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Pandora Papers exposes how Oyetola bought for Tinubu £11.95m court-frozen London mansion for £9m from wanted Diezani’s associate

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Pandora Papers, an investigation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), has in its latest investigation exposed the secret tax haven of the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State, who is a relation of Tinubu.

In previous reports, PREMIUM TIMES had uncovered how some influential Nigerians, including former Governor Peter Obi, Senator Stella Oduah, and Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State hid stolen wealth overseas.

PREMIUM TIMES is the only Nigerian newspaper among 150 news organisations that have direct access to almost 12 million confidential files on the illicit wealth of some of the most powerful persons on earth.

According to the report, the London mansion where Tinubu has been receiving top politicians and high-profile personalities, is embroiled in a multi-billion fraud scandal.

The report said the government of President Muhammadu Buhari had secured a freezing order on the property from a Federal High Court before the previous owner, who is now an international fugitive, sold it at a huge discount to an offshore company owned by Oyetola.

Buhari himself visited Tinubu at the mansion on August 12, 2021.

The expanse 6,975sqft property is situated at 32 Grove End Road, in the wealthy Westminster neighbourhood of London.

According to an advert brochure of the property released by popular United Kingdom real estate company, Savills, the estate is made up of two buildings – a five-bedroom property with a formal reception, a study, a master bedroom with an en suite dressing room, bathroom and a cinema suite with a balcony overlooking the rear garden.

Two of the other four bedrooms in the property are en suite. The second building on the estate is a self-contained two-bedroom flat which is built above the property’s double length garage. The property has a gym, two guest cloakrooms, a carriage driveway that can park up to eight cars, and front and rear gardens, and an electric gate.

“Documents obtained from the UK property register revealed that in July 2013, the property with title number 340992, was bought for £11.95 million by Zavlil Holdings Ltd, a shell company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a notorious tax haven,” PREMIUM TIMES said in its report.

“Documents revealed that Zavlil Holdings Limited is owned by Kolawole Aluko, an international fugitive wanted by law enforcement agencies in Nigeria and the United States for money laundering.

“Kola Aluko and his associate, Jide Omokore, were indicted in the US and Nigeria for multi-million-dollar fraud and money laundering violations allegedly in collusion with a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

“In 2016, the Federal Government of Nigeria filed a Mareva injunction at a Federal High Court in Lagos seeking to confiscate a list of properties belonging to Messrs Aluko and Omokore valued at $1.8 billion.

“A Mareva injunction is a Court order which freezes the assets of a defendant pending the outcome of a litigation. In the suit against Messrs Omokore and Aluko, alongside their companies, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited, the Nigerian Government asked the court to grant it seven orders to prevent the accused from disposing the assets. The government alleged they were acquired through fraudulent means.

“The court granted the government all its prayers. In October 2017, an attempt by the defendants to dismiss the Mareva injunction granted on the properties was subsequently dismissed by Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, the trial judge.”

The report said shortly after the court granted the order, Aluko sold the house for £9 million to Aranda Overseas Corporation, an offshore company incorporated in the British Virgins Island by two of Tinubu’s most trusted surrogates – Oyetola, formerly chair of Paragon Group of Companies, and Elusanmi Eludoyin, who succeeded Oyetola at Paragon.

The report stated, “The huge discount at which the property was sold is curious and raised questions whether Aluko desperately needed to sell the property even while a court of law had placed a freeze order on it. The United Kingdom, especially the greater London area, is noted for rapid increase in the value of properties.”

In the application filed by the Nigerian government, the house number of the property on Grove End Road was omitted. However, PREMIUM TIMES’ extensive investigation in Nigeria and the UK, including a detailed analysis of photographs of visits to Tinubu, has shown that the APC leader is staying at the same property the Nigerian government wants forfeited.

“We were also able to determine that it was at the same property that Mr Tinubu welcomed Mr Buhari on August 12 as well as other politicians who visited him.

“Our reporters carefully analysed some of the photos of these visits. Sources close to Mr Tinubu also confirmed that he stays and welcomes guests, including Mr Buhari, at the property.

“Two photos of the visit of Mr Abiodun, the governor of Ogun State, were particularly helpful in making the initial connections,” the report read.

PREMIUM TIMES said it put its findings to spokesperson for Tinubu, Tunde Rahman, but he promised to get back within 24 hours. But he had not done so as of the time the story was published.

Garba Shehu, Presidential spokesman, was also contacted, according to the newspaper, but he promised to respond, just like Rahman did but he reportedly fulfilled to do so.

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NCAA to demolish Globacom masts nationwide over ₦5.9bn debt

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has concluded plans to start dismantling some telecommunication masts belonging to Globacom Ltd, a Global Sattelite Mobile (GSM) telecommunications provider, in various locations across the country over failure to pay N5.9 billion renewal fees for height clearance to the agency.

The development followed a directive from the Nigerian government to some of its agencies and parastatals to go after debtors and defaulters and recover all the outstanding for the government.

SaharaReporters learnt that the matter came to a head following exchange of correspondence between Globacom and NCAA and scheduled meetings designed to ensure payment of the said accumulated fees by the telecommunication network which failed.

In a letter dated October 4, 2021, titled: “Re: Illegal Erection of High Structures and Refusal to Renew Expired Aviation Height Clearance Certificates by Globacom Limited” and addressed to the Managing Director, Globacom, obtained by SaharaReporters, it was affirmed that following the failure by Globacom to pay the the required fees amounting to N5.9 billion, the regulatory agency had no choice but to commence the dismantling of the its masts across the country.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions, including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

The letter signed by Legal Adviser/Head, Compliance and Enforcement, Mr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, recalled that, “The meeting to discuss the above subject-matter, was fixed for September 23, 2021, at your instance.

