17 August, 2008

A Deal Gone Sour

NEWSWATCH

By Chris Ajaero
Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sam Edem, former diplomat and chairman of the Niger DeltaDevelopment Commission, NDDC, trades accussations with Perekabowei Ogah, a sorcerer, he allegedly hired and paid N800 million to kill for him.

These are not the best of times for Sam Edem, chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. Edem is currently in the eye of the storm over his alleged attempt to use diabolical means to eliminate Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State and Timi Alaibe, managing director of NDDC.

Investigations by Newswatch revealed that the embattled NDDC chairman squandered one billion Naira on a juju priest who promised to perpetrate the act through fetish practices. Both Edem and Perekabowei Ogah alias Mathew Sonoma, the 34-year-old native doctor from Bomadi, Delta State whom he hired to execute the dastardly act have made confessional statements to the police. In their confessional statements obtained exclusively by Newswatch, both confirmed their involvement in the alleged murder plot.

Ogah in his statement dated June 11, 2008, said his relationship with Edem started in 2007 when the latter realised that he was to be relieved of his appointment as NDDC chairman and sought for spiritual powers that could stop it. Kakas Amgbari, who works with Edem had introduced Ogah to Edem as a native doctor who was capable of helping his case.

Ogah, however, told the NDDC chairman that it would cost him N15 million and he agreed to pay. "On that note, I listed the items required for the sacrifice to cost the sum of N15 million naira which he subsequently paid into my executive savings account which I have with the Oceanic Bank, Ughelli," Ogah said. The native doctor claimed that after he had performed the necessary rituals, Edem was retained as NDDC chairman and his client was happy with him.

Consequently, the NDDC chairman who was now convinced about the efficacy of Ogah's powers decided to give him three new assignments. The first one was that he should work on Governor Akpabio through his fetish powers so that he would always do his bidding, especially by awarding contracts to him. The second assignment was for him to either eliminate Alaibe or inflict him with stroke using diabolical means.

Edem's reason for seeking to eliminate or incapacitate Alaibe was because he saw him as a stumbling block to him in NDDC as Edem claimed he does not give him breathing space to operate as the commission's chairman. The third assignment Edem had for the native doctor was that he should "work on the Vice-President, Goodluck Jonathan so that he can always obey him and always support him if there is any plan to remove him from office."

Based on the seriousness of the assignments, particularly the one that involved the elimination of Alaibe, the native doctor gave him a bill of N570 million which Edem also paid instalmentally. He initially paid N220 million and followed it up with N50 million and then N40million, which brought the total to N310 million, leaving a balance of N260million. The native doctor immediately went to work. Ogah claimed that before he was given the assignment, Edem's relationship with Governor Akpabio was not quite cordial. He, therefore, prepared a charm which he gave to Edem and instructed him to meet with Akpabio.

During the meeting, he should touch the charm on Akpabio's drink and, thereafter, touch it on the ground. Edem did as the native doctor directed and after the meeting, the governor allegedly awarded him a road contract worth seven billion Naira.

However, in the process of using the charm as Ogah instructed, Edem forgot to touch it on the ground. The native doctor claimed that as a result of this mistake by Edem, the charm affected the governor's health and he was flown abroad for medical attention. Edem who did not
want Akpabio to die in the process, because his contract would be at risk, went to the native doctor and confessed that he forgot to touch the charm on the ground as he directed. Ogah then told Edem that in order to save the governor's life, he should pay an additional sum of
N50 million. He complied and Ogah appeased the gods, hence Akpabio did not die from the effect of charm.

But the assignment that the native doctor should eliminate Alaibe through diabolical means proved difficult for him. The native doctor said after the expiration of the period he promised Edem that Alaibe would die and the NDDC managing director was still alive, he (Edem) came to him. "I told him that his spirit is too strong. On that note he (Edem) grew annoyed and asked me to refund the money, he paid for Timi's work," Ogah said. It was at this juncture that Edem requested Ogah to refund the money he had so far paid him but he refused, insisting that the NDDC chairman should rather pay him the remaining N260 million. This marked the beginning of the disagreement between Edem and Ogah. Edem, therefore, petitioned the police alleging that Ogah was a fraudster and had defrauded him of millions of Naira.

