On November 13, 2009, the US District Court of Virginia, through Judge T.S. Ellis III, sentenced Congressman William J. Jefferson to 13 years in prison for bribery and corruption after a thoroughgoing investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
For “his stunning betrayal of public trust”, the court in a 37-page document charged Jefferson on eleven counts including money laundering, racketeering, and conspiracy with African governments in a bid to promote and expand his “telecommunications deals in Nigeria, Ghana, and elsewhere; oil concessions in Equatorial Guinea; satellite transmission contracts in Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo; and development of different plants and facilities in Nigeria”.
“His crimes included no fewer than eleven distinct bribe schemes as well as a conspiracy involving an extraordinarily and historically unprecedented agreement to bribe the then-sitting Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubabar.”
Jefferson, a Louisiana Democratic House of Representative member who described Abubabar as “really corrupt”, had sold his congressional office as a “criminal enterprise to enrich himself by soliciting and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to support his business ventures in Africa”.
The FBI, serving as a reliable information to the court, had opened an investigation on Jefferson, having learnt that a sitting member of the congress was “using his official position to solicit bribes from American companies interested in doing business in Africa”.
In 2005, after consensual monitoring since year 2000, court-authorised electronic surveillance, and analysis of financial records, the FBI concluded that Jefferson was caught on camera taking $100,000 in cash from Lori Mody, a cooperating witness (CW) of the FBI, who had fallen victim of the investment scheme with the iGate technology firm owned by Vernon Jackson.
Mody, who owned an educational technology philanthropic foundation, and whose mission was to provide technology to schools nationwide, starting from its base Virginia, had hired Brett Pfeffer, a former aide to Jefferson, to help explore various investment opportunities in order to finance the philanthropy.
With the intention of investing so she could support her foundation, Mody had approached Jackson, the CEO of Kentucky-based iGate communications technology company, which enabled audio, video and date to be transmitted over copper wires, for advice. Jackson demanded a sum of $3.5million, which Mody paid to Jackson with the understanding that Jackson wanted to use it to acquire iGate’s exclusive rights from Netlink Digital Television (NDTV) to distribute iGate technology in Nigeria.
On July 21, 2005, after Jefferson had met with Abubakar in person in Maryland on July 18, Jefferson and Mody went to a Tysons restaurant in Virginia to discuss the outcome of the Jefferson-Atiku conclusions on the business plans.
In the first FBI surveillance videotape obtained by FIJ, Jefferson told Mody that Vice President Abubabar wanted to have 12.5% interest of the money that would be earned collectively by iGate, Roscom.Net, and a proposed US company Jefferson said would be her Nigerian business and would be named ‘W2-IBBS’.
“Do we have a deal with Nigeria, because this back-and-forth doesn’t make me feel we have things showed up? Do we have a deal with, you know, with, with, you know, the VP of Nigeria first?” Mody asked.
“Uh, yes, we do have a deal with him,” Jefferson replied.
“Excellent, okay,” said Mody.
“Um, I’m gonna see him again before we go, and uh, we have a deal with him on the back end and, maybe, I know what we’re playing with …on the front end…,” said Jefferson.
“Okay. All right. Now I think, uh, I think, I just want to be sure it wasn’t going to grow or get larger or… and that you feel confident he’ll do what he says he’s gonna do. He has your, you know, trust and confidence. And that’s all I need to know,” said Mody.
“We spent a lot of time talking about it. I spent a lot of time thinking about it…There’s a lot more on the back end than on the front end,” said Jefferson.
“I think it’s good he has something on the front end, though, just as a motivating factor. So he doesn’t forget what he’s working for. That’s good,” said Mody.
The second videotape surveillance released by the FBI also revealed that on the morning of July 30, 2005, Jefferson and Mody had met in a hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City, Arlington Virginia. The FBI videotape obtained by FIJ revealed how Jefferson, who had promised to use his “official acts” in exchange for the “things of value”, collected a brown-colour leather briefcase worth $100,000 from Mody, put in a reddish-brown cloth bag.
“Would you like to take a peek at it, or whatever?” Mody asked as Jefferson removed the briefcase from the car trunk.
“I would not,” replied Jefferson.
“Well, I hope that, uh, that’s exactly what the VP needs to make him, uh, work hard for us, ” said Mody.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jefferson said.
Watch video below:
Mody, who later became FBI’s informant, narrates in an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court of Maryland that the $100,000 bribe was part of the “front end” $500,000 bribe to be given to then Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who had promised them to support and approve the iGate’s Triple Play communications technology in Nigeria.
