Nigerian Governor’s Wife In Oil Deals?

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A recent report by Michael Peel in the Financial Times of London describes President Obasanjo's anti-corruption war, "Nigerians have very mixed feelings about the corruption prosecutions, welcoming the start of action they see as long overdue while noting that those being pursued appear mainly to be enemies of President Olusegun Obasanjo, or otherwise politically expendable."

There are reports that since the arrest of Bayelsa State Governor Diepreye Solomon Peter (DSP) Alamieyeseigha, Nigerian politicians are no longer in a hurry to travel to Europe. Elendureports.com investigations suggest that there may be some truth to this. We had arranged to interview some public officials who were planning to visit the United States, Britain, and other parts of Europe. Most of the scheduled interviews have been canceled as some of the people we were to interview found other reasons that would prevent them from keeping their appointments with us.

A recent report by Michael Peel in the Financial Times of London describes President Obasanjo's anti-corruption war, "Nigerians have very mixed feelings about the corruption prosecutions, welcoming the start of action they see as long overdue while noting that those being pursued appear mainly to be enemies of President Olusegun Obasanjo, or otherwise politically expendable."

It is common knowledge that some of the President's men have been fingered in corrupt deals yet the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has done nothing to them. Case in point is that of Olusola Saraki and Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria saga. What has the EFCC done about this issue so far? Is it possible that Saraki and others like him are being protected by the Presidency? Besides Potomac, Maryland, why is London the place every corrupt Nigerian public official wants to own a home?

Peel answers this question in the aforementioned article of the Financial Times of London, "Britain is not among the 32 countries, including France and Nigeria, that have so far ratified the 2003 United Nations convention on corruption. The UK government says the reason is that it has still not implemented fully the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act."

A few weeks ago, Whitehills Corporation, Limited offered to sell six million barrels of 'Nigerian Bonny Light' to interested parties. They promised that they could supply this amount of oil every month. One could easily have dismissed this as another fraudulent scheme by some Nigerians, except that the company listed Tessi Ibori as the company secretary. The CEO of the company was listed as Okey Ilo.

For those who may not know, Tessi Ibori is the same person as Theresa Nkoyo Ibori, the First Lady of Delta State. Records available to Elendureports.com indicate that Tessi, a British citizen born in January 1968, was appointed the Company Secretary in November 2001, nearly two years after her husband became the Executive Governor of Delta State. The fact that Tessi's name appeared on company documents interested our correspondents. We were reliably informed that a United States-based company expressed interest in Whitehills Corporation, Ltd.'s offer, although for some reason, Whitehills did not respond to their inquiry.

Whitehills Corporation Ltd. has its registered office on 4 St. Andrews Court, St. Andrews Road, London, E17 6AX. Tessi's address was listed as 7 Westover Hill, North West London. Our reporter had a brief chat with Okey Ilo, who was listed as the CEO of Whitehills Corporation, Ltd. We asked him about supply of crude oil and his link to the Ibori's. He told our reporter that his company was an IT/Internet management company. Ilo feigned surprise on being asked about crude oil supplies. Regarding his relationship with Tessi Ibori, he described her as a 'friend' whom he used to register his company.

We were curious as to what led him to appoint her the Company Secretary; thus, we asked if she is a lawyer. "No, she is not," was Okey Ilo's response. He informed Elendureports.com that Tessi would not be listed as Company Secretary from 2006. "So who placed the crude oil advert for Whitehills Corporation Ltd.?" we asked. Okey Ilo could not tell us as he claimed to be ignorant of the adverts. As of this morning Okey Ilo is no longer listed as the Chief Executive Officer of Whitehills Corporation, Ltd. Vishaal Shavan is now listed as the CEO of Whitehills Corporation, Ltd.

Tessi Ibori's London address is in a gated community with a host of British guards and gardeners. Visitors can only be buzzed into the estate. Closed-circuit cameras are mounted in strategic places around the premises. An Elendureports.com reporter called the residence and was told by an unarguably Nigerian lady that she had strict instructions not to speak with anyone. "I have been told not to speak with anyone," she said. Though the premises had all kinds of security arrangement, our reporter was able to gain access to the place and was dumbfounded by the collection of luxury cars in the garage. He said, "The Bentley and some of the other cars took my breath away."

Ascertaining the ownership of this property was a study in complexity. "Land and the building on the South East side of Westover Hill, West Heath Road, Hempstead was acquired by Haleway Properties in 2001 for an undisclosed sum. Haleway Properties is registered in Gibraltar, a small Island known as a tax haven. We traced Haleway Properties to Baskin Ross Co., a firm of solicitors in London. Initially they denied that they were involved with properties, but on a second visit they told our reporter that they were, indeed, in charge of Haleway properties. They however pleaded "attorney-client privilege" and refused to give further details on the property. Although unconfirmed, a very credible source informs Elendureports.com that 7 Westover Hill is owned by Gov. James Ibori.

