The mainstream and social media went agog recently when Daily Trust reported how the son-in-law of a 40-year-old Saudatu Aliyu deceived her into believing that he was contracting marriage between her and former President Muhammadu Buhari. In this interview, Saudatu shared her experience with her daughter and son-in-law.
You recently won a court judgement against your son-in-law, Gambo Adamu, who deceitfully ‘contracted’ your marriage with ex-President Muhammadu Buhari. What really transpired?
I got to know Gambo Adamu while selling food at Kure Ultramodern Market. That was in 2016. He worked as a private security at the market. We became familiar because he was one of my regular customers.
I later brought my daughter from Yola, Adamawa State, to stay with me in Minna after I separated with my husband. But when I remarried, I wasn’t going to the shop regularly, so my daughter was running the restaurant for me. That was where and how they started a relationship. I didn’t know until when they had gone far.
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When Gambo sent my sister’s daughter who visited us from Gombe to inform me of his intention to marry my daughter, I told him that there was no problem. I told him to meet the girl’s parents in Yola and seek their consent.
He later came to me to form a non-governmental organisation known as Youth Progressive Group. While we were discussing about the organisation I became seriously ill and spent months in the hospital. He started getting me traditional medicines, in addition to what my parents and younger brothers were getting for me. He went as far as travelling to his village to get me some traditional medicines. But at that time he was yet to get married to my daughter.
When I recovered, I went back to continue with my food business and we became closer.
One day, I took my daughter to Yola to discuss the marriage proposal with her father. Because of that we had a misunderstanding and I wanted to leave her in Yola with her father, but some people advised that I shouldn’t do that because she would become wayward. In fact, because of her father’s insistence that she would not be allowed to marry Gambo Adamu, she attempted to commit suicide. She wanted to take rat poison before she was saved. That was why people said I should take her back to Minna.
I brought her back to Minna and eventually, her father agreed and she got married to Gambo in 2018.
After the marriage, Gambo reminded me of the non-governmental organisation he asked me to set up. He said I would serve as its patron and sponsor while he would serve as chairman. I told him that I had never operated an NGO, so I had no idea of how to run any. He told me that whatever I spent would be documented and opportunities would come in future. I told him I was going to think about it and also seek advice from my brothers.
He also asked me to get him God-fearing people who would help him handle a contract for the sale of hajj seats to intending pilgrims. I told my younger brother and few other people in my area and invited them for a meeting with him so that he would explain to them better.
He said he was going to design membership forms to be filled by all the members of the NGO. He also said the forms would be given to them for free but as the patron and sponsor I would take the financial responsibility for the design and printing. I gave him N2,000 to design and print the forms. That was in 2017.
So, we started the NGO and meetings were held on Mondays. As we progressed, he asked us to start contributing N200 every Monday to run the organisation while late coming would attract N100. He later introduced N5,000 as monthly contributions. He also told me that we needed to start giving out charity to orphans and the less privileged, especially those who could not pay their house rents. That was when I developed full interest in the NGO so that we could help the needy.
After that, he said I needed to get the organisation registered somewhere at the Emir’s Palace, Minna. I gave him N6,000 for the registration. He also asked me to print posters, which cost me N18,500 for the first printing. I did another printing at the cost of over N20,000. That was how we continued.
How did the discussion of getting you married to former President Muhammadu Buhari begin?
One day, we visited hospitals and orphanage homes to help the sick and the needy. Before we went to those places, he said we should get a cameraman to take pictures and record videos for record purposes. It was after these visitations that he told me that he was going to take the video to Abuja to show to the federal government so that he could secure a contract for us. He requested for my passport photographs, which I gave him. Those photographs are still with him as I speak with you. He also collected my voter’s card, national identity card and my original secondary school certificates.
They are also still with him. He asked me to give him N50,000 for transport to go to Abuja and for hotel accommodation. I don’t know if he truly went to Abuja, but he told me he went along with his wife.
When they returned from Abuja, they came to me, saying that when government officials and members of the House of Representatives from Niger State and officials of some embassies watched the video, in the company of Buhari, who was still in power then, as well as Mohammed Umaru Bago, the current governor of Niger State, who was a House of Reps member from Niger State, and some other government officials, they said they liked me because I would be of help to them in mobilising votes during elections.
He advised that I should bring money to rent an office for the activities of the NGO with a signpost so that we could easily be traced. He also suggested that I needed to get him a befitting house as the chairman of the organisation, where he could comfortably receive guests. I gave him a huge amount of money to get a good house for himself and rent an office. Later, I gave him over N300,000 to renovate his house and do other things, including getting letterhead papers.
