By- Yushua A. Shuaib
Dear Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd.),
As you spend your third year in illegal detention since December 2015, I am using this memo to intimate you about the brutal assassination of former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh by gunmen along the Keffi-Abuja Highway.
He was expected to open his defence next month January 16, 2019 in the trial of alleged criminal breach of trust.
You will recall your chance meeting with Badeh at the Federal High Court when you appeared to testify in Olisah Metuh’s case before Justice Okon Abang.
You may also recall my exchange with the late Badeh, when I challenged him for not talking to the press about his achievements while in office.
He retorted about how a section of the media had quoted him out of context and misrepresented the content of his valedictory speech, pertaining to his stewardship as Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Defence Staff, in 2015.
You may further vividly recall his statement on using the opportunity of his defence in court to provide facts, figures and material evidence on the military acquisitions, sophisticated training of troops and the success of counter-insurgency operations, as carried out during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
We sympathized with him when he bitterly lamented that his family was being humiliated and persecuted, while his assets had been confiscated, bank accounts frozen, pilot flying license blacklisted, pension blocked, and how he was being criminalized through the deliberate malicious campaign of the current government, despite his meritorious service to the nation.
Unfortunately, many Nigerians are not aware that, Badeh, a son of a peasant farmer, was commissioned a pilot in 1979 and had flown many Head of States, including former UN scribe, Kofi Annan, Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, after comprehensive checks on his competence and integrity by intelligence service agents.
As Chief of Air Staff, Badeh initiated the programme on Optimising Local Engineering (OLE) to focus on developing indigenous Unarmed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and other weapon systems for his fatherland.
And, his initiatives had resulted in the first locally produced drone in Nigeria under AMEBO project, known as GULMA, which allowed the Air Force to survey and carry out attacks against criminal elements and terrorists remotely, without putting the lives of pilots at risk.
He also initiated and completed the NAF hangar in Yola Airport and other infrastructure, while paying keen attention to improving staff welfare.
In fact, he ensured all personnel who had kids in the Air Force primary and secondary schools got free tuitions.
As the CDS, Badeh completed the Armed Forces DNA Laboratory and constructed the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) extension complex fitted with a sophisticated joint operations room.
He also established the Armed Forces Radio Broadcasting Station and Defence Space Agency (now known as the Defence Space Administration (DSA), apart from commissioning several gun boats in the Niger Delta region.
On counter-insurgency campaigns, he was one of the arrow-heads in the formation and adequate funding of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), when our neighbours were reluctant in fighting the scourge of Boko Haram.
He was also instrumental in strategies of saving the lives of our pilots and preventing the crash of fighter aircrafts in the North-East, due to inexperienced pilots engaged in guerrilla warfare.
In fact, in collaboration with your office as NSA, Badeh devised the strategies of deploying the services of highly skilled and experienced foreign technical advisers who some refer to as ‘professional mercenaries’ to help with air operations, while Nigerian troops complete the ground operations in eliminating Boko Haram terrorists.
Before the handover to President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015, there was incontrovertible evidence of several towns that had been liberated from Boko Haram terrorists, including Abadam, Askira, Baga, Bama, Bara, Buni Yadi, Damboa, Dikwa, Gamboru-Ngala, Goniri, Gujba, Gulag, Gulani, and Gwoza. Also, Hong, Kala Balge, Konduga, Kukawa, Marte, Madagali, Michika, Monguno, Mubi, Vimtim, among others.
The late CDS BAdeh was billed to open his defence on January 16, 2019 before Justice Abang, but the unfortunate swiftness of untimely death could not make this a reality.
We are aware that he intended to use the occasion to list the concrete achievements of the previous administration in military acquisitions, the training of staffs, and how some top classified operations were undertaken in the national and security interests.
I am very sure the late Alex Badeh would have used the opportunity of his defence to expose the hypocrisy of the AVM Jon Ode-led Presidential Arms Panel, whose members were involved in the illegal extortion of officers under probe.
It was the Department of State Security Services (DSS) that painstakingly and courageously raided the residence of a member of the same probe panel, where illegal firearms, exotic automobiles, foreign and local currencies were recovered.
Before the Jon-Ode probe panel was abruptly disbanded by the government, it only succeeded in shamelessly exposing the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to public ridicule by portraying former Air Force chiefs (Umar Dikko, Badeh, Amosu etc) as being the most corrupt on the basis of frivolous and baseless allegations.
In fact, AVM Alkali Mamu, who was prematurely retired on the basis of similar baseless indictments by the panel, has been vindicated by a court, with his innocence affirmed.
The composition of that probe panel only served the narrow, mean and self-serving agenda of vested interests, which sought to rubbish the integrity of military and intelligence services by their assignment.
