Aondoakaa Wrote Election Judgement after Yar'Adua Offered $57m Bribe - Wikileaks
Revelation of held secrets have continued to astound Nigerians as whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks.com, has quoted a United States diplomatic cable as saying that former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa (and not the justices), in fact, drafted the judgment which upheld the 2007 presidential election at the Presidential Election tribunal.
The cable quoted a former member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Isyaku Ibrahim, as the source of the information, adding that Ibrahim also said the role played by Aondoakaa was allowed ostensibly because late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua ordered the Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to divert $57 million to bribe the five justices of the Presidential Election Tribunal to uphold his April 2007 election. Ibrahim claimed that, as at February 18, 2008 three of the panel’s justices were privately signalling an intention to overturn Yar'Adua's election.
According to the cable, Ibrahim also asserted that the then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Idris Kutigi, told him on February 29, 2008 that the apex court would rule to overturn Yar'Adua's election since it regarded the election as massively rigged and the Tribunal's judgment “embarrassing and pathetic”. Ibrahim stated that the constitution might be interpreted to suggest that the Senate President would take over as interim president for a period of no more than 90 days. He told a US official that the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Action Congress (AC) had signalled privately that they would not support this reading of the constitution, particularly if former President Olusegun Obasanjo-loyalist and then Senate President David Mark's election was upheld at the Court of Appeal.
Ibrahim described the March 8, 2008 PDP convention as a battle of wits between Obasanjo and Yar'Adua, to determine who would emerge as having greater influence within the PDP. “Should Obasanjo's choice, Sam Egwu, emerge the PDP National Chair,” Ibrahim argued, it would indicate not only that the PDP remains firmly within Obasanjo's grip, but also that Yar'Adua is a "nobody" within the party, the cable said in an introductory paragraph to the document classified “SECRET//NOFORN”, originating from Abuja. The secret document, which was cleared by former US ambassador, Dr. Renee Sanders, said Ibrahim believed Yar'Adua might possibly choose former Senate President Pius Anyim for National Chair.
“Ibrahim said Yar'Adua has authorised the disbursement of $3 million to be dispatched across Nigeria's six geopolitical zones to forestall the possibility of Egwu emerging the victor. Ibrahim also told PolOff that Yar'Adua had met with PDP governors on March 3, 2008 and would again meet with them March 7, 2008 to pressure them to vote against Egwu,” the cable added. It quoted Ibrahim as describing Yar'Adua as a "ruthless, cunning" individual who has done nothing for the Nigerian people since he took office last May.
It went on: “While Ibrahim's antipathy for Obasanjo is well-known, he averred that Yar’Adua was even more "dangerous" and "corrupt" than Obasanjo, and suggested that First Lady Turai Yar’Adua, possibly at the behest of President Yar’Adua, controlled access to the president and used it to engage in illicit monetary enrichment.” Moreover, the secret file revealed that Ibrahim confided to a US official in a discussion in Paris that he advised former Head of State Ibrahim Babangida to remain outside Nigeria and not attempt a political comeback since he lacked any significant support base either within the PDP or the military.
An additional note attached to the cable stated that a US official witnessed on February 26, 2008 at the Presidential Election Tribunal that both former Attorney General Aondoakaa and Justice Ogebe's son Emmanuel Ogebe walked to chambers to meet with the justices.
The notation observed that under the law, however, justices must be sequestered during deliberation and especially prior to delivering a judgment. A Reuters foreign correspondent resident in Abuja was also quoted by the cable as having told a US official that a source inside the Villa had read the judgment verbatim to the correspondent February 25, 2008 a day before the actual ruling was delivered.
Also, Muhammad Abba, a political adviser to the presidential candidate of the ANPP, General Muhammadu Buhari, told a US official on February 28, 2008 that the General had received information from contacts within the Villa on February 24 that the Tribunal would uphold the election.