Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The nation is currently on a quest to 'rebrand' itself and change its public image and the misguided international perception of what it means to be Nigerian. Consequently, the present administration reached out to Nigerians all over the world to do their bit to achieve this and other important goals. In 2007, for instance, Chukwuma Soludo, the head of the Central Bank, met with ordinary Nigerians around the world encouraging them to reconnect with Nigeria and participate in the efforts to improve the nation such as the African Finance Corporation. One of the many Nigerians that were convinced to apply their efforts to the Nigerian cause, someone who had been doing so for many years, was Kase Lawal. Unfortunately, as has been the case for many other Nigerians, Lawal's love for the land of his ancestors threatens to be a detriment.

"I am so proud to have been born and originated and to have been a Nigerian and I know the best of Nigeria is yet to be known in the world stage, it is still evolving ... I honestly believe that sooner than later Nigeria would take its place and would be a part of the global countries that is [sic] leading us into the next century."
African News.

On the international stage, there are few Nigerians, and indeed few people, that command respect and reflect success the way Lawal does. He is a billionaire oil man and easily amongst the wealthiest black people in the United States. Lawal, who is a dual citizen of both Nigeria and the United States, owns a Houston bank and holdings in real estate businesses. He also has an endowment of $1 million at his alma matter Texas Southern University. Although many have never heard of him because of what appears to be a relative shyness and signature modesty, he was heralded by Ebony magazine in 2006 for creating one of the most powerful Black-owned companies in the United States. Lawal was also on the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine in June 2006 and his company CAMAC Holdings, a legitimate American-based company, was designated the company of the year. Lawal donated $1 million to the creation of an archive for the papers and other materials of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Lawal has also been recognized by the Nigerian Lawyers of Association at a dinner in 2007. There, he was applauded for his contributions to Nigeria and its people. The event was attended by Opral Benson, the Attorney General of Nigeria and Nigerian Curiosity's Person of 2007, Michael Aondoakaa, and representatives from the EFCC. At that occasion, another highly respected Nigerian, introduced him by writing,
People are distinguished more by the small things they do, not the big things. People are special by the little cares and concern they have and demonstrate, not by the grand gestures... People excel by the quality and excellence of their being, not by their public persona. One man combines all of these singular attributes, and does so with a simplicity of personality and elegance that makes him so special, and so profoundly loved and cherished by those who are close to him. That man, the special man you honour this evening, is none other than Dr. Kase L. Lawal. Kase is special because people are special to him, at any time, and no matter what. This, we know, is what makes people blessed. And Kase is blessed.
On Thursday, April 3rd, a newspaper published by the McClatchy Company, alleged that Lawal was a named defendant in an 8 year old Nigerian complaint accusing him of fraud and cheating the government of $1.9 million in oil royalties. This report was soon followed by a certain website
which alleged that Lawal is a fugitive under investigation by Nigeria's EFCC. The site went on to make various other suggestions all of which put the character and reputation of Lawal under suspicion. According to other news outlets, Lawal hosted a function at his Houston, TX home to raise money for Democratic nominee candidate Senator Hillary Clinton. The event raised $100,000 and and with people looking closely at the Clinton's finances, Lawal's action has now come under some scrutiny.

Upon doing research and asking questions, it is now clear that the information presented to the world is false. How can Lawal, or anyone for that matter, be a fugitive from the law when he has visited Nigeria at least 70 times since 1999 and he has never been charged? Even though Nigeria has a reputation for lawlessness on the part of the rich, there would have been some talk, some criticism in the media and by lawmakers by now. Also, how can any website claim that Lawal is being investigated by the EFCC when it has been confirmed by actual and reliable sources that no such investigation or inquiry exists? In fact, Nigerian Curiosity has learned from very reliable sources, that not only are there no pending charges against Lawal, but that this has been stated in writing by Nigerian authorities.

Furthermore, the nation just tapped into its connection to this so-called international fugitive during a recent visit to Houston by Turai Yar'Adua on a recent trip to the Port of Houston. Lawal is the only black Commissioner to the Ports of Houston Authority. Yet, the world is to believe that this same individual is a wanted man, the subject of an EFCC investigation and a party to an 8 year old criminal complaint for which no charges have ever been formally charged against the alleged defendant. If he is a party to a crime then Aondoakaa, as the Minister of Justice, should simply press charges against him so that any accusations can be settled in a court of law. Better that, than his spokesperson, Taiye Akinyemi telling the foreign, and arguably biased, press, that, "There are many rich and powerful Nigerians out there. If he's innocent, he should come here and defend himself. The Nigerian courts are waiting for him. Nigeria is practicing the rule of law now."


