Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo -Photo: Reuters
By SaharaReporters, New York
On Saturday 20th April, 2013, two gentlemen, Prince Segun Seriki and Mr. Richard Odusanya appeared on SaharaTV to reveal some of the antecedents of high profile killings, including those of former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige and Chief Harry Marshal. They also revealed several instances of bribery and the corrupt wasteful use of Nigerian resources which they witnessed and even partook in while serving in various capacities as personal aides at the Presidency . The two men said they fought against the former President and his associates during his bid for a third term which ended in failure and subsequently the imposition of a weak and sickly leader, Umaru Yar’adua on Nigerians as vengeance for their opposition to his bid to remain as president after the end of two terms in office.
Former President Obasanjo, the longest serving president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in power first as a military leader between 1976 -1979 and later as a civilian president from 1999 to 2007.
Below is a transcript of the exclusive interview with the two former presidential aides:
SRTV: How did you come to know characters like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo? Although we hate to use ‘Chief’ for characters like him but that is the way he is called.
Odusanya: Let me begin with a scriptural note that goes like this; once I was blind but now I can see. Sometime during the early months of 1999, February precisely, an associate of mine, who is also a
friend and a brother, Femi Falana… not the human rights lawyer… although he was also an activist as he was president of students union in U.I (University of Ibadan). I met him shortly before the Jos convention and I remember vividly, he then introduced Otunba Fasawe and I, and directed that I had to work with him. Of course, that was the Genesis. Then, as a man who respects institutions, I worked all through for government, behind the scene, with Otunba Fasawe.
SRTV: So, you worked with Otunba Fasawe in what can be described as within an extra-terrestrial capacity which is also that you were not appointed directly into government, and in this process, you told me and I want you to repeat to our viewers that you were housed at the defense house in Abuja. How did that become possible because that is an official residence of Government officials whereas you were not an official?
Odusanya: Well, I need to explain this. The defense house happens to be the official residence of the Defense Minister but at some point, particularly during the government of General Abacha, there was no
Defense Minister. Then, the defense house became the Head of State’s special guest house; well-fortified… at least it’s an annex of the villa. The subsequent government also continued like that. General
Obasanjo came in then was the defense minister Lt. Col T.Y. Danjuma. He didn’t want to stay in the defense house because he had reasonable accommodation so he rejected it and stayed in his private house. So, it continued to be guest house and the president has the prerogative to determine the usage of the guest house for a very important assignment. Otunba Fasawe, as we all know happens to be a key actor.
SRTV: Let me quickly ask you, how long were you housed there before Otunba Fasawe fell out with Olusegun Obasanjo?
Odusanya: I’ll explain that too. It was slightly over four years but before then, for known reasons, some that will be revealed today, I was not ready to continue, so I moved out.
SRTV: How many of you were residents at the defense house as special guests of President Obasanjo?
Odusanya: Yes, we have Chief Tony Osunrinde, Otunba Fasawe, myself, John Dara who happens to be SA to the Minister of Defense.. I think those are the key residents
SRTV: How big was the defense house?
Odusanya: Oh, very…. big… palatial
SRTV: So, let’s go directly into the things that happened within that period which you were privy. By 2001, something happened on December 23rd, and that was the assassination of the Attorney General and
Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige in his house at Ibadan. Before we came on this show you actually said you were sent by President Olusegun Obasanjo to meet him few weeks before he was assassinated. What was the mission then?
Odusanya: Thank you. I was not just sent to him, I was on an errand, a regular one and in fact that was not the first one. Before he became the Attorney General, he was once the Minister of Power and still. Various times at his residence, at Minister quarters, I used to go there on errand and often, I used to go with gift… of money.
SRTV [cuts-in]: to Chief Bola Ige
Odusanya [nods]: yes, to Chief Ige. When he became the Attorney General, his residence was moved to Asokoro. And I remember vividly my last encounter with Chief Ige, though I cannot remember precisely what time gap between then and his assassination, but I remember vividly that I took N50million cash to him.