“You may wish to recall that you had on August, 25, 2021, requested that the meeting, earlier rescheduled, at your instance, from Monday, July 26, 2021 to Thursday, August 26, 2021, be further rescheduled to Thursday, September 23, 2021, to enable your Chief Operating Officer/COO to attend.

“It is unfortunate that despite our concurrence to a further rescheduling of the meeting to the requested date, and so informing you through our letter of 13th September, 2021, you failed to turn up for the meeting”, it said.

The letter noted that the Director-General of the NCAA had to abort an official assignment in Europe and return to Nigeria in order to be able to attend the meeting.

“Globacom only wrote the letter under reference three days after, asking that the meeting be rescheduled, without any explanation for the failure of any management staff to show up.

“I am directed to inform you that the NCAA is not disposed to granting this latest (fourth) request to reschedule the meeting, particularly, as no reason was given for your non-attendance on the last date.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

In an earlier communication with Globacom, NCAA listed the indebtedness of globacom to include application fee for 2006 to 2007 at N100,000 per mast, totalling N689,800,000, annual renewal fee for 2007-2022 (15years), N50,000 per mast amounting to N6,898 and inspection fee covering N6,898 masts across the nation all totalling N6,064,230,000.

SaharaReporters learnt that Globacom paid the sum of N100 million on July 31, 2019 and had not made any further payment.

An earlier letter from NCCA to Global said total application fee for the period under review stood at N604,800,000 while cost of inspection amounted to N190,930,000.

The letter also stated the position of NCAA in law with regard to regulation of masts.

“Please be reminded that Section 30(3)() of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 empowers the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) by law to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure (including telecommunication mast), which by virtue of its ‘height or position is considered to endanger the safety of air navigation,” it said.

This is coming two years after the agency asked Globacom and other Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators to remove their over 7, 000 masts or risk seeing them demolished.

The NCAA had claimed the masts, erected at different locations within the country close to the nation’s airports, are obstructing flight safety and could cause accidents if not removed.

SaharaReporters

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Nigeria’ll save 40% of forex earnings with Dangote Refinery – Emefiele

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has said Nigeria will save 40 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings when the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant is in full operations in 2022.

The CBN governor stated this on the sidelines of the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings in Washington DC.

Emefiele said the Federal Government currently spent about 40 percent of its dollar earnings on the importation of petroleum products, putting pressure on the naira to dollar rate.

“By the time the Dangote Refinery begins operation, it would be a major FX saving source for Nigeria,” he said.

“Right now, the overall forex we spend on imported items, the importation of petroleum products consumes close to 30 percent (by the time you add diesel, aviation fuel, petrol and the rest of that).

“The Dangote Refinery has the capacity to produce 650,000 barrels per day. There is a domestic component that is about 455,000 barrels. Even if the 455,000 is what is sold to Dangote in naira alone, it is going to be major forex saving for Nigeria.

“If you look at the cost of freight alone, it is a major saving for Nigeria. That is because if we have to go to Europe or other parts of the world to bring in petroleum products where we pay heavily in freight and in stocking those products in the high sea before we offload them, Nigerians would benefit a lot from the Dangote Refinery.

“That project is one of Nigeria’s backward integration programmes, and we are very proud of it.”

The CBN governor added that the petrochemical part of the Dangote Refinery would save five 5 percent FX from polyethene and polypropylene granules and another two percent from fertiliser.

“On the petrochemical, it is also expected to commence about same period next. That petrochemical plant will be producing 900,000 tonnes of polyethene and polypropylene granules. Nigeria’s annual consumption here is less than 200,000,” he added.

“What does that mean? It is going to save five per cent of our imports. If you save five percent of your imports and another 30 per cent on petroleum products and then on the fertiliser where we would save about two percent of our imports, we are moving close to saving 40 percent of the country’s imports.

“By that time, you will see what we would be doing when people talk about floating the naira, and then let’s see how the currency will depreciate.”

The Dangote Refinery is a 650,000 barrels per day integrated refinery project under construction in the Lekki Free Zone, Lagos. It is expected to be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility, upon completion.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate drops sixth consecutive time to 16.63%

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The National Bureau of Statistics on Friday announced a drop in the Nigeria’s inflation rate, the sixth consecutive decline this year.

Specifically, the NBS stated in its latest report that the consumer price index (CPI), measuring the rate of change in prices of goods and services, dropped to 16.63 per cent in September. This is 0.38 per cent points lower than 17.01 percent recorded in August 2021.

According to the report, increases were recorded in all classifications of individual consumption according to purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the headline index.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Headline Index increased by 1.15 per cent in September 2021, this is 0.13 per cent rate higher than the rate recorded in August 2021 (1.02) per cent,” the report stated.

“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the 12-month period ending September 2021 over the average of the CPI for the previous 12-month period was 16.83 per cent, showing 0.23 per cent points from 16.60 per cent recorded in July 2021.

“The urban Inflation rate increased by 17.19 per cent (year-on-year) in September 2021 from 17.59 per cent recorded in August 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 16.08 per cent in September 2021 from 16.45 per cent in August 2021.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Urban Index rose by 1.21 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.15 the rate recorded in August 2021 (1.06), while the Rural Index also rose by 1.10 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.11 the rate that was recorded in August 2021 (0.99) per cent.”

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