The Nigerian public system is widely known to enable corruption, while Nigerian politicians have become famous for siphoning public funds and laundering them using shell companies and safe havens abroad.
The hidden wealth of these leaders, discovered in 2021, runs into billions of dollars.
Sadly, the institutional corruption in Nigeria has brought the nation’s economy to its knees, stalled infrastructural development and impoverished many Nigerians.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in 2016 and 2017 exposed some documents containing the illicit businesses owned by some world leaders titled ‘Panama’ and ‘Paradise Papers’ respectively.
This was followed by the 2021 ‘Pandora papers’ that contain over 11.9 million documents of some Nigerian politicians and world leaders who own hidden wealth abroad.
The document contains pieces of information that expose the extent world leaders go to evade tax and illicitly amass wealth.
Though not wrong to have an offshore company, Nigerian law forbids public officials from having undisclosed assets.
Here are some notable Nigerian politicians with hidden wealth abroad.
Peter Obi served as the governor of Anambra State for eight years (two tenures). According to the Pandora paper released by ICIJ, Obi, at the initial stage of his second term, founded offshore companies in tax havens countries.
In 2010, he founded Gabriella Investments Limited in British Virgin Island. He named the company after his daughter, Gabriella Nwamaka Frances Obi. He was able to do this through Acces International, a secrecy enabler in Monaco, France.
Gabriella Investments Limited was set up in partnership with a local registered agent – Aleman Cordero Galindo & Lee Trust (BVI) Limited (Alcogal). The company was run by proxy Antony Janse Van Vuuren and Lance Lawson.
In 2017, Obi incorporated his family into the business and changed the name to PMGG Investments Limited. PMGG was coined from the first name of his nuclear family: Peter, Margaret (wife), Gabriella (daughter) and Gregory (son).
Apart from PMGG, Peter Obi also owns a trust, The Gabriella Settlement, registered under BVI. The trust serves as the primary stakeholder of PMGG Investments.
While in office, the former minister and Nigerian senator discreetly established a company and bought properties overseas.
According to the pandora papers, the International Trading and Logistics Company Limited (ITCL) in Seychelles, a tax haven country, belongs to Stella Oduah.
Between 2012 and 2013, Oduah bought four properties in London under the company. The properties are worth £6.7 million (Pounds Sterlin). In 2012, the company bought 23 St Edmunds Terrace, London NW8 7QA, for £5.3 million.
The following year, ITCL acquired three more properties: Flat 2, 7 Devonshire Terrace, London (W2 3DN) for £378,000, Top Floor Flat, 89 Brondesbury Villas, London (NW6 6AG) for £369,000, and Fourth Floor Flat, 19 Warrington Crescent, London (W9 1ED) for £680,000.
Also, days after she took the minister of Aviation office, Oduah invested in the United Kingdom property market under the ITCL Nigeria. She bought Flats 303 and 306 Grant House, 90 Liberty Street, and London SW9 0BZ for £475000 each.
The former Senate President of Nigeria, David Mark, was also robed in the leaked offshore shell companies in the ICIJ pandora papers.
From the database of Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law company known for establishing shell companies, Mark is connected to eight offshore companies on the British Virgin Island.
The companies are Sikera Overseas S.A, Colsan Enterprises Limited, Goldwin Transworld Limited, Hartland Estates Limited, Marlin Holdings Limited, Medley Holdings Limited, Quetta Properties Limited, and Centenary Holdings Limited.
Despite the ex-senate president refuting the claims, it was countered by Joshua Olufemi, the Project Manager at the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, with the data from the pandora papers.
Abubakar Atiku Bagudu
The governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, was also involved in the pandora saga. His offshore escapades date back to when he was a senator and tried to help the late general Sani Abacha seek means to keep his stolen loots.
In 1997, Baguda established Ridley Trust and Ridley group in Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands, both tax havens countries.
In 2010, he contracted the help of Asiaciti services to close Ridleys and move his assets elsewhere. His brother, Ibrahim Bagudu and Ben Davies, a lawyer from Byrne and Partners in London, oversaw the transaction.
After the conclusion of the agreement between all the parties (Asiaciti, Ibrahim Bagudu and Ben Davies), 99 million euros in cash and securities were moved from Ridley to a new structure.
Asiaciti used the funds to construct a multi-level company with a presence in Singapore, the Cook Islands, and the United Kingdom.
The Blue Holdings Trust serves as the multi-level firm’s pinnacle with Ibrahim Bagudu and an Asiaciti nominee as directors.
The Osun State governor is not left out of the offshore business saga despite his insistence on having no business with Kola Aluko, a Nigerian in the United States and Nigeria.
According to the released document, Oyetola acquired a London Mansion from Aluko. It was revealed that in 2013, the UK property with the number 340992 was bought by the shell company Zavlil Holdings limited for 11.95 million euros. In 2017, the property was purchased by Aranda Overseas Corporation for 9 million Euros.
The document revealed that Zavlil Holdings limited was owned by Kola Aluko, and Adegboyega Oyetola owned Aranda Overseas Corporation.