SRTV: Where was the money from?
Odusanya: Well, we have a source.
SRTV: What was that source, can you describe briefly… was it a slush fund?
Odusanya: Well, I won’t call it slush fund, but there is a dedicated account under the control of Otunba Fasawe. Three of us namely; Bodunde Adeyanju (Special Assistant to President Obasanjo on Domestic
Affairs), Pariya Umar (Special Assistant to the Vice President on Domestic Affairs) and myself were the key actors that ran this account. The bank had its branch at where you call Tofa’s House in Abuja.
SRTV: What’s the name of the bank?
Odusanya: Trans International bank. It’s one of the banks that have gone under now, but that’s the source of the money anyway.
SRTV: Do you recall how many times you took gifts of this type to Chief Ige before he was killed?
Odusanya: Hmnn… I can’t really tell how many times, but I recall the last one was N50million. We drove bullion van in company of one of the bank officials.
SRTV: Do you remember his name?
Odusanya: Yes, he’s a reverend gentleman now. Reverend Segun Egunjob. So we took it to Chief Bola Ige’s house.
SRTV: Before you took the money to Chief Ige, did you know the intention of the gift?
Odusanya: I have to confess I don’t know. But I must confess it has become a burden because other occasions there are similar incidents, where I took money to people but thereafter, something happened.
SRTV: Briefly tell us other occasions you took money to other people and shortly after, something happened
Odusanya: Thank you. Let me quickly give you the case of Harry Marshal. I was on this similar errand, and I put a call through to Chief Harry Marshal. He now gave me the address of an hotel where he would be waiting for me and the hotel room number. I took the money there.
SRTV: Do you remember the hotel?
Odusanya: Yes. Agura hotel, somewhere around Area 10. Not too long from that time and he was assassinated.
SRTV: I’ll take you back to something you said before we came on the show. You said when Obasanjo came in, he was disbanding everything Abacha did, but he did not disband Abacha’s killer squad, that is the strike force. Where was the strike force based?
Odusanya: The killer squad has some key actors that reside permanently at the headquarters of the SSS and of course they were star witnesses on Kudirat Abiola’s trial. I remember Sergeant Rogers and I remember Katako. Up till now, what happens to them, where they are and their confessions, if you put it side by side, you will wonder what kind of system we are running and why are these things shrouded in secrecy? Those are the things I thought together as a man who had been in that system and there was a serious burden on me.
SRTV: Let’s quickly ask Mr. Seriki, you said you were also within and also witnessed some things at the background that made you partner with Mr. Odusanya in this initiative. Did you know at some point that some of these things were happening?
Seriki: Thank you Omoyele. I had always been a political practitioner. I am a politician and my interest in politics is in running a free and fair society. I could have been conversant wth their system, but I had
encouraged Richard because as a nation, we have to face the reality of the requirements of development as a nation. As a nation, we have to appreciate that we have to have respect for human values. As a nation we have to understand that we will be run by rules. The highest that leadership can bequeath on a society is respect for the rule of law devoid of arbitrariness and self-aggrandizement that constituted and
characterized the reign of General Obasanjo. I was at Ife when Chief Bola Ige was Governor. He was one of the gladiators that informed some of us to be involved in politics. The issue of Chief Bola Ige could be
put in this clear perspective. This is a sitting Attorney General of the country who came from a party that was not at the center [Alliance for Democracy]. There was a President who lost in his area of primordial upbringing. In criminology, you want to define intention. The intention for killing Chief Bola Ige can be put at the doorstep of President Obasanjo because he shows overnight to get what he doesn’t have. And when he [Odusanya] was now corroborating with me that there was effort to bribe Chief Bola Ige, one now realizes that the intention was real. And before all these bribery saga, a lot of things were already in public domain that we just need to piece together and let our country have a date with destiny.
