Like Fathers Like Sons: Ex-Nigerian governors who may be jailed with their children for corruption



Barring the lack of diligence in the
prosecution of cases by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
some former governors and their children will go to jail, PREMIUM TIMES
can report.

While in office and protected by constitutional immunity, many former
governors and their children were found to have helped themselves to
billions of naira of funds belonging to their states.
The blatant rape of the states’ resources went unabated as unemployment, poverty and hunger ravaged citizens.

While the number of governors and their children who used their
position to steal state funds might be more, only the cases of three
governors already before the EFCC are treated in this report.

PREMIUM TIMES presents some of the messy deals which the EFCC accuses
former Governor Nyako and his son Abdulazeez, former Governor Martin
Elechi and his son, Nnanna and former Governor Sule Lamido and his sons,
Aminu and Mustapha, of.

Murtala Nyako & Son

Murtala Nyako was elected Adamawa State governor in May 2007 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party.

Mr. Nyako, however, ran into trouble when he wrote a scathing letter
April 18, 2014, accusing the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, of
committing genocide against the people of Northern Nigeria.

In the letter which was addressed to the Northern Governors’ Forum,
Mr. Nyako, among other things accused Mr. Jonathan of incompetence,
corruption and high-handedness in the war against Boko Haram insurgents.

Not long after releasing the acerbic letter, he defected from the PDP
with five other governors and later joined the All Progressives
Congress, APC.

The Adamawa State House of Assembly wasted no time in compiling impeachable offences against Mr. Nyako.

They also dragged in his very powerful son, who was alleged to be handling multi-billion naira contracts for the Nyakos.

Mr. Nyako fled the country even before his impeachment was finalized
and was declared wanted by the EFCC on February 4, 2014, alongside his
son, Abdulaziz. Both were wanted for criminal conspiracy, stealing,
abuse of office and money laundering.

The EFCC also arrested and questioned key officials of the state over alleged massive looting of the treasury.

During its investigation, the EFCC found that questionable cash
withdrawals were made from the Joint State/Local Government account of
the state.

For instance, the then Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local
Government Affairs was alleged to have made cash withdrawals of over N2
billion in 181 different transactions, scattered in tranches of N3
million, N4 million, N8 million and N9 million per transaction from the
joint account domiciled with First Bank between 29th of August 2011 and
2012.

He also allegedly made similar cash withdrawals amounting to over
N500 million between March 6, 2008, and March 4, 2011, from another
joint account domiciled in Keystone Bank.

Other officials of the ministry who allegedly looted the Joint
Account include Justina Jari, a principal accountant, who made cash
withdrawals to the tune of N600 million between October, 2009 and
February, 2011.

Another staff of the ministry, Abdulhakeem Mohammed, was also alleged
to have withdrawn about N3 billion from the joint account between
February 2007 and May 2011. Two other staff, Mercy Wanje and Jumai
Salihu were also said to have made withdrawals of N1 billion and N160
million from the account respectively.

On a single day, another staff, Haruna Hamali, a principal store
officer made a cash withdrawal of over N70 million from the same
account. The EFCC arrested many state officials in connection with the
withdrawals and other ongoing investigations.

Abdulazeez Murtala Nyako

Mr. Abdulazeez is a true chip off the old block. The senator
representing Adamawa Central Senatorial District is the first son of the
embattled former governor.

The EFCC says while serving as governor, the elder Nyako allowed his
son to dip his hands freely into the Adamawa State till to the extent
that over N15billion were traced to accounts of five companies owned by
the young man.

The companies included Blue Opal Nigeria Limited, Crust Energy
Nigeria Limited, Blue Ribbon Multilinks Limited, Tower Assets Management
Limited and Blue Ribbon Bureau De Change.

PREMIUM TIMES investigation shows that the illicit transfers were
funneled into the accounts of Mr. Abdulazeez from the state government
accounts domiciled in a new generation bank.

It was, therefore, not difficult for the Nyakos to rob Adamawa State
blind because the branch manager of the bank who doubled as account
officer to the state government account, is an in-law to the embattled
former governor.