After renovating the house we rented, they said it would be sold because the owner had died. That was how I lost that money. He said we should rent another office and I gave him N120,000 to get a place in Dutsen-Kura. I also paid for his house, where he said he would receive guests from Abuja, including ex-President Buhari. He told me that visits by Buhari would always be secret, so we shouldn’t be taking them to hotels. That was when he told me that Buhari said he loved me and would love to take me as his wife.
I didn’t believe him until when I asked his wife (my daughter) and she swore by Allah and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that what her husband said was true, that she was present when ex-President Buhari said it. I couldn’t control my tears. My son-in-law later brought out a paper, alleging that it was a letter written by Buhari to me and read it to my hearing. He said Buhari requested for my personal pictures.
Why didn’t you seek advice before believing the purported proposal from former President Buhari?
They said it was a secret, so I shouldn’t tell anybody because if people or other women got to know about the proposal, they would get jealous and might kidnap me. They said I shouldn’t tell even my parents until the relationship became stronger. I worked with all they said. Two days after, they called to ask if I had accepted ex-President Buhari’s proposal. I said yes basically because he is a northerner and Fulani by tribe. Thereafter, he requested for my pictures, with a promise that he was going to give to them to Buhari. So I went to a photo studio and snapped different pictures, from which he selected the ones he would take to Buhari.
After collecting my pictures, he requested for N57,000 for transport and hotel accommodation. Two days after, he called me, saying he was still in Abuja and the money I gave them was not enough, so I should send more money for transport. I sent N7,000 again for transport back to Minna. When they came back, they told me they met Buhari at the Villa and he was happy. He gave me Buhari’s picture, saying the former president gave it to him. He also brought a letter from Buhari, which he read to me.
At that point, I asked if I would let my parents know of the proposal, but he said I should wait until Buhari visited me in Minna. He promised to let me know if Buhari gave him a date for his visit so that I would inform my parents. He also told me that the then Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, Borno State governor, Babagana Umara Zulum and Buhari himself had agreed to join my NGO. He later told me that Zulum wanted to take over as the chairman of the organisation, adding that he always had meetings with them.
On several occasions he collected money from me to go to Abuja to see ex-President Buhari. He also tasked me to prepare food – pounded yam, tuwon shinkafa, with cow head and cow tail pepper soup, fried chicken and soft drinks, saying that Buhari and his team were coming to Minna to have a meeting with him. At a point, my parents insisted in knowing where I was taking those foods to. In fact, my father wanted to stop me.
Did you for once demand to see Buhari?
Each time I finished preparing the food and dressed up to go and see Buhari with it, he would ask me to wait for him. He would come and collect the food himself or send his friends to come down and collect it from our house. He didn’t allow me to follow him with the food.
I spent a lot of money preparing the foods. He told me to take note of whatever I spent so that they would pay me back.
One day, he said Buhari was ready for the wedding and I should begin to buy wears, adding that the former president wouldn’t want an elaborate ceremony. He wanted the wedding fatiha done secretly.
Did you buy the wedding wears as he requested?
I bought seven different cloths (and co) for the wedding ceremony. I bought different foot-wears, which he collected to go and show the president for approval. He collected N50, 000 as transport fare for that journey also. And he told me he embarked on each journey with his wife. When he came back, he said Buhari said the cloths were okay and he was going to pay N100,000 as bride price. He gave me the N100, 000.
While I was eager to get the marriage contracted, I heard that he was leaving Minna for Kano on transfer. They didn’t even let me know that they were leaving Minna. But luckily for me, the day they were travelling, at the Niger State Transport Authority park at Tunga market, somebody saw them and called me, saying that my son-in-law was transferred to Kano and I didn’t inform her. I told her that I didn’t know. That was when I called him and he told me that it was an emergency and he was asked not to let anybody know about it. I prayed for them.
After they arrived Kano, my daughter called me, saying that a meeting was scheduled with Buhari’s representatives in Kano and I needed to be there. I travelled to join them in Kano for the meeting. I spent two weeks in Kano to meet with Buhari’s representatives to arrange for the wedding. At that meeting, a man dressed in northern traditional wears was introduced to me as Hadi Sirika, Buhari’s representative Buhari from Abuja. In fact, the man re-introduced himself to me and we had a discussion. He said four of them were billed to come from Abuja but others couldn’t make it. That was why he came alone. I spent a lot on refreshment because I did as my son in-law directed me to do. The Hadi Sirika promised to take my message to Buhari after our meeting.
I spent all my savings from my restaurant business on these movements. But while we were doing all these, I wasn’t comfortable; I was still in doubt and gripped with fear. I was wondering how former President Buhari did not see any woman to marry, except me.
He stayed in Kano for one year before moving back to Minna with his wife, saying he was brought back. They came back to Minna in 2019. He married my daughter in 2018.
