In 2017, SaharaReporters uncovered how disgraced former Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, bought a $1.2 million (N690 000 000 by today’s exchange rate at the black market) home in London, disguising it in the robes of a foreign-registered company to avoid detection.
The chicanery was undertaken in 2012, when Oduah, now the Senator representing Anambra North constituency, but at that time a Minister in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, used Adriatic Land 4 Limited, incorporated in Guernsey in the United Kingdom, for the purchase.
She gave the address of the company, with registration No. 56274, as Mont Crevelt House, Bulwer Avenue, St. Sampson, Guernsey, GY2 4LH.
The transaction, which had been kept secret, was blown open when Mrs. Oduah decided to rent out the house in 2017 and engaged the services of a real estate company, Daniel Ford and Company Ltd, for that purpose.
It would be recalled that Daniel Foster and Co recently featured prominently in a US civil case involving a former Minister of Oil Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke. The company, which is owned by some UK-based Nigerians, is central to a lot of real estate transactions involving politically exposed Nigerians.
When Daniel Ford and Company Ltd. rented out Mrs. Oduah’s London home, she identified herself as the owner of the property, thereby removing the veil of ownership she had imposed by the nature of its discreet registration.
SaharaReporters had exposed Mrs. Oduah’s corrupt activities during her time as Minister of Aviation, the biggest of them being the wild inflation of the cost of two BMW cars she forced cash-strapped federal aviation agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, to purchase for her in 2013. The scandalous purchase led to her being fired by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014 after she was found guilty by a committee of the federal legislature, and indicted.
Another committee set up by President Jonathan had also indicted her but he never made that indictment public.
Mrs. Oduah is under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, but the commission, for inexplicable reasons, refused to charge her even after it concluded its investigation last year.
A source on Wednesday had told SaharaReporters that the President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, and other leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were making moves to frustrate her prosecution.
“There are concerted and subtle efforts by Deputy Senate President and Senate President to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption stance by mounting undue pressure on the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and also Justice Ekwo of Federal High Court Abuja for them to frustrate, compromise and sabotage the prosecution and trial of Senator Stella Oduah, former Minister of Aviation,” the source had said.
“This well-orchestrated plan has been perfected by the above-mentioned highly placed Nigerians.
“Nigerians, especially civil society organisations are enjoined to campaign and mount pressure on relevant individuals and agencies namely the National Security Adviser, Chairman of EFCC, Director General, Department of State Services (DSS), and Attorney General of the Federation to prosecute diligently and unravel the reason for the delay and hindrance in prosecuting this case into which the EFCC had finished investigation since 2 years ago.
“Ensure that not only will justice be done in this matter, but also that justice will be seen to have been done. Ensure that nobody no matter how highly placed (in Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) derails, sabotages, compromises or frustrates the long arm of justice as it concerns prosecution and trial of Stella Oduah.”
During her tenure as a Minister, Oduah reportedly embezzled close to a billion dollars, mainly from contracts awarded to refurbish airports across Nigeria. The facelift of those airports turned out to be very shoddy, and they have all but fallen apart.
According to investigators, she used funds she embezzled as minister to buy ships, as well as some 150 houses in Lagos alone.
Recently, Pandora Papers, one of the biggest leaks of financial documents in the world, uncovered how Oduah secretly acquired mansions in London.
One of the properties is said to be in her name, two through her Nigerian-incorporated firm, and four secretly through her Seychelles offshore company.
International Trading and Logistics Company Limited (ITCL) was incorporated in Seychelles, a commonly used secrecy and tax haven, with Oduah as the ultimate beneficial owner.
She reportedly used the company to acquire the four London properties worth a total of £6.7 million (about N5.2 billion at today’s money value of N775 to £1 at the black market) between October 2012 and August 2013.
According to the UK Land Registry records, on October 19, 2012, ITCL bought a house at 23 St Edmunds Terrace, London, NW8 7QA for £5.3 million.
Oduah was indicted by two panels, which probed the purchase of two bullet-proof cars by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), an agency under her supervision, for N255 million in violation of Nigeria’s public procurement and appropriation laws.