Home Election FACT CHECK: All we know about leaked audio claiming Atiku received N100m from Dariye
FACT CHECK: All we know about leaked audio claiming Atiku received N100m from Dariye

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has been accused by Mike Achimugu, who claims to be his former media aide, of being part of a continuous ploy to defraud the nation.

In a viral audio visual uploaded on YouTube and Twitter, a voice purported to be Atiku’s could be heard narrating his role in the N100m loot which was allegedly paid into his account by imprisoned ex-governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau state.

In the viral audio-visual, Achimugu explains that journalist Kayode Ogundamisi accused his former principal and former Vice President of benefiting from the loot by Dariye. To set the records straight, Achimugu claimed he reached out to Atiku to know the “truth about the allegation before proceeding to plan a defence strategy via email”.

Achimugu revealed that Atiku had responded by saying that the money had been distributed through an SPV, a word that was unknown to him at that time. 

He has since shared what he said is the content of that conversation online. 

“SPV is Special Purpose Vehicles, in other words, it’s a company that they incorporate to carry out certain activities. You see what happened was that when we came into the office I advised the president (Obasanjo) against open corruption,” he said.

“I told him, give me three people that you trust and I would prepare three(3) companies of which they would be the subscribers (directors) so that if there is any contract that we give, they would act as contractors then they are given a fee and this fee is what we used to fund the party. 

“So he gave me the name of Fasawe, Andy Uba, and this guy from Borno who died in a plane crash. So I incorporated them and put them as subscribers. One of the companies was Marine Floats. So, when the governor (Dariye) sent money to the company, he sent it to Marine Floats. That account was very well investigated by EFCC and they found nothing. So that was where the N100m went to, it did not go to Atiku Abubakar.”

Achimiugu also claimed he swore an affidavit at a court in Abuja.

Was Achimugu Atiku’s media aide?

A background check on Achimugu reveals that he has worked with two presidential candidates, Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). 

While working with Atiku Abubakar, Achimugu was appointed a member of the media team of Atiku’s 2023 Presidential Election Technical Team on September 1, 2021, and later the media director of Atiku Support Group on September 5, 2021.

He announced that he had cut ties with his former principal in 2022 and shortly after which he announced that he was now working for Moghalu of YPP. This was in April 2022, while Moghalu was still aspiring to get the presidential ticket of the YPP.

How Achimugu fell out with Atiku

Achimugu’s allegations against Atiku were published on a website called lionofjada.com. To get more details on the website, we sought out information on the domain name registration and found that it was registered in May 2019. It was updated in October 2022. 

We checked Wayback Machine to trace what was on the website before the allegations. We found articles promoting Atiku and the book written by Achimugu to eulogise his ex-principal.

LionofJada.com was set up to promote Atiku

In September 2021, Achimugu announced his intent to burn the book he had authored on Atiku titled ‘Lion of Jada’.  

According to him, the book which had cost over N40 million was not acknowledged by Atiku. This was his way of announcing his separation from his former boss.

We established that Achimugu did work for Atiku.

Is the audio file legitimate?

We compared the voice in the leaked audio with multiple recorded versions of Atiku’s voice in the country, and found quite some similarities. We analysed the audio file and video using Google Recorder and did not find any evidence of tampering.

While the audio sounds a lot like Atiku, CDD Election War Room cannot independently verify the audio to be totally authentic.

Has Atiku been involved in any N100m scandal?

Indeed there has been accusation about Atiku’s involvement in Dariye’s loot even as far back as 2006 and kept recurring at various intervals (see here, here, and here).

Although this hasn’t been debunked by Atiku’s team, the PDP in February 2006 debunked the claim by Dariye, calling him a “suicide bomber”.

Dino Melaye, Atiku’s campaign spokesperson, did not address the claim, but disregarded Achimugu altogether, calling him a “yahoo boy”.

Ngozi Okorie, a practising lawyer, told CDD Election War Room that the affidavit of facts filed by Achimugu holds no grounds in the court since no case has been filed either by Achimugu or Atiku.

Does the SPV exist?

To take our verification further, we attempted to get more information on Marine Floats, the special purpose vehicle in question.

Preliminary checks showed that Marine Floats is an American based company located in 313 E F St, Tacoma, WA 98421, United States. No record of links to Nigeria or Atiku was found.

We checked with the Corporate Affairs of Commission (CAC) where we found a certain Marine Float Limited, registed in 2017 — ten years after Atiku had left office, implying that this was not the company being discussed. 

Data from CAC shows Marine Float was registered in 2017

Verdict

The claim by Melaye that the Achimugu was not a media aide to Atiku is false. It is however important to note that Achimugu has since fallen out with Atiku, and may have some motive to speak against the former vice president. Despite the virality of the clip, which has been viewed about five hundred times across social media platforms, Atiku is yet to make any official response to the allegations against him.

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