Nigeria VP In Scandal?

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An anonymous source at Thisday told us: "Our publisher and Atiku
are friends. If you think we are going to hardball him, you must be out of your mind." Vice President Abubakar Atiku's shortcomings have gone unreported by the Nigerian media because of his closeness and generosity to the members of the country's fourth estate. Even a blatant lie by the Vice President was allowed to slide because of his personal friendship with the publisher of Thisday.

The Potomac home of Nigeria's Vice President Abubakar Atiku was raided on August 3, 2005 by officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Atiku’s wife--the main occupant of the Potomac home--Jennifer, has since relocated
to Nigeria.  In our exclusive report of August 17th, we stated that the Vice President bought a multi-million dollar home on December 1, 2000, one-and-a-half years after being sworn in as the Vice President of Nigeria. A few days later, in an interview with Thisday, a Nigerian newspaper, the Vice President claimed he and his wife, Jennifer, had maintained a home in the United States since 1994. He, therefore, dismissed our report as "no big deal." Astoundingly, the reporter who questioned Atiku did not point out to him the disparity in his stories.

In 1994 Atiku Abubakar and Jennifer were private citizens. They may have owned a home in the United States. The Potomac, Maryland home, was bought even as Atiku served as Nigeria's Vice President, thereby contravening some
sections of the Nigerian Constitution and the Code of Conduct for public servants in Nigeria. A source at Thisday told us: "Our publisher and Atiku are friends. If you think we are going to hardball him, you must be out of your mind." Vice
President Abubakar Atiku's shortcomings have gone unreported by the Nigerian media because of his closeness and generosity to the members of the country's fourth estate. Even a blatant lie by the Vice President was allowed to slide because of his personal friendship with the publisher of Thisday, one of the country's most powerful newspapers. 

The raid of Vice President Atiku's Maryland home is related to suspicions of corruption on the part of US Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana. Atiku's home was searched on the same day that operatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed search warrants on the New Orleans and D.C. homes of Rep. William Jefferson. A story written by Bruce Alpert and Bill Walsh for the The Times of Picayune, revealed that FBI agents were looking for documents related to Jefferson's dealings with Atiku and Aliyu Mahama, the Vice President of Ghana. According to the August 27 reports by Bruce Alpert
and Bill Walsh, the FBI subpoenas are focused on "a telecommunications deal Jefferson was trying to engineer in Nigeria over the past year." We do not know Jennifer Atiku's connections with the US Congressman. An analyst Elendureports.com spoke with believes the FBI may be trying to determine whether she served as conduit for Atiku and Rep. William Jefferson in any corrupt deals. However, it is instructive that shortly after our story was published, the Gede Foundation web site shut down. It has yet to come back up as at the time of going to press.

A keen observer of the Obasanjo Presidency based in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria said, "With stories like this coming out about Atiku, Obasanjo cannot continue to keep him as his Vice President if he is really serious about his so-called Anti-Corruption war. The man is looking for thieves when he lives with one in his room. It is a huge joke. This is 419 against the Nigerian people." We have tried to contact all the actors in this affair but they have yet to respond. Maybe Vice President Atiku will find a friendly ear in the Nigerian media. Whatever happens he needs to address these issues promptly.

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