The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has frozen a £10million worth of London property allegedly bought for Diezani Alison-Madueke as investigations into the case against the former minister unravels by the day.
Two properties at Regents Park in London, along with one in Buckinghamshire, have now been frozen based on the request of Nigerian authorities.
A London court gave the frozen order in September 2016 but details of the rulings have only recently become public.
But the agency was too late in preventing a further two properties worth £8m from being sold.
In July, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed four properties it alleged were bought for the former petroleum minister by individuals and firms seeking her influence in obtaining lucrative oil asset and crude oil lifting contracts.
Some of the oil asset were assigned to people believed to be her cronies through controversial Strategic Alliance Agreements.
The DoJ’s affidavit stated that businessmen Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko were involved in the purchase of two of the properties allegedly bought for Mrs. Alison-Madueke.
The UK order obtained by journalists at Africa Confidential has revealed that three of the properties have been frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Apart from Mrs. Alison-Madueke, Mr. Omokore and Mr. Aluko, the order also named three other individuals as defendants in the case, all of whom are believed to have received contracts or oil asset from the NNPC during the embattled minister’s tenure.
They include Aiteo’s Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Peters, a jeweler named Christopher Aire, and a lawyer named Donald Amamgbo. All received contracts from the NNPC. The order forbids the defendants from disposing of or dealing in the properties.
But although the NCA has frozen three properties worth £10 million, the agency was too late to prevent a further two properties worth £8 million from being sold.
One of these, a massive nine-bedroom house in London’s exclusive Hampstead Garden Suburb, bought by a BVI company in January 2011 for £5,850,000- was sold in May 2015.
Similarly, the property at 39 Chester Close, one of the properties listed in the DoJ case, which was bought by Kola Aluko’s BVI based Mortlake Investments for £1.73 million, was sold in July 2015, months before the NCA initially arrested the former Minister.
UK estate agent, Daniel Ford & Co, assisted in the purchases of three of the properties, and UK solicitors firms, Addie & Co and Gordon’s Partnership, were conveyancers of the deals.
According to Corruption Watch, a UK NGO, investigators should look carefully at these organisations’ due diligence practices.
The order signals a step up in the UK’s investigation of the former minister, who was first arrested by the NCA in October 2015, when the agency confiscated her passport and £27,000 in cash found in her apartment.
However the extent of the evidence against the former minister and the other defendants remains unclear.
The September 2016 forfeiture proceeding of the properties was held in private, meaning that the evidence that the NCA presented to support the seizure is not accessible.
This evidence will be critical. Although Messrs Peters, Aire and Amamgbo all had lucrative contracts with the NNPC, and are all accused of lavish spending for Mrs Alison-Madueke, this alone will not be enough to secure criminal prosecutions against any of them, analysts say.
“In the U.S. and U.K., simply buying luxury items for a government official like Ms. Alison-Madueke isn’t against the law,” says Aaron Sayne, a Financial Investigator and Senior Governance Officer at the National Resource Governance Institute.
“Investigators have to link the money involved to a crime that happened in Nigeria. And if the crime is bribery, they must also show that the items purchased rewarded her for helping someone win a government contract. That’s not easy to prove, especially well enough to stand up in court.”
The DoJ’s case included transcripts of conversations in which the minister appears to admit her role in awarding the SAAs to Atlantic – but it is still unclear whether the UK has additional evidence relating to the contracts that Messrs. Amamgbo, Peters, and Aire received during Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s tenure.
Neither Donald Amamgbo and Christopher Aire had experience in the oil business when their newly minted trading firms picked up term contracts from the NNPC: Mr. Amamgbo was an attorney, Mr. Aire a jeweler.
And this practice of giving oil contracts to inexperienced firms picked for political connections has not ended, however.
“Patronage and self-enrichment are still the driving forces behind many sales,” according to Mr. Sayne, though he admits that the NNPC, has “sanitized some of its oil sales processes under President Buhari”.
SOLD: 39 Chester Close North- Bought by Kola Aluko’s BVI company, Mortlake Investments, in March 2011 for £1,730,000. Mrs. Alison-Madueke is alleged to have selected the stone flooring for the property in a renovation also led by Kola Aluko. The property was sold in July 2015, months before the NCA initially arrested the former Minister, for £2,800,000.
