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2018 US trip: Atiku, firm at war over $5.9m visa bill payment

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar is enmeshed in a fresh row over alleged non-payment of a $5.9million fees he allegedly hired to secure a visa to visit the United States in 2018.

The firm, Legacy Logistics LLC Limited, alleged that Atiku was yet to pay the princely sum for the visa it claimed to have helped Atiku to secure.

Although the firm alleged that Atiku’s trip was applauded by his teeming supporters, he did not pay for the services rendered.

It alleged that Atiku intentionally refused to honour his part of the service agreement despite repeated demands.

However, Atiku’s legal adviser, Prof. Maxwell Gidado (SAN) , who was named by the firm to be in the know of the agreement, said the company did not procure any visa for the PDP candidate.

He also said no agreement was signed with the company to pay $5.9million for the visa.

According to him, Legacy Logistics LLC Limited outsourced the service to retired Ambassador Kumba in Dallas in the United States, who admitted that what he did was not up to half a million dollar.

He said upon return from his shuttles to the United States in 2018, Atiku paid the aggrieved company some money for its “troubles.”

He said the protest letter was an attempt to “extort money from Atiku.”

After a 13-year break, it was difficult for Atiku to secure entry to the US in 2018.

The development made him to hire some legal firms and lobby groups to be able to get a visa to prove that he was not banned from America.

In spite of the fact that the efforts paid off, the PDP candidate did not claim that a price was allegedly attached to the visa procurement at the time.

But Legacy Logistics LLC Limited has come out openly to admit that it was one of those who made Atiku’s visa processing possible at $5.9million, which it claimed, remains unpaid .

The company has however, indicated its preparedness for a legal battle, unless Atiku fulfills his obligation to it.

It made its position known in a letter, which was dated September 19, 2022, by a legal firm, Jurisperitus Associates.

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The letter was titled: “Demand for payment of the sum of $5,900,000 Legacy Logistics LLC for processing and procurements of United States of American visa on your behalf.”

The excerpts of the letter, originally published by Saharareporters, read in part: “We are solicitors to Legacy Logistics LLC Ltd (hereinafter referred to as our client and on its behalf and instructions) we write you:

 

“Our client briefed us thus:

That you instructed your legal representative Prof. Maxwell Gidado, SAN and your advisor, Dr. Samuel Cornelius to seek the services of our client to process and procure United States of American visa on your behalf.
Consequent upon your instruction, a scope of service agreement was entered into dated 15th October, 2018. The service our client was to provide base on the agreement were specified in the addendum I to the scope of service agreement.
Our client diligently executed the agreement and you were successfully issued the United States of America visa which same was delivered to you.
“You subsequently used the said visa and travelled to the United States of American whereby your teeming supporters and admirers in Nigeria and the world over applauded you.

“Your Excellency sir, you have intentionally refused and neglected to honour your part of the service agreement despite repeated demands from our client.”

When contacted last night, Prof. Maxwell Gidado (SAN) said the firm did not do the job.

But he said the promoters of the aggrieved company were paid for their “troubles” to get Atiku a visa to the United States.

He said the drama about the $5.9m was about an alleged attempt to “extort money” from the PDP presidential candidate.

He said: “No. These people are just trying to extort money from Atiku Abubakar (AA). I agreed that they came in 2018 and wanted to offer their services to assist Atiku Abubakar (AA) procure a visa to America.

“They started and engaged the services of one Ambassador Kumba. And Amb. Kumba did try and got to a particular stage. But due to non-payment of money for the financing, he backed out. They were the one that promised paying the money but they didn’t pay him.

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Samuel and Joseph promised paying Amb. Kumba to procure the visa, also write a book and also do an image of Atiku (a very, very good image of Atiku) in the international community. These were the three things they asked him (Kumba) to do.

“And they promised paying him by creating an escrow account which Kumba will be working with. Amb. But when Kumba started work, these people didn’t put a dime in that account. So, the man stopped work.

“And then another firm continued with the process of getting a visa for Atiku and they got it for him. And even when he went and came back, they came and brought their bill.

“Atiku settled them (Joseph and Samuel). He paid them money for their troubles. And I was a witness when he was paying them this money. And they didn’t give Kumba a dime.

“And this matter was a 2018 case. If you knew you had a matter that involved $5.9million, you will sleep over it in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Haba! Haba! Rubbish.

