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HOLD Nigerian PDP chairman Ogbulafor faces curious fraud charges

Nigerian Federal Capital Territory High Court [official website] on Monday charged Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) [official website] chairman Vincent Ogbulafor [PDP leaders; website] with a series of corruption and fraud allegations the day before an executive meeting to consider the 2011 PDP candidate. The formalization of charges creates a criminal case against the person with heavy influence over the next presidency. BBC correspondents note [BBC] "the case is being seen against the background of a struggle for control of the leadership" which suggests that criminal charges may be a proxy for the power struggle occurring within the ranks of the PDP. Ailing President elect Umaru Yar'Adua [BBC profile; BBC report] has been entirely secluded since November while Acting President Goodluck Jonathan [BBC profile] assumed leadership [JURIST report] in what observers termed a "meteoric rise to power." Umaru Yar'Adua is unlikely to run again leaving Ogbulafor to organize a committee to find a candidate to run in 2011, which will block the reelection of Goodluck Jonathan. On Wednesday, 36 PDP politicians gathered [allAfrica report] at the Wadata Plaza to protest the allegations against Ogbulafor. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission [official website] previously brought the charges to the attention of the Nigerian courts. A court in January ruled that Yar'Adua is not required [JURIST report] to formally transfer his powers to Jonathan or any other interim leader. In 2006, Patience Jonathan faced an investigation over a $13 million money laundering scheme which was eventually was dropped.

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