Thursday, December 9, 2010

WikiLeaks Releases More Revelations about Nigeria

•Julius Berger flew Yar’Adua from Germany to S’Arabia •Turai, Tanimu named in oil deals •Fresh allegations against Aondoakaa •How Shell, others tried to subvert oil sector reform bill

From Tokunbo Adedoja in New York with agency reports, 12.09.2010

Construction giant, Julius Berger, made its aircraft available to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to be flown from Germany to Saudi Arabia in September 2008, the latest diplomatic cables published on the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks, revealed yesterday.

The cable, written by former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Robin Sanders, quoted Shell's regional executive vice-president for Africa Ann Pickard as making the disclosure while discussing Yar’Adua’s health at the time.

The cable read: “Pickard agreed that the President's health is a guessing game. She said that in her recent meetings with Yar'Adua he seems alert but drawn in the face and frail. She reported that a Julius Berger (protect) contact says that the President was not in danger of dying soon but has serious ailments from which he will never fully recover.

“Pickard shared that Berger provides transportation including planes for the President and has reportedly flown in doctors and technicians to attend the President (reftel). She said, for instance, that her Berger contact confided that they flew the President from Germany to Saudi in September 2008. Additionally, the Berger contact thought the President would not return to the Villa offices, as they were moving the President's personal things out of the Villa.”

Other revelations from the latest cables, four of which were published yesterday, are:

•Pickard said a lot of “interesting” people were lifting oil even with no knowledge of the industry, suggesting a series of corrupt practices.

•A businessman and close associate of the late president was accused of smuggling but was said to have been told by Yar’Adua to clean up his act. He was called Yar’Adua’s “Mr. Fix It”.

•International Oil Com-panies (IOCs) have been making moves to influence the contents of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to suit their purpose.

•Former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Aondoakaa, was accused of demanding gratification before signing documents.

Sanders’ dispatch read: “Pickard said that Nigerian entities control the lifting of many oil cargoes and there are some "very interesting" people lifting oil. Oil buyers would pay NNPC GMD Yar'Adua, Chief Economic Advisor Yakubu and the First Lady Turai Yar'Adua large bribes to lift oil. Pickard also reported an instance of the Attorney General Aondoakaa allegedly soliciting a $20 million bribe to sign a document. The International Oil Companies (IOC) are quite concerned about the "very flawed" new petroleum sector energy bill. The IOCs will be asking U.S., Dutch, and U.K. COMs to convey points on the bill to GON policymakers.

“Pickard said that Nigerian entities control the lifting of many oil cargoes and there are some "very interesting" people lifting oil (People, she said that were not even in the industry). As an example she said that oil buyers would pay Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) General Managing Director Yar'Adua, (Note: not related to President Yar'Adua. End Note) Chief Economic Advisor Yakubu, and the First Lady Turai Yar'Adua large bribes, millions of dollars per tanker, to lift oil. The IOCs control the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cargos, so GON actors do not have the same opportunity for illicit gain. Pickard also said a former associate of hers (protect) had told her he had been present when Attorney General Aondoakaa had told a visitor that he would sign a document only if the visitor paid $2 million immediately and another $18 million the next day.”

Political Counsellor Walter Pflaumer who worked in the US embassy sent a cable on the alleged close relationship between businessman, Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, and Yar’Adua.

Pflaumer did not disclose the identity of his close, writing: “XXXXXX alleged a close association between President Yar,Adua and Katsina native and rumored smuggler Dahiru Mangal. XXXXX claimed Mangal is the President's "Mr. Fix It," taking care of "anything filthy" Yar'Adua needs done in addition to smuggling items for several wealthy Nigerian businessmen through Niger into Kano. Another Kano business contact corroborated XXXXXX 's allegations, but observed that Mangal no longer deals openly in illicit activity since Yar'Adua named him a special advisor earlier this month.

“Kano real estate entrepreneur and longtime Mission contact XXXXXX told PolOff February 10 that Katsina native Dahiru Mangal, who XXXXXX contends deals in illicit smuggling of goods into Nigeria, is also known as President Yar'Adua's "Mr. Fix It." XXXXX alleged a close association between the President and Mangal, dating to the former's tenure as governor of Katsina, and claimed the latter remains to this day Yar'Adua's "go-to man" to accomplish "anything filthy that Yar'Adua needs done."

“Mangal, XXXXX said, is also the "go-to" for any wealthy Nigerian, who wants to import "just about anything" into Nigeria. He declined to state whether Mangal smuggled weapons, drugs, or persons into Nigeria.”

On October 20, 2009, Deputy Chief of Mission Dundas McCullough wrote: “Pickard said the GON [government of Nigeria] wanted the National Assembly to pass the [PIB] by November 17 in order for the GON to be able to announce it at the upcoming CWC Gulf of Guinea Conference in London November 17-19. She said that if the House passes the PIB in the coming weeks, “we need to move quickly” to obtain any necessary changes before it becomes law. Fortunately, she added,

“We are working with the House and the House appears to want to work with us.” She continued that if the Senate passes the PIB, “We aren’t worried.” Unfortunately, she explained, “We think the Senate will pass a bad bill” but it won’t really matter. She added that she would be at the Nigerian House and Senate later that day and would let the Embassy know if there were any unexpected developments.

“3. (C) The Ambassador asked if Shell had had engagements with the GON outside the National Assembly, such as with the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria. Pickard said, “We are meeting with them at all levels.” She noted that an IMF team headed by Charles McPherson was in Abuja to look at the PIB and that Shell would be meeting with them as well. In contrast, she said, “We are worried about the World Bank’s political agenda and it is not clear what their agenda is.” She said the World Bank was working on how to make the IJVs “bankable” so that they would be able to go to international and domestic banks for financing.”
Efforts to reach Tanimu and Aondoakaa last night were unsuccessful as calls to their phones were unanswered.

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