“To me, they are just trying to extort money. And don’t worry, Amb. Kumba has been contacted. He is going to do a disclaimer and his lawyer is even going to write.

“I did not play any role. They are just dropping my name because I am the Legal Adviser. And we went along with them to the United States where I went and met Amb. Kumba. And that was the complaint Kumba was giving to me.

“As I tell you, no agreement was signed by neither Atiku Abubakar nor me with them for this $5.9million. That is what I want to tell you as a lawyer and a senior Advocate. There was no agreement whatsoever. Ask them to bring any agreement where there was a signature and that agreement says process and procure a visa for AA and we will pay you $5.9million. Signed by AA and signed by them.

“Secondly, let them also prove that they were the ones that procured the visa (they did the visa procurement). They never did it, so it is just a scam. They just want to extort money from Atiku. So, Atiku’s lawyers are going to get at them. “

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‘Responding to a question, Gidado said the petitioners were not the ones that processed the visa.

He added: “No, they were not the ones. First, the law firm and the people that assisted are going to talk. “The law firm is from Washington D.C. They are going to take it up too. In fact, they want to even sue them for passing off.”

“That was when they came to inform AA that they had one Amb. Kumba and as one of the legal advisers, I wanted to go and meet Amb. Kumba to see the veracity or otherwise of what they were doing. That was why they were mentioning my name.

“As far as I am concerned, we never signed any agreement with them, nor was there any written agreement.

“The only thing was that Amb. Kumba was to be given some money for his troubles if he is able to.

“And there is no way the procurement can cost $5.9million. Are you going to give them a new heart, a new head? Even you journalists, if you are writing anything, do some investigation.

“The man (Kumba ) is even claiming $300,000. He said all he did up to the time he stopped this work was $300,000. And he said if Atiku gives him or he doesn’t pay him, he doesn’t give a damn. That was why the matter died like that. Otherwise, Kumba would have taken Atiku to court. He also knows that he didn’t sign any agreement with Atiku.

“Kumba was a retired Ambassador at that time but very influential in the United States. He is based in Dallas.

“They were not to procure the visa. They didn’t get one paper. I want you to quote me, Samuel and Joseph never touched one paper to procure a visa. All they did was to go through Kumba. Kumba was the one that was to do the job. And Kumba is saying what he did was not up to half a million dollar. Where did they get $5.9million claim from?”

When contacted, the spokesman for Atiku campaign organisation, Paul Ibe, said: “They are fraudsters. Their objective is to extort money.”

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BREAKING: Aisha Buhari bows to pressure, withdraws case against Aminu

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Following unrelenting pressure and condemnation by activists, Amnesty International, the National Association of Nigerian Students, and other citizens, First Lady Aisha Buhari, has withdrawn the case against the final year student of the Federal University, Dutse, Aminu Mohammed.

The prosecution counsel Fidelis Ogbobe, withdrew the case on behalf of Mrs Buhari, said the First Lady, being the mother of the nation, decided to withdraw the case, following the intervention of “well-meaning Nigerians.”

Moving a motion for the withdrawal of the case, Ogbobe cited section 108 subsection 2(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

Justice Yusuf Halilu of the FCT High Court commended Mrs Buhari for withdrawing the case.

Halilu, while issuing the release warrant, called on parents to always monitor their children to avoid recurrence

According to a police report, Mr Muhammed was arrested at Federal University Dutse on November 18, 2022, after Mrs Buhari instructed a team of police detectives to track him down.

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The Presidency had earlier barred visitors from visiting inmates at the Suleja Correctional Centre, Niger State, following the arrest of Aminu.

Amnesty International Nigeria had also condemned the arrest and alleged torture of Aminu Muhammed, adding that the 500-level undergraduate of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa must be released and the charges against him, which it described as bogus, be dropped. The PUNCH reports.

Following reports that he has allegedly been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including severe beatings, since being detained, AI said, “The Nigerian authorities must urgently release Aminu Muhammed and drop all charges against him. He is a student accused of defaming Aisha Buhari, the First Lady of Nigeria, on Twitter.”

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 Collection of PVCs commences December 12 – INEC

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Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the independent National Electoral Commission, on Friday, said that citizens who participated in the voters’ registration exercise ahead of the 2023 general elections would be able to collect their Permanent Voters Cards from December 12, 2022.

