President Muhammadu Buhari had paid a goodwill visit to the ally and national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu at his London villa.
What many see as an innocent visit by the country’s commander-in-chief may have more profound consequences for this current administration’s fight against corruption.
The London home of Tinubu, which has seen a constant flow of “sympathizers” and politicians, has been a sort of mecca.
Besides Mr. Buhari, other politicians who visited Tinubu at the mansion are the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; a former governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun; Amosun’s successor, Dapo Abiodun; the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi; the governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu; members of the Lagos State House of Assembly; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; a contingent from Kano State led by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje; best fuji musician; Wasiu Ayinde, among other dignitaries.
What most Nigerians didn’t know was that the property was linked to one of the country’s biggest corruption scandals since Buhari became president in 2015.
According to Bonus hours, the mansion where Tinubu housed Buhari is not only embroiled in a multibillion-dollar fraud scandal, the Buhari government had in fact obtained a property freeze order from a Federal High Court before the previous owner, who is now an international fugitive, only sells it at a huge discount to an offshore company owned by the governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola, a relative of Tinubu.
Naija News reports that this revelation is part of the reports published by the ‘Pandora Papers’, created by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) a nonprofit newsroom and journalist network centered in Washington, DC, which exposes a global tangle of political power and secret offshore finance and transactions.
The investigation which involved more than 600 journalists and more than 100 media organizations has already revealed the financial transactions of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s image maker and many others.
Pandora Papers investigation uncovered financial secrets, including those of politicians, former and former public officials, including the governor Atiku Bagudu from Kebbi State, former PDP vice presidential candidate Peter Obi, APC leader Senator Stella Oduah, among others.
The leaked documents came from 14 offshore service companies around the world that help clients set up shell companies and design opaque structures to conceal their financial transactions.
The property that Tinubu has now taken as his home is located at 32 Grove End Road in London’s affluent Westminster district.
The Pandora Papers report said:
Villa 32 Grove End Road exudes astonishing opulence. According to an advertising brochure for the property published by the famous British real estate company Savills, the estate is made up of two buildings – a five bedroom property with a formal reception, an office, a master bedroom with an en-suite dressing room, bathroom and a cinema suite with a balcony overlooking the back garden. Two of the property’s four other bedrooms are en-suite.
The second building of the estate is a self-contained two bedroom apartment which is built above the property’s double garage. The property includes a gym, two guest changing rooms, a driveway that can park up to eight cars, front and rear gardens and an electric gate.
Bought from a fugitive at a discount of £ 8million
Documents obtained from the UK property register revealed that in July 2013, the property with title number 340992 was purchased for £ 11.95million by Zavlil Holdings Ltd, a front company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a notorious tax haven.
Other documents obtained by Bonus hours revealed that Zavlil Holdings Limited is owned by Kolawole Aluko, an international fugitive wanted by law enforcement in Nigeria and the United States for money laundering.
Kola Aluko and his partner, Jide Omokore, have been indicted in the United States and Nigeria for multi-million dollar fraud and money laundering violations allegedly in collusion with former Minister of Oil Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke.
In 2016, the federal government of Nigeria filed a Mareva injunction with a Federal High Court in Lagos to confiscate a list of properties owned by Messrs. Aluko and Omokore worth $ 1.8 billion.
In the lawsuit against Omokore and Aluko, alongside their companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, the Nigerian government asked the court to grant it seven orders to prevent the defendants from disposing of the assets. The government alleged that they were acquired by fraudulent means.
The third prayer the government made to the court was to grant it an order restraining the accused “to instruct, demand, accept, receive payments and / or carry out transactions, transfer, mortgage or otherwise treat the assets of the defendants in the homes and premises land in Abuja and Lagos and others outside Nigeria.
The government then listed 17 properties in Abuja, Lagos, the United States, Canada, Dubai, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Among the listed properties was “Grove End Road, London”.
The court granted the government all its prayers. In October 2017, an attempt by the defendants to dismiss the Mareva injunction granted on the properties was subsequently rejected by Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, the trial judge.
But just then (October 18, 2017) the court dismissed the defendant’s attempt to dismiss the injunction, documents obtained from the UK property register revealed Mr Aluko had sold the house for £ 9million to Aranda Overseas Corporation, an incorporated offshore company. in the British Virgin Islands by two of Tinubu’s most trusted surrogates – Adegboyega Oyetola, former chairman of the Paragon Group of Companies and outgoing Governor of Osun State and Elusanmi Eludoyin, Oyetola’s successor to Paragon.
The huge discount at which the property was sold is curious and raised the question of whether Mr Aluko was in desperate need of selling the property even though a court ordered it to be frozen.
The UK, especially the greater London area, is characterized by a rapid increase in property values.
Based on the probable value calculation, the property is expected to be worth around £ 17million. So Mr Aluko sold the property at a discount of £ 8,000,000.
Source: Naija News