#PanamaPapers: While holding public office, Andy Uba illegally holds asset in tax haven

Uba, former domestic assistant to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

In November 2004, Andy Nnamdi Uba was only a special assistant on domestic affairs to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo but he possibly had enormous wealth in his hands that he sought the services of the offshore handlers, Mossack Fonseca, to float for him an anonymous company, the type that are at times used to help the wealthy hide their assets from their home government and other authorities.

Anonymous companies are also used by tax evaders, drug cartels and arms traders to hide criminal activity and keep millions of people in poverty.

Leaked documents exclusively obtained by German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with PREMIUM TIMES and other media organisations around the world, showed that Andy Uba, now a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, own a shell company by name Wentworth Properties Limited in the Republic of Seychelles, an infamous tax haven.

Andy Uba’s net worth was insignificant and almost peasantry before May 29, 1999 when Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as President. He later returned from his sojourn in the United States to be appointed a presidential aide.

He is believed to have become suddenly rich, running for governor in 2007, and then for senatorial position after his governorship election was annulled.

Mr. Uba’s offshore structure in the Seychelles was erected with the help of two women, Marta Edghill and Vianca Scott, believed to be his fronts.

Minutes of the first meeting of the board of directors of Wentworth Properties Ltd showed that the said meeting was held on November 3, 2004. The minutes said the two women constituted the totality of the board of directors.

Marta Edghill and Vianca Scott elected themselves President and Secretary of the company respectively.

The registered office of Wentworth Properties was stated in the minutes as Suite 13, First Floor, Oliaji Trade Centre, Francis Rachel Street, Victoria, Mahe, Republic of Seychelles. This is the office address of Mossack Fonseca office in the Seychelles.

To show that Wentworth Properties Limited was just a shell company without any physical characteristics, no office structure and without a personnel, not even a janitor, the minutes further stated that “it was resolved that the books, records and minutes of the company may be kept anywhere in the world.”

Finally, according to the minutes, the two women resolved that Mr. Uba be issued 4,950 shares with a par value of US$ 1,00 each and Mrs. Sederica Vedelago 50 shares with a par value of US$ 1,00.

It remains unclear what businesses Mr. Uba transacted with the company, which remains active till this day.

The senator declined to comment for this story. He did not answer or return multiple telephone calls made to him. He also did not reply a text message sent to him about 10 days ago.

Senator Uba and the Code of Conduct Law

Insiders at the Code of Conduct Bureau suggested the senator did not declare Wentworth and the properties it holds in the assets declaration forms he has so far filed with the Bureau.

Mr. Uba wouldn’t say if that is the case.

But if that is the case, the senator would have violated Nigeria’s Code of Conduct law and could be arraigned before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, a special court that tries public officers for any contravention of the Code of Conduct for Nigerian public officers as spelt out in the Fifth Schedule of the Nigerian constitution.

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) were established to enforce “a high standard of morality in the conduct of government business, and to ensure that the actions and behaviour of public officers conform to the highest standards of public morality and accountability.”

The senator could be charged for failing to declare the company and its associated assets and perhaps operating foreign accounts while being a public officer.

The offences violate sections of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended.


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