#Offshoreleaks: President Jonathan’s adviser, ex-oil minister linked to secret offshore firms

Ahmed Gulak has his hand in a secret pie in the British Virgin Island

President Goodluck Jonathan’s special adviser on political matters, Ahmed Gulak, leads a growing list of Nigerian business and political elites who ran or still run secret offshore companies and accounts where they either hide their wealth to evade taxes, launder money or commit fraud, according to a cache of documents reviewed by PREMIUM TIMES and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ.

Mr. Gulak, who deals in the supply of fast boats, radial systems and naval communication equipment as well as military hardware to the Nigerian government, was linked to a secret shell company in the British Virgin Islands, one of the world’s most notorious tax havens.

Mr. Gulak is listed along with a former petroleum minister, Edmund Daukouru, and a former head of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Bello Gwandu, as key Nigerians indulging in this practice, according to our investigations.

Ahmed Gulak acts as legal adviser to Erojim Group of Companies, according to information available on the company’s website.  Erojim is a contracting firm that claims to supply fast boats, radial systems and naval communication equipment and other military hardware to the Nigerian government in liaison with its foreign partner, Poly Technologies,  and NORINCO, both of China.

On the other hand, Edmund Daukouru, a former petroleum minister sits on the board of Caverton Offshore Support Group, a Lagos-based provider of integrated offshore support services in Nigeria but which has also bounded with some foreigners to form a secret company abroad. Also on Caverton’s nine-man board is Bello Gwandu, a ruling party politician and former managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, a federal agency that oversees and operates the ports of the world’s most populous black nation.

Mr. Gulak, a lawyer and former lawmaker in Nigeria’s Northeast state of Adamawa, is one of President Jonathan’s closest aides, having worked as director of mobilization in the campaign that returned the president to power in 2011.  As legal adviser and close associate of Jimmy Ntuen, Erojim’s CEO, Mr. Gulak helped draft the legal papers for the incorporation of Erojim and its subsidiaries, including assisting Mr. Ntuen, who suddenly became Jimmy Ernest, when the British Virgin Island’s version of Erojim was being incorporated.

These individuals are among a number of Nigerian officials and businesspersons who have links with shell companies abroad. It is not clear why they incorporated these shell companies – that is corporations that exist but do not have employees or assets and carry out no visible operations. But Shell companies, according to Fraud Auditing Inc., a worldwide authority on fraud, have become progressively known for their involvement with illegal activities, including money laundering, tax evasion, billing schemes and fictitious service schemes.

Taking advantage of the loose laws in several jurisdictions, shell companies are easy to form and owners can remain anonymous while using nominee directors as fronts and deploying the corporations to hide ill-gotten assets, launder funds, dodge litigations or evade tax.

An example is convicted former Nigerian state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was found to have used Solomon & Peters (a shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands) and Santolina Investment Corporation, (a company incorporated in the Seychelles), to steal public funds with which  he acquired assets valued at about  17.7 million British pounds while governor of the oil-rich state of Bayelsa.  Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has also  accused another ex-governor, Abubakar Audu, of  using two offshore companies in Bermuda (another tax haven) to hide ill-gotten assets.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is the 35th most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International’s 2012 rankings. Although the country has enormous oil resources, earning $24.5billion a year, according to the Revenue Watch Institute, most of its wealth are routinely stolen by kleptomaniac leaders who usually form shell companies to conceal their ill-gotten assets. The result is that the West African giant has remained among the most poverty-stricken in the world, ranking 156th out of the 187 countries rated in the United Nation’s most recent Human Development Index.

The Tax Justice Network, an international group campaigning against tax havens, estimates that about $11.5 trillion is held offshore by individuals – with a resulting annual loss of tax revenue on the income from these assets of about 250 billion dollars. “This is five times what the World Bank estimated in 2002 was needed to address the UN Millenium Development Goal of halving world poverty by 2015,” the group said. “This much money could also pay to transform the world’s energy infrastructure to tackle climate change.”

