Mohammed Bello Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) bought a house worth £1,750,000 in the United Kingdom in 2015, a document seen by SaharaReporters has revealed.
SaharaReporters gathered that the Kebbi state-born banker was the Zenith Bank accounts officer to Rivers state government when Rotimi Amaechi was governor.
Mohammed Bello Koko
He had worked in the banking circles in Rivers for a long time, rising to become deputy regional manager at Zenith Bank Plc.
In 2016, the 53-year-old Bello-Koko was appointed executive Director of NPA after he proceeded on a leave of absence from the bank in 2015.
He was in charge of finance and admin under the sacked MD, Hadiza Bala-Usman.
The document seen by SaharaReporters showed that the mansion located at 2A Beech Hill, Barnet, Greater London, EN4 0JP was bought by Bello-Koko on November 06, 2015, at £1,750,000.
The 7-bedroom freehold detached house is currently ranked as the 11th most expensive property in EN4 0JP, with a valuation of £2,274,000.
“Since it last sold in November 2015 for £1,750,000, its value has increased by £524,000,” an estate developer website, The Move Market said.
“2A Beech Hill, Barnet has 3 transactions recorded with HM Land Registry – its market value today is £2,274,000.
“The current owner bought the property in November 2015 for £1,750,000 and has lived here for 5 years. Since the current owner purchased the property, its value has increased by £524,000 (29.9%).
“The previous owner had the property for 4 years, having purchased it in October 2011 for £1,200,000.
“During this time, the price rose by £550,000 (45.8%), which equates to it increasing in value by 9.7% each year. The property turned out to be a really good investment for the previous owner.”
Anti-corruption Group Speaks
Meanwhile, an anti-corruption group, ‘Say No To Corruption In Nigeria’ has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to extend its searchlight on Bello-Koko and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
“It’s no more a secret that Bello-Koko was Amaechi’s account officer for years. He has been a crony for Amaechi’s corrupt practices,” the coordinator of the group, Ahmed Abubakar said.
“How will it be that in 2015, Bello-Koko acquired a property worth £1,750,000 in the United Kingdom, a few months after Amaechi left office as governor and him being his account officer?
“His last position in Zenith Bank before he went on leave was deputy regional manager, how was he able to afford a house of that amount in 2015? These are questions begging for answers.
“This man was in charge of finance and admin under Bala-Usman in NPA then. Under normal circumstances, he should be the primary target for the probe that sacked the woman. After all, the allegations investigated fell directly under his department.”
Abubakar added, “As Nigerians prepare for the elections, it is critical that the world pays significant attention to the ongoing campaigns to determine who becomes the President of Nigeria come May 2023. While many candidates appear to have the right pedigree to be seeking this exalted office, Rotimi Amaechi stands out as too decidedly corrupt and morally bankrupt to be doing so.
“Amaechi served as Speaker of Rivers State (an oil-rich state in Southern Nigeria) for 8 years and went on to serve as governor of the state for another 8 years. For the past 7 years, he has been Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation.
“During these 23 years, Amaechi has become a master of awarding dubious contracts to phoney companies, for non-existent jobs, often to political cronies, who it appears, served as his own purses for the proceeds of these contracts.
“Amaechi’s pattern of corruption reared its head recently in the wake of the unfortunate attack on a train travelling between Abuja, the nation’s capital city, and Kaduna, a critical metropolis in the Northwest of the country. During his inspection of the damage, he blamed the current government, of which he is a member of the Executive, for moving too slowly to award the contract he had pushed for securing the rail lines.
“The very next day, minutes from that Executive Council Meeting were released to show that Mr. Amaechi had intended to award the contract worth N3.7 billion (about $8.5 million) to a company that was registered only two years ago with no prior record of security jobs, and a turnover of less than $190,000. It is on the basis of these questionable details that the proposal was denied.
“Sad as this episode might be for Nigerians given the loss of lives on that train attack and the continuing hostage of many of the passengers on that train, this pattern of fictitious contracting is one that Mr. Amaechi appears to have unfortunately mastered to perfection. And it is one that Nigerians should be aware of and as such, not reward him with the highest office in their country.
“During his term as governor of Rivers State, Amaechi routinely broke his own procurement laws and awarded contracts involving large sums of money to many questionable causes and invisible services. Using several personal and corporate proxies, hundreds of billions of Rivers State taxpayers’ monies were simply siphoned off the state’s coffers by his cronies.
“For example, Amaechi’s government awarded a contract and paid a company named Magnum and Hunter Limited received several hundreds of millions from the Rivers State Sport Ministry Account Number 0006786960 in a leading Nigerian Bank. Yet, a search of this company in Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) suggests the company is not registered and has no track record upon which that contract should have been awarded.
