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Document reveals Nigerian Ports Authority boss, Koko, bought £1.75Million London property

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A controversial online platform, SaharaReporters, has alleged that Mohammed Bello Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) bought a house worth £1,750,000 in the United Kingdom in 2015.

It gathered that the Kebbi state-born banker was the Zenith Bank accounts officer to Rivers state government when Rotimi Amaechi was governor.

He had worked in the banking circles in Rivers for a long time, rising to become deputy regional manager at Zenith Bank Plc.

In 2016, the 53-year-old Bello-Koko was appointed executive Director of NPA after he proceeded on a leave of absence from the bank in 2015.

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He was in charge of finance and admin under the sacked MD, Hadiza Bala-Usman.

The document seen by the platform showed that the mansion located at 2A Beech Hill, Barnet, Greater London, EN4 0JP was bought by Bello-Koko on November 06, 2015, at £1,750,000.

The 7-bedroom freehold detached house is currently ranked as the 11th most expensive property in EN4 0JP, with a valuation of £2,274,000.

“Since it last sold in November 2015 for £1,750,000, its value has increased by £524,000,” an estate developer website, The Move Market said.

“2A Beech Hill, Barnet has 3 transactions recorded with HM Land Registry – its market value today is £2,274,000.

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“The current owner bought the property in November 2015 for £1,750,000 and has lived here for 5 years. Since the current owner purchased the property, its value has increased by £524,000 (29.9%).

“The previous owner had the property for 4 years, having purchased it in October 2011 for £1,200,000.

“During this time, the price rose by £550,000 (45.8%), which equates to it increasing in value by 9.7% each year. The property turned out to be a really good investment for the previous owner.”

Meanwhile, an anti-corruption group, ‘Say No To Corruption In Nigeria’ has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to extend its searchlight on Bello-Koko and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, Nigeria

“It’s no more a secret that Bello-Koko was Amaechi’s account officer for years. He has been a crony for Amaechi’s corrupt practices,” the coordinator of the group, Ahmed Abubakar said.

“How will it be that in 2015, Bello-Koko acquired a property worth £1,750,000 in the United Kingdom, a few months after Amaechi left office as governor and him being his account officer?

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“His last position in Zenith Bank before he went on leave was deputy regional manager, how was he able to afford a house of that amount in 2015? These are questions begging for answers.

“This man was in charge of finance and admin under Bala-Usman in NPA then. Under normal circumstances, he should be the primary target for the probe that sacked the woman. After all, the allegations investigated fell directly under his department.”

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Abubakar added, “As Nigerians prepare for the elections, it is critical that the world pays significant attention to the ongoing campaigns to determine who becomes the President of Nigeria come May 2023. While many candidates appear to have the right pedigree to be seeking this exalted office, Rotimi Amaechi stands out as too decidedly corrupt and morally bankrupt to be doing so.

“Amaechi served as Speaker of Rivers State (an oil-rich state in Southern Nigeria) for 8 years and went on to serve as governor of the state for another 8 years. For the past 7 years, he has been Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation.

“During these 23 years, Amaechi has become a master of awarding dubious contracts to phoney companies, for non-existent jobs, often to political cronies, who it appears, served as his own purses for the proceeds of these contracts.

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“Amaechi’s pattern of corruption reared its head recently in the wake of the unfortunate attack on a train travelling between Abuja, the nation’s capital city, and Kaduna, a critical metropolis in the Northwest of the country. During his inspection of the damage, he blamed the current government, of which he is a member of the Executive, for moving too slowly to award the contract he had pushed for securing the rail lines.

“The very next day, minutes from that Executive Council Meeting were released to show that Mr. Amaechi had intended to award the contract worth N3.7 billion (about $8.5 million) to a company that was registered only two years ago with no prior record of security jobs, and a turnover of less than $190,000. It is on the basis of these questionable details that the proposal was denied.

“Sad as this episode might be for Nigerians given the loss of lives on that train attack and the continuing hostage of many of the passengers on that train, this pattern of fictitious contracting is one that Mr. Amaechi appears to have unfortunately mastered to perfection. And it is one that Nigerians should be aware of and as such, not reward him with the highest office in their country.