SOLD: Winnington Road
A massive nine-bedroom property in Hampstead Garden Suburb – one of London’s most exclusive areas– was on the NCA’s list of properties to be frozen. However the property was sold in May 2015, before by the time the UK received a request from the Nigerian authorities to freeze the property. The property was bought by BVI company Hampstead Corporate Limited in January 2011 for £5,850,000.
The beneficial ownership of Hampstead Corporate, and its connection to the named defendants in the UK freezing order, is unknown
FROZEN: The Falls, Buckinghamshire- Bought by Jide Omokore’s Seychellois company Miranda Investments for £3,250,000 in January 2011. Used UK law firm Addie & Co.
Mrs. Alison-Madueke was the only known resident of the property, and was addressed by the staff there as “the Madam”, according to the DoJ’s case, which also states that Kola Aluko engaged a construction company to upgrade the property. The property was briefly marketed by estate agent Brampton Partnership in August 2015.
FROZEN: Harley House- Bought by Seychellois company Rosewood Investments for £2,800,000 in March 2011, and now revealed to be beneficially owned by Aiteo Chief Executive Officer Benedict Peters.
Construction workers renovating Harley House over the summer of 2011 were introduced to Mrs. Alison-Madueke as “the architect”, and Kola Aluko, who was co-ordinating the renovation of Harley House in the summer of 2011, forwarded the plans for the apartment to the former minister.
The property is furnished with some of the $107,000 luxury furnishings bought for Mrs Alison-Madueke by Mr. Peters.
FROZEN: Park View – Bought by Seychelles company Colinwood Ltd, whose ownership is unknown, in March 2011 for £3,750,000. Used UK law firm Gordon’s.
According to the DoJ documents, the purchase was financed with a mortgage from the UK branch of FBN Bank, obtained by “co-conspirator #1” – who is believed to be Christopher Aire.
According to the DoJ’s case, Mr. Aluko co-ordinated renovations to Park View, and Mrs. Alison-Madueke met with the construction worker to discuss the renovations.
Oyo: Makinde Mother’s Burial Holds December
Body of Chief (Mrs.) Abigail Makinde, the mother of Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde will be interred in the first week of December.
Governor Makinde disclosed this yesterday while playing host to a delegation from the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi Ogunlade Odundun II, which was in Ibadan, the state capital to commiserate with him on the death of his mother.
The governor said he was very delighted with the visit, urging Akure people, the kingdom where his mother was born, to actively participate in her funeral.
Makinde, who described them as one of the most upright, bold and honest people in Yoruba land and the nation at large, also added that his late mother was a role model whose dedication to work, uprightness, boldness and honesty were the traits of Akure people.
A statement by Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, quoted the governor as saying “when you see an average Akure man or woman, you see courage and see people who are true to their words.”
While delivering the condolence message from the Deji of Akure, the leader of the delegation, who is the Asae of Akure Kingdom, Senior High Chief Sola Adegbonmire, described the governor’s mother as a worthy daughter of Akure Kingdom.
He stressed that the Omoregie family, where Madam Abigail Omojolagbe Makinde hailed from, is a family of exceptional and wonderful people in Akureland.
Oba Aladetoyinbo further described the death of Madam Makinde as a painful loss not only to the Makinde family but also to the entire Akure Kingdom.
He then prayed that God would grant the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
‘My mother was an epitome of love, humility’ – Gov. Makinde mourns
The Oyo state governor, Engr Seyi Makinde, has described his late mother, Chief (Mrs.) Abigail Omojolagbe Makinde, as an epitome of love and humility, despite being a disciplinarian.
The governor stated this on Friday while receiving the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by the National Chairman, Prince Uche Sencondus, on a condolence visit to his house at Ikolaba GRA, Ibadan.
According to a statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, the governor expressed gratitude to the PDP NWC, noting that the fact that the leadership of the party made it to Ibadan barely 24 hours after Mama’s demise showed the love they have for him.
The statement also noted that apart from the PDP NWC entourage, the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Edo, and Delta States, Alhaji Daud Akinola, Chief Imam of Ibadanland, Sheikh AbdulGaniyy Abubakri Agbotomokekere, the Grand Mufti of Ibadanland, Sheikh Abdul Fatai Alaga, and other Muslim leaders also paid condolence visits to the governor.
Similarly, the Oyo State Judiciary led by the Chief Justice of the state, Justice Muntar Abimbola, and the General Officer Commanding, 2 Div, Nigerian Army, Ibadan, Major General Anthony Omozoje, were also at the Makinde residence to condole with the governor.
