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How Atiku Got Entangled

Posted by By Yusuph Olaniyonu on 2005/08/29 | Views: 682 |

How Atiku Got Entangled

There are indications that Vice President Atiku Abubakar may have been a bystander who got enmeshed in a security sting operation initiated on Congressman Williams Jeffe-rson over allegation of unwholesome business practices.

There are indications that Vice President Atiku Abubakar may have been a bystander who got enmeshed in a security sting operation initiated on Congressman Williams Jeffe-rson over allegation of unwholesome business practices.

Sources in Washington, yesterday told THISDAY that during the Vice President's last visit to the United States, Atiku was contacted by Jefferson who requested for an urgent meeting to discuss issues relating to American investments in Nigeria.

Atiku was said to have responded positively to the request after several efforts made by the Congressman "because he believes that Jefferson's position in the US Congress as a member of the ways and means committee and the sub-committee on trade places him in good stead to be of benefit to Nigeria's quest for foreign investment."

When the meeting eventually held in Atiku's home, on the Potomac, Maryland highbrow area of Washington, the Congressman was said to have attended alongside a lady representing US telecommunication company, iGate Corporation based in Kentucky. The company is believed to have been striving for some time to initiate its high-speed broadband technology to Nigeria Telecommu-nications Limited (NITEL).

At the meeting, Jefferson reportedly told the Vice President that the company had made several representations to NITEL without making headway. He then sought Atikuís help.

The Vice President, according to one of his aides resident in the US, promised that he would look into the issue.

It was at that point that Jefferson produced a letter of offer, an official application addressed to NITEL which he wanted Atiku to help pass on to the Nigerian official telecommunication company.

"The Turaki then collected the letter and put it on the table. After that, the trio discussed general issues about international politics and shortly after, Jefferson and the woman left. Afterwards, he left the letter on the table as he had no intention of serving as a courier for such letter to NITEL. He felt the Kentucky company knew the process of applying to NITEL if they needed to do business with Nigerian company and should go and explore the formal channel," the source said.

THISDAY gathered that the vice president later returned to Nigeria after his vacation expired without touching the letter from Jefferson which was still on the table where they met.

It was while in Nigeria, the source said, that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents trailing Jefferson business transactions visited Atikuís US residence to ask for the owner of the house or his wife, Jennifer. When told that both of them were in Nigeria, the agents produced a search warrant. The Phillipino maid they met in the House and a few domestic aides then ushered them in for the search.

In their search, an Atiku aide said the agents first went for the visitors' log book which they collected. They later searched the entire house and in the process found the letter earlier brought by Jefferson on the NITEL application.

"They (the agents) took away the visitors log book, Jefferson's letter and the building plans of the house," another aide of the vice president said.
Many of Atiku's aides believe the woman who followed Jefferson to the Vice President's house could have been a mole planted on the Congressman without his knowledge for the purpose of the sting operation.

THISDAY however gathered that immediately the raid took place, Atiku briefed President Olusegun Obasanjo about what happened and his role in the entire event. President Obasanjo was said to have informed him that he had been fully briefed of the development and that he would watch events as they unfold.

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