Secret companies of Senator who laundered billions for Abacha uncovered in tax havens

Former Head of State, Sani Abacha
Former Head of State, Sani Abacha

In his native Niger State, David Umaru, the All Progressives Congress senator representing Niger East Senatorial District is something of a folk hero.

He was a thorn under the skin of the immediate past administration of Governor Mu’azu BabangidaAliyu. He was an unwavering critic and soon gained the reputation of a whistleblower after be published series of advertorials in national newspapers exposing alleged corrupt practices by the Mu’azu Babangida administration. David Umaru

But one aspect of his life Mr Umaru would hesitate to see on the pages of newspapers is his dealings in notorious offshore tax havens and his role in laundering money for the country’s most notorious dictator ever, Sani Abacha.

Documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from the leaked database of now infamous Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, revealed that Mr Umaru incorporated two shell companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a notorious offshore tax haven, and in tiny South Pacific Ocean country, Niue Island.

The first company, Yorkshire Investment Limited was incorporated on April 27, 1998 with a registered address at No2 Commercial Centre Square, Alofi, the capital of the Niue Island.

The company was incorporated by International Trust Company (ITC), a Niue-based registering agent. In other to conceal the true ownership of the shell company, ITC provided two nominee directors for the company – Melvin Scales (Chairman) and Ramses Owens.

But Mr Umaru was clearly named the true and lawful attorney of the company.

The appointment of nominee directors for shell companies is a common practice in tax havens. The practice involved the appointment of directors only by title. They have no real authority over the company which they supposedly represent and can only act according to the directives of the owners of the firm or that of the person with a power of attorney.

“Know all men by these presents that on this 27th day of April, 1998, we, YORKSHIRE INVESTMENT LTD, whose registered office is situated at 2 Commercial Centre Square, Alofi, Niue (hereinafter referred to as “the Company “) have made, constituted and appointed, and by these presents do hereby make, constitute and appoint Mr. David UMARU (hereinafter referred to as “the Attorney”) as our true and lawful Attorney—in—fact for us and in our name, place and stead, to do, execute and perform all and every act or acts in law needful and necessary to be done in and about and in relation, but not limited to, the following matters:

“To negotiate, conclude, sign, execute and deliver on behalf of the Company such conveyances, transfers, assignments, deeds, documents, licenses, authorities or agreements as said Attorney shall consider necessary or proper to enable it to dispose of or acquire any assets in any part of the world (hereinafter referred to as “the assets”) on such terms as the Attorney shall consider proper or desirable in his absolute discretion,” the company’s article of incorporation read.

Not satisfied by the incorporation of his first shell company, five months later, exactly on September 15, 1998, Mr. Umaru again went shopping for his second shell company – Darweng Holding.

This time he decided to incorporate it in the British Virgin Islands. Just like he did with Yorkshire Investment Ltd, Mr Umaru appointed Benerly Hunt and Darlene Bayne as the company’s nominee directors while he retained a full power of attorney, which gave him absolute power to “negotiate, conclude, sign, execute and. deliver on behalf of the Company such conveyances, transfers, assignments, deeds, documents, licenses, authorities or agreements as said Attorney shall consider necessary or proper to enable it to dispose of or acquire any assets in any part of the world (hereinafter referred to as ‘the assets’).”

There is no evidence that Mr Umaru was no longer involved with the shell companies before he was elected a senator.

While not all owners or operators of such offshore entities are criminals, owning or maintaining interest in private companies while serving as public officials is against Nigerian laws.

Section 6(b) of the Code of Conduct Act says a public office holder shall not, “except where he is not employed on full‐time basis, engage or participate in the management or running of any private business, profession or trade.”

This revelation makes Mr Umaru the fourth serving Nigerian senator, after Senate President Bukola Saraki, his predecessor, David Mark, and Senator Andy Uba, who have been shown to own shell companies in offshore tax havens in clear violation of the country’s law.

Abacha’s bagman

It is unclear what businesses Mr. Umaru transacted with his offshore companies.

But shortly before he ran the companies, Mr. Umaru, who is currently the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights and Legal Matters, helped the Abacha family to move huge funds around.

An affidavit filed in November 18, 2013 by the US Department of Justice in a suit seeking the forfeiture of assets worth over $500 million stolen by Mr Abacha and hidden in various in bank accounts in various offshore jurisdiction, revealed how Mr Umaru acted as the official extortionist and money launderer of the Abachas.

As part of a ploy to extort money from foreign companies, the Abacha regime stopped paying foreign companies for contracts executed. One of sure companies was a French Civil Engineering firm, Dumez Group. The Abacha regime owed the company $469 million it refused to pay. In fact, even after the company nationalized and became Dumez Nigeria Limited, the junta still would not release the funds.