This was why Ogah was arrested and detained at the Zone 5 Police Headquarters, Benin City. It was after his arrest that he made startling revelations on his sordid affair with Edem.

But the native doctor claimed that before the burble burst, Edem had burnt the sum of N270 million while naked in a cemetery in Port Harcourt as part of the ritual. The ashes from the burnt Naira notes were rubbed on Edem's body by the native doctor in a bid to fortify him.

In his own statement to the police, dated June 18, 2008, Edem neither denied nor admitted his alleged plot to eliminate Alaibe and Akpabio. He, however, said that Ogah was introduced to him as a pastor by Amgbari in November, 2007. After some prayer sessions in his house, Ogah started extorting money from him with death threats to him, family members and staff. "I later discovered that this man is a hardened criminal with fetish practices and diabolical powers. The truth is that I was hypnotised by this man into believing anything he said. He employed dangerous threats as a weapon to continuously extort huge amounts of money from me while putting me under his spell," Edem stated.

The NDDC chairman said that the extortion of money from him by Ogah started in November, 2007 and lasted till April, this year when God rescued him from his spell. "By the time God rescued me from his spell, this criminal and his cohorts had drained me financially, emotionally, and psychologically, " Edem told the police. According to him, the total amount collected from him by the native doctor under alleged hypnotic spell is about N800 million. He said he usually paid the money with bank drafts into Ogah's Oceanic Bank International
Plc account number 0231701700330. The NDDC chairman alleged that the native doctor used part of the money collected from him to acquire a hotel complex in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, at the cost of more than N100 million and a fleet of new cars of different brands and models.

When the police monitoring team from Zone 5, Benin City searched Ogah's residence in Bomadi recently, many cars were recovered from him. But Ogah denied the allegation by Edem that the money he used to acquire cars and other properties were proceeds from his dealings with him. "The money I used in buying my cars and other properties were strictly mine as I do work for politicians who pay me handsomely," he said.

Other items recovered from Ogah's residence are Government House, Yenagoa staff identity card and a Bayelsa Government House plate number: BYGH 43. The native doctor claimed that the Government House identity card was issued to him by Diepreye Alamieyeseigha when he
was in office as the Bayelsa State governor. He further claimed that he still had free access to Government House, Yenagoa, when Goodluck Jonathan, vice-president, became the governor because he was the spiritual godfather to both leaders. "The Government House, Yenagoa staff identity card recovered from my house by the police was issued to me by Ex-Governor Alamieyeseigha when I was his spiritual godfather during his tenure and that of Ex-Governor Goodluck Jonathan," Ogah stated.

With regard to the Bayelsa Government House plate number, he claimed it was meant for a Peugeot 504 car assigned to one Bobo 2Pac, who he said is a younger brother to Alamieyeseigha. Ogah recalled that in 2000, he had an accident with the car along Mbiama road and, thereafter, the vehicle was taken to Government House, Yenagoa. He however, added that he mistakenly kept the plate number in his house.

Efforts by Newswatch to get the reaction of the vice-president through Ima Niboro, his senior special assistant, media, failed as he could not be reached on phone last week. But another official in the vice-president's office who craved anonymity said that Jonathan is a staunch Anglican and so would not be associated with anything fetish.

At press time last week, Alamieyeseigha could also not be reached on phone for his reaction to Ogah's allegation that he was his spiritual godfather when he was in office as governor.

But John Araka, media consultant to Edem while reacting to the alleged attempt by the NDDC chairman to use the native doctor to eliminate Alaibe and Akpabio denied Ogah's claims. "It is unthinkable that Edem would want to kill Alaibe. What for? So that he can succeed him as managing director? It's all blackmail," Araka told Newswatch.