Speaking while receiving the PDP entourage, which included the National Organising Secretary, Col. Austin Akobundu (retd); Deputy National Secretary; National Financial Secretary, Alhaji Abdullahi MaiBasira; National Woman Leader, Hajia Mariya Waziri; National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, as well a leader of the PDP from Osun State, Hon. Soji Adagunodo, Governor Makinde said the family remains grateful to God for the life Mama lived.
He said: “I want to thank you most sincerely for this condolence visit. I want to say, on behalf of myself, my wife, immediate family, and extended family, we are very grateful and appreciative of this visit. This happened yesterday morning and you are here this morning. It shows that you truly love me. So, I want to say thank you.
“Actually, we were preparing for my mummy’s 81st birthday, which would have been on the November 7, exactly three weeks from yesterday. But who are we to question God?
“We are grateful to God for the life she lived. To us, she was an epitome of love, humility. She was tough. If you see that trait in some of us, it came from her. And we also thank God that it was not like we were carrying her from one hospital to the other. She died peacefully in her sleep. So, we thank God for what He has done.”
Governor Makinde, who also took the opportunity to appreciate the PDP NWC for the confidence it had in him to lead the Ondo State governorship campaign, said what the outcome of the election meant was that the party would have to go back to the drawing board, adding that the campaign council will submit a report as soon as practicable.
“I will also like to use this opportunity to thank the National Working Committee of our great party for the opportunity you gave to us to lead the campaign in Ondo State. We can’t question God for the outcome of that election. What it means is that we have to go back to the drawing board. We will be submitting a report of those areas where we fell short, to the NWC as soon as practicable.
“I really want to use this opportunity to thank all of you who were there in Akure for the love of our party and for the support that you gave to our candidate in Ondo State.
“Once again, my Chairman, I am appreciative of this visit and I thank you and all the members of the NWC of our party.”
Earlier, the PDP national chairman said that the visit was to condole with the governor and the family for the loss of their mother.
He said: “A time like this is the time you know those who care and those who are with you. Unfortunately, we have two situations on our hands. We lost the chairman of the party in Zamfara. Obviously, we divided ourselves; the Deputy National Chairman of the party left for Zamfara yesterday morning for the burial of our late chairman of the party. And I and the rest of us in the National Working Committee leadership decided yesterday to come to Ibadan today.
“We are here by the grace of God to console you and the rest of the members of your family. We have no other way to do it than to join you in prayers.
“It is a very painful experience that you have to go through, sometimes alone. I know what it is because I have experienced it. It is only God that can fill the vacuum in your heart because the care of a mother is quite different from that of a father.
“So, on behalf of the leadership of our party, we are here to console you on this condolence visit. The Lord will strengthen you. And because you are one of our best and doing good works for the people of Oyo State and at this time that you are giving out your best, suddenly, God who gives has taken your beloved mother.
“We are here to share the pain and sorrow with you and to let you know we will continue in prayers during this period, even as we prepare for the funeral. After the funeral, we will continue to pray for you, your immediate and larger family. It is important for us to do so, having worked with you and having seen you as a man who is compassionate and cares for others.
“Today, we are here with you and we pray that God will energise you at this period and stretch His right hand of righteousness to touch every one of the members of the family to bear this great loss.
“Therefore, as members of the National Working Committee, we pray that God will keep you now and thereafter to make you continue to do the good work for the people of Oyo State
Nigeria: Group drums support for #ENDSARS
Benchmark Group of Nigeria on Friday declared its support for the ongoing peaceful #EndSARS protests, as Nigerians speak up against police brutality.
Akanbi Bukola, founder of the group in a chat with Mega Icon Magazine said it is imperative to identify with Nigerians as protests continue around the country to end police brutality and the abuse of power by the institution established to protect its citizenry.
She noted that aside corruption and oppression from the hands of some elements of the Nigeria Police Force, “this time around, Nigerians, irrespective of faith, ethnic or political biases, must come together to eradicate police brutality once and for all in the society”.
According to her, for many Nigerians, the police has failed to fulfill its mandate of providing public security as enshrined in the constitution, adding that officers are now viewed more as predators than protectors.
Akanbi lamented further that Nigerians struggling to make ends meet are accosted on a daily basis by these officers who demand bribes and commit abuses against them as a means of extorting money.
“Those who fail to pay are usually threatened with arrest and physical harm, by those expected to protect them”, she said.
Akanbi, however called for the overall reform of the country’s police force.
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