According to the 39-page affidavit signed by the US District Court of Maryland, Jefferson promised communication with President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar in an effort to secure the iGate business venture in the country.
The affidavit also mentions specific items that would be recovered in Abubakar’s home, including “cash in $100 denominations or higher” and “a new reddish-brown colour cloth bag” containing “a reddish-brown colour briefcase” of $100,000 bribe.
Lori Mody’s Affidavit as ‘Edward Cooper’
Jefferson also promised sending letters to Abubakar, seeking his assistance in winning over the government-owned telecommunications companies, namely, the NDTV and the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), with Abubakar negotiating a “back end” 50% profit from a Nigerian private partner company, Roscom Telecommunications Nigeria Limited, and a “front end” $500,000 payment from Jefferson before the start of business.
In “William Jefferson’s letter to Vice President Atiku Abubakar”, Jefferson proposed how “a US company desires to invest over USD $60,000,000 to provide the high speed internet service to Nigeria over NITEL’s copper wire infrastructure. Under the proposal, there would be no costs to NITEL or the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
William Jefferson’s Letter to Atiku Abubakar
“To the contrary, the project proposes to pay substantial amount to NITEL for the use of its copper wire and for the co-location of D-Slam and switches at NITEL facilities of approximately USD $5,000,000 in Year 1; USD $28,000,000 in Year 2; USD $69,000,000 Year 3; USD $103,000,000 in Year 4; and USD $106,000.000 in Year 5, and thereafter.”
On July 15, 2005, Jefferson met in person with Abubakar at his home resident in 9731 Sorrel Avenue, Potomac, Maryland 20854-4732. On August 1, 2005, Jefferson told Modi in cryptic language that the “African art” ($100,000 “front end” part bribe) had been delivered to Vice President Abubakar.
Abubakar’s house, 9731 Sorrel Avenue, Potomac, Maryland 20854-4732
At a meeting in June 2004, Jefferson described to Mody iGate’s Triple Play technology was able to provide audio, video and data transmissions services to all subscribers in Nigeria.
He also explained that iGate technology needed an investor for a business it was planning to establish in Nigeria, which they (Jackson and Jefferson) said would cost $50million.
Of the $100,000 given to Jefferson, the FBI found $90,000 in Jefferson’s freezer miserably wrapped in aluminum foil and concealed inside some pie crust boxes, when it raided his residence on the permission of the court.
FBI found $90,000 in Jefferson’s freezer
Edward S. Cooper, who had appeared as a cooperating witness with the FBI as ‘Lori Mody’, exposed other demands of Jefferson, who said Abubakar was determined to possess 25% “on the back end” profit of the Nigerian Roscom company, whose Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Suleiman Yahyah, was cooperatively willing to work out an agreement with NITEL’s managing director for the iGate business deals, and who most pronouncedly was on Abubakar’s “back end”.
In September 2006, then President Olusegun Obasanjo sent a letter to the National Assembly as regards the bribery and corruption scandal between Jefferson and Abubakar, which instantiated the probing of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Nuhu Ribadu’s supervision with regard to Abubakar money theft from the Petroleum Trust Development Funds (PTDF).
In 2007, after Abubakar had truncated Obasanjo’s third-term presidency renewal, Obasanjo pointed out that Abubakar had been diverting $145 million funds from the PTDF into private companies, billions of which was transferred to NDTV as a bribe to the telecommunications to cooperate with Jackson-Jefferson iGate technology business venture in Nigeria.
A 323-page document by the United States Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations stated that between 2000 and 2008, Abubakar transferred $40 million into 30 US bank accounts, opened by Jennifer Douglas, his fourth wife, from offshore cooperations, with $25 million particularly transferred by Guernsey Trust Company, Letsgo Ltd. and Sima Holding Ltd. to majorly Douglas’ US Citibank account.
Wire Transfers From Letsgo Ltd, etc., to Douglas’ Citibank Account
The subcommittee said wire transfers sent by Letsgo Ltd. totalled about $13.1 million, while wire transfers sent by the Guernsey Trust Company totalled about $900,000.
The report also says $14 million was part of the offshore transfers paid by Abubakar to the American University helping him found his own American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yobe State in 2003.
In the 2008 letter from American University’s legal counsel, the subcommittee cited thus:
“Mr. Abubakar made payments, through Letsgo Ltd. and Guernsey Trust Company on behalf of AUN for the services American rendered pursuant to the 2003 agreement.
American received payments from Letsgo totaling $13,149,758 and the Guernsey Trust Company amounting to $900,000. American [University] has had no [other] dealings with these companies.”