“Similarly, a few weeks after Lemaco Engineering Limited was registered in Port-Harcourt, the State capital, the government awarded it a lucrative contract for which it received almost N850 million from the Rivers State Sports Ministry’s account in the same bank. A search on CAC’s website indicates the current status of this company is now unknown. Unsurprisingly, and in line with Amaechi’s modus operandi, Lemaco Engineering Limited was floated by his close confidant, Victor Giadom, who for several years served as a critical cabinet member in Amaechi’s government.
“Many other contracts were awarded like Lemaco’s in which the companies are formed hurriedly by apparent cronies, they receive a huge contract, monies are paid upfront, with no discernible goods supplied, services rendered or benefits received for the citizens of the State. Such companies and deals include ones given to Opriala Integrated Services which received N103 million, Faribo Nigeria Limited which got over N920 million, Klear Image Limited, which received N216 million, and Tawfik Engineering Limited which received N143 million from the River State Ministry of Works.
“A search of these companies in CAC’s database indicates they do not exist and may have been Special Purpose Vehicles in a grand scheme of money laundering and corruption. Another pattern of transactions that pervaded his time as Governor were basically huge sums of payments in cash to individuals. These transactions appeared fraudulent because they were not only conducted in cash but with no descriptions whatsoever for their benefits to the taxpayers Mr. Amaechi swore to serve.
“For example, in a single day and for no recorded purpose, a senior official of the Finance Ministry named J. P. Brown made cash withdrawals of N10 million each totalling N950 million from the Rivers State Sub Treasury Pension Account Number 6010944734 in a first-rate commercial bank. At the time of this withdrawal, the main account officer of Rivers State was a gentleman named Mohammed Bello-Koko, who was later arrested and imprisoned by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency.
“Once Amaechi became a powerful Minister, he worked out his release and made Mr. Bello-Koko an Executive Director in charge of Finance at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), an agency under Mr. Amaechi’s Transportation Ministry. As a reward for continued cooperation and connivance for such corrupt deals, Mr. Amaechi recently ensured the promotion of Mr. Bello-Koko to the post of CEO of the NPA. A forthcoming essay will expose such recent deals at the NPA.
“Similar to the withdrawal above, Amaechi presided over many such cash withdrawals from the state’s treasury by cronies and friends. In August 2012, an individual named Atu Komily received a cash payment of N110 million in tranches of N10 million each from the Deputy Governor’s Overhead Account Number 5030000382 domiciled in a mid-level Nigerian bank. The same individual received N430 million in cash payments from the same bank a few weeks later. Similarly, cash payments of N230 million and N190 million were made from the same account to Kiri Okeanyi and Mabel Worika respectively.
“These withdrawals were done in tranches of N10 million and N20 million each in July 2012. Also, cash payments in tranches totalling N350 million were made to an individual named Daobu Harry in September 2012 from the Rivers State Sports Ministry Account Number 5030032978 in the same mid-level Nigerian bank.
“In a brazen display of corruption, impunity and non-accountability, such transactions became the order of business throughout Mr. Amaechi’s tenure as governor. Similar cash withdrawals, with no description for work done or service rendered, were made to Bright Ezebuola (N180 million), Innocent Amadi (N120 million), Abaate Godson (N110 million), Christopher Quakers (N130 million), Leyira Pyagbara (N280 million) and J.P. Brown (N1.2 billion).
“There are many other such transactions that were directly ordered by Mr. Amaechi and marked “Executive Governor’s Office totalling over N98 billion in one bank alone that will be the subject of another essay.
“Despite these and many other well-documented allegations, President Buhari, who otherwise appears not to condone corruption in any guise and from anyone, continues to tolerate Mr. Amaechi, leading many to suspect he may be doing something for the President’s inner circle who are protecting him.
“Regardless of what the President or anti-graft agencies might do with these verifiable information, it is important that Nigerian voters are aware of Mr. Amaechi’s pattern of governance, which is riddled with opacity, cronyism, and corruption.”
Meanwhile, a Pandora Papers in 2021 revealed that Bello-Koko was behind two shell companies incorporated in a tax haven to anonymously invest in the United Kingdom property market.
This potentially violates Nigeria’s public service code of conduct laws.
Pandora Papers also disclosed that he and his wife, Agatha Anne Koko, enlisted the services of financial secrecy seller, Cook Worldwide and Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), an offshore law firm, to register Coulwood Limited (reg. number: 1487897) and Marney Limited (reg. number: 1487944) in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), one of the world’s most commonly used tax havens, in 2008. Both companies were registered on the same day, June 19, 2008.
Though a public servant, Bello-Koko is also a director of the two companies, in violation of Nigeria’s Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (Sections 5 and 6).
Pandora Papers project is led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
SaharaReporters, New York