Home news Awujale Reveals How Obasanjo Tried To Use Globacom Boss To Implicate Atiku,...

Awujale Reveals How Obasanjo Tried To Use Globacom Boss To Implicate Atiku, IBB

L-R: Abubakar Atiku, Ex president Olusegun Obasanjo and Otunba Mike Adenuga
The EFCC in Lagos had come calling brusquely on Mike Adenuga
(Jnr), Chairman Globacom on 9 July 2006. They broke his gate, swarmed into his
house and kept him under ‘arrest’. When I heard about the arrest, I called the
legal firms, of Ayanlaja SAN & Adesanya SAN as well as Professor Biodun
Adesanya SAN to take up the matter and secure Mike’s release. They swung into
action and gave indication that they would take the matter to court.
By evening, it was no longer necessary to go to court as
Mike, following his statement to EFCC, had been released with instructions to
report regularly to the EFCC headquarters in Abuja. Mike proceeded to Abuja,
accompanied by his lawyer, Prof. Biodun Adesanya SAN. Indirectly related to
this case, the EFCC had quizzed and released Mohammed Babangida, Ibrahim
Babangida’s son. The EFCC purportedly were on the trail of some money belonging
to the Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF), but there was really more
beneath the veneer.
While Mike was in Abuja, he was counseled to see Obasanjo to
extricate himself. For four days, he made attempts to see Obasanjo but was
unsuccessful. After a few days in Abuja with no case pressed against him by
EFCC, he returned to Lagos. Not long afterward, and in the heat of this mess,
Obasanjo did two things that puzzled me. He called Mike to meet him at a social
event in Lagos –Engr. Olapade’s birthday celebration. Mike and Obasanjo were
both captured by press photographers in the newspapers at the event. Following
the celebration, Obasanjo asked Mike to accompany him to Ota. It was in Ota
that he solicited for the construction of the Administration Block of his
university, Bells University in Ota. Mike agreed, and Carchez Turnkey Projects
Ltd handled the project for him. It appeared the whole matter, the EFCC hunt,
simmered and Mike continued about his business. On a trip to Ghana, he ran
through his Nigerian daily newspapers and discovered that the situation was
unfolding in a more revealing version. The EFCC had arrested Mohammed
Babangida. Mike read between the lines and proceeded to the UK on exile. When I
visited the UK, Mike came to see me and wanted me to facilitate a meeting with
Obasanjo so that he could present his side of the case. The allegations against
him were as follows:
a. That Abubakar Atiku, the Vice-President, gave Mike Adenuga
money from the Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) which were invested
in Mike’s bank, Equatorial Trust Bank (ETB), and that the funds were used in
paying for the Globacom license.
b. That as a result of the connection in (a) Atiku was a
major shareholder in Globacom. And Atiku used his clout to ensure that PTDF
money got into ETB.
c. That General Ibrahim Babangida, the former Head of State,
was also a major shareholder in Globacom.
Former head of states, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida

It was not enough for Mike to merely present his case to
EFCC, for it seemed the EFCC was under some remote control. The Presidency was
after Atiku. Atiku at some point was the Chairman of the PTDF; an attempt was
being made to indict him for alleged illegal and unauthorized channeling of
PTDF money into Globacom. All sorts of rumors were flying around, and the
Presidency wanted to pin down the case against Atiku. If Ibrahim Babangida also
fell into the trap, so much the better.
A wide opening presented itself, and EFCC seized it.
G.Subair is Mike’s second cousin. His father died young, and
he grew up, just as I did in my early life, living with Mike’s mother. He
worked for Mike and was seconded, amongst other things, to open the Kaduna
office for Globacom. In need of accommodation or office space, he leased, on
behalf of Globacom, a house, at 2-3 Dawaki Road in Kaduna belonging to Mohammed
Badamasi Babangida and used that address in official correspondence and
memoranda. Mohammed is the first son of President Ibrahim Babangida. This was
Babangida connection to which EFCC hung on when they were rummaging through
Globacom documents. This was, according to them, irrefutable evidence that
Babangida was a major shareholder in Globacom and that his son, Mohammed
Babangida, or G.Subair or Mike was fronting for Babangida in this venture.
