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Expensive juju

Posted by By HENRY UMAHI on 2008/08/16 | Views: 1000 |

Expensive juju


It has all the characteristics of a Nollywood visual enamoured script. Even if it is, it paints an eccentrically spectacular movie picture bound to subdue home video faithfuls. Yet, it is not a make-belief offering. It is a true story still unfolding.

It has all the characteristics of a Nollywood visual enamoured script. Even if it is, it paints an eccentrically spectacular movie picture bound to subdue home video faithfuls. Yet, it is not a make-belief offering. It is a true story still unfolding.

The gist is that about N1million was invested in a voodoo project by a government official in a country where more than 80 percent of the population lives below poverty line. At the centre of the storm is Mr. Sam Edem, a former diplomat and chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), an interventionist agency saddled with the responsibility of ameliorating the dehumanizing living condition prevalent in the oil rich region.

As the story swirls, Nigerians fired a tangle of questions. Could this be true? Where did he get the money? What manner of man would engage in juju at this age of religion explosion? What moral lesson does it teach? Indeed, what does the revelation say of Nigerian leaders?

To be sure, Edem has not denied making such huge investment. Also, the voodoo practitioner, Perekabowei Ogah alias Mathew Sanoma, the 34-year-old native of Bomadi, Delta State, has confessed that Edem paid a hefty sum of money to him. The bone of contention is why the money changed hands.

The NDDC chairman claims that he is a victim of devastating confidence trickster masquerading as a spiritualist and who mounted savage attacks on his pockets.
Addressing newsmen in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Monday, August 4, the American-trained diplomat admitted that Ogah, who he described as an illiterate who could not even write his name except to thumb print, collected money running into hundreds of millions of naira from him.

He said that when the scale fell from his eyes, he petitioned the police. He lamented however, that the police responded very late to the effect that by the time Ogah was arrested and detained at the Zone 5 Police Headquarters, Benin City, he had emptied the account where the money was lodged.
According to Edem’s lawyer, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, “as at the time we made the report, there was about N350 million in the suspect’s account. We showed them the hotel built by the suspect from the fraud money. There were many cars that the police should have confiscated, but they never did that and the illiterate suspect was not detained even for a day.

“If the police had frozen the account, the money would have been enough to defray my client’s loss. But they only froze the account after the money was withdrawn down to N10 million.”
In a handwritten statement to the police, Edem volunteered: “The amount of money the fraudster collected from me through the hypnotic spell is about N800 million. The extortion spread over months.”
On his part, Ogah claimed that he was paid to do a job, which he did to the best of his ability and was compensated accordingly.

Then he opened a can of worms. In his statement to the police published by Newswatch magazine, he claimed that Edem contracted him to eliminate or incapacitate, by diabolical means, Mr. Timi Alaibe, Managing Director of NDDC and Governor Godswill Akpabio as well as “work on the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan so that he can always obey him (Edem) and always support him if there is any plan to remove him from office.”

Ogah threw a bomb. He said: “It is important to say here that the petitioner used his hand to burn the sum of two hundred and seventy million naira (N270, 000, 000) while he was naked in a burial ground in Port Harcourt.”

On Edem’s allegation that he cast a spell on him, having disguised as a pastor, he said: “I did not at anytime tell the petitioner that I am a pastor, neither did I promise to offer him prayers, but the only thing is that I bathed him with good luck and fast luck which worked out for him. It is not true that I cast him with a spell in order to drain his money.”

In the beginning
Now, how did it all begin? Ogah explained that he met Edem through one Kakas Amgbari who took him to the former diplomat’s house in Port Harcourt sometime late last year. Purpose? To offer spiritual succour to Edem who perceived that he was on the verge political and economic downsizing.
Hear Ogah: “On getting there, the petitioner asked me if I could help him get back his job, that he had been relieved of his appointment, NDDC having been dissolved. I told him that I could do it, but it was going to be very difficult. He then asked me not to worry, that he would not mind whatever it would cost him to get it done. On that note, I listed the items required for the sacrifice to cost the sum of fifteen million naira which he subsequently paid into my executive savings account, which I have with Oceanic Bank, Ughelli.”

He said that when he delivered, as promised, an impressed Edem gave him further assignments concerning Jonathan, Akpabio and Alaibe. “Based on the seriousness of the task he requested for,” Ogah remarked, “I charged him N570 million.” He disclosed that his client gave him N310 million, leaving a balance of N260 million.

How the bubble burst
The relationship between Edem and Ogah became sour when the latter could not execute the new assignment to the satisfaction of the former. Is it that the hunter is unskilled or the prey is smart?
Ogah attributed his inability to live up to expectations to the client’s refusal or inability to follow instructions to the latter as well as circumstances beyond his control.

“After the expiration of the period within which the said Timi Alaibe was to die, the petitioner came to ask me to ask why the charm did not work and I told him that his (Alaibe’s) spirit is too strong. On that note he grew annoyed and asked me to refund the money he paid for Timi’s work. I told him that I was not refunding anything and that he was still owing me to the turn of two hundred and sixty million Naira (N260, 000,000).

