September 8, 2011

Yar’Adua knew Aondoakaa was corrupt but could not sack him – Wikileaks

Latest Wikileaks revelations show late President Umaru Yar’Adua was aware that former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Michael Aondoakaa had suspicious relationship  with an Indian firm regarding an investigation into the Ajaokuta steel plant deal.

A presidential advisor told US Embassy officials October 16, 2009, that Yar’Adua had become aware of certain Cabinet members engaging  in corrupt practices and posing an embarrassment for his administration.

“He remarked that Aondoakaa had reversed progress on prosecutions, taking the country backwards in this area, and opined that Yar’Adua would dismiss the Minister by December. He predicted other changes as well since the President recognizes he has “some round pegs in square holes.”

The report alleged that the late Yar’Adua viewed both Aondoakaa and Ibori as liabilities to his re-election and intended to sack Aondoakaa, but could not do so.

In another missive of the Embassy cables, October 23, 2009, Presidential Economic Advisor, Sani Musa, told embassy officials that Yar’Adua had become aware of corrupt activities by certain Cabinet members.  Claiming that Yar’Adua did not know Aondoakaa before his appointment, Yar’Adua subsequently received evidence of his wrongdoing.

In the leaked October cables, Musa maintained that Yar’Adua genuinely wanted electoral reform, recalling that he had acknowledged in his inaugural address the “flawed” process that brought him to power.  Yar’Adua, he said, became frustrated at the Justice Minister’s power.

He said, Yar’Adua,  became frustrated at the Justice Minister’s efforts to block key recommendations, including the more transparent selection of  the Independent National Electoral Commission chairperson.  While dominated by the ruling People’s Democratic Party, Musa claimed the National Assembly also thwarted the President’s proposals on electoral reform.  He accused legislators of demanding bribes before they would enact this legislation.

On May 5, 2009, according to Wikileaks, Ms. Sanders filed a report to the US State Department in which she said the former House of Representatives Speaker, Mr Dimeji Bankole, told her he had proof that the venerable justices were bought and paid for with cash supplied by the former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

Mr. Bankole also told the US Ambassador that by accepting bribes to reach a legal condition favourable to President Yar’Adua and Vice President Jonathan, the Supreme Court justices had “tasted blood”.

In another Wikileaks report, Ribadu told the US Ambassador that  “Yar’Adua was very worried about his election being overturned and is getting advice from some whose hands are tarnished with illicit enrichment on how to secure a positive outcome of the pending February or March 2008 tribunal decision.”

Aondoakaa’s final straw

For months, civil libertarians had been calling for the dismissal of Justice Minister Michael Aondoakaa, a move that seemed to have some support inside the GON.

National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Director-General, Lanre Ipinmisho predicted to INLOFF that President Yar’Adua would sack Aondoakaa after he declared publicly that his office had cleared three former governors — James Ibori (Delta State), Bola Tinubu (Lagos State), and Victor Attah (Akwa Ibom State) — of corruption charges related to a banking scandal.

Ipinmisho described this statement as possibly the “final straw,” with Yar’Adua not only pressing the AG to retract his statement but “ordering” the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to issue a statement contradicting the Minister.