Risk life imprisonment
Strong indications have emerged that Governor Abubakar Atiku of Kebbi State is on the wanted list of the government of United Kingdom, that has labelled him a “fugitive” over alleged laundering over $515 million during the administration of late General Sani Abacha.
Certified documents obtained by the Nigerian Pilot Sunday, shows that the All Progressives Congress, APC, Governor Bagudu, has been on the run from the United Kingdom government since 2003 when the government of Jersy, Channel Islands, a vassal state of UK, “duly and legally charged,” him on five-count charge of criminal offences.
In a letter of request for arrest and extradition of Bagudu written by the Jersy Island Attorney General, William Bailhache, on April 11, 2003 to Declan Chandler of Home Office Judicial Co-operation Unit, 50, Queen Anne’s Gate, London, the AG said they believe Bagudu must have relocated to his house at 12819 Elbridge Place Drive, Houston, Texas, United States to evade justice.
Bagudu allegedly opened several bank accounts with Deutsche Morgan Greenfell Bank where funds stolen from Nigeria were lodged, but falsely claimed that the huge funds were proceeds from his legitimate private businesses in oil and trading.
The summary of the five count charge against Bagudu are:
1. Fraud, contrary to the customary law of Jersey, between 9th February, 1998 and 8th May, 1998.
2. Obtaining services by false pretenses, contrary to the customary law of Jersey
3. Two (alternate0 counts of receiving or possessing property obtained illegally abroad, contrary to the customary law of Jersey, between 1st April, 1998 and 31st August, 1998.
4. Fraud, contrary to customary law of Jersey, between 1st November 1998 and 16th December, 1998.
5. Obtaining services by false pretences, contrary to the customary law of Jersy, between November 1, 1998 and December 16, 1998.
Based on this request the British embassy in Washington wrote to the United States Department of State to make formal request with reference number 34/03 dated April 11, 2003 for the extradition of Bagudu to its territory to face trial.
To facilitate Bagudu’s extradition to the UK territory, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on May 7, 2003 issued warrant for his arrest and on May 22, 2003 he was finally nabbed on the streets of Houston, Texas by two officers.
He was consequently detained for about 36 days while a court proceeding was on to facilitate his extradition.
In the Matter of the Extradition of Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, Assistant United States Attorney, Jeanne M. Hauch deposed a “Complaint in support of the provisional arrest and extradition” of Bagudu and described him as a fugitive whose offence carry maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
In the affidavit, the Attorney said, “The fugitive was duly and legally charged with having committed, in the jurisdiction of the Requesting State, the following offences contrary to the common or customary law of Jersey.
1. Two count of fraud, respectively occurring between February 9 and May 8, 1998 and November 1 and 16, 1998, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
2. Two count of obtaining a service by false pretences, respectively occurring between February 9 and May 8, 1998 and November 1 and December 16, 1998, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and
3. Two-count of receiving or possessing property illegally obtained abroad, occurring between April 1 and August 31, 1998, carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The affidavit gave details of how Bagudu facilitated the lodgement of funds allegedly removed from the Nigeria to the foreign accounts.
Another US Assistant Attorney, Noelle Dimarco, also swore a Complaint affidavit where she details of how over $515 was siphoned from Central Bank of Nigeria to the foreign accounts.
Attorney Dimarco also added in the affidavit, “In this matter the fugitive poses a risk of flight if he becomes aware his extradition is sought. He is believed to possess more than one passport and control between $1 and $3 billion, and he is able to travel on short notice. Finally, it is suspected that he could depart the United States for Nigeria in the near future, putting him beyond the reach of Jersey law enforcement officials.”
However, despite the objections of the Attorney, Bagudu was granted bail on the condition that he will be travelling to Nigeria to refund some money to the Nigerian government with a promise to return to the British vassal state for trial.
He got temporary reprieve on November 19, 2003 when his wife, Aisha A Bagudu signed his bail bond of $500, 000 cash.
Part of the bail conditions was that he would present himself to the appropriate Nigerian authorities within 14 days of his release, while Jersey, through the United Kingdom, would refer its charges and documentations to Nigeria.
On his return to Nigeria, Bagudu actually refunded to the Central Bank of Nigeria through the office of the National Security Adviser the sum of $604, 743, 187.19, £60, 090, 984. 93 and additional £5.25 million. The then CBN Director of Foreign Operations, Mr. M. R Rasheed, acknowledged the refunds in a letter to Bagudu routed through the NSA.
However, the governor has stayed away from Jersey, Channel Island, where his case is still pending.
Efforts to reach the media aide to the governor for his reaction failed, as he could not be reached on phone.