Fawehinmi And Obasanjo's Transcorp Ownership


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Fawehinmi And Obasanjo's Ownership Of Shares In Transcorp




Jide Ayobolu





November 1, 2006


Chief Gani Fawehinmi has taken his crusade for sanction on the president away from the court of public opinion to the Code of Conduct Bureau; the radical Lagos lawyer wants the president to be tried over the activities of Transcorp, he also wants Obasanjo’s shareholding in Transcorp seized or forfeited to the federal government as provided for under item 18(2)c of the Code of Conduct for public officers contained in the fifth schedule, part 1 of the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.


Chief Fawehinmi listed the facts of his petition as, “that Transcorp was incorporated on Wednesday, 17th November 2004 and officially launched on Thursday, 21st July, 2005 at the Presidential Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja, with President Olusegun Obasanjo as the Special Guest of Honour. That the corporate objectives of Transcorp Plc are designed to meet six revenue centers namely oil and gas, agricultural and agro-allied business, information technology, power, international trade and free trade zone/industrial park. During its formal launch on Thursday, 21st July, 2005, President Olusegun Obasanjo announced some concessions to the corporation as part of government support and encouragement. These include: Licence to build a 400,000-barrel per day refinery , license to build an independent power plant, access to the federal government cassava project for the construction of cassava processing exports facility, designed land mass for the construction of free port facilities, continued support to help open up market on the African continent and to make Transcorp a partner in Nigeria’s current policy on private/ public partnership, creating additional opportunities to develop large scale projects oil and gas, power and information and communications technology(ICT)”.


Fawehinmi noted that to date, Transcorp had acquired three prime business interests from Nigeria. These are: four oil blocks, OPL218, 219, 209 and 220 allocated to it on 21st July, 2005 by General Olusegun Obasanjo when it was launched; Nicon-Hilton, Abuja in October 2005 for $105million. NITEL on 3rd July, 2006 for $750million. He noted that the Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and chairman of Transcorp, Mrs. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, on September 13 this year admitted before the House of Representatives that President Obasanjo is a subscriber to Transcorp through Obasanjo Holdings Limited.

He continued that, the admission by the Trustees (Elder Daniel Atsu and Barrister Lucky Egede) of Obasanjo Holdings Limited, compounds the constitutional illegality of the President’s involvement in Transcorp. Obasanjo Holdings Limited is the nominee of President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Transcorp and acts on behalf of the president as a cover, when in actual fact all the activities of Transcorp involved the direct participation of President Olusegun Obasanjo at least publicly. The legal luminary also noted that at the time Transcorp was formed and four oil blocks were allocated to it, with attendant licenses, the President General Olusegun Obasanjo was the Minister of Petroleum Resources, a position he held from May 29, 1999 to date. He argued, “for the president to allocate oil fields or blocks as the Minister for Petroleum Resources to Transcorp, a company in which he has substantial shares, is clearly an abuse of office contrary to section 15(5) of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 which provides that, “the state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power”.


The radical Lagos lawyer went on to say, a major aspect of the president’s reforms programme is privatization of major industries. Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), a public concern which belongs to the major sector of the Nigerian economy was privatized. It was sold by the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to Transcorp, a company in which the president owns and controls substantial interest through his nominee (Obasanjo Holding Ltd.), it is both a corrupt act, a violation of the Code of Conduct and constitutes a shameless abuse of power by the president. Also, for the federal government to divest its shares in Nicon-Hilton Hotel, probably the biggest hotel in Nigeria, and for the hotel to be bought by the president’s partly-owned company, Transcorp also amounts to a gross abuse of power, a corrupt act a violation of the code of conduct.


Apart from the list of petitions listed by the Chief Gani Fawehinmi to the code of conduct bureau, the president has been involved in a lot of questionable deals, from NNPC to PTDF, NPA and other numerous institutions since 1999 to date. This was a person that could be not boast of N20, 000 in 1998; in fact, he was indebted to a number of banks to the tune of over N200million, before he was bailed out of a group of people. So, how come that president Obasanjo is today in the country, the richest person and perhaps, the richest president in the whole of Africa? What is the source of his sudden wealth? Is this how to fight corruption? How much must spent on COJA? Who supplied all the poultry products such as eggs and chickens during COJA?


How much was spent on the Abuja stadium construction? Where is the five-star hotel that was supposed to be built with it? Why were houses built to accommodate athletes in the games villages not completed? How much was spent on CHOGM? When will the finance details be made public? How come that the Ota  farms that was in almost total ruin in 1999, suddenly became totally overhauled and radically transformed into an ultra-modern and perhaps the biggest as well as most equipped farm in Nigeria since 1999? What happened to the N320billion that was allocated to the federal ministry of works to construct and maintain roads across between 1999-2003, yet all the roads are still in a deplorable state of disrepair? Where is the N6.4billion that was donated to the presidential library project, since it has been established beyond all reasonable doubts that, it is illegal and completely illegitimate for such an abominable act to take place at all in the first instance? Who has the largest shares in Virgin Nigeria? Who has largest shares in Arik Air? Who really owns the Obajana cement factory? Who owns the Beach land estate in Lagos state, and how and when was it acquired? Why is it that since 1999 the federal government under president has never implemented the national budget as passed by the National Assembly, but rather carried it out the way it wished without recourse to the National Assembly which is a gross violation of the constitution? How must has the president spent on globetrotting around the globe since 1999? Is the millennium tower that is to be built in Abuja for several billions of naira, not only a misplaced priority, but a contravention of the Abuja master plan, since the Abuja master plan states very clearly that no storey building must be more than 12 stories and the millennium tower is a 42 storey edifice? Who brought into the country electronic voting machine even before, the idea of electronic voting was mooted to the National Assembly and subsequently discarded? So, where are the machines now? What is the cost of buying them? Who are the people behind such a massive wastage?


Why has the federal government under Obasanjo continued to hold on to, the N14billion, Lagos State local government council funds, against the Supreme Court ruling? Where is the report of the Justice Oputa panel? Where is the Pius Okigbo report? Where is the N311billion that was missing in NNPC? Why was about 10 companies privatized without in the on-going privatization process without the approval and consent of the National Council on Privatization? And, who bought over most of the companies and public utilities that were privatized since 1999? What about the numerous politically motivated and high profile killings of prominent Nigerian since 1999 with any trace or clue, but which have been described by some perspective Nigerians as  state sanctioned assassinations? Why has this government increase the price of petroleum products 11 times since 1999, without any corresponding quantum improvement in infrastructure which government said the proceeds will be used for?


Who is the real owner of Bell University of Technology? Why is not all revenue generated by the NNPC paid into the federation account, according to the 1999 constitution, which is the supreme law of the land? Why is the president operating three illegal accounts, for example, excess crude oil account, instead of the federation account? Who authorized Soldiers to invade Zaki Biam and Odi to maim rape and kill innocent Nigerians? Why did the government plan to spend billions of naira on rail transportation seven years into its eight year administration? Why is Nigeria that is the sixth largest oil producing country, one of the 20 poorest countries in the world, with over 70 per cent of the entire population living on less than $1 per day?


Until reliable answers are provided for these nagging questions, the fight against corruption will remain nothing, but a tantalizing mirage.


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