Mike told me how he had raised money through the BNP Paribas
Bank in France and how he paid to New York for the Globacom licensing fees. All
the money involved could be traced with supporting documents to France and New
York in the form of a huge loan. The Bank BNP Paribas on its part had a letter
stating clearly their involvement in the transaction and Mike wanted to present
this among other documents to President Obasanjo. I called Obasanjo and relayed
the facts as I had them from Mike to him. I requested for his fax number so
that I could fax Mike’s letter explaining all the transactions and the Bank of
Paribas letter to him. As soon as he gave me the fax number, I faxed the
documents to him. Still, Obasanjo was not satisfied. It seemed that it was all
a ruse because they were really after Atiku and Babangida and wanted Mike to
implicate them. Mike refused to cooperate. If he were not going to cooperate,
they thought, harassment would do it. On 19 August 2006, I made a statement to
the press asking Obasanjo to caution Nuhu Ribadu, the head of the EFCC, about
his mode of operations. I denounced the harassment of citizens by EFCC and
urged them to go to court if they had anything concrete against anyone.
While Mike was in exile, we shared a moment of relaxation
together. We took a holiday together in the south of France with some members
of our families. I had with me my wife Olori Kemi, my daughter, Ronke and Oba
Adekoya, the Dagburewe of Idowa. Mike came along with his two daughters and his
While on this holiday, the President of France, Jacques
Chirac, was going to be holding a conference with African Heads of State in
Nice. Coincidentally, we got to know that Obasanjo was booked to stay in the
same hotel where we were staying. Later, we learned he had changed his mind and
would not be attending the conference. Then not long afterward, we were told he
had decided to attend after all. By the time he finally decided to attend, all
the rooms in the hotel were fully booked, and he was now booked into another,
Embassy Hotel, which was a stone’s throw from when we were. I got to know that
he would check in at 8.00am on the day of the conference. At 8.330am, I went to
his hotel and took Mike along with me. From the reception, I spoke to him on
the phone. When he asked from where I was speaking, I told him I was downstairs
in the lobby of his hotel! He said he would send someone down immediately to
lead me up to his suite, and he did so. I left Mike behind in the hotel lobby.
When I got to his suite, there were already a number of people in the corridor,
in his living room and the dining room waiting to see him. His ADC took me straight
to see him in his bedroom. I had hardly settled down when he started talking to
me about his deputy, Abubakar Atiku. He was at daggers drawn with Atiku. When
he exhausted all he had to say about Atiku, he jumped on Theophilus Danjuma,
his estranged friend. They fell out after Danjuma had served him as Minister of
Defence. I sat there just listening. He needed to get a lot off his chest. He
told me how would leave the Chirac conference immediately after the opening
because he wanted to attend a PDP campaign in Gombe at 5.00pm that same day. He
was a lead campaigner for the PDP and Umaru Yar’adua for President.
He reeled off a number of events where he was going to be
engaged in the coming months, including the opening of the Obajana Cement
Factory. Wait a minute! Something struck me at the mention of Obajana Cement
Factory.I told him that I had heard that he and Aliko Dangote jointly owned the
cement factory. I told him that I heard Dangote was fronting for him in the
venture. His reply was to query whether I believed what I heard. I countered by
saying whether I believed it or not was irrelevant to the question that I had
asked him. He said nothing further on this. Before we left his room, I pointed
out to him that now that he was approaching the end of his term in office,
there were some people to whom he owed apologies: Chief S.O. Bakare
(Oluwalogbon) was one. Chief Bakare gave everything to support Obasanjo when he
was down. In spite of Obasanjo’s condemnation by the populace, Bakare still
stood by him. I had forewarned Bakare that Obasanjo would eventually dump him.
Notwithstanding, he stood by Obasanjo. In the end Obasanjo walked away. A few
months in office they separated as friends.
I told Obasanjo that Mike Adenuga was in Cannes and that I
had brought him with me. He was waiting in the foyer downstairs. I told him
that the reason I brought Mike along was that it was not unlikely that Obasanjo
would hear that Mike was in Cannes while he was in town and would deem it
discourteous if Mike did not show up to pay his respect. Now that I had told
him, that Mike was downstairs, it was now up to him, if he wanted to see Mike,
to send someone to bring him up. Obasanjo objected to Mike coming to see him in
his suite. Instead, he said he would see Mike downstairs on his way to the
conference. At this point, I volunteered to go downstairs and wait with Mike.
Obasanjo again objected, insisting that he and I should go down together. Soon
after, his ADC came into the room to remind him about the time. He went into
his bathroom, got ready, and we went to the lift with his Foreign Minister.
