Details of a lawsuit filed by Chibudom Nwuche, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, has opened a window into the various ways Nigerian lawmakers extort monies from ministries, departments and agencies of the Nigerian government. Mr. Nwuche’s lawsuit seeks to recoup a questionable payment from the office of the Presidential Amnesty Program. The program was established to help provide education, training and employment for erstwhile militants in the Niger Delta.
The lawsuit reveals that, in 2012 and 2013, Mr. Nwuche’s company, Foundation for Youth Development (FYD), received a N4 billion contract from the Amnesty office run by Kingsley Kuku. The purported purpose of the contract was for the former deputy Speaker’s firm to provide “offshore training” for Niger Delta youths in construction, information technology and welding. The training was meant to take place in Vietnam, Malaysia and at the World Maritime University in Sweden.
However, shortly after Mr. Nwuche received the paperwork for the contract, he told the Amnesty program that he needed an additional N1 billion to bribe then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and other leaders of the House. He argued that the extra funds were needed to enable him to convince the legislators to pass the hugely inflated budget of the Presidential Amnesty Program. With backing from then First Lady Patience Jonathan, Mr. Nwuche’s request was approved. The Federal Amnesty Office was then asked to pay 50% of the contract sum to Mr. Nwuche’s firm.
However, once he received 50% of the contract sum as “mobilization fee,” Mr. Nwuche absconded. He never implemented any training of the ex-militants for which he was paid billions of naira.
In July 2016, agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arrested Mr. Nwuche for allegedly laundering money for Mr. Kuku who is currently on the lam in the United States. Unable to refund the funds he illegally took from the Presidential Amnesty Office, Mr. Nwuche filed a lawsuit (No. FCT/HC/CV/2609/16) on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja claiming that he advanced a loan to the Presidential Amnesty Office. His lawsuit claims that the alleged loan represents the other half of the contract sum.
Mr. Kuku has hired a lawyer to represent him in the lawsuit, and he vehemently denies that the Amnesty Office ever borrowed money from Mr. Nwuche either in an official or personal capacity.
Mr. Tambuwal, who is currently the governor of Sokoto State, carried out Mr. Nwuche’s wish by passing the inflated budget of the Presidential Amnesty Office in the years Mr. Nwuche handled the fraudulent contract at the agency responsible for resettling restless Niger Delta ex-militants.
EFCC sources said the amnesty program became a slush fund for lackeys of former President Goodluck Jonathan and his wife. Some hitherto hidden monies traced to Mrs. Jonathan were reportedly kickbacks she received from some of the contractors she helped secure contracts from the Amnesty office.
SaharaReporters contacted a spokesman to Governor Tambuwal who promised to respond to our questions regarding the former Speaker’s involvement in the scam but did not get back to SaharaReporters as at the time of going to press.