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Monday, 23 September 2013

$25,000 bribery scandal: How the plot was funded

Senator Joy Emordi

*** Hotel where the money was shared
*** Real reason why Emordi was fired
The large amount of cash allegedly used to bribe members of the National Assembly, in a bid to effect the leadership change of the Senate and House of Representatives, was reportedly provided by a senior cabinet member of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
National Mirror also exclusively gathered that the alleged bribe payments were not limited to the House of Representatives as several senators benefitted from the largesse.
It was reliably learnt that the minister, who was once an elected public officer from the North, provided more than N500m to execute the plot along with a senior presidential aide.
A source close to the Presidency told our correspondent that the northern minister holds one of the most sensitive ministries and he is a kitchen cabinet member of the Jonathan administration.
The discovery of the plot allegedly pushed the sacked Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters, Senator Joy Emordi, to confront the minister at the Presidential Villa last week, where the duo were involved in a shouting match.
Emordi was said to have complained bitterly about her not being intimated with the details of the plot.
She also felt bad with the decision to resort to financial inducement of the lawmakers at this material time, saying the action would be misconstrued.
It was learnt that the lawmakers collected the money at Bolingo Hotel in Abuja. Each of the lawmakers was made to sign for the money.
The money was used to get signatures for two purposes: To know those on the side of Bamanga Tukur and President Jonathan in the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and ultimately to checkmate the National Assembly leadership.
It was learnt that the Senate is also a beneficiary of the Presidency largesse.
Sources said the largesse is believed to be an inducement to effect the change of leadership of both houses. But a source close to the Presidency said the money was just to empower the lawmakers.
A source in the Presidency told National Mirror that several senators loyal to President Goodluck Jonathan were also given the money.
The largesse was to be distributed among pro- Jonathan lawmakers in the sum of $100,000 (N16 million) but members of the House of Representatives were short-changed and given $25,000 (N4 million) per lawmaker.
Senators were to benefit in the sum of about $150,000 (N24 million).
National Mirror learnt that one of the most senior presidential aides was saddled with the responsibility of mobilising the lawmakers and sharing the largesse.
The money was allegedly channelled to the senators through a member of the Senate very close to the President.
Lawmakers loyal to the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, have since cried out that the money was meant to facilitate the impeachment of the House leadership.
The spokesman of the House, Hon. Zakari Muhammed, told National Mirror that whatever the motive of the inducement, impeaching the House leadership can’t work.
He said: “We heard about the sharing of the money. I can’t confirm or deny it. What it is intended for I don’t know because I was not part of it. If it is for impeachment, it can’t work.
“Of course you need a simple majority to elect a Speaker while you need two-thirds majority to remove the Speaker. And twothirds of the 360 members, meaning that 240 lawmakers are required to effect a change. No party has the required number. So you need the understanding of all the parties to be involved in the process.”
A source in the Presidency confirmed that the money was given to the members of the House of Representatives by the Presidency. The information only leaked when the lawmakers realised that they have been shortchanged.
“The money is $100,000 per member of the House while the senators get higher. But the lawmakers were short-changed by those saddled with the responsibility of sharing the money.
“While it is true that money was passed on from the Presidency to the lawmakers, the money was not meant to effect the change of leadership. You can see that it is only the House members that are talking about the largesse, the senators got theirs too.
“It is because of the perceived animosity between the Presidency and Tambuwal, that is why it is being seen as an inducement for impeachment. Why is it that there is no noise about it in the Senate?”
When asked about the motive of the money, the presidential aide said: “You know the lawmakers have been complaining that they are not being taking care of by the Presidency. So, it is just to empower those who are considered to be loyal to the Goodluck Jonathan administration. There is nothing attached to it.”
When National Mirror asked why the money was not channelled to the leadership of both chambers if there were no strings attached, the source said: “Don’t forget that this is not the first time the Presidency will be empowering the lawmakers. There was a time N4bn was given to the lawmakers to be shared. But some of the lawmakers came back to complain that the money was shared by the leadership and some lawmakers. They complained bitterly that they didn’t partake in the sharing of the money. So, that is why the money was shared to the lawmakers direct from the Presidency.”
It was learnt that the President felt embarrassed with the leak of the largesse and was enraged with the mishandling of the entire process.
The source said that there is internal mechanism already put in place to deal with the situation and those found culpable in short-changing the law-makers and mishandling the “assignment” will be dealt with internally.
According to the source said: “Don’t forget that the Presidency cannot admit giving the money. Any admittance will rubbish the administration and its antigraft war. So, the Presidency is not talking and will never admit giving such money to selected lawmakers. What will be the justification?”
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that the former Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters, Emordi, was sacked by the Presidency because of her failure to garner support among the federal lawmakers for the impeachment of the principal officers of the Senate and House of Representatives.
National Mirror gathered that reports by some members of the kitchen cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan that Emordi lacked the political clout to effectively represent and protect the interest of the Presidency in the National Assembly ahead of 2015 presidential election cost her the plum job.
It was learnt that President Goodluck Jonathan and his cronies in the Presidency were disturbed that Emordi, a former senator, could not pull through the impeachment of the principal officers of the National Assembly, especially the Senate President, Senator David Mark and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, despite enough resources deployed for the assignment.
Findings by National Mirror revealed that the Presidency was bothered that Emordi could not secure the mandatory twothirds majority support of the federal legislators to ease out Mark, Tambuwal and other principal officers of the National Assembly considered to be opposed to the Presidency and factional Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Emordi was relieved of her appointment on Friday in company with the Special Adviser on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Dr. Tunji Olagunju.
Emordi was fired amidst controversy that the Presidency was plotting the impeachment of Mark, Tambuwal and other leaders of the National Assembly due to perceived disloyalty to the seat of power in Abuja.
The impeachment moves were further reinforced by last week’s visit of the leaders of the New PDP, led by its Chairman, Mr. Abubakar Baraje and seven dissenting governors to the National Assembly.
It was gathered that the Presidency was upset that the leaders of the National Assembly hosted the dissenting faction of the ruling party and the ex-presidential adviser was said to have been reprimanded for her inability to abort the visit.
A principal officer of the National Assembly told National Mirror yesterday that the Presidency was initially interested in the removal of only Tambuwal. He said Mark was added in the aftermath of the visit of the rebellious faction of the ruling party to the two chambers of the National Assembly.
One of the lawmakers, a member of the House of Representatives, said the Presidency considered Emordi as “being politically inconsequential to face the challenges in the National Assembly ahead of the 2105 elections” following the failure of the impeachment moves.
The source said, “The sack of Senator Emordi was imperative when the Presidency was convinced that she lacked the political clout to secure the twothirds majority of the federal lawmakers to remove the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives despite huge resources set aside by the Presidency for the assignment.
“The inability of the drivers of the impeachment moves to secure the two-thirds majority of the lawmakers led to temporary suspension of the action but the Presidency was disturbed that Senator Emordi could not effectively represent and protect its interest in the National Assembly.
“It was clear that removal of Senator Emordi was imminent when the National Assembly played host to the faction of the PDP led by Mr. Abubakar Baraje and the failure of the moves to impeach the leaders of the National Assembly. It is clear from the sack of Emordi that the Presidency is becoming very desperate on a daily basis and nobody knows who the next victim will be,” added the source, who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned in print.


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