Thursday, 9 December 2010

Nigeria: NaijaLeaks on corruption in Yar'Adua's circle

NaijaLeaks and getting wet

A leak is of no significance when the sun shines but you will be well informed that you have a hole in your roof when it rains, this spate of WikiLeaks released last night had a roofless Nigeria exposed to a tropical torrential downpour and the possibility that beyond ruining the furniture the house might well be swept away in the torrent.

Having reviewed the three cables, in fact, there are four, one pertains to corruption in high places [1] as a background to late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s rule of law mantra, two pertain to the activities of the oil conglomerate Shell in Nigeria; on attacks on infrastructure [2] and establishment espionage [3] and the last pertains to the power vacuum [4] at the beginning of 2010 with President Yar’Adua comatose and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as acting president.

NaijaLeaks will be the nominative term to refer to WikiLeaks concerning Nigeria as suggested in Twitter streams attributed to Idris Bello by SolomonSydelle of Nigerian Curiosity.

The rule of flaws

Each leak requires its own exhaustive review and hopefully some justice can be made of each attempt to contextualise the issues.

The first cable was created on the 21st of February 2008 just about 9 months into President Yar’Adua’s first term in office in which a Kano businessman alleged corruption within the President’s close circles.

The public face of President Yar’Adua was one of an honest leader not given to ostentation, of modest means and with a mandate to stem corruption within the Nigerian government hierarchy. We are almost suffocated with the continuous goal of adhering to the rule of law giving the idea that things would be done according to the book.

Apparently, even during his governorship days according to the cable he kept himself aloof of the dregs of corruption by having a “Mr. Fix It”, Dahiru Mangal [5] who was an ace smuggler using routes through the Niger Republic and dispersing his wares in the Kano marketplace.

Questionable business impunity

The president stood accused of nepotism and cronyism because Mr. Mangal is also a native of Katsina where the president was from and Mr. Mangal had become a wholesale customs department importing goods and taking duties to a the amount of $2 million as a flat-fee of shipments of about 100 containers per month.

Mr. Mangal also ran an airline which was amongst those chose to ferry pilgrims to Hajj in December 2007, an activity that was dogged with inefficiencies and blatant corruption that left certain pilgrims stranded in Saudi Arabia and that is not to talk of the ones who were not airlifted from Nigeria at all.

However, with all this clout, Mr. Mangal was made a Special Adviser to the President and whilst he had to desist from direct involvement in illicit activities, his network was already established and he could like the President keep them at arm’s length whilst bringing the network close to the Presidency where corrupt activities can attain an air of normalcy and the veneer of official sanction.

First in line lady takes the spoils

Other uncorroborated matters concerned the ostentatious tastes of the First Lady Turai Yar’Adua, the purchase of a $10 million house in London not declared in the President’s assets, people purporting to represent the First Lady in deals that required pay backs to facilitate completion.

All sorts of conclusions can be drawn as to the content of the cables but the most interesting one has to be that the President cannot have been oblivious of the activities of Dahiru Mangal and appointing him to political office cannot have been to have a leopard suddenly change his spots. He served a purpose and it cannot have been for the good by any stretch of the imagination.

As for the First Lady, it seems she had settled in well into her role and had begun to create a network of patronage borne from she position and was beginning to exploit it for her own ends.

Sources

[1] Viewing cable 08ABUJA320, S/NF) NIGERIA: KANO BUSINESSMAN ALLEGES YAR'ADUA

[2] Viewing cable 09ABUJA259, C) NIGERIA: SHELL BRIEFS AMBASSADOR ON OIL GAS ISSUES,

[3] Viewing cable 09ABUJA1907, C) SHELL MD DISCUSSES THE STATUS OF THE PROPOSED PETROLEUM

[4] Viewing cable 10ABUJA215, GOODLUCK JONATHAN REMAINS ACTING PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA

[5] Dahiru Mangal, The New Face of Crime - ModernGhana.com

The cable

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000320

SIPDIS

NOFORN

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/AA, INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/18/2033

TAGS: PGOV PINR KCOR NI

SUBJECT: (S/NF) NIGERIA: KANO BUSINESSMAN ALLEGES YAR'ADUA

CORRUPTION

REF: 07 ABUJA 2627

Classified By: Political Counselor Walter Pflaumer for Reasons 1.4 (b,

c, & d).

1. (S//NF) SUMMARY: XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged a close association between President Yar,Adua and Katsina native and rumored smuggler Dahiru Mangal. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal is the President's "Mr. Fix It," taking care of "anything filthy" Yar'Adua needs done in addition to smuggling items for several wealthy Nigerian businessmen through Niger into Kano. Another Kano business contact corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's allegations, but observed that Mangal no longer deals openly in illicit activity since Yar'Adua named him a special advisor earlier this month. As well, XXXXXXXXXXXX maintained that he had been approached by a man claiming to represent First Lady Turai Yar'Adua and seeking an USD 2 million pay-off. While Post cannot independently authenticate these allegations of corruption by the President or First Lady, Post has heard rumors of an emergent "Katsina clique" in the Presidential Villa. END SUMMARY.