“During his term as governor of Rivers State, Amaechi routinely broke his own procurement laws and awarded contracts involving large sums of money to many questionable causes and invisible services. Using several personal and corporate proxies, hundreds of billions of Rivers State taxpayers’ monies were simply siphoned off the state’s coffers by his cronies.

“For example, Amaechi’s government awarded a contract and paid a company named Magnum and Hunter Limited received several hundreds of millions from the Rivers State Sport Ministry Account Number 0006786960 in a leading Nigerian Bank. Yet, a search of this company in Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) suggests the company is not registered and has no track record upon which that contract should have been awarded.

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“Similarly, a few weeks after Lemaco Engineering Limited was registered in Port-Harcourt, the State capital, the government awarded it a lucrative contract for which it received almost N850 million from the Rivers State Sports Ministry’s account in the same bank. A search on CAC’s website indicates the current status of this company is now unknown. Unsurprisingly, and in line with Amaechi’s modus operandi, Lemaco Engineering Limited was floated by his close confidant, Victor Giadom, who for several years served as a critical cabinet member in Amaechi’s government.

“Many other contracts were awarded like Lemaco’s in which the companies are formed hurriedly by apparent cronies, they receive a huge contract, monies are paid upfront, with no discernible goods supplied, services rendered or benefits received for the citizens of the State. Such companies and deals include ones given to Opriala Integrated Services which received N103 million, Faribo Nigeria Limited which got over N920 million, Klear Image Limited, which received N216 million, and Tawfik Engineering Limited which received N143 million from the River State Ministry of Works.

“A search of these companies in CAC’s database indicates they do not exist and may have been Special Purpose Vehicles in a grand scheme of money laundering and corruption. Another pattern of transactions that pervaded his time as Governor were basically huge sums of payments in cash to individuals. These transactions appeared fraudulent because they were not only conducted in cash but with no descriptions whatsoever for their benefits to the taxpayers Mr. Amaechi swore to serve.

“For example, in a single day and for no recorded purpose, a senior official of the Finance Ministry named J. P. Brown made cash withdrawals of N10 million each totalling N950 million from the Rivers State Sub Treasury Pension Account Number 6010944734 in a first-rate commercial bank. At the time of this withdrawal, the main account officer of Rivers State was a gentleman named Mohammed Bello-Koko, who was later arrested and imprisoned by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency.

“Once Amaechi became a powerful Minister, he worked out his release and made Mr. Bello-Koko an Executive Director in charge of Finance at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), an agency under Mr. Amaechi’s Transportation Ministry. As a reward for continued cooperation and connivance for such corrupt deals, Mr. Amaechi recently ensured the promotion of Mr. Bello-Koko to the post of CEO of the NPA. A forthcoming essay will expose such recent deals at the NPA.

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“Similar to the withdrawal above, Amaechi presided over many such cash withdrawals from the state’s treasury by cronies and friends. In August 2012, an individual named Atu Komily received a cash payment of N110 million in tranches of N10 million each from the Deputy Governor’s Overhead Account Number 5030000382 domiciled in a mid-level Nigerian bank. The same individual received N430 million in cash payments from the same bank a few weeks later. Similarly, cash payments of N230 million and N190 million were made from the same account to Kiri Okeanyi and Mabel Worika respectively.

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“These withdrawals were done in tranches of N10 million and N20 million each in July 2012. Also, cash payments in tranches totalling N350 million were made to an individual named Daobu Harry in September 2012 from the Rivers State Sports Ministry Account Number 5030032978 in the same mid-level Nigerian bank.

“In a brazen display of corruption, impunity and non-accountability, such transactions became the order of business throughout Mr. Amaechi’s tenure as governor. Similar cash withdrawals, with no description for work done or service rendered, were made to Bright Ezebuola (N180 million), Innocent Amadi (N120 million), Abaate Godson (N110 million), Christopher Quakers (N130 million), Leyira Pyagbara (N280 million) and J.P. Brown (N1.2 billion).

