WIFE of the Nigerian President, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, had indicated that the reason for her visit was to hold discussions with aid organizations on how to help the women and children facing starvation in the north eastern part of Nigeria, but critics differ accusing the First Lady of lavishing millions of Dollars to paint the wrong image of her past deeds, International Guardian reported.
While the allies of Nigerian ruling party and government celebrate the First Lady, Aisha Buhari’s visit to the United States, sources of the State Department reveals otherwise. “Her visit is neither a guilty verdict nor a proof of innocence. We don’t just arrest persons without a course, and that course has a process. The simple fact is that her case is open, and she has not yet been indicted for specific reasons, so she’s entitled to visit,” a top official of the States Department stated.
It may be recalled that after the documents implicating Mrs. Buhari in a money-laundering case involving a former United States congressman, William J. Jefferson was revealed, Buhari’s regime allegedly instigated a media campaign claiming it was a different Aisha Buhari that was mentioned in the case. The regime further intensified its determination to shield the First Lady’s involvement after it was learnt the United States Department of Justice had reopened the case.
Mrs. Buhar’s possible indictment in the scam was hindered in July 21, 2008 after a district judge in Virginia declined to request the U.S. government to invoke a treaty with Nigeria to make specific individuals involved in the case available to testify. It may be recalled that a former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar and the wife, Jennifer Douglas Abubakar, who were involved with Rep. Jefferson were accused of scheming to bribe, and were subpoenaed by a federal court in Virginia. A district judge however, declined to request the U.S. government to invoke an accord with Nigeria to facilitate the process.
The William Jefferson’s scandal resurfaced in bold news headlines, after the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, reiterated Mrs. Buhari’s involvement in the scam, daring her to visit the United States. The Governor’s challenge ignited a renewed panic in Buhari’s regime over a possible indictment and arrest, prompting the First Lady to cancel her scheduled trip to Colorado for the World First Ladies’ Conference.
International Guardian reliably gathered that Buhari’s regime collaborated with a team of paid lobbyists in Washington D.C. to ascertain the current status of the case before Mrs. Buhari’s could travel to the U.S. An anonymous government source alleged that more than a million dollars was spent on lobbyists, media campaign, and to various event organizers who facilitated multiple photo-taking events for the First Lady. The campaign was obvious. For example, a caption that accompanied a series of photos emailed to our newsroom, read; “Please help us circulate these photos in your highly valued media – we want to put Governor Fayose to shame.”
Mrs. Buhari had indicated that the reason for her visit was to hold discussions with aid organizations on how to help the women and children facing starvation in the north eastern part of Nigeria, but critics differ accusing the First Lady of lavishing millions of Dollars to paint the wrong image of her past deeds.
“It’s a challenge to the Buhari regime, and they felt they needed this trip to save face, and they spent quite a lot to get here,” said an anonymous guest who witnessed the First Lady as she was received by a cheering group of Government loyalists on her arrival. In sheer condemnation, Nancy Bolton, an Austin TX – based humanitarian consultant familiar with West African issues described Mrs. Buhari’s visit as a “staged-show put out at a very wrong time”. “With nearly quarter of a million children severely malnourished in Nigeria’s Borno state, spending millions to clean her image in a case clearly in the public domain does not make sense,” Bolton said.
Late July, International Guardian reported how diplomatic options of Aisha’s case is being explored and resolved before she could visit the United States. The regime, it was gathered engaged pricey government lobbyists and legal advisors to explore Aisha’s foreign immunity options under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). FSIA –defines the jurisdiction of United States courts in suits against foreign states – where a foreign state generally is immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of another sovereign state.
The Buhari’s regime did not officially addressed this matter, but Mrs. Buhari had skipped previous U.S. invitations for allegedly fear of arrest. For instance, in August 2015, Mrs. Buhari was scheduled to lead four other First Ladies; from Ghana, Mozambique, Gambia and Rwanda to Houston for a conference about African women in leadership positions but did not show up.
Investigations of Mrs. Buhari’s suspected money laundering case was purportedly reopened after President Buhari in his first visit to the United States solicited assistance in prosecuting cases involving Nigerian public officers. In July 2015, The United States said it would assist Nigeria in locating and returning funds stolen by corrupt government officials. United States also donated technology equipment to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to enable the anti-corruption agency enhance its fight against crime.
Buhari’s regime however backtracked after it was discovered that core members of his administration, allies, past Nigeria leaders, and possibly his own wife could be indicted if the United States proceeded. Documents from the United States Justice Department, it may be recalled, revealed that Aisha Buhari, was used as conduit and engaged in fraudulent wire transfers from her Nigerian account in favor of Congressman Jefferson via the ANJ Group LLC.
Jefferson’s case was made famous by the $90,000 in what prosecutors said was bribe money that the FBI found stuffed into his freezer, and a legal battle over the raid of his Washington office. He was convicted in August 2009 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria of 11 counts that included bribery, racketeering and money laundering. Jurors acquitted Jefferson of five counts.