09.02.2010 Nigeria

IBB Shuns mourning of dead wife, Plans to Commission his Hotel in Abuja

09.02.2010 LISTEN

Nigeria's former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, widely addressed as IBB is now out of the mourning mood of his late wife, Maryam, but now a proud owner of a 5-star hotel in the nation's capital city of Abuja. Sources in the know informed that the name of the hospitality haven is Hawthorn Suites. It is located in Area II, Garki Abuja. investigations revealed that the soon-to-be commissioned structure is sitting on a large expanse of land. Those who have visited the site have described it as a beauty to behold. The mouth watery hotel was said to be 105-room hotel, with beautiful bars and a restaurant, the multi-million naira project is stone throw from one of the houses hitherto owned by the disgraced former Inspector-General of police, Mr. Tafa Balogun. Fixtures and fittings inside the structure are both lovely and sophisticated. Report also has it that most of the accessories were shipped into Nigeria from Europe and United States of America.

Moreover information filtering in also has it that the Minna, Niger state born former military dictator and the management of the yet-to-operational hospitality centre had initially picked February 13, 2010, for the commissioning. But the opening ceremony has been shifted, following the death of Maryam, the fashionable wife of the ex-military ruler. But that notwithstanding, informed sources disclosed that the management team representing the interest of Babangida in the new business is already done with the issue of recruitment. General Babangida (rtd) was the head of the military administration that ruled the country for 8 unproductive years, where corruption and high profile stealing became a common place both in the private and public sector. His reign was between 1985 and 1993, married to Maryam, who died on Sunday, December 27, 2009 following a protracted battle with ovarian cancer in a hospital in Los Angeles, United States of America, left behind: Aisa, Mohammed, Aminu and Halima.

It would be recalled that IBB was among those Nigerians whose names were contained in the indelible corruption list. Corruption is not just limited to Babangida alone, investigative checks showed that Mohammed and Aminu, Babangida's sons, own Fruitex International, London, an oil exploration company. It was registered, with number 4216189, to number 53 Marlborough Hill, Flat 4, London, NW8 0NG. The house is owned by Beaumont Group Limited, care of Ashley Wilson, Solicitors, 19-21 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1W 0BD. Fruitex, owns a rich oil block, “Block M” in Equatorial Guinea which is worth $8.2 billion. Registered in May 2001 with share capital of £400,000, Fruitex started with two directors, Mohammed Babangida and Susan Scott. In 2005, the directors increased to three: Mohammed, 34 years old; Scott, a British citizen and company secretary and Aminu Babangida.Back here in Nigeria Mohammed Babangida (IBB;s eldest son) was arrested 11 August 2006 by agents of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) under the leadership of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu over his alleged ownership of 24 per cent shares in Globacom, owned by Mike Adenuga, one of IBB's friends and beneficiaries. Mohammed's release was secured by General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, a former Intelligence Chief under IBB and, until recently, President Olusegun Obasanjo's National Security Adviser.

The arrest of Mohammed is in line with EFCC's plan to prevent corrupt individuals from contesting election in 2007. Records of event have it that Ribadu vowed at a lecture organized by the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC), in Lagos recently that the commission would expose all highly placed individuals who had looted the public treasury. “Over $400 billion oil money has been stolen by bad leaders. We are going to trace the activities of past and present leaders and publish the names of those leaders who have laundered money, their accounts, and the names of the banks where the money is being kept. We will also close the account of those politicians who have laundered money and converted it for their political ambitions. This will stop bad people from coming into power.”Ribadu argued: “We can understand that people are not used to the fact that just as small businesses are investigated, big ones can also be investigated. We are guided by the principle of equity before the law and we also know that it would take a while before everyone believes that. One thing Nigerians must concede to us is that in the course of our investigation, nobody has ever accused EFCC of assault.” On 9 July, 2006, EFCC operatives had arrested Adenuga over the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF) accounts, after storming Adenuga's home on Oko-Awo in Victoria Island.

Babangida has another case dangling over his head. The Sunday 19 October 1986 gruesome bombing of Dele Giwa at his Talabi Street, Ikeja, Lagos residence; this remains the most celebrated, yet unsolved murder in the history of Nigeria. Giwa, then 39, was the editor-in-chief of Newswatch magazine. For the last 20 years, the Giwa murder has remained a mystery, defying all efforts by security agencies to get to the root of the matter. But over the years, tongues have been wagging, insinuations and innuendos have been made. However, the names of the former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida and two ex-security chiefs – Brigadier-General Halilu Akilu, former Director of Military Intelligence and Colonel A.K. Togun of the State Security Service – constantly take the frontline as those behind the murder. In the last two decades, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, renowned human rights activist and counsel to the deceased, until his death late last year embarked on a solo crusade to prosecute the trio for Giwa's murder. At the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission, HRVIC popularly referred to as the Oputa Panel, the fiery Lagos lawyer led a record number of lawyers, alongside Giwa's mother, in evidence, to press for the prosecution of the former head of state.

Moreover, Babangida will also have the Gulf War oil windfall allegation to grapple with. In October 1994, Pius Okigbo, an economist, chaired a panel set up by the late dictator, Sani Abacha, to reorganize the Central Bank of Nigeria. Okigbo revealed that $12.2 billion of the $12.4 billion that Nigeria realized from the sale of excess crude oil was wasted by the IBB regime. As Okigbo revealed, only $206 million was left and this was spent “on what could neither be adjudged genuine projects or truly regenerative investments.” A catalogue of the wasteful projects: the Nigerian High Commission in London was allocated $18.2 million; the one in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, $14.999 million; Iran $2.76 million; Niger Republic, $3.8 million; Pakistan, $3.8 million; Israel $13.67 million; Liberia, $1 million and Ghana, $0.5 million. IBB and his wife spent $9.94 million on frivolous trips and he wasted $23.98 million on Dodan Barracks and Aso Rock. Nigeria's Journey to Nationhood, a documentary, swallowed $2.92 million.

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