2. (S//NF) Kano real estate entrepreneur and longtime Mission contact XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff February 10 that Katsina native Dahiru Mangal, who XXXXXXXXXXXX contends deals in illicit smuggling of goods into Nigeria, is also known as President Yar'Adua's "Mr. Fix It." XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged a close association between the President and Mangal, dating to the former's tenure as governor of Katsina, and claimed the latter remains to this day Yar'Adua's "go-to man" to accomplish "anything filthy that Yar'Adua needs done." Mangal, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, is also the "go-to" for any wealthy Nigerian, who wants to import "just about anything" into Nigeria.

He declined to state whether Mangal smuggled weapons, drugs, or persons into Nigeria. (On February 17, PolOff queried another Kano business contact, who corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's accusations, however claimed Mangal no longer goes by "Mr. Fix It" since Yar'Adua officially named him a special advisor earlier this month. Allegedly, Yar'Adua instructed Mangal to cease any illicit activity if Mangal wished to enjoy official recognition by the President. The contact implied this may connote, inter alia, that Yar'Adua desires to maintain at least the appearance of respect for rule of law, and thus, does not want any of his close advisors openly involved in suspect activity.)

3. (S//NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff XXXXXXXXXXXX

several Nigerian businessmen who have employed Mangal's

services over the past several years. Reportedly, Mangal owns a warehouse across the Niger border (likely close to the Katsina border with Jibiyya and Maradi) in which he stores hundreds of 40-foot shipping containers. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal is able to import goods from around the world, including China. In return, Mangal requests a flat fee of 2 million naira (USD 17,000), excluding the cost of goods. Approximately 100 containers per month are brought into Kano, and goods are then delivered to clients or sold in Kano's Kurmi market.

4. (S//NF) Mangal also operates several legitimate businesses, XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted, including Mangal Airlines. The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria contracted Kabo, Bellview, Meridian, and Mangal Airlines for the December 2007 hajj operations, which transported approximately 100,000 Nigerians to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage. (Note: Many Nigerian Muslims have criticized the GON's handling of the 2007 hajj claiming several thousand Nigerians were left stranded in Saudi Arabia and could not return to Nigeria, except without extraordinary hardship, and several others were never airlifted from Nigeria at all. End Note.)

5. (S//NF) Moreover, XXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXX had been approached recently by a man claiming to speak on behalf of First Lady Turai Yar'Adua. The person, who arrived at the meeting with XXXXXXXXXXXX in a Peugeot with a "presidential" license plate, told XXXXXXXXXXXX the First Lady would "allow" them to construct the homes so long as she is given an advance payment of 250 million naira (USD 2 million). XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was willing to offer the First

ABUJA 00000320 002 OF 002

Lady twenty plots of land instead, to which the presumed emissary grimaced. The negotiations, XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff, continue.

6. (C//NF) NOTE: During a late January conversation with PolOff, XXXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXXX purchased an USD 10 million house in central London approximately 7 years ago, XXXXXXXXXXXXX. This house apparently was excluded from President Yar,Adua,s public declaration of assets in June 2007, which put his total wealth at approximately USD 7 million. END NOTE.

7. (S//NF) COMMENT: While XXXXXXXXXXXX is a trusted, longtime Mission contact who has provided veracious information in the past, we cannot independently confirm his statements regarding Mangal or the First Lady. Certainly, the man who approached XXXXXXXXXXXXX seeking a pay-off may simply have been attempting to exploit the First Lady's name for personal enrichment.

We have heard rumors of the emergence of a "Katsina clique" in the Villa -- a group of individuals from the President's home state of Katsina who reportedly constitute Yar'Adua's inner circle and increasingly, control access to him. The surfacing of this group may be a corrollary to Yar'Adua's lack of national exposure (and hence, his deficiently broad support base) and his inability thus far to stamp his authority on the ruling People's Democratic Party.

Rumors abound alleging that the First Lady, Special Advisor Tanimu Yakubu, and Minister of Agriculture Sayyadi Ruma are involved in corrupt practices. Reports of both the First Lady and Yakubu's taste for the high life and tendencies toward illicit enrichment surfaced during a December 2007 debrief by XXXXXXXXXXXXX outlined problems he saw in the Villa and cases XXXXXXXXXXXXX was closely watching (Ref A)

Several contacts from XXXXXXXXXXXXX, moreover, maintain that while the President "appeared incorruptible" during his tenure as governor, his wife siphoned off millions in public funds for private use. Post will closely monitor these accusations and report any new developments. END COMMENT. SANDERS

1 comment: