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ICT4D Week 2018

Monday, December 04, 2017

Broadband corruption: How Atiku was barred from US

The reasons on why the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar was allegedly barred from entering the United States, has been revealed, ITRealms reports.

Investigations has revealed that his inability to visit the United States in recent years, especially since leaving office 10 years ago, was not unconnected to a purported bribe associated with award of a broadband contract to a US-based enterprise, iGate Incorporated with an indictment of a Louisiana representative William J. Jefferson, who has family ties to the business in 2005.

ITRealms also gathered that Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) had raided Jefferson’s Congressional offices in May 2006, but he was re-elected later that year, but on June 4, 2007, a federal grand jury indicted Jefferson on sixteen charges related to corruption.

In 2009 he was tried in Virginia on corruption charges. On August 5, 2009, he was found guilty of 11 of the 16 corruption counts. Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years on November 13, 2009, the longest sentence ever handed down to a congressman for bribery.

The investigation began in mid-2005, after an investor alleged $400,000 in bribes were paid through a company maintained in the name of Jefferson's spouse and children. The money was traced to a tech company named iGate Incorporated, of Louisville, Kentucky, and in return, it is alleged, Jefferson would help iGate's business. Jefferson was to persuade the U.S. Army to test iGate's broadband two-way technology and other iGate products; use his efforts to influence high-ranking officials in NigeriaGhana, and Cameroon; and meet with personnel of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, in order to facilitate potential financing for iGate business deals in those countries.

On 30 July 2005, Jefferson was videotaped by the FBI receiving $100,000 worth of $100 bills in a leather briefcase at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington, Virginia. Jefferson told an investor, Lori Mody, who was wearing a wire, that he would need to give Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar $500,000 "as a motivating factor" to make sure they obtained contracts for iGate and Mody's company in Nigeria.

ITRealms reports that a few days later, on 3 August 2005, FBI agents raided Jefferson's home in Northeast Washington and, as noted in an 83-page affidavit filed to support a subsequent raid on his Congressional office, "found $90,000 of the cash in the freezer, in $10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers". Serial numbers found on the currency in the freezer matched serial numbers of funds given by the FBI to their informant.

Further investigations by ITRealms, revealed late on the night of May 20, 2006, FBI agents executed a search warrant at Jefferson's office in the Rayburn House Office Building. The raid led to an irony that one of Democrat Jefferson's staunchest defenders in the turf battles between the FBI and Congress became Dennis Hastert, who was Speaker of the House and a Republican.

As contained in the affidavit used to support these raids, FBI alleged:
  • The FBI videotaped Jefferson receiving a stock certificate from Mody for a company set up in Nigeria to promote iGate's technology. Jefferson predicted the deal would generate $200 million annually after five years.
  • Jefferson told Mody that he wanted a similar financial stake in the business in Ghana.
  • Jefferson sought $10 million in financing from Mody to take over iGate and install "confidants" on the new board. In two payments, Mody wired $89,225 to the ANJ Group LLC, a company controlled by Jefferson's family.
  • Jefferson lent $4,800 of the money Mody gave him to an unnamed congressional aide. Another $4,900 was given back to the FBI by one of Jefferson's attorneys.
  • The FBI claims it has uncovered "at least seven other schemes in which Jefferson sought things of value in return for his official acts."
ITRealms recalls that Atiku Abubakar, at the weekend, declared his return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with anticipated by industry observers that he is likely to run for president in 2019, had insisted that U.S. authorities have nothing against him, noting he had visited Europe regularly without being arrested for onward extradition to the U.S.

Abukakar in a recent chat with TheBoss Newspapers, expressed optimistic that if Nigerians elect him president in 2019, he would be allowed into the United States just like Mr. Buhari and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both of whom are now being accorded red carpet treatments in the U.S. after becoming leaders of their respective countries, despite every odd of suspicion or linkage to an American congressman Williams Jefferson, who was jailed in 2009 after conviction by the FBI in relation to that case.

Although as at press time, ITRealms reports there is no formal statement from United States or its embassy in Nigeria on the Atiku Abukakar involvement and eventual ban.

Uboshe Uboshe/GEE


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Pix; Atiku Abubakar and William Jefferson

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