During vigorous interrogation, the bank manager admitted to
transferring state funds through verbal instructions from the Elder
Nyako for purposes that were not stated. The EFCC further found that
from 2007 to 2011, former Governor Nyako directed that all state-owned
accounts domiciled in various banks be transferred to the new generation
bank.

Mr. Abdulaziz’s company, Blue Opal, is said to own, among other
investments in Nigeria, an estate in Abuja, while his father’s account
officer owns several properties and investments scattered around Abuja,
Yola and Kano.

On February 4, the anti-graft agency declared Mr. Nyako and his son
wanted in a case of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and
money laundering. Two weeks after the duo were declared wanted, Mr.
Abdulazeez was arrested in Gombe and flown to Abuja to explain how a
whopping N15 billion belonging to Adamawa State Government found its way
into the accounts of five of his firms.

However, on February 24, the star witness against the former
governor’s son, Maadi Dan-Tsoho, died with family sources attributing
the death to asthma attack. Before his demise, Mr. Dan-Tsoho was
suspended as regional manager of Zenith Bank, North-East operations for
daring to testify against the all-powerful Abdulazeez.

The elder Nyako was arrested on July 8, and was charged to an Abuja
High Court alongside his son and later remanded in the EFCC custody. On
July 10, Justice E. Chukwu granted the duo bail with the sum of N350
million. While they now enjoy an administrative bail, it is not yet over
for Mr. Nyako and his son.

Martin Elechi & Son

Martin Mr. Elechi was sworn in as the governor of Ebonyi State on May 29, 2007.

Trouble started for the former Ebonyi first family, when on January
29, the EFCC arrested Nnanna, the son of the former governor on
allegations of money laundry.

Nnanna is alleged to be the face of the Elechis family’s firm which
profited from state and local governments contracts running into
billions of naira but which were never executed till May 29, when Mr.
Elechi vacated office.

A week before the young Elechi was arrested, the anti-graft agency
had quizzed the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Works,
Cornelius Onwe; while the state’s Accountant General, Edwin Igbele;
Commissioner for Finance, Timothy Ogbonnaya Odaa; and Commissioner for
Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Cele Nwali had earlier been
being quizzed by commission in Abuja.

They were all fingered in allegations of fraud regarding an Asphalt
Project earmarked for the 13 local government councils of the state by
the Elechi administration for which monies running into millions of
naira were deducted at source from local government accounts.

While the younger Elechi was yet to
finish explaining to the EFCC how huge tranches of state and local
government funds got to the accounts of his family firms, his father was
battling to save his career as the state house of assembly was bent on
removing him from office.

The assembly in February, based on petitions from groups in the state
set up a panel to probe the former governor and some of his aides.

In one of the petitions, the then embattled governor, his son, Elechi
Elechi, and Edward Nkwegu, among others, were accused of contract
inflation and illegal use of state funds for private gains.

It was, however, the intervention of former President Goodluck
Jonathan that saved Mr. Elechi from being removed from office by Ebonyi
political heavy weights.

But on June 16, two weeks after he left office, Mr. Elechi was
arrested by the EFCC and was questioned for hours in Abuja. He was
granted “partial” bail on June 17 and asked to report to the commission
the next week to again be quizzed.

Sule Lamido & Sons

Mr. Sule Lamido was elected governor of Jigawa State in 2007 and got
re-elected for second term in 2011. Trouble started for him when his
first son, Aminu was arrested by the EFCC in December 2012, with $50,
000 at the Aminu Kano International Airport Kano.

While Mr. Lamido failed to say why Mr. Aminu had that much money on
him, he was quick to dismiss the money laundering allegations against
his son as “false and mischievous.”

The former governor claimed Mr. Aminu was taking his daughter to an
Egyptian hospital for a follow up treatment. He vehemently denied that
his son was involved in money laundering. At that time too, some of his
supporters claimed the former governor was being persecuted over his
2015 presidential ambition.

On November 15, 2013, barely one year after, Aminu and his brother,
Mustapha, were arrested by the EFCC in Kano and flown to Abuja for
interrogation at a time PREMIUM TIMES obtained disturbing details of how
huge sums of money belonging to Jigawa State were moved in and out of
34 bank accounts by nine companies linked to the governor’s family
members.