Our search for the going rate of houses in this area shows that number 10 Westover Hill was purchased on the 18th of October 2003 for £1.7 million pounds and number 14 was purchased on the 31st of May 2001 for £2.3 million pounds. The complexity of the Ibori story explains the insidious nature of tax havens and sundry islands, which offer career company directors who front for many Nigerians. In 1999, The News published a story about Governor James Ibori that read like a biography. The magazine described him as a man with "the dual personality of an amiable chief executive and a deadly man in Nigeria's intelligence network, under the iron grip of Gen. Sani Abacha and Major Al Mustapha." Elendureports.com can confirm that Ibori was, indeed, a member of the inner circle of the Abacha regime. His alleged betrayal of Niran Malaolu, the then editor of The Diet newspaper published by James Ibori, portrayed him as a callous, cold, and calculating operator with a penchant for inflicting pain on those who stood in his way.

The News's account of what happened to Niran Malaolu follows:
"The telephone rang into a shattering din. Niran Malaolu, editor of The Diet newspaper, picked up the receiver. He asked who was on the other end of the line. "James Ibori here, I just wish to ask whether you are not going out?" The reply came with a newly-acquired patrician voice. "I am not going out, sir," said Malaolu, and the line went dead. He was expecting his boss to come over to discuss matters of corporate importance. He was mistaken. Instead of his publisher, Malaolu's visitors, that night, were men of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), who came to arrest him. That was 28 December 1997, one day into the Gen. Donaldson Oladipo Diya's choreographed coup. Like a benevolent employer, Ibori, publisher of The Diet and now Governor of Delta State, promised profusely to effect the release of the editor the second day. Malaolu's hope kept feeding on itself until he was jailed alongside Gen. Diya; Major-Gen. Abdulkareem Adisa, the Works and Housing Minister to the late Dictator Gen. Sani Abacha; Maj.-Gen. Tajudeen Olanrewaju, Communications Minister; and many others by a special military tribunal headed by the Major-Gen. Victor Malu now Chief of Army Staff. Malaolu breathed the air of freedom after the death of Gen. Sani Abacha, Nigeria's dictator and the ascension to power of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar."

Niran Malaolu is currently the Commissioner of Information in Ogun State. We reached him twice today by phone.  The chilling account above notwithstanding, this is the question that needs to be answered: Is Tessi Ibori involved in oil bunkering? We tried to answer this question by contacting the Governor, himself. We placed several calls to his cell phone at all hours of the day but received no answers. A very knowledgeable source told Elendureports.com "You guys expect Ibori to talk with you? There's no way he'll do that. The man plays the kind of games that would make your heads spin. Be careful guys."

Tessi Ibori runs a foundation that has attracted some high profile donors, including Nigeria's First Lady Stella Obasanjo. We were unable to ascertain what her foundation does as at the time of going to press. James Ibori worked with Mobil Oil Nigeria, Limited and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The News reports that Ibori was sacked from the NNPC. He was also embroiled in a legal battle on allegations that he was once jailed by an Abuja court for stealing. The Judge who jailed him testified that the James Ibori he jailed is the same person as the Governor. The Investigating Police Officer also confirmed that the Governor was the one jailed by the Abuja Court. Curiously the Abuja Chief Judge ruled that the Governor is different from the James Ibori that was jailed.

An aide to the Gov. James Ibori told Elendureports.com that the Governor does not have a house in London. Abel Oshevire told us he has been to London with Gov. Ibori on several occasions. He claims the Governor and he always stayed in hotels. On being reminded of the house on Westover Hills he said, "You know Tessi was born in London. Maybe that is her father's house." On realizing that he was talking with our reporter, Oshevire became guarded in his responses. He told our reporter he would check with his boss. A few hours later he called back and repeated the same line. He said, "Ibori doesn't own properties outside of Nigeria anywhere." When asked about Tessi's Westover House, he replied, "Well, I can confirm that anything you might have found is her father's property; it is their family house in London." According to him, "Tessi's father was a well-established man who died recently and he was a self-made man.� Asked if Gov. Ibori stays in that house, he said, "Yes, it is natural that whenever he travels to London, he stays with his in-laws." We found out that Tessi's father, Adolf Nakanda, died in the late 1990s.

UPDATE:
Elendureports.com now has documents showing that on 04/12/2001, Tessi Ibori registered a company. The name of the company is: Haleway Trading Ltd., with registration number: 04334204. The company had its offices on 1st floor, Alpine House, Unit 2, Honeypot Lane, London NW9 9RX. The company was dissolved on 31/08/2004. One wonders if it is a coincidence that Haleway Properties Ltd., owner of multimillion pound properties bears the same name as Tessi Ibori's trading company.

Additional reports by: Eddy W. and Kayode Ogundamisi in London.  (Source: Elendureports.com)

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