ThisDay - The Nigerian Army and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are investigating a serving senior officer and Managing Director of Nigerian Army Properties Limited (NAPL), Brig-Gen. Umar Mohammed, over fraud allegations running into billions of naira.
Mohammed, who was the Chairman of the defunct Presidential Committee on the lease of Federal Government properties, is also being accused of laundering several billions of naira on 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 petitioned the EFCC to investigate some management staff members of Nahco Aviance who opposed his takeover bid, but in a counter-move decided to dig into his background involving the anti-graft agency that 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 including the UAC, UBA, Nahco Aviance Plc, Okomu Oil, Dangote Sugar, and Vitafoam amwongst 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 obtained by THISDAY and 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, confirmed investigation into the activities of Mohammed.
The letter was addressed to the Managing Director of Nahco Plc, 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 read:
“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 investment 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 caution on the investments pending conclusion of our investigation.”
The agency further stated that the request was 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 investments and properties worth several billions of naira across Nigeria linked with the officers, with sources claiming the revelations is 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 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 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 he 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 Nigeria Capital Market, introduced himself as Chairman of AWHUA Resources Limited, which he claimed owns 7.4 per cent interest in a company with 105 million ordinary shares, valued at over N2 billion.
Part of the letter stated that; “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 whereby some companies accepted his nominee (Capt Eyinna Okpara) for the board, and other companies’ corporate governance committee rejected him on the basis that due diligence must be carried out 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 in the board of companies?
“Don’t you think that Mohammed’s ownership of AWHUA Resources, which is major player in the Nigerian Capital Market for several years, contravenes 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 is suspected of laundering federal government funds into private businesses and acting as a front for late National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Owei 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.
Investigations further revealed that despite allegations of embezzlement in an August 2015, in a statement released by the Chief Press Secretary of Lagos State Mr. Habib Aruna on behalf of the State Government, Gen. Mohammed was subsequently removed from the defunct Presidential Committee on the lease of Federal Government properties.
It was also alleged that as the Head of the Presidential Task Force, Mohammed abused his position to corner hundreds of federal government properties in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt. He was also accused of diverting government revenues to the tune of over N20 billion to purchase shares in publicly quoted companies using AWHUA Resources, a company he has over 80 per cent ownership stake under the name ‘Malam Sheik Umaru Mohammed’ and family.
In the same vein, a report by a major national daily alleged how the senior officer conspired with one of the Chief Executive Officers (CEO) of a renowned bank to divert two accounts with a value of over N6 billion and $2.3 million from President Buhari’s move to consolidate government revenue into the Treasury Single Account policy (TSA).
“There is strong suspicion that the funds were covertly hidden from the government as only the bank and members of the committee that had long wounded up operation were aware of its existence”, the report alleged.
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