“There are many other such transactions that were directly ordered by Mr. Amaechi and marked “Executive Governor’s Office totalling over N98 billion in one bank alone that will be the subject of another essay.

“Despite these and many other well-documented allegations, President Buhari, who otherwise appears not to condone corruption in any guise and from anyone, continues to tolerate Mr. Amaechi, leading many to suspect he may be doing something for the President’s inner circle who are protecting him.

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“Regardless of what the President or anti-graft agencies might do with these verifiable information, it is important that Nigerian voters are aware of Mr. Amaechi’s pattern of governance, which is riddled with opacity, cronyism, and corruption.”

Pandora Papers 

Meanwhile, a Pandora Papers in 2021 revealed that Bello-Koko was behind two shell companies incorporated in a tax haven to anonymously invest in the United Kingdom property market.

This potentially violates Nigeria’s public service code of conduct laws.

Pandora Papers also disclosed that he and his wife, Agatha Anne Koko, enlisted the services of financial secrecy seller, Cook Worldwide and Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), an offshore law firm, to register Coulwood Limited (reg. number: 1487897) and Marney Limited (reg. number: 1487944) in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), one of the world’s most commonly used tax havens, in 2008. Both companies were registered on the same day, June 19, 2008.

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Though a public servant, Bello-Koko is also a director of the two companies, in violation of Nigeria’s Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (Sections 5 and 6).

Pandora Papers project is led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

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Crime

Two jailed for stealing Dangote company’s armoured cables

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The Magistrate Court sitting in Ilaro, Ogun State, on Tuesday, sentenced Hussain Waziri aged 36 and Mustapha Aliyu, aged 33 years old, to one-year imprisonment for the two counts of conspiracy to steal and stealing made against them after pleading guilty to the offences.

Theheute learnt that Waziri and Aliyu were arrested last week Thursday by the operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ogun State Command, while stealing the armoured cables worth millions of naira within the Dangote Cement factory, Ibese, Yewa South Local Government Area of the state.

This was according to a statement from the Ogun State Commander of NSCDC, David Ojelabi, on Wednesday.

It was stated that an exhibit recovered from them was a special armoured cable, property of Dangote Plc, which is being used in transmitting and distributing power within the factory.

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The statement partly reads, “The arrested gangs who are serial cable thieves allegedly conspired, jumped over the perimeter fence and accessed the (DCP-I) cable yard within the power plant, with the intent to commit a crime.

“At approximately 0336 hours, during the routine patrol at the power plant duty post, the NSCDC armed personnel sighted Mustapha Aliyu and Hussein Waziri while committing the heinous crime.

“The suspects violently engaged the security personnel with dangerous tools in order to escape arrest. Mustapha Aliyu was overpowered and eventually arrested while Hussein Waziri escaped with the stolen cable.

“Unfortunately for him, the NSCDC personnel conducted an intelligence-based ‘search and arrest’ operation and at about 0436 hours of the same night, Waziri, who had earlier escaped from the scene where he carted away the special armoured electrical cable, was rearrested, within the geofencing of the Dangote Cement Transport [DCT-I ] by the alerted NSCDC personnel assisted by the Dangote security guards.”

The convicts were said to have been transferred to the NSCDC state headquarters for a thorough investigation and prosecution. It was during the investigation that they confessed to committing the crime.

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Having pleaded guilty to the counts, the court sentenced them to a one-year jail term for each of the two counts of conspiracy to steal and stealing. The term is however to run concurrently on each of the two counts.

Reacting to the arrest and the conviction secured at the court, the Ogun State Commandant of the NSCDC, Ojelabi, reiterated the commitment of the security agency to the protection of critical infrastructure and ensuring that crime is stamped out of Ogun State and Nigeria at large.

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Crime

Hoodlums kill Niger health worker during wedding ceremony

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A health worker, Umar Mohammed, was stabbed in the head at a wedding ceremony by hoodlums in Niger State

Niger State security agents have been battling hoodlums and other miscreants who have been running riot in the State, especially its capital, Minna, killing and maiming unsuspecting residents.