SRTV: One of the things people will ask us now on the show is ‘why now’? Why did you wait since about 15 years and you are coming out now to say these; are you being sponsored by some political interests to whittle down the influence of Obasanjo by telling this story or are you genuinely driven by desire to expose of the impunity that characterized his regime?
Seriki: I will still crave your indulgence to put this in the perspective of the issue of assassination. Fundamentally, we as a people are intimidated into assuming that you need to be sponsored before you can do what is right, and it is one of the policies of the criminals that are in authority to intimidate and subdue genuineness. Between us and God, there are genuine desires to see to the killing that was arbitrary. We are in America now, the respect to life is one issue that is making this country great. When issues that are as bad as the Attorney General of the Federation happens like this and we assume it is a non-issue, it becomes ridiculous in terms of what kind of nation we want to become.
SRTV: I want to go to Mr. Odusanya. Was there any time in the course of your work with the powerful unofficial underground group that you encountered some people just discussing that, this Bola Ige, we will do something about him?
Odusanya: Let me say that it may not be direct inference, but there were telephone conversations…. Particularly the night Bola Ige was assassinated, that are suggestive. For instance, Otunba Fasawe
confided in me and said by 3 a.m. that day, President Obasanjo called him and said ‘Ige is down! Don’t go to Ibadan’. When you say such thing, and at my level I begin to look at it and my conscience begin
to prick me. A very short story… Omisore, he got the ticket party from President while he was undergoing trial. It didn’t stop there, he won the election and they called it ‘landmark’ in the same senatorial
constituency of Chief Ige. Why this short story? I was in this particular building directly opposite office of the President, it’s called the Glass House and I was with the children of President Obasanjo. They were wondering aloud that what sort of country is this where a man in the prison would become a senator. I was looking at them thinking do this young men know that their father was involved in this charade? Ahmadu Alli and Ojo Madueke could not have issued that ticket on their own. They had the backing of the President and I make bold to say that.
SRTV: [to Seriki]: You wanted to chip in.
Seriki: The issue is this, inasmuch as fairness is fair, there is enough fact to give former President Obasanjo to air his much flaunted credential of probity and anti-corruption. The scenario is intimidating. If a sitting President is blackmailed into breaking the rules of the land, which requires every political aspiration to fill a form, go to the court and swear an affidavit, which I know they wouldn’t have done in the prison, one now wonders a-priori that ‘why maintain a killer squad’ that you were condemning Abacha to have done? What purpose is there for you?
Two, what would have given Omisore the rapport that would enable him to have the senate seat from Prison? Having said all these, by the time you now juxtapose the effort and bribing the old man (Chief Bola Ige). I think this is an opportunity for the National Assembly to invoke their constitutional investigative powers to want to know what happened. That is my own concern now. I
have been in the Federal House for, I think, going to thirty years. So, it has not been the failing to win election, but it has been that election doesn’t hold in Nigeria; it has not been that one does not
want to work with Nigeria government; it has been arbitrary government, Government of aggrandizement and of ego. Those are the issues that I taught that the Senate and the House of Reps will take up. But hat is not to say that the IG who was copied and the Attorney General whose predecessor was murdered should not take interest in the matter.
SRTV: Quickly, there are many issues including the sales of major State assets such as Ajaokuta Steel Company and bribery scandals such as the Halliburton scandal in which Bodunde Adeyanju was alleged to have received $6million bribe money that eventually went to the president (Obasanjo). Mr. Seriki, why is your organization Leadership Rescue Initiative (LRI) taking on this volatile and powerful issue?
Seriki: The issue is as simple as this. We are in 2013 now and we are being structured to be looking at 2015, but we don’t normally have elections. You see, the way Obasanjo did, if this President were to be as arbitrary and irrational as he was, then we are laying a foundation of a Banana Republic. And if we look at certain issues in the past, which is the essence of history, I will repeat again that rather than unorthodox cutting of corners, it would afford (former) President Obasanjo opportunity to clear his name on issues of probity and corruption. Take for instance as we speak, an account that he was involved in closely benefiting from is in deficit of about N7billion.