There and then, he said he was not going to pay anything again,” he explained.
He added: “Before then, the petitioner had a very bad relationship with Governor Akpabio, who does want to see him again. In order to bring them together, I worked it out for both the governor and the petitioner to meet in his house. I told him clearly to use the charm I gave to him to touch Apabio’s drink and after which he should use the charm to touch the ground. But after his discussion, the governor kindly awarded a contract of road construction to the tune of seven million Naira to him. After the departure of the governor from his house, the charm affected him, and was subsequently flow abroad.
“The petitioner was afraid that the governor would die, so he came and told me that he forget to use the said charm to touch the ground. In order to secure Akpabio’s life, I told him that the work will cost him the sum of fifty million naira (50,000,00), which he paid.”

It was when the 58-year-old NDDC boss got tired of the endless payments ,as it were, that he went to the police to spill the beans. Or as he puts it, “by the time God rescued me from his spell, this criminal and his cohorts had drained me financially, emotionally and psychologically. I have equally come to realise that he stole my photograph and used it for his nefarious diabolical activities. It is impetrative to state here that throughout the period of my dealing with this man, I was not in control of myself.”
Edem said that the extortion game run from November 2007 till April 2008, with dangerous threats to my life, my family members and staff.”

Expectedly, the NDDC chairman has denied the allegation that he put a price on the heads of his political rivals, namely, Akpabio and Alaibe. He claimed that the development has a political undertone.
Hear him: “The whole show has a lot to do with 2011, which they think I will contest the gubernatorial election. But I had told the governor that I will be one of those to lead him back to the government house in 2011. I will be a fool to try to destroy the governor who I helped to bring to power. I don’t believe in pull-down syndrome. Akwa Ibom should rise as a group and condemn this syndrome. There is a campaign of calumny to smear my name. I can’t start now at 58 to plan killing somebody.”

The Goodluck, Alamieyeseigha connection
Following the complaint lodged with the police by Edem regarding the failed deal, a search was conducted in Ogah’s house. The item recovered included a government House, Yenagoe staff identity card and a Bayelsa Government House plate number: BYGH 43. How did the items come into the native doctor’s possession?

“The Government House, Yenagoa staff identity card recovered from my house by the police was issued to me by ex-governor Alamieyeseigha when I was his spiritual godfather during his tenure and that of ex-governor Goodluck Jonathan. The Bayelsa Government House plate number for Peugeot 504 assigned to one Bobo 2pac, a younger brother to Alamieyeseigha. Sometime in the year 2000, I used the vehicle and had an accident along Biama Road. At the moment, the vehicle is in Bayelsa State government house. I kept the said plate number in my house by mistake,” Ogah told the police.
Taken by his words therefore, Ogah has been doing business with government people for long.
Saturday Sun gathered that some of those involved in the juju scandal tried to cover it up before the stench reached the window.

Government by jujumen
Nigerians are outraged and scandalized that at this age, the country’s leaders remain avid patrons of juju practitioners. Not too long ago, the people were treated to a macabre drama when then godfather of Anambra State, Chief Chris Uba told a bewildered nation that pursuant to making Dr. Chris Ngige governor of the state, the latter was made to take an oath at the notorious Okija shrine. Ngige initially put up a feeble deniable, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, saying that his pastor implored him to attend the juju feast with holy water and Bible.

Lagos lawyer and public affairs advocate, Mr. Chukwuanugo Ejikeme views the juju saga as a sad commentary on the country’s leadership content. “What manner of leaders do we have in this country?”, he asked rhetorically.

According to him, “it is indeed a tragedy that in this age where contest of ideas make the difference, those occupying offices in these parts pander to the queer. It is even more confounding when you consider the fact that many of the juju patrons are educated people, enlightened people who ought to lead the way. It is regrettable to say the least.”

Ejikeme contended that considering the hefty sums of money being mentioned in the juju transaction, there is no gainsaying that the country has been ripped off somewhere by someone.
In the same view, Princess Ukachi Ohalete, a marketing strategist, reasoned that the image of the country is being rubbished in the process.

“This is not the best way to market a country. At a time when we should be talking about rebranding the country in terms of sprucing up her image, some charlatans in the corridors of power are working to the contrary. It shows that their education and exposure has no value,” she submitted.

The Presidency steps in
Worried by the scandal the voodoo report has caused, the Presidency has ordered a thorough investigation. President Umar Yar’Adua has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Sir. Mike Okiro and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to dig into the matter.
Saturday Sun gathered that the Federal Government wants the police and the EFCC to find out how the NDDC chairman made the kind of money he allegedly lost to the sorcerer. It was gathered that the Presidency reasoned that if Edem could spend such amount, it means he has much more money than that.

The EFCC, it was learnt, has already started work on the Edem scandal. Sources at the anti-graft agency say that when investigation was concluded Edem would be picked up. The source said that the NDDC chairman would not be invited yet to make a statement until the EFCC is convinced that he has a case to answer.

Also, it was gathered that the EFCC is investigating other past chairmen of the NDDC, reasoning that if a sitting chairman could be linked to such colossal amount of money, it means that much deals go on in the agency. The EFCC is said to be looking into contract awards since the NDDC came into being and the use of funds by officials of the agency.

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