When we got down, Mike came forward to greet him. ‘I have
nothing against you, it is a matter of principle’ Obasanjo told Mike. Mike, in
turn, said, ‘Your Excellency, I understand. Thank you.’ That was all the
exchange they had.
When Obasanjo left office in 2007, we met at the 90th
birthday ceremony for Chief T.O.S Benson in Lagos on 23 July 2007. As a matter
of fact, we sat side by side. In the course of our conversation, I told him I
was going to be in Abeokuta the following day. He said he would be in Ota when
I was there, but that he would specifically come to Abeokuta to host me for
lunch. He kept his word. So much so that he called me on the phone when lunch
was ready! I assured him that I would not miss lunch and I would be with him as
soon as I was through with my meeting.
I went as promised for lunch with Oba Adekoya, the Dagburewa
of Idowa. When we got there, Obasanjo also had Alhaji Ola Yusuf from Owu,
Abeokuta, who had come to see him and he too joined us for lunch. We were four
at the table. It was sumptuous lunch, and I had never been treated to anything
like it in our long relationship.
Mike Adenuga was still in exile abroad, and Obasanjo steered
the lunch talk in his direction. He asked me to ask my son meaning Mike
Adenuga, to return home. I requested that he should leave the matter until
after lunch and it would be tackled on a one-to-one basis between us. He
After lunch, we went into his private sitting room. I
declared that what Nuhu Ribadu, Chairman of EFCC, was doing in respect of Mike
Adenuga was wrong and he was doing it at Obasanjo’s behest. I told him that I
refrained from interfering because I wanted to see how the law would pan out on
the issue. The kernel of the matter really, as I told him, was his disagreement
with Abubakar Atiku, his deputy, and they had taken the matter almost life-and
–death level. Mike Adenuga was a pawn in the crisis, and he should be given the
right to defend himself.
I reminded Obasanjo that he was no longer in office and he
should back off in his pursuit of Mike. I went further to let him know that if
Nuhu Ribadu did not desist from molesting Mike, I would go into the ring with
them. Here I made clear that I would take him and Ribadu to unnecessarily and
unjustifiably pursue Mike. Obasanjo promised to see Ribadu and to ask him to
back off. He further promised to give me feedback on this.
When I did not get his feedback, I called him a number of
times, but the phone would ring and not be answered. Eventually, I called his
aide, Bodunde Adeyanju, who on picking my call passed the phone to Obasanjo to
speak to me. Obasanjo told me Ribadu was out of the country and he would get
back again to me on Ribadu’s return. I told Obasanjo how difficult it had been
to reach him on the phone. I offered a solution. I would ask Mike to send him a
phone which he would give his aide, Bodunde, as an intermediary. This way, all
I had to do was call that number, and Bodunde would pass it to him if he wanted
to speak to me. He agreed, and Mike sent the phone down the next day. But
still, Obasanjo did not come back to me on the issue.
Mike remained in exile in London, and nothing much was heard
again or raised by the EFCC about him. Later in 2007, I called Mike in London
and told him I wanted to know why he had refused to return home. Since he had
no skeleton in his cupboard, then he should return home. I explained to him
that the purpose of the wealth with which he had been divinely endowed was to
care for his needs, and his interests. It was also for use to defend his honor
and integrity. For these reasons, I urged him to return home.
Thereafter, Mike returned home. Nobody touched him, and no
institution has prosecuted him because there was no genuine reason from the
onset for anybody to touch him. However, the construction project at Bells
University slowed considerably while Mike was in exile and a few solicitous
calls from Obasanjo to Mike while he was in exile did not change the pace of
work. On his return from exile, the school Bells University had the temerity to
write to him seeking for a meeting to discuss the continuation of the project.
When I got to know, I offered to be in attendance at the meeting and sent word
round that I would be in attendance. I had the intention to lambast all of
them. They must have sensed it because up till now, the meeting has not been
All the enormous goodwill which Obasanjo carried into office
was squandered with a performance that left him with a second term short of
tangible achievements. Eight years in office was ample time to put electricity
on a very strong footing. Eight years was enough to put down a strong foot
against corruption and make a clear difference. Eight years was adequate for
orderliness and the rule of law to triumph in every facet of our society. These
were the basis upon which I gave him my support for the office. Some new State
Governors have shown how much good can be achieved in a shorter time.

Report compiled by Sahara Reporter from ‘Awujale: The Autobiography of Alaiyeluwa Oba S.K Adetona,
Ogbagba II’
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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.