EFCC begins probe of Obasanjo’s daughter
THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission may have been silently working on a petition brought against the daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, over a controversial N3.5 billion power project contract, even before the issue was made public by the Nigerian media on Thursday.
An Austrian firm, M. Schneider GMBH & Co., had petitioned the commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), over alleged underhand dealings by Iyabo and her business associate, Prince Albert Awofisayo, in the handling of the said contract, in which the firm was their partner.
The petition to the anti-graft commissions was dated August 30. Nigerian Tribune gathered from a source in the EFCC on Thursday that it would be wrong to think that the commission was not doing anything about the petition, adding that the investigators were looking into the petition to establish the seriousness and genuineness of the issues raised in it, before making further moves on it.
The source pointed out that it was necessary to establish that the petition was not borne out of mischief, malice or frivolities, before the investigation could move to the level of questioning or getting the public to know about the findings of the commission.
Nigerian Tribune further gathered that the commission’s investigators who were looking into the petition would be moving straight into the heart of the probe once the petition was found not to be frivolous.
When the ICPC was contacted on the matter, its Resident Consultant (Media), Mr. Folu Olamiti, said he was not in the office and would need to do some checking when he resumed in the office, to be able to say anything on the matter.
The petitioner claimed in the petition that Iyabo acted unethically with the “sole consideration of shielding her father, former President of Nigeria, from being perceived as having breached relevant laws in the award of power projects indirectly to his daughter.”
M. Schneider urged the EFCC to investigate the case with a view to ascertaining whether Nigeria’s laws were broken by Obasanjo-Bello “acting either for herself or on behalf of the then president.”
The petitioner further alleged that Obasanjo-Bello travelled to Austria to sign the contract papers while posing as Mrs. Damilola Akinlawon.
The International Court of Arbitration, Paris, is set to examine a claim by two of the parties involved in the deal, Prince Albert Awofisayo and Akiya Nigeria Limited, said to be owned by Mrs. Obasanjo-Bello, which filed a breach of contract case against the Austrian firm.
Awofisayo had sued the Austrian firm at the arbitration court over a disagreement on money sharing and control of the Nigerian branch of the company, which was registered to handle power project contracts.
But the Austrian firm petitioned the Presidency and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), complaining about what it referred to as Obasanjo-Bello’s “fraudulent, corrupt and criminal nature.”
Claiming that the impersonation was carried out while Obasanjo-Bello was “serving as a commissioner with the Ogun State government”, the firm alleged that she “fraudulently” presented herself as Mrs. Akinlawon while entering into a contract to float a company which bid for contracts in the power projects embarked upon by the government then headed by her father.