Not minding the fact that some appointments were not merited, President Buhari can be applauded for some of his foresight on sensitive assignments that require adequate intelligence gathering.
For instance, the appointment of Army Chief Gen. Tukuru Buratai, the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Monguno and anti-corruption boss, Ibrahim Magu, all from Borno State, can be considered as desirable in engaging the required intelligence people, in a State that is war-stricken by acts of terrorism.
Even, though the terrorists are still operating in that axis despite these deliberate appointments, some searchlight should be beamed on the recent setback whereby several troops were ambushed and eliminated in that region.
I should not end this memo without appreciating the opportunity you gave me after I was prematurely retired from public service over my article against nepotism, when Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was Finance Minister.
As the National Security Adviser, you appointed me to render services to this country as a crisis communication consultant to security agencies.
Undoubtedly, the professional interventions have fetched our organisation, PRNigeria continental and global PR awards and recognition on crisis management despite lack of patronages from the current system.
I will forever remain grateful for that opportunity.
Meanwhile, it may interest you to note that a short while back, an industrial court ordered my reinstatement into the service and the payment of my remuneration for the last five years while I was on malicious retirement.
Surprisingly, I also recently discovered that the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who I had initially thought was against my reinstatement, was actually the one who instructed the Ministry on several occasions since last year to obey the order of the court on my reinstatement.
I pray the larger administration of President Muhammadu Buhari would emulate Mr. Lai Mohammed in instructing your release from detention, since at least six courts of competent jurisdiction have given the orders, even though the judges have not been courageous enough to enforce their judgements.
If President Buhari could not consider your relationship with him before you joined the Jonathan administration, he should consider the situation you met on the ground when you were appointed NSA in June 2012 and what it had become by the time you left the office in July 2015 when terrorists could not disrupt the national election.
I also wish you Happy Birthday, the third in illegal detention. And a Happy New Year in advance.
Yushau A. Shuaib
Author, An Encounter with the Spymaster
PRNigeria News Release
Abike Dabiri, Family of detained Nigerian bicker over correspondence
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and the family of Mr. Olufolajimi Ayodeji Abegunde, a United States-based Nigerian, who was arrested and detained in the United States since February, are locked in fierce disagreement over a purported letter seeking the quick intervention of Federal Government.
It would be recalled that PRNigeria had on Sunday, published a news report titled, ‘’Family of US detained Nigerian man cries out, seeks FG’s intervention,” on the continued detention of Olufolajimi Ayodeji at the Dyton Detention Facility in Mason, Tennessee, by US Marshalls.
But Abike Dabiri, in a press release on Tuesday, denied receiving any correspondence from the family.
In the statement signed by her Special Adviser on Media, Abdul-Rahman Balogun, Dabiri-Erewa maintained that she didn’t receive any petition or letter about Mr. Olufolajimi’s travail in the US, saying: ‘’This is a complete falsehood as no correspondence was received in our office with respect to the issue.
‘’We have checked our records and there is no such letter ever received in our office as the Commission has not even been set up as at the time the said petition was reportedly submitted.’’
She noted that all the line of communication are opened for any public complaint, which her Commission responds to as soon as practicable.
‘’The complainant or any other aggrieved Nigerian is advised to officially channel the communication to the Secretary or Secretariat of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, as we cannot treat such issue based on online report’’, Dabiri added.
In the wake of the rebuttal by the Diaspora Commission’s CEO, PRNigeria obtained a scanned copy of the family’s correspondence received by a staff of the Commission on 19th November, 2018, and was acknowledged with the signature and phone number of the staff in her office, as 08174383962.
This is coming after the family strongly insisted that they had dropped a letter seeking her urgent intervention.
The dispatch reads: ‘’Honorable Madam, PASSIONATE APPEAL FOR ASSISTANCE RE: OLUFOLAJIMI AYODEJI ABEGUNDE. I hereby appeal for your kind assistance and intervention in the matter involving my son, Mr. Olufolajimi Ayodeji Abegunde and the judicial system of the United States of America.
The travail has been on-going since 7th February 2018, when he was arrested at the Hartsfield Jackson International Airport, Atlanta, United States of America. From Information available to me, he was arrested at the airport when he went to make a date change for a proposed trip to the Dominican Republic.
At the point of arrest, it was alleged that he attempted to flee the country on account on a Federal Indictment charge dated in August 2017. Olufolajimi stated that he was completely unaware of the charges, as he was never invited for questioning on the charges listed as follows; 1. Conspiracy to commit fraud; 2. Money laundering; 3. Aggravated Identity theft.
From his own account, the only thing that connected him to issues raised was the fact that a friend who happened to be his classmate in the Babcock University, Mr. Ayodeji Ojo, visited from Nigeria with his family and stayed with him. Within the period of his stay, Mr. Ayodeji Ojo opened an account using Olufolajimi’s residential address in Atlanta Georgia. This was stated as the main offence, which is the basis for the alleged conspiracy charges.