Ahmed Gulak is No.6 in the list of company officials
Ahmed Gulak is No.6 on the list of company officials

These funds are usually held via shell companies in tax havens. It is not clear whether that is what Mr. Gulak’s Erojim Energy and Equipment, registered in the BVI on June 8, 2006, set out to accomplish.  The company, with registration number 1032037, is listed on company website as a subsidiary of Erojim Group of Companies to which Mr. Gulak is directly affiliated.  The offshore Erojim has company chairman, Jimmy Ntuen Ernest (45,000 shares) and a certain Wang Yong (5000 shares) as directors.  Mr. Yong, listed on company website as director of commercials, is in turn related to around 40 other shell corporations, raising questions about whether he is a nominee director and what his real business motives are.

The Nigerian version of Erojim was incorporated in 2000 and it has, by its own admission, done businesses with the Nigerian government through its ministries of defence and education. It is not known whether Mr. Gulak has tapped his closeness to the government to facilitate businesses for Erojim. But it is common for officials in Nigeria to use fronts to corner contracts for themselves.

Company documents suggest that Erojim BVI is inactive having been struck out for non payment in October 31, 2007,  but owners have continued to showcase the firm on company website  as a viable subsidiary in the British Virgin Islands.  The group also suggests it has two subsidiaries in the United Kingdom – Barnes and Tubbies Linited (with registration number 6620080) and Erojim Investment Limited (with registration number 6620062) raising even more questions about the company’s seeming fetish for incorporating offshore companies not known to carry out business operations. Erojim’s chairman seems to peddle double identities as well. While he is known as (Obong) Jimmy O.Ntuen on company website, he is identified as Jimmy Ntuen Ernest in Erojim BVI’s company documents, again raising questions about his business tactics.

Mr. Gulak didn’t answer or return calls. He also did not reply to a text message seeking comments.  Calls to the number listed on company website were answered by a woman who said she does not work in Erojim and had no relationship with the company whatsoever. “This is my personal number as you can see,” she said, in a March 1 telephone exchange. An email enquiry bounced back, suggesting that the email address listed on company website is also not working.

Ex-petroleum  minister, former ports chief and their secret offshore company

In June 2008, Mr. Dakouru, 69,  a former petroleum minister and now a revered traditional ruler in Nigeria’s oil-rich but restive Niger Delta  region, teamed up with eight others – Aderemi Makanjuola, Olabode Makanjuola, Adeniyi Makanjuola, Sola Falola David Vickers, Bello Gwandu, Bashiru Bakare and Akin Kekere Ekun – to form Caverton Offshore Support Group.

Former Minister of State for Petroleum, Edmund Daukoru.. Photo: Courtesy  http://news.mongabay.com via google
Former Minister of State for Petroleum, Edmund Daukoru.. Photo: Courtesy http://news.mongabay.com via google

But in the run-up to the formation of the company, brothers Adeniyi Makanjuola and Aderemi Makanjuola had, on March 23, 2008, partnered with two other Singaporean brothers , Claes Thortensen and Olav Thortensen, to incorporate CT Offshore (W.Afica) Ltd, a Shell company in the British Virgin Islands.

Olav and Claes are chair and president respectively of Thome Group of Companies, a Singaporean company which, according to company website, “offers a wide range of shipping services including full technical management of every kind of oil and chemical tankers, LNG vessels and other specialist tonnage.”

A year later, March 28, 2009, Mr. Dakouru’s Carveton Offshore and the Thortensen’s Thome Offshore Management Pte Limited became directors/shareholders of CT Offshore. The purpose for which the parties formed CT Offshore remains unclear. Caverton Offshore is not known to refer to CT Offshore as its subsidiary or investment vehicle. The group’s annual reports for 2009 and 2010 only referred to Carverton Marine Ltd and Caverton Helicopters Ltd as the company’s only subsidiaries. The company’s website is also silent on the existence of CT Offshore just as the Thome Group, joint owner of the secret company, did not list CT Offshore  among its six subsidiaries. The cloak of secrecy around the company and the unwillingness of its owner to discuss its existence raise questions about the real reason for its incorporation.

