Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim of Yobe State has said that his publicized $100,000 Mo Ibrahim award was not real, but the handiwork of fraudsters.
While speaking to newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, the senator and former governor of Yobe State explained that he had received a call and a DHL delivery from one supposed professor of the University of Cape Town, informing him that he had received the Exemplary Grassroots Leadership Quality in Africa Award 2012, said to have been sponsored by the Rockefeller and Mo Ibrahim Foundations.
“My staff contacted the organisers who asked us to submit our names to their liaison officer in the South African High Commission for visas.
“They did not make any request for money and provided sufficient contacts that gave the impression that they were real and we thought we were dealing with a campaign sponsored by Mo Ibrahim and Rockefeller Foundations in South Africa.”
He said he enthusiastically informed his colleagues, friends and family and he received so much support that some friends had already begun to organize the event, in addition to publishing congratulatory messages in the media which caused the story to spread rapidly.
“It was at this point that I decided to carry out a more professional investigation before people started to commit resources. Our investigators discovered that it was an elaborate scam targeted at distinguished personalities across Africa.
“We contacted the Mo Ibrahim Foundation office in London which promptly published a disclaimer. We have also informed the University of Cape Town. Professor Ali Mazrui, Minister Ebrahim Patel and many others named as partners in this scam.
“I have also taken steps to warn my friends, well-wishers and colleagues not to raise any funds and cease further preparation.”
He expressed surprise at the professional sophistication of the fraudsters.
“There are great lessons to be learnt, no one is safe anymore, not the people, not the politicians,” he said.