He was initially detained in Atlanta while his bond application came up. Bond was however denied, and he was moved to Tennessee, where he has been held at the Dyton Detention Facility in Mason.
Efforts made to appeal the earlier bond application dragged on from February until June 25, 2018 when it was again denied. Trial was fixed for October 9, 2018. In the intervening period between June and the proposed trial date, a superseding Indictment came up with offences listed as follows; 1. Conspiracy to commit wire fraud; 2. Money laundering conspiracy; 3. Marriage Fraud conspiracy; and 4. Witness Tampering.
The new charges are due for hearing on December 10, 2018. The earlier charge of aggravated identity theft has however been dropped, as it is not contained in the superseding indictment.
The whole issue has been rather traumatic for the entire family. It has been especially hard on me in view of the fact that I have had to raise Olufolajimi from age 6 when he lost his father in 1992.
My family has had to endure the traumatic experience of long-drawn appearances in court, coupled with the unfortunate experience with pick and drop legal representations on whom we have spent all our resources on, in Atlanta and Memphis in the persons of: 1. Ms. Meg Strickler – Atlanta; 2. Mr. William Massey – Memphis; and 3. Mr. Claiborne Ferguson – Memphis. The issues with the above attorneys on whom we have expended unthinkable resources on, have resulted in Olufolajimi being declared indigent by the court and he has since been assigned a court appointed attorney in the person of John Keith Perry Jr. who is an attorney based in Mississippi.
I wish to make a passionate appeal, that the National Diaspora Commission would make contact with Olufolajimi Abegunde to render assistance in any way possible, towards when he is due to appear in court on December 10, 2018, and ultimately, to secure his freedom.
Your kind intervention and assistance would be very much appreciated, considering the fact that he has been detained for over 9 months now. A way out of this quagmire would be most welcome.
Yours faithfully, OKA (Mrs.). Mrs. Oluseyi Abegunde (mother of subject of appeal)’’.
Aside the November correspondence, PR Nigeria also gathered that Barrister Anjolaoluwa Abegunde, a lawyer-son of Mrs. Oluseyi Abegunde, had in September, also wrote and personally dropped a letter for Mrs. Abike Dabiri, then a Senior Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora (SSAFD), at her Abuja Office.
The correspondence, which was also acknowledged, reads: ‘’Madam, THE CONTINUED DETENTION OF MR OLUFOLAJIMI ABEGUNDE (MBA) IN THE UNITED STATES (MASON TENNESSEE) DETENTION FACILITY FOR UNFOUNDED CHARGES (CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT FRAUD; MONEY LAUNDERING; AGGRAVATED IDENTITY THEFT; MARRIAGE FRAUD& WITNESS TAMPERING/INTIMIDATION)
We write to your esteemed office, seeking your kind assistance and intervention in the matter involving our son and brother Mr. Olufolajimi Abegunde (MBA), who is currently being held in a United States detention facility on the above unsubstantiated allegations.
Since the 7th February 2018, our son and brother has been held by US Marshalls and also denied bail for these unfounded allegations. He travelled to the United States in 2014 on a study visa and bagged a master’s Degree in business administration from the May’s Business School of Texas A&M.
Further to the conclusion of his master’s program, he founded a start up in the money remittances business (FJ Williams INC doing business as TranzAlert INC) which is duly licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Georgia State Department of Banking. In addition to the above, he was submitted to a rigorous background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and all other relevant financial regulatory authorities in the United States.
In a bid to prove his innocence, Mr. Olufolajimi Abegunde (MBA) has caused several letters to be written to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC and also the Nigerian Consulate office in Atlanta GA. His letters have however not been responded to.
It is our humble plea that you help use your good office to intervene in this matter. Our son and brother has lost a significant part of this year, being held behind bars for offences he has no connection to. This is coming at a time when all the effort he had put into his business was about to yield fruit.
We thank you in anticipation of your kind intervention, even as we extend the assurances of our highest regards.
Yours sincerely, Anjolaoluwa Abegunde, Esq. For and on behalf of Mrs. Oluseyi Kehinde Abegunde (Director, Federal Ministry of Information, Retired).
However, Mrs. Abegunde told PRNigeria, that though they submitted correspondences, it is possible that Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa did not receive them herself.
‘’It is my fervent belief that Mrs. Dabiri, as the Diaspora Commission’s CEO, will still look into our case, with a view to intervening and getting my son quickly released. That she didn’t personally get the letters may obviously be due to one reason or the other’’, she said.
PRNigeria encourages institutions to be transparent in their information management as it provides news items from authoritative sources for free use by the media
More Press Releases on www.prnigeria.com
Leave A Response