Sunday, August 28, 2005

The House of Atiku

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Vice President of Nigeria is in trouble! He's been at the center of some controversies since Elendu Reports featured a write-up titled: “Atiku's Mansion and the War against Corruption”, on August 17th. Since then, this article has been featured on some online fora including The Nigerian Village Square and Nigeria World .

According to Jonathan Elendu and Sowore Omoyele, the authors of the article:
“…Nigeria Vice President Atiku Abubakar broke the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on December 1, 2000. This is one and a half years after becoming the Vice President of Nigeria. On that day, he and his wife, Jennifer, bought a mansion in Maryland for $ 1,750,000. The house, a two storey building was constructed in 1988. The land area is about 2.3 acres. Today, that house is valued at over two million dollars.”
The authors state that they not publish photos and address of the mansion out of respect for the security of the Vice President's wife and children. But an image suspected to be a satellite picture of the house can be accessed via Nigerian Village Square: here

Jamilah Atiku Abubakar aka Jennifer Douglas E. aka Jennifer Douglas-Abubakar is the fourth wife of Vice President Atiku Abubakar. She is a former journalist and Ph.D. student at the American University in Washington, Mrs. Atiku is the Founder, President and CEO of GEDE Foundation, a non-profit organization based in the Washington DC area of the United States, according to Elendu and Omoyele.

On August 21st, four days after Elendu Reports’ expose, Atiku, in what seemed like a damage control public relations maneuver, stated during an interview with Nigerian Thisday newspaper, that: “...given the opportunity, he would fight corruption frontally” [to access article, user id and password are: grandiose parlor] Excerpt from that interview:
Thisday:"Any more bigwigs to be prosecuted for corruption?”

Atiku: “No sacred cow. There is certainly none.”

Thisday: “There is a document that is circulating in the internet, alleging that you used your wife to buy a house in the US and that you use your wife to donate money to the Republicans.”

Atiku: “You see, I went to the US when I was in exile, when Abacha hunted us out, when we asked him to handover to a civilian government, then I have been having a home in that place and of course my wife has been having a home in that place since 1994. So what are you talking about?”
Then on Thursday 25th, the “House of Atiku” once again became a news item in a more serious drama involving an ongoing FBI’s investigation. Excerpt from the Washington Post:
“The government confirmed Saturday that the U.S. home of Nigeria's vice president had been searched as part of a federal investigation, which news reports have linked to a Louisiana congressman.”
The congressman referenced above is Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, according to the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, and the issue under investigation is suspected to be a telecommunications deal invoving iGate Corp., Nigeria and Ghana. According to Ghanaweb:
“…Source familiar with the investigation said subpoenas show agents were looking for records showing whether Jefferson, paid, offered to pay or authorized payments to officials in the government of Nigeria or Ghana.

The subpoenas, described to The Times-Picayune, seek documents related to Jefferson's dealings with Abubakar and the vice president of Ghana, Alhaji Aliu Mahama. Jefferson returned from a five-day visit to Ghana in mid-July, about three weeks before the FBI raided his homes. The subpoenas focus in part on a telecommunications deal Jefferson was trying to engineer in Nigeria over the past year, according to documents and those familiar with details of the investigation…”
To add more intrigue to this drama, the GEGE Foundation website was yanked off the Internet shortly after Elendu's article, and it seems Jennifer Atiku may have since relocated to Nigeria, according to Elendu Reports.

In the meantime, the imbroglio generated by the “House of Atiku” is been closely followed, dissected and analyzed by pundits on The Nigerian Village Square. What I find interesting is the way these “analysts “ have been employing the power of the Internet in digging up information related to this topic (and others). The satellite picture mentioned earlier is an example, also listed in the forum are what looks like the property tax records of “House of Atiku”, and some financial records for GEGE Foundation.

In the spirit of the ongoing “Nigerian war against corruption”, is it too early and naïve to state that Atiku's "hands are heavily soiled", and thus deserve a similar courtesy shown Zuma, the former South African president?

Will there be “No sacred cow"?
Will Atiku get to hear Donald Trump's catch-phrase soon?

Update: August 31
Is this Atiku's Mansion in Potomac, Maryland-USA?
Courtesy Elendu Reports