Enter Mr. Umaru. The senator, who was then a personal lawyer for the Abachas, approached the owners of Dumez and told them payment could be restarted if they agreed to a 25 per cent kickback of whatever they were paid to the Abacha family. The company agreed.

Mr Umaru then incorporated Allied Network Ltd for the sole purpose of collecting the kickbacks on behalf of the Abacha family. Listed as directors of the company were “Mohammed Sani” and “Abba Sani”, which were aliases of Sani Abacha and his brother, Abba Abacha.

In December 1996, Mr. Umaru opened an account on behalf of Allied Network Ltd at the Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) in Geneva, Switzerland, which was used to receive the payment of the kickbacks from Dumez and another account at the same bank which was used to receive the payment from the Nigerian government.

According to court papers, between August 16, 1996 and May 22, 1998, the Central Bank of Nigeria transferred $389,737,400 to Dumez account at UBP, Geneva. Of that amount $97,375,543 or 25 per cent of the original payment was transferred by Dumez to Allied Network Ltd account in the same bank.

In late 1997, Mohammed Abacha, the son of the late dictator, authorised the transfer of $11,114,983, being part of the kickback received from Dumez, to an account held by “Mohammed Sani” (Mohammed Sani is the preferred alias of the younger Mr Abacha). He used the alias repeatedly in most of the money laundering transactions involving his family, including the infamous Malabu Oil deal) at Midland Bank London (Now HSBC Bank Plc) with account number 38175076.

The money was later distributed into two accounts also held by Mohammed Sani in the US via a network of several financial institutions.

Mr Umaru did not answer repeated calls to his mobile number by this newspaper. He also did not reply text message sent to his phone for comment.


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  • Terras

    When did Abacha died? The dates don’t fully add up even though the man seems capable of committing the charge against him

    • Omoba

      @ter_ras:disqus

      Look, my friend, theft has no expiry date for prosecution. The point is that Buhari is not
      serious about fighting corruption in 360 degrees way. He picks and chooses his targets.
      But Nigerians are the victims of all thefts regardless who did the moneylaundering activity.

      In at least two other pending cases President Buhari fails sincerity of purpose test of honesty.
      A finalized audit report of maddening thefts at the Central Bank of Nigeria has been pending
      for prosecution on President Buhari’s table since June 1st last year. Alas, President Buhari
      has till today taken no single step.

      The audit discloses a theft of 1.4 trillion Naira at the Central Bank under the most irresponsible
      headship of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who is President Buhari’s kinsman. The second case concerns
      similar thefts in Lagos state under Raji Fashola. Lagos accounts were fraudulently mis-stated by
      Raji Fashola to conceal a missing and stolen 800 billion Naira which remains un-accounted.

      Till today, President Buhari has taken no step at all to investigate or prosecute
      this glaring Lagos theft. Is this how to fight corruption?

      • Alkalimam

        CENTRAL BANK audit result: This is all we know……

        • ₦38.23billion developed legs and got missing in Central Bank under Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
        • ₦160billion was taken by Sanusi Lamido at the Central Bank for self-determined spending.
        • ₦1.12billion was taken as spent by Sanusi Lamido on lunch for 12 CBN police guards
        in one year.
        • ₦1.12billion was taken in cash and entered in the account as paid to a non-operating airline
        for charter service.
        • ₦240billion was discretionally doled out at will as ‘donations’ by Sanusi Lamido.
        • ₦1.97billion was paid out in cash and entered on Central Bank accounts as “inexplicable
        expense” by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
        • ₦20billion was paid out in cash as Legal Fees by Sanusi Lamido to persons unknown.
        • ₦3.086billion was taken by Sanusi Lamido and written as expense ostensibly to promote
        Central Bank image.

        • okpada

          Forget about propaganda my brother. It is either you are not well informed or you just feel like talking. The CBN have a budget that must be approved by NASS and every expenses carried out by the CBN must be approved by the president. Every project and programme executed by CBN must be approved by the president also. It has been find out that even the projects executed by CBN under Lamido were executed by PDP members /contractors recommended by GEJ. Go and find out not living on hearsay.

          • vvfibola

            @okpada:disqus

            So why not arrest Sanusi Lamido and all the PDP contractors together? That’s the way to go!!

  • Okoh C.

    Premium Times Editor,

    President Buhari is his own undoing. He leaves aside what needs to be done. Buhari does nothing
    on the Panama moneylaundering cases uncovered. Newspapers are the ones now filling the gap.
    There’s either a government or there’s none. Buhari has to make up his mind to act responsibly.
    Buhari is now chasing after the investigations files conducted by the past PDP government.
    Those investigated and indicted were ex-governors of the PDP party which probed itself.
    But see what is happening now under Buhari. Past APC governor are not probed.
    The ex governors aligned in business transactions to Bola Tinubu are immunized.
    APC party supporters and financiers are overlooked and their loot forgiven.
    This is corruption. Buhari makes Nigeria look like a huge crime scene.

