EFCC investigates Army General over shady shares, properties acquisition
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has commenced investigation into the shady acquisition of shares of quoted Nigerian companies and properties running into billions of naira by a serving senior military officer, Major General Umaru Mohammed.
Mohammed, who is currently the Managing Director of the Nigerian Army Properties Limited, had also served as the Chairman of the defunct Presidential Committee on the Sale of Federal Government properties for 15 years.
Sources in the EFCC confirmed to InsideBusiness on Thursday that the Commission had been on the trail of the Army General over the laundering of billions of naira in the capital and property markets.
Mohammed was alleged to have used his company, Awhua Resources Limited, to acquire over seven per cent shares in the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc.
NAHCO is a Nigerian diversified enterprise with interests in aviation cargo, aircraft handling, passenger facilitation, crew transportation, fueling services and aviation training.
The EFCC, according to the sources, has written to the companies from which Mohammed and Awhua Resource bought their shares to furnish it with details of their investments.
In one of the letters addressed to NAHCO, the anti-graft agency said its request was made in pursuant to the provisions of Section 38 of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and Section 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.
It said in the letter: “The Commission is currently investigating a case in which the above named shareholder 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 investments 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 caution on the investments pending the conclusion of our investigation.”
The letter was dated October 24, 2016 and signed by the Head of CMIFS of the agency, Adesola Amusan, on behalf of the Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
The EFCC had also on October 19 and 26, 2016 written to the Central Securities Clearing System and the Securities and Exchange Commission requesting the source of finances of Mohammed, Captain Enyinna Okpara and Awhua Resources for the shares bought from some quoted companies.
An official of the EFCC confirmed that investigation was ongoing on the shares and properties acquired by the Army General but declined to disclose when it would be concluded.
The official was also silent on when Mohammed would be invited by the agency.
The EFCC operative noted that Mohammed’s interests contravened the requirement of the Code of Conduct Bureau by not disclosing his holdings as a public officer, a crime, he added, was being investigated by the Commission.
The source said: “The Commission has frozen the assets belonging to Mohammed in banks across Nigeria, while ongoing investigations will extend to Dubai and other jurisdictions where Nigerians hide suspected funds.”
The Lagos State Government had in August 2015 accused Mohammed of corruption and embezzlement during the sale and lease of Federal Government properties in the state.
However despite the allegations, Mohammed was moved from the defunct Presidential Committee on the Sale of Federal Government Properties and appointed the Managing Director of Nigeria Army Properties Limited by ex-Chief of Army Staff, General Kenneth Minimah.
The army general was accused of using cronies to corner hundreds of Federal Government properties in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt in Rivers State and later diverting government revenues to the tune of over N20 billion to purchase shares in publicly quoted companies using AWHUA Resources, a company owned by himself under the alias: “Malam Sheik Umaru Mohammed,” and his family.
InsideBusiness said it further gathered that Mohammed also massively invested in companies such as UAC, Okumo Oil, Vitafoam, NAHCO Plc and several others.
AWHUA Resources, which is suspected to be 80 per cent owned by Mohammed, has been a major player in the Nigerian Capital Market for several years.
In a letter addressed to one of the publicly quoted companies in the Nigerian Capital Market, Mohammed introduced himself as the Chairman of AWHUA Resources Limited.
He stated that AWHUA owns 7.4 per cent interest in the company with a total of 105 million ordinary shares, which is valued at over N2 billion.
The AWHUA letter goes further to state: “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.”
While requesting for a Board seat in several quoted companies for his nominee, Captain Enyinna Okpara, Mohammed added that he is a senior serving officer with the Army.
While some companies accepted Mohammed’s nominee, others refused to accept his nominee to the board, insisting on proper due diligence to be carried by the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, which led to a stalemate.