#ATIKUGATE: CORRUPTION BY SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle)
By Micheal Achimugu
Former Media Aide to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
My name is Michael Achimugu, former media aide, facilitator and a very close confidant of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The reason I am doing this is well articulated in the introductory video below.
In this episode, in a private telephone conversation with me, Atiku Abubakar reveals how Obasanjo and himself, using different fronts, fleeced the country while they were in office.
I have also sworn to an affidavit containing all these details, This is the first of series of videos and facts I will be releasing in the next few weeks.
For decades since he left office as Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku has been the eye of the storm as far as corruption allegations go. Most of you already know what his former boss, President Obasanjo, said about him in that regard. I also need not remind you about bribery and corruption allegations in the United States, controversies that bedevil the Waziri till this day. In his defense (and I also used this to defend him a lot), it could be argued that no court has ever convicted him of corruption before.
Mr. Abubakar himself has challenged Nigerians to provide evidence if they think he is corrupt. Such a challenge could mean one of two things:
- That the man is spick and span and the allegations are merely just attempts to tarnish his image or
- That he is very slick and covers his tracks well.
But events occurred that made me re-examine what I thought I knew about the honesty of a man I once believed in.
THE PHONE CALL:
June 13, 2018.
Caller: +234 909 999 4411 (His Excellency Atiku Abubakar)
Recipient: 0813 883 9407 (Yours truly)
Needing to respond to allegations made by a certain Kayode Ogundamisi on Twitter about a one hundred million naira matter, I reached out to His Excellency via email as usual, seeking the facts of the matter. It was my habit to request truth from him before engaging trolls because I hated going into arguments blind.
The crux of the matter here was Atiku admitting to not carrying out “open corruption”. It implied corruption by stealth (SPV). In that call he can be heard admitting to setting up the companies by himself but placing cronies as directors. By the way, if the ‘donations’ to the PDP were legitimate why did they need to go through an SPV when the party had a bank account?
“…..three people you (Obasanjo) trust and I (Atiku) will PREPARE three companies…”
So Otunba Fasawe and others were figureheads but who was truly in charge?
“Like, if there is any contract that we give, you know, they will ACT like consultants, you know, and then they are given a fee and that fee is what we now use to fund the party instead of engaging in open (corruption)……it (money) did not go to Atiku Abubakar, it went to Marine float…..”
To understand how these SPVs could be used to siphon funds you need to listen to excerpts from this audio recording of a meeting I had on July 25, 2021, in company of Atiku’s daughter, with a former PDP chieftain introduced as Chief Emma Bello. He hails from Adamawa state and was “Chairman of Strategy Committee of PDP”.
The major points in this part of the 2-hr long recording are:
- Obasanjo did not interfere with Atiku’s control over the economy, contracts, etc, because he did not want to be “stained”. Why did he feel it would blemish him to directly share economic and financial responsibilities with Atiku? Was it because, from Atiku’s self-confessed advice to Obasanjo about “open corruption”, the President already recognized that there was much to fear from being directly involved in the process?
- Obasanjo would refer people to Atiku to collect monies and contracts. Where did those monies come from? Were they provided for in the federal budget or were they sourced from the SPVs Atiku set up and controlled?
The SPV conversation made me recall one of the most emotional moments I ever shared with him. It was at the end of 2017 and the Waziri had recounted how he spent “billions of naira” buying equipment and setting up a media company using one Olushola Akanmode as proxy.
According to him, when he wanted his company returned to him, Akanmode refused. Atiku could not go to court because the documents were in the proxy’s name. That event was where he said to me, “All of the people I have helped are never as loyal to me as I was to Shehu Musa Yar’adua.”
Moved by emotions, I had felt extreme pity for him. Today, Akanmode is still in his circle of friends. I will discuss the details in one of the sequels to this piece. In the context of this story, SPVs are the basis for Atiku’s boldness to challenge anyone for evidence. It is his go-to every time an allegation comes up.
But how does one admit to setting up an entity run literally by ‘placeholders’ and confess that it held slush funds for Obasanjo/Atiku campaign (but he told me it was for PDP as a party, not his joint campaign with OBJ) when he knew he was not going to run another election on Obasanjo’s ticket?
Let it be remembered that, in the Marine Float matter, Atiku only succeeded in roping President Obasanjo into it, meaning that the Ota General could not have secured a conviction against his VP without tying the noose around his own neck too.
Privately, in the phone call above, Atiku admits it was what it was; corruption by proxy rather than open, traceable corruption.
Another illustration to how SPVs may help Atiku cover his tracks is to look through the Board of Directors of Sub Saharan Press ltd; made up of his friends, giving him plausible deniability in the event of any investigations.
The fact that President Obasanjo is considered to be vexed with Atiku for political reasons does not mean that there is no merit to his corruption allegations against Atiku. He was Atiku’s boss and Atiku did admit to me, via that phone call, that he advised Obasanjo about what kind of corruption they could use to cover their tracks.
Rather than doubt Obasanjo, I think that the man’s hands were tied because he was careless enough to leave evidence that he also benefited, personally, from the corruption and thus, could not pursue his attempts at conviction to its logical conclusion. Do you know how hopelessly painful it is to be in bed with someone who betrayed you mercilessly and be unable to do anything about it?
If anybody knows about Atiku’s corruption, it is Obasanjo. Atiku confirmed this himself!
Finally, I implore you to check out the date of establishment of most of his businesses. How many of them sprung up AFTER 1999 when he became Vice-President and took control of Nigeria’s economy?
Because I know that they will criminally try to eliminate me, I have sworn to an affidavit of facts which will be released later, which is one of the steps I have taken for possible backlash for the series of disclosures I will be making. My lawyers are well briefed and equipped for the mother of all exposures once something happens to me or any member of my family.