When he returned to Minna, I was the one that paid for the house they rented in Dutsen-Kura at N120, 000. He asked me again to rent an office, which I did at the cost of N120,000, totalling N240,000. I bought office equipment, including plasma television, tables and chairs; they are all with him. In that house, they were later asked to vacate because the other tenants complained that they were bringing strange people to their house, even in the night; therefore, they didn’t trust them.
After that, he asked me to rent a house where I would stay with Buhari if he paid me a visit after our wedding. I rented a two-bedroom flat at the cost of N250,000 at the Moris Area.
He later told me that Buhari had confided in him that I would succeed Abba Kyari as his chief of staff. Then he said that since I was going to work in the Villa, government was going to check me to know what I had. I asked how they were going to do that and he said I should begin to save the profits I made from my business with him every day, with a promise that he was going to take record of them. I started giving him N8,000 and later increased it to N15,000 every day.
He also came to me, saying the federal government was going to give us a N300million loan, which I rejected. I told him I was not interested in any loan. He told me that it was Buhari that made that arrangement for me and it was a grant, which I didn’t need to pay back.
Did the wedding fatiha take place?
After I rented the two-bedroom flat where I was going to stay with Buhari at Moris Area, he brought a basket of big kola-nuts for me. I had never seen kola-nuts as big as those he brought for me. He also brought fried chicken wrapped in a nylon. He said my marriage had already been contracted with President Buhari in Abuja. It was on January 31, 2020. That was the day he said the marriage was contracted in Abuja without even informing me.
I angrily asked how he would contract my marriage without informing me to at least tell my parents. Even if I fell from a tree, I should be asked to get guardians to stand for me. He said Buhari didn’t want an elaborate ceremony and that was why he did it secretly. I said even if he didn’t want an elaborate ceremony he would have let my parents know and I needed to be informed too as a bride.
After waiting for close to three years, I insisted that I wanted to see my husband. I rented an apartment, bought cloths for the wedding but didn’t set my eyes on the groom.
Did he ever call anyone on phone to say that you should talk to Buhari?
He didn’t do that, even once. But sometimes he would be on phone and tell me that he was speaking with Buhari. And sometimes he would give me a time the former president wanted to talk to me, but that never happened. Sometimes he would deliberately delay me so that the time Buhari gave him would pass and he would blame me for missing the opportunity. It was later that I began to think it was a deliberate plan to extort me.
Do you think he used charms against you?
There was a time he brought me three shirts and some charms. He said as someone who was going to stay in the Presidential Villa, I needed to fortify myself with charms because a lot of witch-hunting was going on there. He said the former president asked him to inform me to get prepared before relocating to the Villa. I told him I didn’t have time to go after fortune tellers to acquire charms and he said he was going to help me with some. I didn’t have time because I spent the whole day in the restaurant.
He brought three shirts and said I should give one out as charity to a fair in complexion woman and the second one to a black in complexion man. He said I should wear one until it became very dirty and I should then wash it and fetch the dirty water in a small bottle and bring for him. I did exactly as he directed. He also brought some medicines in a gallon, which he asked me to drink, saying that each time I wanted to take it I should hold my breath until I finished it. That was how I was drinking it. He also collected some of my cloths, saying they were going to organise special prayers and my cloths would be given out as charity. He also told me that he needed my blood to do some things. He asked me to go to hospital and ask them to draw my blood and pour it into a bottle and give me to bring for him. But when I went to a hospital, lab officials told me that it was against the rules of their job, so they didn’t do it. When I went back home, he said I should try another hospital but I didn’t go again even when he kept giving me pressure to go and get him my blood.
He later said he was nominated for a course in Lagos and he needed N125,000. I emptied my treasury and gave him the money.
With all these incidents, did you ever engage his wife (your daughter) in a discussion to tell you the truth?
In fact, if her husband brought any issue, I would call her to confirm it. And each time I called her, she would swear that all her husband said was true. My daughter connived with her husband to cheat me. I believed my daughter would not cheat me, that was why I kept trusting what her husband was telling me.
He later interviewed me to know what I liked and what I didn’t like and the countries I would love to visit, saying Buhari asked him to write them down and bring for him. While he was asking me questions, he was writing them down.
What happened to the house you rented to stay with your Buhari?
After one year, the first house I rented at Moris Area was due for renewal. I left there and rented a more befitting one at the Dutsen-Kura Area at the cost of N450,000. The new apartment I rented had guest rooms for Buhari’s entourage. The money I had with me was not even up to N450,000 to pay for the new apartment I wanted to rent, so I had to use the N100,000 he gave me as pride price to complete the rent fee.
For the money I told you I was giving to him from the proceeds of my business, he later told me that he deposited it into a bank account belonging to Buhari’s mother, Hajiya Amina.
