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Nigerian Official Threatened by Bribery Scandal


The Nigerian vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has strongly denied any wrongdoing after being implicated in the ongoing corruption investigation of U.S. Representative William Jefferson. Abubakar, a leading candidate in next year's presidential election, would like to see the matter resolved quickly.

Vice President Atiku Abubakar has angrily denied allegations that he received bribes or had business dealings with Representative William Jefferson, who is facing corruption allegations in the United States.

The yearlong investigation is threatening to complicate Abubakar's quest to be the next president of Nigeria in 2007.

U.S. investigators say Jefferson is under investigation for allegedly accepting $100,000 last July to use to bribe Abubakar to secure a business deal in Nigeria.

The Nigerian vice president's lawyer, Giwa Osagie, says there was no wrongdoing on the part of his client.

"Congressman Jefferson, the vice president was not the only high-ranking Nigerian official he met with," he explained. "He met with the president, he met with the minister of communications, the Nigerian ambassador. It just happened that only one of them has a wife who lives in Washington and it was easier to raise a lot of dust about it. The man has done nothing wrong at all."

Abubakar had a public falling out with President Olusegun Obasanjo last year and his supporters have accused the president of undermining Abubakar's ambition to succeed him.

Maxi Okwu, a political analysts in Abuja, says the bribery scandal could be a costly distraction for the vice president.

"Obviously, these are very tense and anxious moments for the vice president considering that he is beleaguered, having fallen out of favor with his boss, the president," he said. "Having said so, I trust the American judicial system and their investigative processes and due process would be followed. So let's see how it plays out. It is just that these things seem to rub off and it is not the best coming at this time for the vice president."

Next year's polls should mark the first time one elected Nigerian government hands the office over to another.

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