On the allegation that Edem paid the native doctor to eliminate Governor Akpabio, Araka said the NDDC chairman was one of those instrumental to his emergence as Akwa Ibom State governor. "They had a good relationship. So, he would not want to destroy the house he
helped to build," Araka said.

Newswatch, however, learnt that the startling revelations by Ogah has strained the relationship between Edem and Alaibe. It was gathered that although the two NDDC top officials were handling the matter maturedly, a cold war is raging in the commission owing to this turn
of events.

There were also indications last week that Governor Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State was still dumbfounded that Edem, his kinsman, could be linked with a plot to eliminate him. Usoro Usoro, chief press secretary to the governor told Newswatch that a few days before the revelations became public knowledge, Edem had visited Akpabio at Akwa Ibom Governor's Lodge in Abuja. "Before these revelations, the governor had no problem with Edem. That was why the revelations are shocking to him," Usoro said. He said the governor has informed
President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua officially about this development.

Usoro explained that his boss was confident that the police would get to the root of the matter. The governor's image maker also said he was not aware that his boss awarded a road contract to the tune of seven billion Naira as alleged by Ogah.

On the claim by Ogah that the charm he gave to Edem affected Governor Akpobio's health and made him to be flown abroad for medical treatment, Usoro said no such thing happened. He said the governor could have travelled for treatment abroad but it certainly has nothing to do with the alleged charm by the native doctor. "Governor Akpabio firmly believes in God. So, nobody can harm him," Usoro said.

Newswatch further gathered that Edem was deeply pained by the revelations of his sordid affair with the native doctor. In a bid to re-establish his ties with the governor, he recently approached Camillus Etukudo, the Catholic bishop of Ikot Ekpene Diocese, and pleaded with him to help him beg Akpabio for forgiveness, saying that he fell into the hands of satanic agents. He decided to seek the bishop's intervention because the governor is an ardent Catholic and is very close to the respected clergyman.

The greatest source of worry for Edem now is not the huge amount he lost in the business but how to defend the source of the money he squandered. This is because some Nigerians have already started calling on the federal government to investigate the source of the money Edem gave out to the native doctor and his collaborators. Consequently, Edem has taken certain steps to douse public criticisms of his action through some groups who have been defending him.

One of such groups is the Ibom Youth For Peace Movement, IYPM. In a statement signed by David Friday Ibanga, president of IYPM, the group frowned at what it termed organised blackmail and campaign of calumny against a respectable and patriotic son of Akwa Ibom State. It wondered why sycophants and charlatans were spreading rumour about assassination plot when the suspects who were arrested and released have already apologised to the NDDC chairman. "We have watched with dismay, the way and manner desperate political fortune seekers have capitalised on the ongoing false rumours to score a cheap political point without recourse to proper reasoning or making any effort to unravel the truth concerning the assassination bid story, thereby assassinating and battering another man's well earned character and image," IYPM stated.

The group also said that it was not possible for Edem to attempt to kill Akpabio or Alaibe. "What does Ambassador Sam Edem stand to gain by killing Governor Akpabio that he supported or does he want to become governor or the managing director of NDDC? Ambassador Sam Edem is a decent, patriotic son of the South-South, he has never been involved in any shady deal or anything inimical to the peace and development of the Niger Delta region," IYPM said.

Another group that has risen in defence of the NDDC chairman is the Niger Delta Law Students Association. Uko Ekpenyong, national coordinator of the association said his members were shocked that the Nigerian public have become so gullible to believe the alleged murder scandal. To him, the entire assassination story is "a hoax and some powerful politicians must be behind this devilish act."

When Newswatch contacted Udo Ekpoudom, the Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, in charge of Zone 5, Benin City, last week, he confirmed that both Edem and Ogah had made statements to the police investigative team. He said Ogah was initially detained but later released on bail. "We are still investigating the case and I am confident that we will get to the root of the matter," Ekpoudom told Newswatch.

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