Caverton and its officials wouldn’t comment for this story. An official, Uteh Assang, who identified herself as a personal assistant to Aderemi Makanjuola said owners and top managers of the company were unavailable for interview. She promised to pass our enquiry along to her bosses who would then return our call. The call wasn’t returned.  Subsequent calls were unanswered just as our email enquiry was sent back by the company’s server.

Top businessman, Samir Ajami and his secret Nigerian company

Samir Ajami, an expatriate with American and European roots, is well known in Nigeria as managing director of Givanas Nigeria Limited (which produces consumer goods such as milk, tomato paste, corned beef, sardine and teabags) and Negatrex Limited (which specializes in the production of soaps and beauty products).  The businessman is also known as one of the two trustees of Givanas Charitable Foundation, which provides scholarships to indigent university students and engages in other philanthropist activities in the country.

What many Nigerians definitely do not know is that Mr. Ajami has a third company concealed through a shell company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. That company is Lagos-based Eko Resources Supreme Limited, which produces detergents and medicated soaps.  Eko Resources was incorporated in Nigeria on June 3, 2004 with its directors being Sadikin Sungkono  and Jokoraharjo Nur Bambang (both Indonesians) and WW Trade Limited, a secret firm registered in the British Virgin Islands. Out of the 3750000 shares that have been allotted by Eko Supreme, WW Trade owns 3748000 while Sungkono and Bambang hold one share each.

Mr. Ajami hid his interest in Eko Supreme by simply buying into WW Trade at the British Virgin Islands. That way, his name does not appear in company documents and authorities definitely can’t trace the company to him. It is not known why the businessman decided on this tactic. Calls to his offices in Lagos were not returned. Email enquiries were also not responded to. However, hiding ownership this way helps businessmen elsewhere to conceal assets, evade tax and become monopolies through fronts.

WW Trade was incorporated in the BVI on November 5, 2001 with 50,000 allotted shares and authorized capital of $50,000.  The eight directors at  inception were Teddy Jeffrey Katuari, Freddy Ignatius Katuari, Eddy William Katuari, Finney Henry Katuari, Hanny Sutanto, Alex Ivan Tanojo, Handoyo Sutanto and Gen Tijn Tan. By September 15, 2005, ownership had changed, leaving Samuel Chee Wee Seng, Sungkono Sadikin and Edwin Katuari as directors and on October 10, 2005, without a meeting of directors, the authorized capital of the company was raised from $50,000 to $20,000,000, divided into 20,000,000 shares of $1 per value.

And on July 1, 2007, Mr. Ajami became a director of the company. But that was after acquiring a total of 3, 907,692 of the company in five installments: 1,333,333 (Nov. 4, 2005), 666,667 (July 22, 2006), 307,692 (Aug. 23, 2006), 1,200,000 (Dec 22, 2006) and 400,000 (February 23, 2007). He is currently the second largest shareholder in the company, behind only Universal Wellbeing Pte Ltd, a Singaporean Real Estate Developers, which has a total of  12,700,900 shares. By implication , Mr. Ajami is the second largest owner of Lagos-based Supreme Resources, although the company describes itself as a subsidiary of Wing Corporation, an Indonesian company that exports detergents, soaps, foods and beverages around the world.

Mr. Ajami didn’t respond to our request for comments. When a call was placed to his office on March 2, an official, Bola Arowosegbe, requested that questions be emailed directly to her. “Message received and shall be directed to Mr. Ajami,” Mrs Arowosegbe later wrote in response to our email. “He shall revert soon.”

Mr. Ajami is however yet to respond.

Musikilu Mojeed, PREMIUM TIMES managing editor, is member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is an independent network of reporters in more than 60 countries who collaborate on cross-border investigations. It is a project of the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.


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  • Lanre

    Gangsters in power/govt: sole aim- to loot, loot and loot

    • Ralia Ahmad

      you got it Lanre. All they are after is to steal our money. so those of us writing based on north south and religion are wasting their time. These looters are not concern about us.They have one religion and that is stealing. so Nigerians wake up from our slumber and fight this common enemy.

