed.
After lunch, we went into his private sitting room. I declared that what Nuhu Ribadu, Chairman of EFCC, was doing in respect of Mike Adenuga was wrong and he was doing it at Obasanjo’s behest.
“I told him that I refrained from interfering because I wanted to see how the law would pan out on the issue. The kernel of the matter really, as I told him, was his disagreement with Abubakar Atiku, his deputy, and they had taken the matter almost life-and –death level. Mike Adenuga was a pawn in the crisis and he should be given the right to defend himself.
“I reminded Obasanjo that he was no longer in office and he should back off in his pursuit of Mike. I went further to let him know that if Nuhu Ribadu did not desist from molesting Mike, I would go into the ring with them. Here I made clear that I would take him and Ribadu to unnecessarily and unjustifiably pursue Mike. Obasanjo promised to see Ribadu and to ask him to back off”