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Ige: How I escaped 419 onslaught, by Soyinka

By Sina Babasola
Friday, July 18, 2003

IBADAN— NOBEL Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday narrated how some people attempted to defraud him barely 12 hours after the assassination of former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bola Ige, in December 2001.

Prof. Soyinka in a lecture at the book presentation to mark Prof. Oladipo Akinkugbe’s 70th birthday in Ibadan, said it was sheer intuition that saved him from the fraudsters, who sent him an e-mail message asking him for his foreign account number to enable them deposit a lump sum of money in the account.

"Twelve hours after my friend, Bola Ige, was killed, I was still dazed, but I received an e-mail message purportedly from Atinuke (Ige’s wife) that I should forward my foreign account number to them so that they could lodge some money there.

"They said that Ige had siphoned some money somewhere which they didn’t want traced to them. They promised that the money would be shared 40-60 per cent and that the Central Bank (CBN) was in the know of the transfer. You can imagine how I felt," Prof. Soyinka said.

He lamented the level of dishonesty and corruption in the country, stressing that Nigeria’s green passport was being held in disdain by other nations as a result of this. "In Nigeria 2+2 is not always 4, it can be 22 in our case because of the Nigerian factor," he said.

Soyinka, who berated President Obasanjo for coming late to the event, also contended that same dishonesty level was responsible for the fraudulent juggling of figures during the April general elections.

In his remark at the presentation, President Olusegun Obasanjo rose in defence of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr. Abel Guobadia, describing him as "a man of integrity and complete gentleman." He said despite the scathing criticisms that trailed INEC performance after the April general elections, Dr. Guobadia remained an honourable person.

"When I asked Akinkugbe about this programme, he said four of his classmates may be active today and said who these people are. I have interacted with three of them. One is Dr. Christopher Kolade; he is Nigeria’s High Commissioner in London. The next is Dr. Abel Guobadia; Guobadia is a man I know very well, don’t mind what the opposition says," he stated.

Speaking on the virtues of Prof. Akinkugbe, the president said: "I believe everything Akinkugbe tells me. Akinkugbe is a man of integrity; a man of industry and he is committed to what is best for the country. I am happy to be here."

In apparent reference to the exit of Prof. Akinkugbe from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Obasanjo said: "We will write the history of ABU saga. Prof. Akinkugbe rose to the occasion then, I don’t know what would have happened if Akinkugbe had died during the ABU saga, but we thank God he is alive today."

Also speaking at the ceremony, the Yeye Oba of Ife, Chief (Mrs.) H.I.D. Awolowo, praised the humility and vision of Prof. Akinkugbe. According to her, the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation had decided to immortalise Prof. Akinkugbe’s name by instituting an annual award at the University College Hospital (UCH).

"The award is to be called Oladipo Olujimi Akinkugbe Prize to the most outstanding student in any branch of Medicine at the Medical School of the University of Ibadan," she said.



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