Don't Become A Pawn:
There is a serious ongoing battle in the United States with various interests vying to gain the White House. This political battle is between incredibly powerful groups who will burn every bridge necessary to achieve the ultimate goal of having their interests and ideas represented by whoever becomes the next President of the United States. This duel has seemingly ensnared Kase Lawal. And, by suggesting that Lawal is a fraud despite no documents or legal evidence proving or even hinting such, some Nigerians might have unwittingly allowed themselves to become pawns in the American political battle for the Presidency. The ensuing result is that the mere mention of Lawal's connection to Nigeria has incited vicious '419' comments and other unfair scam accusations against him and Nigerians as a whole in the comments section at one ABC blog. Nigerians must never allow their interests of improving the nation to become secondary to the interests of other elements. To allow such is to cause a disservice to the average Nigerian who works hard to make ends meet and trusts in public officials to serve their interests.

Let Us Not Sabotage Each Other:
If anyone has any charges against Lawal man and his company there are formally recognized legal procedures that should be followed. There is no reason to believe that any legal charges would not be responded to by Lawal and his attorneys. There is no reason to level reckless allegations or use smear tactics to defame people. To assume and suggest that the mere fact of somebody's wealth makes him/her a suspect is not only dangerous and unfair, but it runs against the inherently Nigerian drive to be successful.

There may be cases of ill-gotten wealth at home, but in Nigeria, like anywhere else, there are many people who have earned their money and their success the hard way. In this case, Lawal made his wealth in the United States. Without a doubt making it abroad for Nigerians or other Africans, especially in the world's most competitive economy, which the United States is, takes exceptional talent, effort and dedication. Thus, for those few Nigerians who do make it, particularly those that then try to help Nigeria, we should be careful to not damage their hard-earned reputations. And when there are legitimate problems, as will sometimes be the case, they should be handled within established due process, with the presumption of innocence until proven, in a court of law, otherwise. And the public officials responsible must be meticulous and at least professional and circumspect.

At the end of the day, we all have to watch and see how this 'kase' will end. But, in the mean time, well-intentioned people must insist that things be done the right way and that the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians not be ignored. We must also work to protect Nigerians who have worked hard and excelled within their areas of expertise. This way, we do not create a precedent where successful Nigerians are accused without cause and without evidence. Such a precedent would stifle and put fear in Nigerians who are trying to be progressive and hoping to leverage their success to better Nigeria and its people.
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Anonymous said...

Nigerians must never allow their interests of improving the nation to become secondary to the interests of other elements.
thats true
he can sue for libel, but my question is, how has he responded thus far?

Ms. Catwalq said...

I am not sure I am in a position to comment on this.
I went online and tried to see if I could find anything immediate on google that was any different from the vague information on his company's website...nothing.

I don't know the guy....

Omodudu said...

No Ma'am.

Jennifer A. said...

I love this post. Nigerians must definitely go to long lengths in increasing the good reputation of the Country, and not the ur blog has rightly done. Especially when false allegations are made...

I want to see how this "Kase" turns out, and hopefully he will sue the website and anti-Hillary people that made false accusations against him, if indeed he is innocent (which we don't know for sure yet, right?).

American politics is deadly. It's like playing Russian Roulette! Gosh!

Nine said...

Never heard of him before.

Well,it's the US.He can always sue...

TheAfroBeat said...

aah, the dirty game of politics and its effects on all who dare play... I hope his name is cleared if he's innocent.

What a silly nonchalant comment by Minister's spokesperson!

For the love of me said...

I think Nigeria should start to protect its own, particularly from the beefing eyes of the international world. I think this man may be guilty of some of the offences(I do not know him)but I also think that Nigeria should cover for him ad not feed him to the dogs. When he comes home then we can do to him as we please but as long as he is abroad,it's a different matter. It's done everywhere. If we dig deep, you will be amazed at the sources of a lot of people's wealth, Americans,Asians, Europeans and Africans alike.

Remember the American girls who were caught drug trafficking in Ghana, the story was promptly killed. Had it been Nigerian girls, BBC would have reported it day and night and Oprah too would have done a feature.

Let us wash our dirty linen but not in public.

guerreiranigeriana said...

interesting take by for the love of me...ssd, this is a very fair way you have laid this out...i do appreciate that you don't push your readers to any one specific side of the issue...i too don't really know this man...i can't speak on him...politics i agree are dirty...i guess we wait and see?...salient points that you addressed though...

O'Dee said...

Chie! this is just serious beef. Nigerians need 2 learn to stick together.

Atutupoyoyo said...

A very well researched post but I hope that there will be a follow up. I have found it hard to get any more information other than what you have already detailed.

A thought provoking read which goes without saying on these pages.

