Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The planned high profile marriage between Zahra Buhari, the attractive and outgoing daughter of President Muhammadu Buhari, and Ahmed Indimi, the son of an oil magnate from Borno State, Mohammed Indimi, may have been deferred following the physical altercation that trailed the delivery of several stacked dowry boxes valued at N44 million (using the official exchange rate) to the first family.
Trouble started on November 18, during the traditional introduction ceremony, when the sister of the groom, Yataka Indimi, insisted on taking her mobile phone into the Presidential Villa, Abuja, contrary to security protocol.
THISDAY gathered that Yataka wanted to record all the proceedings, including the delivery of the boxes made by the French luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, with her mobile phone, despite the fact it was against standard security protocol in the villa.
In line with the Hausa/Fulani tradition, the boxes, according to sources, contained cash, jewelry, clothes, bags, shoes and other gifts valued at several millions of naira for Zahra and the first family.
However, a struggle ensued between Yataka and the security officials who tried to compel her to comply with protocol, only for her to resist. The incident attracted the attention of other dignitaries who tried to stop the scuffle.
According to a reliable family source, the argument degenerated to a scuffle, compelling the wife of the Nasarawa State governor, Mrs. Tanko Almakura, to step in to stop the altercation from getting out of hand and may have injured her arm in the process.
“As of today, we learnt that the Nasarawa first lady is still nursing her wounds and is being treated for a dislocation,” the source said.
THISDAY learnt that the incident was so embarrassing that it incurred the wrath of the president over the behaviour of the Indimis.
Indeed, Buhari was reported to have threatened to return the boxes and stop the marriage ceremony that had been scheduled to climax on Sunday, December 4.
“We learnt that the president who was displeased with the development and behaviour exhibited by the Indimi family, vowed to return the boxes and not approve of the marriage.
“The president was also of the view that the gifts were too expensive and incompatible with his modest lifestyle and has asked the Indimis to take the boxes back.
“I think we must give it to the president for taking this stand, and cementing his reputation for not tolerating indiscipline,” a source close to the presidency said.
However, elders close to the Buhari and Indimi families are at the moment trying to prevail on the president not to return the boxes, as he would be bucking tradition.
They are also working on resolving the tension that has arisen since the altercation, so that the wedding could go ahead as planned, if not this weekend, then as soon as possible.
Further findings revealed that while Buhari might not be favourably disposed to the idea of marrying out his daughter to a wealthy suitor, the wife of the president and her daughters, who are more liberal, are rooting for the marriage.
Sources revealed that the daughters of Mohammed Indimi, the billionaire owner of Oriental Energy that operates a number of oil assets in the Niger Delta region, have a history of marrying the male children of first families or former heads of state.
An insider said that Indimi’s first daughter is married to Mohammed Abacha, son of the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha, who ruled Nigeria between 1994 and 1998.
Another daughter is married to the first son of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), who coincidentally overthrew Buhari in a palace coup in 1985, when the latter was Nigeria’s military head of state.
“The Babangida marriage is blessed with five children. But the marriage as we speak, has hit the rocks and the case is in court. This, added to the fact that Indimi’s business ties with Afren, which is being wound up in the UK after a slew of scandals, has raised questions,” the source said.
Zahra, who is the youngest and most visible daughter of the president, is a graduate of medical microbiology from the University of Surrey in the UK.
She is also the ambassador for SCAF, a foundation that aims to minimise the incidence of sickle cell anaemia in Nigeria.