Jefferson’s Letter for Egunjobi
FIJ reached out to Mr. Adejare Egunjobi, then Abuja Accounting Officer of NTDV, on whose behalf Jefferson had written a letter on March 3, 2004, to the Consular Section, US Consulate General, Lagos, for permission to come over to New York City to complete the iGate’s broadband telecommunications project. All he could say on the phone was “wrong number”.
See photos + Documents below:
Finally, Obaseki’s Men Lose As Appeal Court Endorses Edo PDP List
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP aspirants for political offices in Edo State aligned with Governor Godwin Obaseki have again suffered a setback following the Court of Appeal judgment which sacked the list of the governor as candidates of the party.
The judgment which emerged on Friday, November 25 averred that the appellate court set aside the judgment earlier won by the Obaseki aligned candidates and returned the candidates aligned to the mainstream of the party, otherwise known as legacy PDP as led by Chief Dan Orbih, the National Vice-Chairman, South-South.
It would be recalled that the Obaseki inclined faction of the party had won a court judgment that removed the candidates earlier listed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The candidates removed belong to the Orbih faction and were those who emerged from the primaries the INEC claimed to have observed.
The development led the Orbih faction to lodge an appeal at the Court of Appeal Benin which in its judgment set aside the ruling that foisted recognition on the Obaseki led faction of the PDP.
In the lead judgement delivered by Tunde Oyebamiji Awotoye , JCA, the Court of Appeal resolved 4 out of the 6 issues in favour of the Legacy candidates and as such declared that the Appeal was meritorious and therefore allowed.
The court also set aside and struck out suit no FHC/C5/78/2022 which earlier declared the Obaseki’s group candidates as the authentic candidates) because of incomplete transmission of records that made the court not to have jurisdiction over the appeal.
The decision of the Court of Appeal siding the Orbih list could be further challenged by the Obaseki faction in continuation of the turf battle between the governor and his former allies PDP who collaborated in the fight against the APC in the Edo governorship election of 2020.
Fixing Nigeria Is No Rocket Science-Obi, lists criteria
The Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi has said to fix Nigeria is not rocket science but requires extraordinary commitment from the people and their leaders.
Obi’s view is contained in his remarks at the weekend at the Annual General Meeting AGM of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, NIA in Calabar, Cross River state.
At the conference with a theme; “Housing and Design Excellence for National Development”, the LP standard bearer listed what he called 4Cs; -competence, capacity, credibility and commitment as critical requirements to turn the country around.
“We must aspire to put in place a leadership that is imbued with competence, capacity, credibility and commitment. These 4 Cs, are leadership competencies required to turn Nigeria around”
He noted that, “What is grossly missing in Nigeria’s leadership, governance and economic realm is the lack of efficiency. Good governance and a prosperous and stable economy are routinely anchored on sectoral and holistic pursuit of efficiency”
He told the Architects that Nigeria has high and severe housing deficit to the point that the country needs 28 million houses to be built to meet the national needs and by estimation this will cost about 60 trillion naira.
He said that what his Presidency will do if given the mandate is to partner with a professional body like the NIA and create the enabling environment via the right of making laws; regulating and preserving of property; employing the force of the community; and public good.
The dearth of vision and commitment in our political leadership over time is having effect in all sectors, noting that, “what is grossly missing in Nigeria’s leadership, governance and economic realm is the lack of efficiency. Good governance and a prosperous and a stable economy are routinely anchored on sectoral and holistic pursuit of efficiency.
According to him, “if I and Datti are hired by Nigerians on February 25th, 2023, we will pursue intangible assets of good governance, rule of law, security of lives and properties but for this to happen there must be elite consensus on critical national interest questions.
“We are also aware that our existing national infrastructures are decrepit and crumbling. We are housing challenged. We have as a nation been inconsistent in our infrastructural planning and funding. This is an area we must tackle urgently.
Obi further remarked that as a first step their Presidency must start with rethinking the fundamentals of our nationhood and how to collectively unite and secure Nigeria and move it from good to great.
“Good governance simply translates to eight critical governance values, namely; a government being Accountable, Transparent, Responsive, Equitable and Inclusive, Effective and Efficient; and adherence to the rule of law, as well as participatory and consensus-oriented governance.”
With the mandate of Nigerians the Obi-Datti administration, from its inception, will continue to encourage investment in infrastructure—housing, energy, transport, irrigation, and telecoms—to grow these and other sectors.
