Now Will Nuhu Ribadu Investigate Andy Uba?


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Now Will Nuhu Ribadu Investigate Andy Uba?




Saliu Iyanda






November 8, 2006


A United States District Court of Portland, Oregon has seized money believed to have been laundered from Mr. Andy Uba, President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Senior Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs. According to investigation by the US secret service, the sum of $170,000 about N25million at the time was smuggled into New York by Andy Uba aboard the Nigerian presidential plane, without a report to U.S. customs and border protection as legally required. The investigation report says Uba, whose full name is Emmanuel Nnamdi Andy Uba handed the money to one Loretta Mabinton, who claimed in court documents that the presidential aide is her fiancé, and that he gave her the money to take care of his affairs in the U.S. Another curious side to the money laundering scandal is the disclosure in the U.S. secret service report that a portion of the money, $45,487.28 about N6.5million was used to pay Mabinton’s MBNA credit card account, which was deployed to purchase assorted farm equipment that were shipped to Obasanjo farms in Otta, Ogun State.


The report equally says $91,262.50 about N12.9 million was used to purchase a Mercedes Benz car SL500 for Uba, which was to be shipped to Nigeria. The car and the remainder of the laundered funds have now been ordered seized by the U.S. District court of Oregon, being proceeds of bulk cash smuggling, violations of currency and monetary instrument reporting requirements, and money laundering. Loretta Mabinton had confessed to U.S law enforcement agents that she flew into New York and received $170,000 from Uba while he was at the United Nations Plaza Hotel. The latter had accompanied President Obasanjo to New York to attend a meeting of the United Nations. U.S. law enforcement agents also indicate that the service Atlanta field office had listed Andy Uba as a previous subject of an Advance Fee fraud investigation, and that the $170,000 was not wired into Mabinton’s accounts because it would have brought attention to numerous other past suspicious transactions. The implications of all these, according to diplomatic sources, is that President Obasanjo’s plane may be impounded over illegal importation of bulk cash into the U.S the next time it lands on any American territory, while Uba himself remains under surveillance whenever he steps into the U.S


It is therefore hoped that Ribadu’s EFCC will do everything in its power to investigate both the president and Andy Uba on this clear case of graft. And the questions are, why will the president allow Andy Uba used the presidential plane to launder money? Is this how to fight corruption in Nigeria? Or is it the case of the pot calling the kettle black? Does the president realize that presidential plane represents the dignity and the national flier of the country? So by this act he has brought the country into disrepute and attracted international odium to the country.


It is therefore very disappointing that the EFCC is saying it would only wade into the case only if the USA authorities formally notified the commission on the investigation. But this is a clear case of double-standard by the EFCC, if indeed the commission is not partisan and it is committed to the fight against corruption, then, it ought to be the one that would apply to the US authorities for assistance to be able to get to the root of the case. In many instances in the country, the EFCC have on its own initiated various processes of investigation and this should not be an exception. It is also disgraceful for presidency to say that the matter is lacking in substance, if it has nothing to say, it should just keep quiet, in fact, it should bury its head in shame as it has brought immeasurable damaged to the image of the country.


The very important point that should be noted here is, what the special agent said that since Uba was not an accredited diplomat with the Nigerian government, he has no official diplomatic standing in the United States and even if the money had been transported into the United States via a diplomatic pouch, the money could only be used for official purposes of the government of Nigeria. If the EFCC fails to act promptly and accordingly on this subject-matter, then the EFCC will amount to nothing but a willing tool in the hands of the president to persecute perceived political opponents. And, more importantly it means we have not starting waging war against corruption in the country. It has been said severally that the war against graft has been unduly politicized.


If EFCC continues to operate like this, it will completely lose it legitimacy and moral authority to function as it ought to, and Nigeria will be a laughing stock among the comity of nations. The EFCC should therefore commence investigation immediately to unravel what really went wrong, how and for what purpose, in some other countries the president would have stepped down, but not so in Nigeria, the occupiers of office will rather die in office that resign honourably. Corruption is one cankerworm that has eaten so deep into the Nigerian social fabric and is responsible for the development of underdevelopment in the country today. That is why nothing works in the country presently, and there seems to be no silver lining in the horizon. It will be recalled that Transparency International (TI) recently ranked Nigeria as the fifth most corrupt country in the world, TI ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. The index focuses on corruption in the public sector and reflects views from around the world, including those of experts who are living in the countries evaluated. Corruption traps millions in poverty, and that is why EFCC should act fast.



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