SRTV [cuts in]: Let’s talk about the account, is that the buffer account where you get all the money from to bribe, buy cars…
Odusanya [nods]: at Trans International Bank. The 607 Peugeot, I bought the car. I raised a draft from TIB, bought the car from ASD Motors at Area III, and of course on the day of the chieftaincy title of Mrs. Lamide Adegbenro, I took the car there and the cash gift.
SRTV: How much was the cash gift?
Odusanya: Half a million naira.
SRTV: How much was the car bought for?
Odusanya: About six or seven million naira…
Seriki: My own interest is that it amounts to abuse of office if a custodian of the economy as the President of the Federal Republic, creates a phony account in conjunction with some proxies and executes personal interests and whatever, and the account a-priori is in deficit of about N7billion… the bank is under waters now. Then, it leaves to be imagined what he could have been doing as Head of State and Minister of Petroleum.
SRTV: One of the things you said was that when Otunba Fasawe was ‘arrested’ and being questioned, he said this is not my account, this is Obasanjo’s.
Seriki [cuts in]: No, we should ask that in his arbitrariness, he should try Fasawe, (but) upon discovering certain things in the account to the event that he was the owner of that account, they discontinued the trial.
SRTV: Was he ever tried, because you (Odusanya) said you saw Fasawe in EFCC detention? Tell us what happened
Odusanya: Well, he was just there, detained for three months, and of course the EFCC investigators discovered they could not continue… the President himself was implicated and that of course is a no-go-area.
SRTV: Did Fasawe ever tell you while in detention whether he would spill the beans?
Seriki: See, there’s an issue. There’s no bean to spill. This present government has done something that we are not taking full advantage of it as responsible people. When we say we do not have responsive leadership, we should also acknowledge we have no responsive followership because there is a freedom of information bill. As we speak, all these facts are in public domain. It is our love for irrational operations that made us to continue ‘business as usual’. And that’s why I was saying that aside of talking to the National Assembly, it would have been a direct indictment of the police because institutionally, the police have been trying a lot of these issues. Institutionally, EFCC has been trying a lot of these issues. So, the president is at liberty to call to order those executive organizations. More so, the headship has changed because you’ll remember before Ehindero left, he paraded some people and said these are the killers of Ige, but he knew they were not the killers. If at the highest of the police of the country, you are doing this, it shows desperation at the highest quarters to hoodwink us as a nation. So, for instance the issue of corruption, Obasanjo should be glad to want to earn his credibility, here you have a personal assistant on domestic affairs who has admitted to the police that he accepted $6million, then what is the police doing about it? No, no, no, no, no, the personal assistant domestic to the president admitted to the police that he collected $6million bribe on behalf of the President. Do you think Obasanjo is a docile president that his personal assistant collected such money on his behalf and he won’t know? Or, at what point is that man important to Halliburton, being a personal assistant domestic?
SRTV: Let’s bring you in there Mr. Odusanya, you actually were with Bodunde the day he was released by the police. Tell our viewers what he said to you in the car.
Odusanya: Actually he said to me that, although he admitted to collecting $6million bribe, but that he did not implicate Baba.
Seriki [cuts in]: That is it. I think when you look at that one, you now move to one of the richest Nigerians in government today, Andy Uba, he was personal assistant domestic. What was his declaration at his point of appointment? I think he came from America for that appointment. Was he a successful person in America? So, he came with this man who is the architect of Anti-corruption, but as today, if you see what he declared as the governor of Anambra State, which was short-lived, you will be shocked.
SRTV [to Odusanya]: Did you know Andy Uba very well when you were working at government house then?
Odusanya: We know each other very closely. We all started this government together. As a matter of fact let me start by saying, ab initio I did not start by being at the background. At the dying days of the then government, I was responsible for so many things. Virtually all the documents of the president elect (Obasanjo) were handed over to me. I played very active role in the inaugural committee headed by Professor Tunde Adeniran. I was a resource person. Ferdinand ***Dagu*** too was there, Dr. Bolade Osinowo was there. In fact at some point I played more critical roles than some of them.
