According to reports, Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo, has been linked with Jerry Elo Ikogho, one of the 77 Nigerians charged for massive fraud, money laundering in the United States of America.
Keyamo, who is said to have a fraternal relationship with the alleged fraudster, admitted that he handles legal works for Ikogho.
According to reports, the minister and Ikogho’s relationship started in the early 70s in Ughelli, where they were born but Jerry’s parents are from Orie-Irri, Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State.
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Keyamo, in an interview with Sunday Independent on Saturday, admitted that he was handling legal works for Jerry Ikogho, but clarified that he never knew the kind of business he was into in America.
“We were born together in the same town at Ughelli in Delta State. His parents and my parents are close friends up till tomorrow. We were both raised in the Jehovah Witness’ sect. It is a whole family union. If he has legal issues, I handled them for him free of charge. I didn’t know him as a client but as a family friend with whom we both grew up together,” Keyamo said.
When asked the type of legal briefs he was handling for Ikogho and if he was aware that he was into a shady business, Keyamo retorted:
“How would I know? He has not been proven guilty. Have you concluded that he is into massive fraud and money laundering? That he is a scammer is a slant of the Nigerian press because the allegation is coming from the FBI.
“I know the mindset of an average Nigerian journalist, I know what to expect as your headline tomorrow because I have been dealing with Nigerian journalists for more than 30 years. Your headline tomorrow could be ‘Keyamo linked with alleged scammer’. If it were to be the EFCC that said it, the press in Nigeria would not publish it this way.”
The fiery lawyer said he would like to hear from Ikogho what transpired in America before he takes a position, adding that, “If his explanations are not satisfactory, I will scold him. I have spoken with the wife since this issue broke out, but I have been unable to get in touch with him. But I need to hear from him.”
Asked if he would be part of the legal team that would defend Ikogho in America, Keyamo said, “My license does not permit me to practice law in the United States of America.”
The Minister, however, described what happened to his friend as “very unfortunate because he is not from that kind of family. He is a homeboy. He grew up and did his youth service in Nigeria. I used to stay with him when I first came to Abuja. He is my brother and friend, though I am just a month older than him. Anybody can be in trouble. I am praying for him. If he has valid explanations I will help him legally. I can’t run away from him,” Keyamo added.