The incident occurred last Friday in the Gbegenu Area of Minna when Mohammed was said to be returning from his workplace and decided to attend the wedding ceremony.

According to an eyewitness and resident of Gbegenu who gave his name as Haruna Aminu, Mohammed had not stayed at the wedding for more than a few minutes when the hoodlums came for him with dangerous weapons.

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“I saw when Umar came there. He was returning from the private clinic where he worked. I cannot say whether he wanted to stay or continue his movement.

“It didn’t take long after he was there that these hoodlums, numbering over ten began shouting at top of their voices. They were welding dangerous weapons. Many people gave way for them while others were injured.

“Umar was attempting to leave the scene of the wedding when the hoodlum came after him and one of them stabbed him in the head with his dagger. He immediately fell to the ground with blood coming out from his head,” Aminu said.

Muhammed was said to have been rushed to the Minna General Hospital where he was confirmed dead by the doctors.

When Press contacted the Niger State Police Command spokesman, Wasiu Abiodun, he confirmed the incident and said two suspects were arrested in connection with Mohammed’s killing while others were still on the run.

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Abiodun sent a WhatsApp message where he confirmed the incident, “On 17/5/2024 at about 2200hrs, it was reported at Kpakungu Div that there was a wedding ceremony at Gbeganu area, while some miscreants from the Area reportedly led by one Ukasha and others armed with dangerous weapons attacked a victim named Umar Mohammed 35yrs.

“The victim was inflicted with serious injury on the head, and he was rushed to Gen Hospital Minna, where he later gave up the ghost and was confirmed dead by the Doctor.

“The police patrol teams were drafted to the scene and two suspects were arrested while others fled from the scene, however, effort is ongoing to apprehend the fleeing suspects as the incident is under investigation,” Abiodun stated.

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Crime

ICYMI: Oba of Benin accuses EFCC of corruption

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Oba of Benin, Ewuare II has alleged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is aiding crimes in the country.

The monarch made the allegations when he received the new Benin Zonal Director of EFCC, Effa Okim in his Palace in Benin on Monday.

He cited a case involving unnamed former palace officials who were left off the hook after they were arrested for fraud and handed over to EFCC in Benin for investigation and prosecution.

The Oba alleged that some EFCC operatives allegedly handled the case with kid gloves, which led to the release of the culprits a few years ago.

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The monarch, who did not name the palace officials, expressed shock that the EFCC investigators allegedly swept glaring evidence of fraud against them (the palace officials) under the carpet.

While tasking the commission to fight crime without fear or favour, the Oba added,” We want to draw your attention to one or two grey areas in your operations”.

“No matter how much you try to support the EFFC from the palace, It is very difficult because they seem to listen to other parties. What I have been told is that they take instructions from the highest bidder.

“You know that I have been known for speaking the truth. I was not happy about certain things that happened with your predecessor.

“We get news from everywhere. We try to assist the EFCC. I even wrote a letter to the then-chairman who was removed from office.

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“I even sent an emissary to talk to him regarding certain elements in Edo State, particularly the palace.

“How can EFCC operatives, especially, the lady who handled the case I cited earlier behave like that? If I was asked to comment on her performance, I would score her zero. I do not know if she was doing an EFCC job or just dancing to the tunes of people who were giving her money.

“At the time we were trying to assist EFCC, the report we kept getting was negative and I was not happy about it,” Oba Ewuare II added.

The monarch, however, said the newly appointed Chairman of EFCC, Olanipekun Olukayode is on the path to greatness if he continues to demonstrate fidelity in his duties.

He also pledged the palace’s support to the state government in addressing social inequality and reducing social vices.

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Earlier in his address, Okim appealed to the Oba to support advocacy against financial crimes with Edo State ranking second behind Lagos State in the financial crime index in the country.

Recalling the historical ties between his state of origin, Cross River and Edo State, he solicited prayers and royal blessings to enable him to discharge his duties diligently.

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