SRTV: So, do you know the difference between what Andy Uba declared while he was taking up appointment as personal assistant to president on domestic and what he declared when he was to become governor?
Odusanya: These are documents that are available in government institutions that should be provided. What was he before the domestic thing? He was just somebody there in America. So, what did he declare when he was to be Governor? Of course it was in trillions. They should bring the documents out.
Seriki: These are issues that will enable Obasanjo tell people he is an architect of anti-corruption. That is why I said it is not the issue of who sent you or who did not send you. If somebody killed your father and at some point facts begin to come out, and one still has decency to ask ‘were you sent by somebody to let us know who killed my father’ that one must be a bastard.
SRTV: Here in your petition, you also mentioned the Ajaokuta Steel Company which was sold at a give-away price.
Odusanya: On the day President Obama was elected for the first time, Gbenga Obasanjo put a call through to me and said to me, quoting a Reverend gentleman (Rev. Martin Luther King), he said from today I know that I will be judged by the content of my character, making reference to his father. He said to me that he was just trying to hold his peace, but that the issue of Ajaokuta is still there but that he merely benefitted from the consultancy. And that, it should be known that it is Andy and his father (Obasanjo) that engaged in the fraud.
SRTV: You also mentioned in your petition that the Police Equipment Fund which was created by Obasanjo’s in-law, Kenny Martins was also one of the illegalities of corruption by proxy of Olusegun Obasanjo. I want you to actually tell people what Obasanjo was worth when he came out of jail, you told me you saw him and that he only had one car.
Seriki [cuts in]: You see, we cannot run a country without referring to the constitution. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is simplistic to the extent of the maintenance of the Nigerian police. So, if we are to continue this madness, at a point, somebody will raise ‘Nigeria Army Equipment Fund’, what kind of a nation is that?
SRTV [to Odusanya]: Well, let’s go back to what Obasanjo was worth when he left prison, you said you saw him and that the family was almost selling off everything of the family…
Odusanya: Not that they were almost selling. In fact, they had sold everything except one car, a Peugeot 505 and the reason that could not be sold was that it was a natural gift to past Head of State from the Secretary to the Government and it had a government number. That is the reason that could not be sold.
SRTV: So, where did he get the cars to run his campaigns from?
Odusanya: Well, it started even from Lt. General Danjuma, who graciously through John Dara obliged them fund to run their initial program
Seriki [cuts in]: The issue….
SRTV [cut in]: No, no, no. I want us to break it down at that level because if not, people will not understand where we are coming from. I want him (Odusanya) to finish it. Where did John Dara get the cars from?
Odusanya: He bought it from Oluwalogbon motors.
Seriki [cuts in]: Let’s give it to him that he was considered a responsible and viable candidate and a lot of people rallied around him…
SRTV: That does not erase the fact that these were proceeds of corruption.
Seriki: That is the point. I would have honored Obasanjo if he were to continue to live in his former house, the way Madiba is doing. But when you have an appetite beyond what your take-home can provide, you are outright corrupt. Today he has mansions, competing with Babangida. Today, he has people who pretend to be lending him aircraft, he has aircraft by proxy. You see, these are why he would be able to say ‘Andy Uba is my son o, he helps me’. But he was your poor son that you corruptly enriched.
SRTV: So, you have more to add regarding what you know about the Obasanjo regime? We also have the ID Card scam.
Seriki: Yes, it is very interesting but we need to just take some summary. There was an ID Card project. There had been many ID Card projects before this and they were all phony because after this one, his (Obasanjo’s) son did his own.
SRTV: What’s his name?
Seriki: Seun. So, all these things will give him opportunity to keep date with honor if they are not to sweep things under the carpet. When there was an issue of the $7million bribe
SRTV: Who was given $7million bribe?
