Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Whispering Drums With Maigani

by Musa Ibrahim

NSO vs Alex Ibru-round one

Article 1: Subject - Ibru

"In a number of conversations with interested parties, the name Ibru has been mentioned as a major middle man in a number of transactions, contracts and other deals...

"Sources advise us that Nigerian fishing vessels have been used to transport quantities of currency mainly to Liberia where, of course, it can be exchanged for US dollars..."

6 February, 1985
In the Nigerian-type politics, Alex Ibru (or any of the Ibru family for that matter), cannot be considered a political juggernaut (in the category of the K.O.s, that is) nor has any member of the family emerged as a man with caterpillar and bulldozer orientation (still, apology to K.O. Mbadiwe). In business too, the Ibrus do not have the fortunes and ingenuities of the Dantatas. But there is one thing that has to be conceded to one member of the family. Alex Ibru, seemingly the head of the family, shows political sagacity.

In those memorable political days, there were two things one needed if one wanted to survive Nigeria's deadly political crucible. One had to carry the right political party card and one had to have the right connections, often, at the highest levels. Alex Ibru carried the right political party card and he had the right connections at the highest levels, too.

In 1979/80 when the scramble for the gold-laden Abuja contracts was unfolding, Alex Ibru was one of the guys at the forefront. A contract for the building of Abuja's second dam - the Dan Fodio Dam was in the offing. Along with other smart guys, Ibru also declared his intentions - he wanted the contract. Using his party card, he succeeded in getting party members at the highest level to help lobby for him. In the end, Alex Ibru and his company got the contract. The contract was worth N57 million. The work is still being done, but I hear the contract, with each passing year, was constantly revised and by the time the Khaki Boys came in, the value of the contract had been raised to over N100 million. The Guardian newspaper emerged. It had become a pattern in Nigeria - big contracts establish a newspaper. The Guardian was not as sensational in its launching as the sensational Concord, but then, so what?

Again, when the metroline project for Lagos was being considered, Ibru's company also tendered and even though the project will never see daylight now, the going was good while the scramble lasted. Then the military stormed in, unannounced, on the 31, December 1983 and fearing the worst, Ibru decided to play it strictly by the books. He called an editorial and management meeting of the Guardian and told his boys what to do. Soon the Guardian newspaper was swearing in the name of Buhari and his junta acclaiming them as heroes and saviours of the country. Ibru was no longer a politician, but a concerned "Nigerian patriot" condemning anything, anybody, and everything that had to do with the "discredited Shagari misrule" (a quote from the Guardian). He wooed and courted Nigeria's new military junta with sugar-coated write-ups, and as a show of appreciation, Kiri Kiri was ruled out for Ibru. But one man in the Buhari junta was not impressed with Alex Ibru.

Lawal Rafin Dadi, the pot-bellied Director-General of the National Security Organization (NSO), could not be convinced with Alex Ibru's "sudden change of heart". He decided to have all business activities of the Ibrus monitored. A private investigating firm here in London, was contracted for the job way back in January 1984. Unlike the single-handed and unauthorized handling of the Dikko kidnap attempt saga, Rafin Dadi sought, and got the approval of the Supreme Military Council and money was allocated in hard currency, for the surveillance, which included monitoring many other "political turncoats' like Alex Ibru, in the ousted civilian administration.

Reports on the business activities of the Ibru Family were coming in regularly as article I above shows, until recently, when Rafin Dadi failed to meet the investigator's financial demands. Either because of "insufficient funds" or because of the misuse of what was available, the NSO could no longer meet the financial needs of the investigators.

For the past six months, letters have passed between the investigators and the security boss, some threatening, to no avail. The investigating agency has threatened to sue Rafin Dadi for "breach of contract" and to show that the agency means business, articles I and II printed along with this piece, were made available to Talking Drums along with some other damaging and damning reports on a number of currently "influential" Nigerians and even reports on some members of the ruling military junta. The bone of contention between Rafin Dadi and the investigative agency (name withheld by us) is herein contained in article II as follows:

Article II: Subject — Fees

"I must regretfully once again raise the subject of fees, the late payment of which are beginning to hamper our ability to pay for information.

"Our agreement was that we would be paid the sum of $120,000 per month which for ease of administration we regard as four week periods therefore resulting in a weekly rate of $30,000.

"We commenced our second-part investigations for you on Monday, January 23, 1985, which means that on Friday of this week we will have completed the seventh week of our investigations. Seven weeks at $30,000 is equal to US$210,000 of which we have now been paid $50,000.

"It is therefore requested that the balance of the fees agreed, i.e., $160,000 returns to the UK with Mr Hart.

"I would point out that we received the last information from you and the outline details of five of the fifteen names at 4.00pm on Thursday, March 1, 1985, although I understood such information was sent by you on February 25/26, 1985.

"Perhaps you would be kind enough to supply the details of the remaining persons as soon as possible.

6 March, 1985
With all this hard currency being used on such "frivolities", can any Nigerian believe that Nigeria is broke? For now, I will rest my case, but be assured I will keep you posted on further developments, but as things now stand, round two is most likely going to be an open confrontation to be supervised by men wearing wigs and collars, in the law courts, that is. Until then....

talking drums 1985-06-24 kwame nkrumah Gold Coast end of empire