The Nigerian Army and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are investigating a serving senior officer and Managing Director of Nigerian Army Properties Limited (NAPL), Brig-Gen. Umaru Mohammed, over fraud allegations running into billions of naira.
Mohammed, who was the long-time Chairman of the defunct Presidential Committee on the lease of Federal Government properties, is also being accused of laundering several billions of Naira in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
According to sources, trouble started for the senior officer who is said to be in the habit of intimidating civilians with his position, when he engaged the Management and Board of National Aviation Handling Company (Nahco Aviance) in a battle of supremacy for the control of the firm.
Not having his way, he was said to have written a petition to the EFCC to investigate some management staffers of Nahco Aviance who opposed his takeover bid.
But in a counter-move, the anti-graft agency decided to dig into his background, which subsequently uncovered some damning illicit deals and unprofessional conducts.
Sources informed THISDAY that the anti-graft agency, suspicious of how a serving Army officer would be engaged in boardroom squabbles in a non-military agency, was forced to open investigations into Mohammed’s source of alleged multi-billion naira worth of shares and properties.
The senior officer is alleged to have shares in various companies valued at N20 billion. They include UAC, UBA, Nahco Aviance Plc, Okumo Oil, Dangote Sugar, and Vitafoam amongst others.
But when contacted, the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, refused to comment on the ongoing investigations.
However, EFCC letters dated October 19, 2016 addressed to the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and another dated October 24, 2016, confirming investigation into the activities of Mohammed were obtained by THISDAY.
One of the letters, addressed to the Managing Director of Nahco Plc, was on the investigation of the activities of Mohammed (rtd), one Captain Enyinna Okpara who is alleged to be his accomplice and his company, AWHUA Resources Limited.
Part of the letter signed by Head of CMIFS, Adesola Amusan for the Acting Chairman of the EFCC reads:
“This Commission is currently investigating a case in which the above-named shareholders of your company featured prominently.
“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly furnish this office with the following information: a) Details of their investiment in your company; b) Information on how the investments were paid for; c) any other useful information that will assist our investigation.
“You are further requested to urgently place the place cautionon the investments pending conclusioin of our investigation.”
The agency further stated that the request is made pursuant to the provision of section 38 of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and section 21 of the Money Laundering prohibition Act 2011.
Findings also revealed that the Commission has since frozen some the investments and properties worth several billions of naira across Nigeria linked with the officers with sources claiming the revelations are just a fraction of the purported fraudulent acquisitions.
According to sources from the anti-graft agency, successful conclusion of investigations into the multi-billion naira worth of assets and cash in banks extending beyond Nigeria to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and yet to be unravelled locations, could be one of the defining achievements of the Ibrahim Magu-led EFCC.
While the EFCC investigation is ongoing, sources disclosed that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has ordered detailed probe of the allegations and if found wanting, the officer would be officially handed over to the Commission for prosecution.
However, when THISDAY contacted the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, he said he was not aware of such, saying “There is nothing like that to my knowledge”.
Meanwhile, General Mohammed in a letter addressed to one of the publicly quoted companies in the Nigerian capital market, introduced himself as Chairman of AWHUA Resources Limited, which he claimed owns 7.4% interest in a company with 105 million ordinary shares, valued at over N2billion Naira.
Part of the letter stated: “At the helm of affairs is our Chairman, Mallam Umaru Mohammed, a senior serving officer, who is presently attached to the Presidency as Chairman Task Force of the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Lease of Federal Government Landed Property across the country.”
In the letter, Mohammed requested for a Board seat in several quoted companies for his nominee Captain Enyinna Okpara, while confirming that he is a senior serving officer with the Nigerian Army.
The trouble began to emerge when some companies accepted his nominee (Capt Eyinna) for the board, but other companies’ corporate governance committees rejected him on the basis that due diligence must be carried by the NSE, SEC and NFIU.
“Gen. Mohammed started using threats and intimidation as a senior officer to bulldoze his way into the management boards of those companies and those who refused were blackmailed. This was how he reported the management of Nahco Aviance to the EFCC but after investigation the searchlight was beamed on him. How can a serving military officer seek to be on the board of companies?
“Don’t you think that Mohammed’s ownership of AWHUA Resources, which is a major player in the Nigerian Capital Market for several years contravenes the requirement of the Code of Conduct Bureau by not disclosing his holdings as a public officer, another crime being investigated by the EFCC?” a concerned source queried.
The embattled officer who is referred to as “evil spirit” by friends, is suspected of laundering Federal Government funds into private businesses and acting as a front for late National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Owoye Azazi and several others with investigators expressing surprise.
“How he has survived for several years despite several petitions from high ranking Nigerians, State Governments, serving and retired officials in the Army, how he was not uncovered until the arrival of Magu remains a shock,” said a source.