For years and especially the Jonathan years, newspaper headlines competed for stories on prominent Nigerians and disgraced Congressman Williams J. Jefferson embroiled in the Halliburton scandal, and years down the line, this topic still remains very hot.
The Haliburton case came to public awareness again after Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti state relived the controversy on Monday, June 20, stressing the role played by the first lady Aisha Buhari in the messy bribery scandal. The governor’s outburst came after his personal account in Zenith Bank was frozen by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to Fayose, his rights have been trampled on by the anti-graft agency, but to the EFCC, the power to investigate and carry out such actions has been conferred to the agency. However, going by the nature of Fayose, it was quite evident Nigerians were in for more controversies.
This is not unconnected to the fact that the Ekiti governor is passionate about grabbing the headlines. And as expected a huge drama unfolded on Monday, June 20, as Fayose distributed a link to the US Department of Justice’s website holding court documents where Aisha Buhari was alleged to have transferred suspicious funds to a convicted former American congressman, Williams Jefferson.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, Fayose said President Buhari was far from being a clean man.
“Even the President cannot claim to be an angel,” the governor said, in reaction to the freezing of his Zenith Bank account by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“The estate he built in Abuja is known to us. His wife was indicted over the Halliburton Scandal (sic). When that American, Jefferson, was being sentenced, the President’s wife was mentioned as having wired $170,000 to Jefferson. Her name was on page 25 of the sentencing of Jefferson.
We can serialize the judgment for people to see and read,” the statement added. Lere Olayinka, the governor’s special assistant on New Media, later circulated links to and copies of the court document detailing Mrs Buhari’s mention in the scandal.
The documents showed that in some of the exhibits tendered in convicting Mr. Jefferson of bribery, Mrs. Buhari was mentioned as transferring $170,000 to the American politician using a firm as proxy.
At that point, Fayose’s damning allegations had sent shivers in the spine of the presidency and seemed to have woken up to the realities of the threat facing the Buhari-led government.
This is coming after the governor’s claims had also raise eye brows in the country. While some Nigerians believed Fayose’s claims were nothing more than mere allegations, others had raised fears that the Buhari-led government may not be a saint as it claims.
But in a swift move, the presidency was forced to respond to Fayose’s allegations. In a press statement on Tuesday, June 21, Garba Shehu, the senior special assistant to President Buhari on media and publicity, stated that the presidency would have ignored Fayose because “he is a man childishly obsessed with the desire to grab the headlines and insulting people at will because of his incurably boorish instincts.”
According to him, the presidency however, “chose to respond on this occasion for the sake of innocent Nigerians who might be misled by Fayose’s shameless and blatant distortion of facts.”
Minutes after, a picture of woman said to be an impostor of Nigeria’s first lady, Aisha Buhari, was made available to the public. The lady’s passport had emerged from Nigerian government claiming that, the person involved in the Jefferson scandal was not the first lady.
However, a closer look at the passport shows that signature is quite hidden, the photograph is almost cut off amid other flaws. The passport of the alleged impostor also leaves a trail where the date of birth looked modified as the date of birth was written 04 AUG/ AC0 75 instead of 04 AUG/AUG 75.
And as shocking as thing could get Mrs. Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari labelled Governor Fayose an unchained mad dog on her verified twitter account which she later deleted after being slammed by general public for unguided utterances from first lady.
In her response, the lady who shares the same name with President Buhari’s wife said she was not the person referred to in the Halliburton bribery scandal. Speaking in an interview with The Street Journal Tuesday night, June 21, “Aisha Buhari” said linking her name with it was most malicious and wicked.’ She said: “The allegation is like pouring water on a sleeping person.
I have never done anything with Halliburton and I don’t know the colour of the company. I am not in the line of business with Halliburton, so linking me with the bribery is wicked.”
In the space of two days, the country has witnessed series of attacks and counter-attacks from the Ekiti governor and the presidency and there are really no signs of these tantrums abating any time soon. However, Nigerians hope that the truth will eventually emerge and all these allegations are put to rest.