- Category: Law, Crime & Judiciary
- Published on Saturday, 01 May 2010 14:11
- Written by Punch
- Hits: 1413
N234m Fraud: Ogbulafor lobbies Jonathan’s wife.
72 hours to the May 3 date when the embattled Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, is expected to appear before an Abuja High Court over N170m alleged fraud charge preferred against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, strong indications emerged on Friday that Ogbulafor had begun making last ditch efforts to stop the trial.
The ICPC charged Ogbulafor and two others; the Secretary of the National Economic Intelligence Committee, Mr. Emeka Ebilah; and the Director of Budget Implementation in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr. Emmanuel Bosah; for alleged diversion of the said sum when Ogbulafor was the Minister of Economic Matters in 2001.
Saturday Punch was told authoritatively on Friday that the PDP chairman had begun secret moves to get the Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to change his stance not to persuade the ICPC to drop the ongoing corruption case against him.
A very reliable source said that Ogbulafor had paid serveral visits to the Presidential Villa to plead with Jonathan to forgive him for the conflict between the National Working Committee under his leadership and some top chieftains of the PDP believed to have Jonathan‘s backing.
The PDP NWC led by Ogbulafor had suspended 19 chieftains of the party, including two former Senate presidents, Ken Nnamani and Adolphus Wabara; and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Maisari; for alleged anti-party activities.
The suspended members belong to the Reformation Group in the PDP believed to be working for Jonathan to get the NWC and governors elected on the platform of the party to change their earlier decision barring Jonathan from contesting for the presidency in next year‘s general election.
The leadership of the party and the governors had pleaded with the Acting President to no avail to prevail on the ICPC to drop the N170m charge which they believed is embarrassing the party.
On Monday, an Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Isaq Bello had granted an order in the affirmative while ruling in an exparte order brought before the ICPC that Ogbulafor and the two others should appear before it on May 3, to take their pleas on the case.
Following this ruling, a sober Ogbulafor had said during Tuesday‘s National Executive Committee meeting of the PDP held in Abuja that he was facing political persecution.
The embattled PDP Chairman said, ”As for my alleged involvement in a certain N104m contract case with the ICPC, let me, with all sense of responsibility, state that I am innocent of the allegations.
”I was a Minister of Economic Matters in the Presidency while the National Economic Intelligence Committee was an agency of government in the Presidency. It had a chairman and committee members. I was not a member of the committee.
”I never attended their meetings. More so, decisions were solely made by them. My role was limited to accompanying them to the Presidency to present the reports of the committee.
”I know that these allegations are politically motivated, and I am absolutely sure that justice will be done, and I will be vindicated.”
It was learnt on Friday that among new people believed to have been approached by Ogbulafor to put a in word on his behalf to the Acting President was Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
The PDP Chairman was said to have pleaded with the Acting President‘s wife to intervene in the crisis and appealed to her to speak to her husband on the issue.
The source said, ”But the wife of the Acting President was said to have politely told the PDP Chairman that she did not have such powers. Mrs. Jonathan was quoted as having said that she was not involved in the raging issue and did not know how she could be of relevance in the issue that has to do with government.”
Ogbulafor‘s last ditch efforts are said to be informed by his belief that he is being tried for corruption because of his statement that the PDP had zoned the presidency to the North till 2015.
While ruling on the ICPC exparte order on Monday, Justice Bello had said, ”The accused persons are hereby ordered to appear before the court on May 3rd. The prosecution is at liberty to apply for an order of arrest and detention where they are in doubt that the accused persons will not be available for trial.”
The ICPC is also prosecuting Ogbulafor, Ebilah and Bosah for allegedly conspiring to take advantage of a verification panel of NEIC to verify a non-existent contract worth N82m said to have been executed by Henchriko Nig. Ltd on behalf of the Federal Government.
Ogbulasfor is further accused of corrupt self-enrichment to the tune of N11.5m alleged to have been paid to him through one Chris Abuajah of DHL consultants.
Part of the charges read, ”That you Vincent Ogbulafor, Emeka Ebilah and Emmanuel Bosah in the month of March 2001, being public officers, to wit; Minister In Charge of Special Duties, Secretary/Member of the National Economic Intelligence Committee (NEIC) and Director, Budget Implementation, Federal Ministry of Finance respectively, did use your positions to confer corrupt advantage upon yourselves by fraudulently receiving for yourselves through a proxy, Henry Ikoh, the sum of N82,631,03.41 from the Federal Government of Nigeria in the name of a company Henchriko Nigeria Limited as payment for a fictitious contract purportedly executed for the Federal Government of Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.”