    • Concerned Biafran

      WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON IN NIGERIA IS CAUSE FOR CONCERN.

      NIGERIA MAY SOON BADLY COLLAPSE AT THIS RATE OF IMPUNITY.

      CORRUPTION HAS ASPHYXIATED NIGERIA INTO AN UTTER MESS.

      • Petitioner2016

        President Muhamadu Buhari,

        Raji Fashola stated publicly at his handover in Lagos on May 29th, 2015, that he got total revenue
        of 2.34 Trillion Naira in his eight years in office. But that figure is very false and understated,
        just to cover up thefts, because the Lagos state Planning Commissioner (Akabueze) has falsified
        it and said that an average of ₦400 billion Naira entered into the Lagos state bank accounts,
        yearly. Give or take therefore, total Lagos revenue should be ₦3.2 trillion; no less.

        By intentionally fabricating the accounts, 800 billion Naira is now deemed missing and stolen;
        and deemed un-accounted for till date in Lagos state. Your administration blithely refuses to
        investigate this heinous financial crime because you are in alliance with Bola Ahmed Tinubu
        who is a presumptive beneficiary of a good half of this missing 800 billion Naira if wangled
        through government contracts.

        The international community is waiting for you to act and watching your refusal till date,
        to do as much as investigate this open sore on your appointed Minister for Power.

        • Uche Agwu

          Let me say my own. I am suspecting something. I think Muhamadu Buhari is the Publisher

          of Premium Times. I know what I am saying. Let me finish. If not that Buhari is the publisher,

          how come that Premium Times is not asking that all the APC thieves should be arrested?

          This is the bias i am talking about. Premium Times wants to support Buhari all the way

          to destroy Nigeria completely. But in their conscience these Premium Times people

          know that President Buhari is a tribalistic man who is not fair at all to all Nigerians.

    • God Help Us

      His name will soon appear on the paper. Wait and see

  • RestructureNigeriaNow

    Thank you PM. He is a friend of Buhari.

    • okpada

      Friend of PMB how? These group of people who are planning to impeach the president because they no longer have a field day in lootings

  • March4Buhari

    The question is, who is not a thief?

    • Ashibogu

      Ashibogu!

  • Haba mallam

    So what? Buhari himself is a friend of Abacha, Abacha was a head of state and an army general who fought to keep Nigeria one, compare to Jonathan Goodluck Abacha is Saint.

  • i dey here

    COME AND SEE BUHARI WONDER, COME AND SEE BUHARI WONDER!

    RAJI FASHOLA IS EXCLUDED FROM PROBE, KAYODE FAYEMI IS EXCLUDED.

    ROTIMI AMAECHI OF RIVERS STATE IS ALSO EXCLUDED AS ABOVE THE LAW.

    WHAT KIND OF VERY BIASED PRESIDENT IS THIS BUHARI FOR GOD SAKE, HABA!

    • ₹Endi₹

      There just one thing going for the party called APC: Hypocrisy.

  • Gary

    What a sick and tragic joke: Sani Abacha’s bagman is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
    He’s also a member of the APC, the party voted into office by Nigerians on a slogan of “Change” to wage war on corruption. This henchman of the worst dictator in Nigeria’s history is now custodian of the human rights of the people. A sick joke indeed.

  • AryLoyds

    For me, i need my share 🙂 , PMB once said SANI BOBO was not corrupt, see no evil hear no evil .

  • Abdul Wada

    It’s too late for Premium Times to play expose newspaper. Who was the number1 defender of Abacha looting spree? Premium Times very own and corrupt free Buhari.. Too late to join the wailers, we left the train station already.

    • vagabonds in power

      Ask them Apes in APC to tell us, who in the government of Buhari is after Umar-if Premium times can be settled to go after Umar then what about Buhari who declared that Abacha did not steal a dime from Nigeria—When the Fulanis ati Yorubas are in power——-the masses moan and mourn

    • hatelooters

      How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle. Premium Times is falling in the middle of their god’s presidency. We don’t care about their paid exposé..Let them start from Buhari’s current nepotism, maybe they can be given a late pass..

      • Senator D

        FaaFaaaaFaaaaa Foul… They must bag their complete F9!

