Peter Obi, the ex-governor of Anambra State, is widely regarded in Nigeria as an advocate of good governance, openness and transparency.
In addition to speeches on his governance records and statistics-laden prescriptions for Nigeria’s development, he likes to talk about how hugely successful he became in business before diving into politics.
In speeches and in printed literature, Obi is never shy, reeling out his numerous business affiliations and accomplishments. On his website, for example, the former governor said he “was chairman of Next International Nigeria Ltd, then chairman and director of Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Ltd, Guardian Express Bank Plc, Future View Securities Ltd, Paymaster Nigeria Ltd, Chams Nigeria Ltd, Data Corp Ltd and Card Centre Ltd.”
On that same platform, the former governor also described himself as the youngest board chairperson ever appointed by Fidelity Bank Plc, a 34-year old Nigerian lender listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
But beyond the facade of priggish speeches and appearances, an investigation by PREMIUM TIMES has now shown that Mr Obi is not entirely transparent in his affairs as he likes Nigerians to believe.
The investigation is part of the global International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)-led Pandora Papers project.
The project saw 600 journalists from 150 news organisations around the world poring through a trove of 11.9 million confidential files, contextualising information, tracking down sources and analysing public records and other documents.
The leaked files were retrieved from some offshore services firms around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore entities for clients, many of them influential politicians, businesspersons and criminals, seeking to conceal their financial dealings.
The two-year collaboration has so far revealed the financial secrets of not less than 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 public officials in more than 91 countries and territories.
Obi is one of the individuals whose hidden business activities were thrown open by the project.
Indeed, he has a number of secret business dealings and relationships that he has for years kept to his chest. These are businesses he clandestinely set up and operated overseas, including in notorious tax and secrecy havens in ways that breached Nigerian laws.
PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Obi with written questions and had an in-person interview with him weeks ahead of this publication.
The former governor admitted that he did not declare these companies and the funds and properties they hold in his asset declaration filings with the Code of Conduct Bureau, the Nigerian government agency that deals with the issues of corruption, conflict of interest, and abuse of office by public servants.
He said he was unaware that the law expected him to declare assets or companies he jointly owns with his family members or anyone else.
The Pandora Papers, the biggest cross-border collaboration of journalists in history, is an investigation into a vast amount of previously hidden offshore companies, exposing secret assets, covert deals and hidden fortunes of the super-rich – among them more than 130 billionaires – and the powerful, including more 30 world leaders and hundreds of former and serving public officials across the world.
The confidential documents also feature a global cast of fugitives, convicts, celebrities, football stars and others, including judges, tax officials, spy chiefs and mayors.
The leaked records came from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore nooks for clients like Obi, who seek to shroud their financial activities, often suspicious, in secrecy.
Don’t link your SIM card with another person’s NIN, NCC warns
The Nigerian Communications Commission has warned telecom consumers not allow their National Identification Number to be linked to another person’s Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card no matter how close the person is to them.
The commission gave the warning during its third Telecom Consumer Town Hall on Radio (TCTHR) programme on Human Rights Radio 101.1FM in Abuja.
The event was hosted on the platform: “NCC Digital Signature on Radio”, a statement by the NCC stated on Tuesday.
The NCC Digital Signature on Radio is the flagship radio programme of the commission created to educate the general public on the mandate of the commission and for sharing salient, consumer-centric and up-to-date information on how the NCC is delivering on this mandate.
Speaking during the radio programme, focused on: “The Benefits of NIN-SIM Integration”, NCC’s Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Efosa Idehen, said, “On no account should a telecom consumer, however, circumstanced, allow another person to register a SIM with their NIN.”
Idehen said compliance with the advice would protect the true owner of the NIN from liabilities or negative consequences arising from the use of another person’s SIM.
He said, “If the person whose SIM is linked to your line uses his own SIM to commit a crime or any form of atrocity, it is easy to be traced to you, and then you will be dealt with because the SIM is linked to your NIN.”
Lagos threatens to suspend NURTW, RTEAN over clashes
The Lagos State Government has threatened to suspend operations of transport unions in the Mile 2 area of the state should they continue to clash.
Three people reportedly died during a bloody clash last week on the Mile 2 and Amuwo Odofin axis between the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria and the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Amuwo division.
Responding to the violence, the Lagos State Government on Tuesday brokered peace between the warring factions in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Oluwatoyin Fayinka, stated that the state government would deal with the case after the police had concluded their investigation and presented the report of the crisis.
He noted that multiple levies on truckers by the unions around the axis had been the cause the dispute.
Fayinka warned the unions to beware of infiltrators as this would soil their reputation and lead to an abrupt end of the activities by the state government as the safety of lives and properties is first and sacrosanct.
Port congestion: Relocate overtime cargos, Customs urges NPA
The Nigeria Customs Service has advised the Nigerian Ports Authority to move all overtime cargos from the terminal to reduce congestion.
This advice was given bythe Apapa Area Command of the NCS, noting that the transfer of overtime cargos from the ports to the government warehouse in Ikorodu was the responsibility of the NPA.
Cargos are classified as overtime when they stay in the ports for 28 days without the importer or clearing agent coming up to clear them.
Managing Director of the NPA, Muhammed Bello-Koko, had recently said there were over 5,000 overtime containers across the nation’s seaports taking up space for new imports.
Bello- Koko, who spoke during an interactive session organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Customs, had asked the Service to auction the overtime containers to decongest the nation’s seaports.
The NCS Controller of Apapa, Yusuf Malanta, who spoke when he received executive members of the Shipping Correspondents Association of Nigeria in his office, said it required a lot in terms of logistics and financial commitment to move overtime cargos from the port to the government warehouse in Ikorodu.
According to him, there were currently about 500 overtime containers, including import and export, at the Apapa port, and that it would cost an average of N600,000 to move each of the containers from the port to Ikorodu – a cost which he said the command was not ready to bear.
The customs boss explained that there were also laid-down procedures for the disposal of overtime cargoes that must be followed before they are auctioned, to avoid litigation.
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