“We are eager to quickly close the infrastructure gap between now and 2030. That is the Nigeria we want in place by the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target year.”
Obi also charged the Architects to bear in mind some fundamental requirements of their profession in contemplating on “Housing and Design Excellence for National Development” which includes Design for the future and economic and social wellbeing; to think of demographic in our designs; Design and build for public good;
Our buildings must be accessible to People with disabilities; Our buildings must reflect our culture and heritage; We must manage funding for building; Give primacy to maintenance culture; and finally NIA must protect its institutional integrity
Finally, he then reminded the NIA members of the new mantra of his campaign message,
“in the mission to rescue Nigeria, there is no tribe, religion, or class. Indeed, there can be no conscientious objector.”
Wike Boosts Odili Judicial Institute, approves N500m take-off grant
Action Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has approved N500million as a take-off grant for the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute (JMOJI) built by his administration in Port Harcourt the State Capital .
Making the announcement on Friday, Wike said that grant was needed for the institute to start off its operations immediately
Wike said: “I have made my budget presentation and it was not included. I’ve told the Commissioner of Finance, now that the budget has not be approved, make sure it is included in the 2023 budget.
“But to start off for now until next year budget will be released, we are making a grant to them of N500 million so that the institute.
Wike observed that the National Judicial Institute (NJI) saddled with the responsibility of training judges and magistrate yearly is overwhelmed with the challenge of carrying capacity.
He noted that not every judge and magistrate billed for the continuous training exercise would be fortunate to secure admission in any current year of such request.
He said: “Actually, if Nigeria is operating a true federal system, there is nothing wrong for states having their own judicial institute that will train judges who, of course, apply the laws, preside over matters that affects the State and business around here.
“But we thank God today that the federal government through the CJN has approved it. What we are doing is to complement the efforts of NJI.
“We are not taking over the functions of NJI. We are only complementing, so that our own judges will be ahead of other States.
“We can also allow them free of charge to come for training here in order to reduce the financial implication of sending most of the judges in the Southsouth to go to Abuja.
“For us, it is not only a Judicial Institute, in fact, I’ve called the attention of the Attorney General to it. And from what the Chief Judge read today, I will seek for amendment by Monday because there are so many things I’m not too comfortable with.
“Because I want a body that, of course, you’ll have a supervision but it will not look like the supervision that will hamper the working of the institute.
“I want where the institute will be just like you have the arbitration court, you have the family court and the rest where budget is being made for them. There will be a different budget for this institute so that we know that it is working.”
Wike explained that the institute was named after Justice Odili, a renowned jurist of Rivers State extraction, who ranked as the first to have risen from the magistracy to the Supreme Court of Nigeria and returned with unblemished record of service.
He stated that the land where the Justice Mary Odili Judicial Institute is located, beside the State Judiciary Complex was formerly owned by the defunct Nigeria Airways.
“The dilapidated and abandoned buildings there became a hideout for criminals, hence the decision of the Rivers State government to acquire the property and use it for public good”, he said.
Commissioning the project, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Olukayode Ariwoola said that Wike was one lawyer in position of authority, who had remained relentless in speaking up for the growth, progress and prosperity of the Nigerian Judiciary.
His words: You have thus far given a good account of yourself as distinguished life bencher. To say we are proud of your Excellency is an understatement. You remain a shining light in the legal profession and we shall always remember you for your unflinching support in the erection of enduring judicial structure in the country.
“At this level of our national development, we should begin to emulate good things that will usher in a new dawn of progressive growth. This is, no doubt, a bold step worthy of commendation and emulation.
“You are one of the few governors who have pledged to give judges owner occupier residences so that when they eventually retire, they will get a life time accommodation.
“Today, that pledge has not only be fulfilled but has formed part of our history. Your efforts will tremendously improve the service delivery and comfort of our judicial officers.”
On her part, Justice Mary Odili said she and her husband had tried in vain in finding best ways to thank Wike for his benevolence to them, including the naming of the institute after her.
She submitted that since it was difficult to do so and she could never repay Wike for all that he had done for them, they had presented him and his family to the Almighty God for the adequate reward due him.
Rivers Chief Judge, Justice Simeon Amadi explained that the inauguration of the institute signifies the actualisation of the enabling law that governor Wike signed in 2021.
Justice Amadi said it was on October 12th, 2021 that Wike signed into law the Rivers State Judicial Institute Law No. 8 2021 that has a Board of Governors and an administrator to cater for the affairs of the institute.
The Federal Judicial Service Commission, South South liaison office built by the Governor was also commissioned in Port Harcourt
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