Between June 2010 and August 2013, for instance, over N1.5billion was
paid into an account in Skye Bank belonging to Bamaina Aluminium
Limited, a company which has Mr. Lamido and his sons; Aminu and Mustapha
as directors. During the period, Mustapha made multiple lodgments into
the account from the Jigawa State Government account.

Similarly, Bamaina Holdings Limited, whose account with Unity Bank
has former Governor Lamido as sole signatory, recorded total cash
lodgments of over N1.19 billion between February 2007 and July 2013, out
of which about N1billion was, at various times during the period, paid
out to other sister companies.

Equally, Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited, which has the governor, his
two sons and one other person as directors, has another bank account
with Mr. Mustapha as sole signatory. Between January 2010 and July 2013,
over N500million withdrawals were made from the account, mostly by
Mustapha.

Although registration documents did not link Rawda Integrated
Services Limited to any known member of the Lamido family, the company’s
account details with Access Bank showed that it was operated by
Mustapha and one other person.

Between December 2008 and April 2009, over N32million was paid by the
Jigawa State government into the account, which made several payments
totaling over N50million to another company, Speeds International
Limited, which has the governor and his two sons as directors.

Another account belonging to Rawda Integrated Services Limited in
First City Monument Bank, FCMB, has a different signatory, with records
of huge cash lodgments of over N2.6billion and several staggering
withdrawals within two years.

Rawda also has another account in Zenith Bank, with Mustapha as
signatory, with over N1.1billion paid in by different individuals and
organizations between January 2007 and May 2013.

Another Lamido firm, Speeds International Limited held an account
with Access Bank with Mustapha as its sole signatory. Investigation
showed that the firm received total deposits of over N2.2billion between
January 2007 and February 2010. This is apart from a dollar account it
also maintains, which had total lodgments of over $346,700.

Saby Integrated Nigeria Limited is another company owned by the
Lamidos, with Aminu as the sole signatory to its account with Fidelity
Bank. Investigators said a total of over N600million was lodged into the
account from several Jigawa State Government establishments between
July 2010 and November 2012.

Some of the payments made into the account at different times
included over N84million, over N300million, over N60million, over
N48million and over N93million, while between January 2010 and August
2013 over N730million were paid into the account, 95 per cent of which
were by different Jigawa State government institutions.

However, in August 2014, this news paper again stumbled on
information on how a construction firm, Dantata and Sawoe, paid
N1.3billion as kickback into the accounts of companies owned by former
governor and his sons.

Between 2007, when Mr. Lamido assumed office, and 2014, Dantata and
Sawoe Construction Company got contracts amounting to N13.5 billion.
Payments for these contracts were made by the state government to the
construction firm through five banks – Zenith, Access, Diamond, Sterling
and United Bank for Africa, UBA.

Within the same period, according to EFCC investigators, Dantata and
Sawoe paid out over N1.3 billion into the accounts of companies in which
the governor and his sons – Mustapha and Aminu – have interests,
specifically the accounts of Bamaina Holdings Limited where the elder
Lamido is sole signatory and Speeds International Limited. Both accounts
are domiciled in Unity Bank Plc.

Over N832 million was paid into these two accounts by the
construction giant, while the balance of N488 million was paid into the
family’s account at Access Bank. To disguise the nature of the payments,
our checks show, the construction company raised cheques in favour of
Bamaina Company Nigeria Limited, Speeds International Limited and Gada
Construction Limited.

On July 7, the EFCC arrested the former governor and his two sons and
moved them to Kano, where they were charged to court for fraud. Mr.
Lamido and his two sons were later remanded in Kano Prisons from where
they were again moved to Kuje Prisons.

It was, however, on July 14, that an Abuja high Court granted the
former governor and his sons bail. Mr. Lamido, his two sons, and one
other accused person, Abubakar Wada, were admitted to a N25 million bail
bond each, in addition to a requirement that they submit their travel
passport to the court.

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