  • akpos1

    The time for United SS&SE Spring is now. There will never be ‘Nigeria spring’ because the other nations of continent Nigeria have NOTHING to offer. This is why the man in Sokoto or Idanre sees no reason to demonstrate against stealing of the oil of the SS&SE peoples not to talk of the pollution of the environment.

    Lets act now and fast too.

    • jonathan

      akpos1, I am just wondering where Dan Etete of the Malabu Oil block theft is from. The last time I checked Dan Etete is from the Republic of South-South. He is a convict who is involved in one the most evil oil block corruption in the history of Nigeria. Also, where are Ibori, Alamieyeseigha, Madam Oteh etc from? The last time I checked the history of Nigeria and the geography, these characters are from the Republic of SS and SE. I think you will need to confront these as we also engage the thieves from other parts of our country. each time you attempt to use ethnicity to confuse issues I will engage you and draw you out. Okay? So tell us which republics are Alamieyeseigha, Ibori, Dan Etete, Oteh etc are from?

    • Maduka

      What is wrong with you? Did you read this article at all? Did you see this line? ‘Mr. Dakouru, 69, a former petroleum minister and now a revered traditional ruler in Nigeria’s oil-rich but restive Niger Delta region’! Edmund Dakouru is one of the prominent thieves as this report says.

      The oil criminals are not just northerners, some are from the Niger Delta. Stop this nonsense SS/SE propaganda and be sensible for once in your life. This country is corrupt through and through and this nonsensical ethnic debate is not going to solve the problem.

      • Ralia Ahmad

        Ooh Thank you Maduka.

  • george

    The akpos1 of a man is surely a senseless fish who fails to realise that these criminals cut across all the geo-political zones. Now what did people from your zone do to Okah, one of your owns who refused to compromise the well being of his people? You guys sent him far by going to testify against him in a court in far away south Africa. Honestly I wish you guys out of this system and start your so-called SE&SS.

  • Rukevwe

    @483195ab92e8d79eeb33780703e3e1e2:disqus , don’t fool your self. There will never be a SS & SE Republic. I have written severally that the people of SS can never join in any fraudulent Republic with SE. @akpos1 is from SE with a SS name(Fraud). The SE should go and have their Republic and leave the SS to settle theirs. @akpos1 should tell us why Omoku people, the HQ of Ogba, Egbeme, Ndonni LGA of Rivers State do not sell their Landed properties to Ndigbo but will sell to other tribes including Edo, Ijaw, Yoruba, Urhobo, Hausas etc. Omoku town is less than 50km from Owerri and Oguta (Imo State). Ikwere, Ijaw, Efick, Ibibio, Ogoja, Ogonni, Ekpeye, Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri etc will not agree to be in the same Republic with the SE as the Igbo man @akpos1 proposes. My guess, SE is only interested in SS because of the oil otherwise, @akpos1 will have been singing of SE Republic. Please stop this SS & SE Republic propaganda. SS will not and can never agree to unite with the SE to form a Republic. @akpos1 Enough is Enough.

  • When are we going to take to the streets and deal these thieves a fatal blow. When? When I ask again ooooo?????

    • Ralia Ahmad

      Now someone is talking sense. when?

  • How can this be an off-shore leak when the said evednts took place long before Jonathan became president-this is what we call junk journalism-created to smear the president-whewn thge reporter knows very well that the fulani man transacted the deal long b4 he was appointed an adviser-Again over 99 percent of those enjoying the government of Jonathan are members of the TRIPOD-and certainly not Ijaws-So you see the trouble with the SS, even the ijaws cannot handle business deals in the oil sector on their own without involving the regional thieves-How many Ijaws are with Rilwanu Lukman in his off-shore oil company-apart from the cleaners! Even gardening jobs are not given to the natives-not to talk of sharing profit with them-whenever they are in power-the ijaws are kept miles and miles away from their door mat-But put an Ijaw in control of a project, and all their transactions will either be with d Fulanis, Ibos or Yoruba rogues-Tribalism abi? Fine, how many of these regional crooks mentioned here, have ever gone down to the Niger Delta to involve Ijaws in their deals prior to the coming of Jonathan? These are the same regional rogues who put Alams into trouble-the first contract worth billions went to Air Vice Marshal Adeleye-the man just took the money and vanished into the thin air-the next to benefit was from the south east-he also took off with more than 500m-in all of the cases involving Alams, Sylva and very soon Dickson-Not a single ijaw man was assisted by them to rise above the pockets of the parasites! Wake up Jonah! Soon it will be we all voted 4 him!

