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[Published: Monday September 01 2008]

Nigeria seizes Obama money'

Abuja , 2 Sept-(ANA)- Money raised by the head of the Nigerian Stock Exchange to support USpresidential candidate Barack Obama has been seized by Nigerian anti-graftinvestigators.

The Economic andFinancial Crimes Commission said it would give the money back to those whoattended a gala dinner in Lagoslast month.

The EFCC said ithad seized 74m naira (0,000, 314,000), but said no Nigerian laws had beenbroken.

US politicalparties are not allowed to receive contributions from abroad.

Stock exchangechairwoman Ndi Okereke-Onyuike is also the head of Africans for Obama, aNigeria-based support group.

She wasinterviewed by the EFCC after media reports that the Obama campaign haddisassociated itself from the group.

Mrs Okereke-Onyiukesaid in August there had been a misunderstanding in the press regarding theevent.

The money wasgoing to be spent on adverts encouraging Nigerians in the US to vote forMr Obama, she said.

Tickets to thelavish event in Lagoson 11 August cost more than ,000 (11,000) for an eight-person table.

"We neversaid we were going to donate money for the campaign," she said.

"We paid forthe hall and the entertainers and the surplus, we said would be spent onadvertisements aimed at persuading Nigerians to tell their relatives in America toregister to vote.

"There is notone Nigerian who doesn't have a relative or friend in America. Ouraim was to encourage those people to tell their family who have the right tovote in Americato vote for Obama."

Full-page advertsin major newspapers publicising the event did not mention what the organiserswere planning to do with the money.

Tickets to thegala dinner at the Muson Centre, usually used for conferences and trade shows,were split into two price ranges: "gold" and "platinum".

Individual ticketsfor the more expensive platinum range cost ,754 (1,300) with an option tobuy a "corporate" table sitting eight for more than ,000.

She said the presswas trying to attack her because they were jealous of her success.

"I am a womanof the highest integrity," she told the BBC.

A statement formthe EFCC said they had ordered Mrs Okereke-Onyuike to "steer clear of suchactivities in future". (ANA)

FA/ANA/2 September2008---

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