Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Yar'Adua in bid to bribe tribunal Chair
There are indications that there is a scripted plot to allegedly bribe the Presidential Tribunal Chairman, Justice James Ogebe through his U. S based son, Emmanuel Ogebe to rule in favor of President Umaru Musa Yar' Adua. President Yar'Adua's election is being challenged by General Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Action Congress., AC.
It is being alleged that President Yar'adua has approved an initial $150,000 down payment which is the first installment of a $2 Million alleged bribe.
Attorney General and Justice Minister Michael Aondoakaa is the point man in the bribery plan, sources close to Saharareporters have alleged.
Sources alleged that the Attorney General, spent ample time with Emmanuel Ogebe during his visit and dangled the bait of highly lucrative legal briefs to Justice Ogebe’s son. Aondoakaa made it clear to Emmanuel Ogebe that Yar’adua hoped that the award of legal briefs to the younger Ogebe would “persuade” Justice Ogebe to affirm Yar’adua’s election.
The cases for which Aondoakaa sought to make Ogebe a legal consultant for the Federal Government were listed as Abiola vs. Abubakar; the NNPC vs. Gulf Petrec at the US Appeal Court of the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, and the Wilbros case in Texas.
Apart from the Wilbros case in which the accessing of court records was the only legal effort required, the other two cases already had paid lawyers hired by the Nigerian authorities (attorneys-on-record) handling them, so there was no need to retain any legal consultants to assist with the cases.
In fact, with regard to the Abiola vs. Abubakar case, both plaintiffs and defendants had already entered into negotiations to work out an out-of-court settlement before Umar Yar'adua came to occupy Aso Rock.
Aondoakaa’s offer of legal briefs to Emmanuel Ogebe had nothing to do with the three cases, but was a pretext to bribe Justice Ogebe, the most important judge in the Presidential Elections Tribunal. Aondoakaa and Yar’adua had become anxious, according to our sources, because Justice Ogebe had become unpredictable on the account of his religious beliefs. One of Yar'adua's political handlers described the judge as “a Christian fanatic.” Aondoakaa and Yar'adua wanted to reach Justice Ogebe on time, figuring that if Emmanuel Ogebe was well taken care of, he could make Yar’adua’s case to his father during the judge’s annual medical visits to the US.
Saharareporters learnt that as Emmanuel Ogebe’s relationship with Aondoakaa soured, the young man perfected a direct way to reach Yar'adua. Some of the sources interviewed for this story said Emmanuel Ogebe wanted to cut Aondoakaa out of the deal because he knew too well that Yar'adua needed him very badly.
Towards the end of 2007, Yar'adua approved the sum of $150,000 as payment for Emmanuel Ogebe even as Aondoakaa was engaged in settling the Abubakar case directly with the attorneys-of-record, according to the terms of the out-of-court settlement stipulated by the parties. No mention was made about the pay off to Emmanuel Ogebe.
But by January 2008, Aondoakaa—who has traveled to the US more frequently than other members of Yar'adua's cabinet—reportedly informed Yar'adua that he was going to pay Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe the sum of $150,000 approved by Yar'adua. He asked that Emmanuel Ogebe be told to meet him in Washington, DC to pick up the payment.
Emmanuel Ogebe, it was learnt who is not licensed to practice in the United State, arrived Nigeria about two weeks ago and reportedly sent word to Yar'adua that the AGF never paid him the approved monies. He also told top administration officials that his life was under threat from assassins hired by Michael Aondoakaa, Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
When Yar’adua summoned the AGF to explain why he did not pay Ogebe, he produced documents that showed that Emmanuel Ogebe was an "enemy combatant" who had sworn to affidavits and legal notes in support of enemies of Nigeria in the Abiola Vs. Abubakar case. He also provided letters written by attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendant in the Abiola case denouncing Emmanuel Ogebe for his spoiler role. He said the documents compelled him to withhold the fees approved by Yar'adua—and which he had already reported to Yar'adua that he was going to Washington, DC the previous week to deliver.
Several political pundits say the central disturbing question raised by the whole affair is why Yar'adua approved $150,000 to be paid to James Ogebe's son for no discernible legal services rendered. Another question is: Why did the AGF agree to pay a non-attorney in court cases that already had their attorneys-on-record, according to case dockets? Why would Aondoakaa agree to pay $150,000 to Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe, a man with no license to practice law, and whose legal fees the AGF did not vet as required by the government’s so-called due process and zero-tolerance for corruption?