  • These deals if they even worth that name were struck long b4 Jonathan became President. So what has the President got to do with them-why not direct them to Mr Fake anti corruption crusader-aka baba Iyabo and Ribadu-they will never look at the direction of the crooks-cause most of them are Yorubas, Fulanis and IBOS-

  • Afam

    what have this got do with GEJ? Romney,Obama,Salim and others have their companies there too,please if you any evidence of money launder against Gulak show us and stop making noise..Edmond Dakuro was oil minister during OBJ so don’t link it with GEJ….Go to Dubai i will show you a house worth of USD 35MILLION Own by El-Rufai…

    • Gagare

      Jona is heading a gang of I ternational crooks and gulak is one of them, don’t deceive or mislead people!

      • Afam

        Are you not ignorant of your falsehood?how can you link an investment long before GEJ became a deputy governor to him? did they take your money or do you have any prove they stole state money? please stop cry fowl of what you don’t know..your emotion is so high that you can not differentiate truths from lies.

    • Enemona

      Obama does not have any company there. He only invested in a company that carry out business there. I mean genuine and legal business not money laundering and other illicit deals carried out by this gang. Quit this beer parlour comments of yours.

      • Afam

        Then hand us the prove about the link between GEJ and an investment that was made long before he became president.

        • Enemona

          Hey, hey! don’t sound all defensive now. I didn’t mention GEJ nor did I allude to him in my comment, I only mentioned Obama.

          • Afam

            Am not defending him or against him but there is no iota of truth on the report,You don’t give a dog a name just to hang it…Press should desist from feeding the public with falsehood..

          • Enemona

            What’s falsehood here? The fact that the report mentioned Gulak to be one of Jonathan’s aides or the fact that Gulak has been involved in shady deals? The report did not suggest, directly or indirectly, that Jonathan was involved in any of the scams. Read the article over again and make sure you get to the end. Jonathan was mentioned thrice and all in reference to Gulak’s position.

            Why the heck are you getting yourself worked up on this?

          • Afam

            Your the one getting yourself heck here,read the caption of the article,what does it portray? is the healing suggest something different from what we are arguing here?

          • Afam soup you are already cooked up.

          • Anonymous

            Adam, the headline is sensational though (and of course expected) but simply defendable. Gulak is GEJ’s adviser

    • Ttania

      @ Afam: u’re just a useless smalltime gossip! Why don’t u post the pictures of the$35 house owned by Rufai. And please leave your real name and address, in case the court will serve you for defamation!

      • Afam

        your a busy body and knew nothing about the moron and short man called el-rufai…

  • igbiki

    Shell companies are used for money laundering and tax evasion. In nigeria’s case anybody who so wishes could evade taxes without much trouble, so these companies are basically used to steal public funds.

  • Gulak’s Brother, sani

    Gulak, is just but a front for other thieves. But all of those who have trust in him to d extend of trusting their wealth to him are all in for a supprise. Hmmm. time shall tell.

  • Murna Poul

    CORRECTION: Gulak was a Lawmaker(Member/Speaker House of Assembly, 1992) in Adamawa State which is Northeast, contrary to Northwest as indicated in the report. Prior to his appointment GEJ Aide, he battled to have three square meals. I am surprise he now owns off shore accounts. Well, i hope he will bring part of the loot to his home state just like Atiku.

  • Mahmoud Lawal

    Imagine the kind of dirt if Jonathan, Okonjo-Iweala and Diezani are exposed.