AJIKE said...

hey solo, thanks for stopping by my blog
i would come back to read this interesting piece, especially because i can see efcc on


N.I.M.M.O said...

Na waa o!

I first heard about Kase Lawal in 2001/2 or thereabouts. My company then carried out a number of VPN jobs for his companies. ConocoPhillips introduced us to CAMAC, who brought in seven more sites including Cavendish.

I cannot name the other companies since they are not mentioned at all in this matter.

I led the Teams that did the jobs from start to finish and to date it remains my biggest project ever.

I never saw or met Mr. Lawal but I surely learnt about him from his staff and others. I was surprised that a Nigerian could be so rich and yet maintain such a low profile.

When the FG decided to allocate oil blocks to Nigerian companies alone, we all knew that most of the companies lacked the technical abilities and experience to handle them. Many of them went into all kinds of partnerships and presented all kinds of documents in order to meet the requirements.

At the end of the day, a few of them got the blocks but discovered that these wells were marginal or even completely dry!

10.7 million barrels in 10 months seem a little high to me. Even from from an offshore field. Unless they are Shell or Chevron or Texaco or something.

I knew CAMAC and others made quite a bundle in that period but I think it was more from the importation of refined petroleum products from South Africa than from crude itself.

According to this story
I believe this was a case of The Complaining Partner. A partner who believed he was cheated in a deal reporting to the EFCC.

And of course, adding some curry/pepper that the government was 'swindled' in the process would definitely get the EFCC to swing into action.

The EFCC was so effective and so popular here in Nigeria that it got to the ridiculous extent that even if a husband did not leave enough money for soup the wife can petition the EFCC to find out what he does with his salary.

However, this story got to the high tension politics of the US where they dig for any and everything to stain an opponent. Its just unfortunate.

But then, its just politics. I guess Obama's people would be wondering why such a rich black guy is not contributing much to their own campaign instead of Hilary's.

This one that the paper even detailed two reporters to Naija on the story. It must have been serious o. But I wonder who this 'Columbus Okaro, the commissioner of the federation police's legal section' is. Is he for real?

And the 'Taye Akiyemi' sounds like an illiterate. How can someone 'come and defend himself...' when no charges have been proffered against him by the FG or EFCC?


@ N.I.M.M.O.: Thank you for taking the time to share what you know about CAMAC and the various situations that it and its CEO have been involved in re: Nigeria.

There are way too many loose ends to this story and I wish that more people, particularly those with proper access to verifiable information, would take the time to do some more research and provide more information.

I continue to stick to my opinion, that Nigerians must reject any attempts to diminish the hardwork and success of Nigerians (at home and abroad) without proper evidence of wrongdoing. It will only stifle progress and be used as a tool by those in the status quo to prevent others from applying themselves to developing Nigeria.

@ everyone else: Thank you for taking the time to read this post and comment. I am unaware as to whether Lawal plans to sue anyone about the issues raised in the post, but I can assume that he will as such would be the prudent approach to take.

@ Omodudu: "No Ma'am"?

Chxta said...

How come I never saw this article before?

A good article with a very apt conclusion. If we can't make use of the human resources that we have scattered all over the place, we are doomed as a people.

Anonymous said...

Kase Lawal = Obj Oil contracts.

CAMAC was nothing until 1999 when OBJ got into power then they started selling oil like crazy between US and Nigeria. Thats how Kase Lawal made his loot. Called political connections.

Kiibaati said...

People like Kase give me hope in the Nigerian dream. We need to get rid of the cynicism that the only way to get rich in Nigeria is through fraud.

t said...

Don't hate...emulate.

Sherri said...

mr Lawal has never hidden the facts of how he started his company and a connection with Rilwan Lukman.
there's no doubt he's a success story.

@ anon 4:50
there is no connection with obj.

Anonymous said...

Av been a keen follower of the feats of Kase Lawal ,as far back,as 1994.He is just like any other genuinely rich Nigerian.Am a petroleum Engineer,and i was supposed to work for his firm in 1995.He is my mentor.I have people who have benefitted from his schorlaship as friends,that was years before obasanjo came out or prison.Abacha almost ruined his bussiness empire.Please this is one nigerian who believed in nigeria,if not he would have been just an american citizen and not dual.He an oil professional ,having worked with shell in U.S.
abeg make una leave Kase alone.
Ibadan indigenes are proud of u.


oni michaels said...

i'm a nigerian and i've had experiences with rumors. though destructive but i'll advice mr. lawal to do all he can to save the world closer to him by helping the needing around him. i also wish mr. lawal will come back home and invest in his home country. i love u and long to see u at home doing exploits soon.

Anonymous said...

well hes my my dads blood brother so i cn get money anytime i want ;)

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