Seriki: Obasanjo’s friend. But the issue for determination is that he was grandstanding and playing to the gallery with the international community by arresting all the people that were not involved in the fraud. You see, when a person is an expert in deceit and that person is in charge of the destiny of a nation, the nation is ruined. He knows the source of the fraud and he did nothing to correct it and as we speak now there is no ID Card in Nigeria.
SRTV: So, what do you suggest should be done?
Seriki: Thank you. What we seek is that the leadership of the National Assembly to keep a date with destiny by becoming the champion of the course of the people of Nigeria, by invoking their constitutional right of legislative investigation into, take for instance just Bola Ige’s death for the nation to be relieved just as the people of Boston were relieved, and that shows they have a responsive government. And that is not to exclude President Jonathan who has more to gain from Nigeria than the people of Nigeria have to gain from him. Coming from his background, he should devoid from the pretense that somebody put him there and he should put things right.
SRTV: You mentioned the National Assembly. Do you think somebody like David Mark who was also imposed on the people; do you think he would want to turn against him?
Seriki: Let me tell you something. Pessimism is the architect of failure, we are optimistic that a new dawn will happen to Nigeria. And, Nigeria is lucky that now, there is freedom of information bill.
We need to do more. It is in their interest to want to work against us, and the way we are taking this project, we are not desirous of taking credit for it. As we speak right now, these information are in the hands of a lot of credible people, who by mere terminating the lives of somebody or harassing some people will not kill the truth behind this project. If Martin Luther King were to think when to free America, as young as we were, we were still witnesses to when they said blacks are not electable. So, I won’t want to talk about the shortcomings, but I know truth is stronger than deceit and God is stronger than devil.
We put it in their domain, that, you aspire for eminence, this is the requirement for eminence.
SRTV: This has been very revealing discussion about corrupt developments in the recent history of Nigeria. You said you fought against third term. Do you have credible information that Obasanjo was behind it?
Seriki: Oh, verifiable information as to how he corrupted our National Assembly as to a lot of approvals he subjected himself to out of greed.
SRTV: When you left the slush fund, because you said you left because your conscience would not let you continue with it, do you know the group that took over the kind of errand you were running?
Odusanya: Erm… you see, Andy took over. Let me just say it. Andy [Uba] took over. He took over the function of Fasawe.
Seriki: And he did it very well
Odusanya: Yes, he did very well.
Seriki: He was more organized and more vicious against Nigeria.
SRTV: I will end here by saying, great conscience, are you not afraid for your lives?
Odusanya: Let me state that, and I want it to be on record. I have the backing of my lovely wife and my children to do this. I am not going back to Nigeria to ask for any security or protection anywhere. I am a strong believer in the supremacy of God and I am saying this that for everything there is a price, and I am willing, even if it is the supreme price. Am not afraid of anybody and am saying that I am not going back to Nigeria to ask for security from anybody whether Government, individual or corporate agencies.
Seriki: You see, I smile when people market fear. Fear in itself is the enemy of eminence. For me, I am not bothered. At this age, I’ve bore children but the bothering is that the future of these children are being ruined by rascals. So, if you are to keep alive and become a Methuselah, what becomes of your children? And that is the reason we find ourselves in this position. Everybody pretends to say it is dangerous and they will look for ways to partake in the loot. We can’t continue like this. When I was in the Federal House, I was one of the youngest, but because of the way Nigeria is being runned, for those of
us who cannot capture power, the career has been kind of ruined because what is required to contest and win election is not made so. So, fundamentally, I have a conviction that life in itself becomes worthless if one is just to be genuflecting and be a vegetable.
SRTV: Well, on that note, I just want to thank you gentlemen for coming on SaharaTV
Seriki [cuts in]: And I will add, it will be more honorable that rather than seek how to circumvent truth, because that is why we went to the National Assembly as we know they always go for injunction that police should not touch or investigate them, but with the separation of power, the National Assembly has a fundamental responsibility to Nigerians.