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Nigeria's Ruling Party Leader Faces Fraud Charges


Court charges chairman Vincent Ogbulafor, accusing him of misusing funds while serving as a government minister in 2001.

A Nigerian court has issued fraud charges against ruling party chairman Vincent Ogbulafor for allegedly misusing money while serving as a government minister in 2001.

Investigators say the People's Democratic Party chairman funneled more than $1 million to fictitious projects while serving as special assignments minister. Monday's charges came following accusations made by the country's Independent Corrupt Practices Commission.

According to the French news agency, AFP, the Abuja High Court has set a May 3 court date for Ogbulafor to respond to the charges.

Recently, Ogbulafor said Nigeria's acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, should not run for president in next year's election because he is a Christian from the south.

He cited an internal power-sharing agreement that rotates executive power between the country's Muslim north and the Christian south. Mr. Jonathan has not said whether he plans to seek the PDP's nomination.

The Nigerian parliament transferred powers to Mr. Jonathan in February, due to the long-term illness of President Umaru Yar'Adua, a Muslim.

Mr. Jonathan was Nigeria's vice president, but began running the government as acting president last November when Mr. Yar'Adua flew to Saudi Arabia for an extended medical stay.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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