Did you ever think that former President Buhari was coming to take you to Aso Rock Villa?
They gave me a date that Buhari was coming to take me to Abuja to stay with him. One year after, he said we should celebrate one-year wedding anniversary, so I insisted on seeing Buhari if truly my marriage was contracted. He insisted that a date had been fixed. He gave me May 29, 2021. I quickly informed my father and mother to get prepared to receive President Buhari as their guest. But we didn’t see him.
I told my son-in-law that if I didn’t see Buhari on May 29, 2021, I would accept marriage proposal from anyone because I couldn’t continue to wait because my father was giving me pressure to remarry. That date came and I didn’t see any Buhari coming to take me to his house.
All the profits I made from my business were extorted. All the records he claimed to have kept are still with him. He didn’t allow me access to them. The money he extorted from me was enough to build me houses and start something bigger.
What action did you take at last?
When the date they gave me elapsed, I called him and his wife and told them that I was no longer interested. I told them I was going to get married to anyone that was serious. I told them to refund all my money. And my father was giving me pressure to remarry because he didn’t want me to die without remarrying, so, I accepted the man I remarried now.
Why didn’t you approach the court earlier than you did?
We started having problems when I told them to refund my money. At that point, my daughter and her husband blocked my number from accessing them via phone. I kept trying to call them but in vain. I later went to their house to check them. Getting to their house, I knocked at the gate and my daughter came out. After opening the gate, she went inside and came out few minutes later, wearing a nose mask. As she opened the gate, I was about going in while she wanted to go out of the house. I asked where she was going. I told her I came to see her but she said she was going to call her husband. I said she should call him on phone but she said she didn’t have airtime.
She insisted on going out but I ordered her to go inside. She pushed with force, insisting that she would go out. It was at that point that I held her and gave her a dirty slap. She started shouting that I came to kidnap her and people should save her. She said I was a kidnapper and I became scared because the people who came on rescue mission were armed with cutlasses, but luckily, they knew me as her mother because I was the one paying their house rent and buying them food. But she was running and shouting that I wanted to kidnap her. Some people started saying that maybe she was under the influence of a spirit. It was the people in the area that informed me of the location of her husband, so I traced him there and met him.
What happened after that?
I met him at Fodio Plaza with little children, most of who were orphans. I knew some of them, so, I asked them to leave. I asked why his number had not been going through and he confirmed to me that he had blocked my line. I asked if that was how he wanted to pay me back.
I told him to refund all the money he extorted from me and he said he didn’t like what I was doing to him, saying my wealth was an inheritance that he too would benefit from. I told him that he had no right to inherit my property and he said he was marrying my daughter so was like a son to me.
I told him that his charms had expired and he said he had nothing to give back to me. From there, I reported the matter at the National Human Rights Commission. I couldn’t control my tears. I was just imagining things within me.
Later, he invited the police to arrest me and I followed them to the station. While we were at the police station, my daughter came to join us. They asked if she knew me and she denied me. She told the police that she had never met me. She still called me a kidnapper at the police station. People wanted to flog her for denying me.
After listening to us, the police asked us to go and come back the following day. When we came the next day, they said it was a family issue, so we should go and settle it at home. From there, my daughter started crying and begging me to forgive her.
I gave him a total of what I spent, amounting to N5 million. He accepted to pay me my money.
After we had reached an agreement, he went to GRA police station to arrest and detain me. He insisted that the police should detain me. After I narrated my ordeal, the police told him that there was no reason to detain me. The police accompanied and got me a tricycle to take me home and they gave the tricycle rider a number to call if anybody stopped us on the way.
They asked us to come back the following day. When we went back to GRA police station, I narrated the story to the police; that was when police locked him up. Later, they said it was a family matter and we should go and settle it.
He later engaged a lawyer who was coming to beg me to forgive him and forfeit the money.
I later reported at the headquarters of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and was directed to lodge a complaint at the Magistrate’s Court.
What is the status of your daughter’s marriage with him?
She called me a liar, even at the police station. She said I was lying against her husband. Even in the courtroom, she was solidly behind her husband. I presented my witnesses before the court while his wife was his witness.
After her husband was sentenced to prison, she left Minna for Yola. Her brothers called to inform me that she was in Yola. She asked her brothers to beg me to forgive her. I told them that I won’t forgive her until she told them the truth because she was the one that kept on convincing me that what her husband was saying were true.
I have no business with their marriage. If they still love each other, let them continue. If she is no longer interested, they should find a way out of it. I have no business with that.
Would you forgive your son-in-law if he begs for forgiveness?
I can only forgive him after he might have paid the N2million compensation the court asked him to pay me.
Is his wife the only child you have?
I have five children; she is the number five. The remaining four are in Yola with their father.