  • vagabonds in power

    Nigerians are wondering why Buhari has refused to act on the evidence based corruption charges against his Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Yusuf Buratai. And with Sahara Reporters Expo on the current Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau, Nigerians are perplexed that President Buhari is still silent and not saying anything. But what do Nigerians expect from someone who told the world that General Sanni Abacha stole no money belonging to the country in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

    What makes Nigerians believe that if evidence did not matter in General Abacha’s case, why should it matter in General Buratai’s case? Why should evidence matter in General Dambazau’s case? Did Nigerians forget so soon how Buhari allowed retired Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako who stole the commonwealth of Adamawa State dry not to be detained? Are they surprised that the case has since receded into the background?

    But for someone under whose nose $2,8 billion disappeared when he was Petroleum Minister in 1978, this ought not to be too strange. For someone who fails to account for the 100 Billion naira Petroleum Trust Fund that he presided over under the same Abacha, this should not be strange. For someone who led Nigerians in a lie that he did not have a house in Abuja when the contrary is true, why should this be news?

  • Rommel

    Everybody in that country is dirty

    • Otile

      Man of integrity swore that Abacha stole no money. Do you still believe him, or are you corrupt too?

      • Rommel

        Do not quote out of contest,if you juxtapose GEJ with Sani Abacha,it will become clear that Abacha was a saint so in this regard,PMB did not lie,I lifted this verbatim from wikipedia “The Abacha administration became the first to record unprecedented economic achievements:[7] he oversaw an increase in the country’s foreign exchange reserves from $494 million in 1993 to $9.6 billion by the middle of 1997, reduced the external debt of Nigeria from $36 billion in 1993 to $27 billion by 1997, brought all the controversial privatization programs of the Babangida administration to halt, reduced an inflation rate of 54% inherited from Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida to 8.5% between 1993 and 1998, all while the nation’s primary commodity, oil was at an average of $15 per barrel” compare this record to GEJ.

        • Cincinnatus

          I hope their are more people like you, who can tell Nigerians point blank the truth whether they want to hear it or not. All evidence points to our stupidity and weakness.

          We need more foreigners to help tell Nigerians to be responsible for themselves and stop denying what is on ground. Accepting we are irresponsible addicts who blows through money like it’s the reason for being, and then deny the consequences of such actions.

          Only children needs to be protected from hard truths.

        • Gary

          So Wikipedia is now your source for accurate information about Nigeria? Anyone who’s gone to a reputable school knows that open source sites like Wiki are not considered credible to be cited for academic purposes.
          Nazi, you sure say you go proper school so? Stop embarrassing yourself on the World Wide Web.

          • Rommel

            This is no joke,your response is strange,something is apparently wrong with your mental projection,it is like your reasoning is two dimensional,better go for check up

          • Gary

            Anybody can post what they want on a Wiki page. I can go on Wiki and say I piloted the Space Shuttle on my profile. That will not make it true nor make it credible information.

            You won’t know that since you no go better school and likely one of the numerous functional illiterates claiming to have degrees.
            Thanks for showing us your quack education, Nazi propagandist.

        • Duke

          Mr Rommel, for you to open your mouth and say that everyone in Nigeria is dirty has classified your thought to be uncircumcised!
          Regards Mr Clean.

        • born Great

          Seriously boy you be proper Mugu. But I know you are trying to justify the money you are collecting from Buhari’s men.

    • Senator D

      Go take a piss… Mr Clean!

    • Bello

      Maybe because you are dirty you have assumed that everyone should be dirty. For your information, I am not dirty.

  • Ferra Realman

    No wonder this lawyer want to die with Saraki like Melaye. Nigeria will be better.

  • vagabonds in power

    Nigerians are wondering why Buhari has refused to act on the evidence based corruption charges against his Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Yusuf Buratai. And with Sahara Reporters Expo on the current Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau, Nigerians are perplexed that President Buhari is still silent and not saying anything. But what do Nigerians expect from someone who told the world that General Sanni Abacha stole no money belonging to the country in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

    What makes Nigerians believe that if evidence did not matter in General Abacha’s case, why should it matter in General Buratai’s case? Why should evidence matter in General Dambazau’s case? Did Nigerians forget so soon how Buhari allowed retired Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako who stole the commonwealth of Adamawa State dry not to be detained? Are they surprised that the case has since receded into the background?

    But for someone under whose nose $2,8 billion disappeared when he was Petroleum Minister in 1978, this ought not to be too strange. For someone who fails to account for the 100 Billion naira Petroleum Trust Fund that he presided over under the same Abacha, this should not be strange. For someone who led Nigerians in a lie that he did not have a house in Abuja when the contrary is true, why should this be news?

  • mumaru

    Such details would convince anyone about the authenticity of the story.

  • OBT

    Nigeria is in trouble. OBJ said it all.

  • Ad5858

    What has happen to Nigeria and why these states are so dangerous?: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

  • musa aliyu

    House of robbers indeed. Country of philanders. Na wa o

  • concerned man

    Buhari and his men will never believe Abacha was corrupt.