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Nigeria seizes funds raised by group

September 01, 2008|From Reuters

LAGOS, NIGERIA — Nigerian anti-graft police have seized $629,834 raised at a gala dinner in support of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, authorities said Sunday.

Obama's campaign said it was in no way affiliated with the group Africans for Obama and would not accept funds from the organization. Although the fundraising was not illegal in Nigeria, it is illegal under U.S. law for foreign groups to donate funds to American political parties.

Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, chairwoman of Africans for Obama and head of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, organized the fundraiser in Lagos on Aug. 11. A "platinum" ticket for a table of eight cost $21,226.

The amount raised sparked widespread public outrage in Africa's top oil producer, where the majority of the people live on less than $2 a day, prompting the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to launch an investigation.

The commission said it would work out how to share the money among those who paid to participate in the event.

Okereke-Onyiuke said in a full-page statement in Nigeria's Guardian newspaper on Aug. 21 that the dinner had never been intended to raise funds for Obama, but to sensitize and mobilize Africans worldwide.

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