This was made known in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja.

According to the statement, the Commission met, on Thursday, December 1 2022, and deliberated on a number of issues, including the dates for the collection of Permanent Voters Cards nationwide.

The Commission held a retreat in Lagos with all the Administrative Secretaries and Resident Electoral Commissioners from the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory from November 28 to December 2, 2022. At the retreat, the Commission finalised the procedure as well as the timetable for the collection of PVCs.

The statement which was signed by the commissioner in charge of voters education, Festus Okoye partly reads, “Consequently, the Commission has fixed Monday 12 December 2022 to Sunday 22 January 2023 as the dates for the collection of PVCs in all the 774 Local Government Offices of the Commission throughout the Federation.

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“The Commission also resolved to devolve PVC collection to the 8,809 Registration Areas/Wards from Friday 6th to Sunday 15th January 2023. Those that are unable to collect their PVCs at the Local Government Offices of the Commission can do so at the Registration Areas/Electoral Wards. After the 15th of January 2023, the exercise will revert to the Local Government Offices of the Commission until January 22, 2023.

“All eligible and valid registrants can collect their PVCs from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm daily, including Saturdays and Sundays.

“All the RECs and Electoral Officers have been directed to convene a meeting with the critical stakeholders in their States and Local Government Areas, including traditional and religious leaders, civil society groups, community-based organisations and the media to brief them on the modalities for the collection of the PVCs in order to sensitise the public and ensure seamless exercise.

“Similarly, RECs and EOs have also been directed to set up help desks to assist registrants with complaints about their PVCs or with the PVC collection procedure for immediate redress.

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“The Commission appreciates the patience and understanding of Nigerians, especially those who registered as voters or applied for transfer/replacement of their cards from January to July 2022. In making the cards available for collection, the Commission is also working to ensure that the process is simple and hitch-free for Nigerians.”

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Former President Jonathan accepts ambassadorial role

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has been accepted as Africa’s Agricultural Technology Ambassador by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

Making the announcement after meeting with the former President in Yenagoa, Bayelsa South-south during the week, the AATF Executive Director, Dr Canisius Kanangire, said the appointment was informed by the former President’s track record of championing agricultural transformation on the continent.

AATF, in a statement by its Communications Officer, Alex Abutu, described Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan as a Nigerian politician who served as the President of Nigeria from 2010 to 2015 and had since been at the forefront of agricultural improvement on the continent.

In his acceptance speech, Dr Jonathan said that as a former Head of State, his interest in serving the continent is driven by the interest he has in driving food security and transformation for a better quality of life in Africa.

Kanangire said: “Dr Jonathan’s commitment to uplift agriculture on the continent was exemplified by the Agricultural Transformation Agenda he pursued and diligently implemented in Nigeria during his tenure as President.

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“The agenda targeted increasing efficiency and profitability in about 12 selected key agricultural commodities, which include: cotton, cocoa, cassava, oil palm, maize, soya bean, onion, rice, livestock, fisheries, tomato and sorghum.

“Under the agenda, about 3.5 million new jobs were created based on the selected key products, while many more jobs were created from other value chain activities, with over N300 billion of additional income in the hands of Nigerian farmers and rural entrepreneurs. In addition, over N60 billion (US$380 million) was injected into the economy from the substitution of 20% of bread wheat flour with cassava flour.

“Another critical element of Dr Goodluck’s agricultural legacy as President of Nigeria was his ability to cut down on the importation of food that can be produced locally, thereby, saving the nation well over N1.3 trillion per annum on the importation of foodstuff.

“Dr Jonathan was able to demonstrate in Nigeria that agriculture should be treated as a business and supported by relevant policies for the improvement of the livelihoods of our growing farming population.”

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AATF’s boss further said that Dr Jonathan is a Pan-Africanist who had stood for the eradication of rural poverty and the peaceful coexistence of the continent, hence his involvement in peaceful conflict resolution on the continent.

“As AATF’s Ambassador, Dr Jonathan will advocate for the advancement of Africa’s agricultural goals and economic growth through the application of innovative technologies and enhanced investment in agriculture. AATF is honoured to have the former president as our Ambassador, whose role will accelerate ongoing efforts to improve our agricultural terrain.”

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