A source in a branch of Zenith Bank in Lagos used by the former governor of Lagos State and All Progressives Congress (APC) kingpin Bola Tinubu, has informed Naijiant.com that the politician “moves” $5m every month to the UK via the bank.
Tinubu ruled Lagos State from 1999 to 2007 but has since maintained an iron grip there, running it as his private property and installing stooges as governors, who remain answerable to him. He also controls legislators from the state – at state and federal level. Any of them that fails the Tinubu loyalty test stands no chance of being renominated for reelection.
The bank source told us that the monthly millions that Tinubu moves to the UK were being paid to a proxy in the country, who is a British national. The source wasn’t sure about which of Tinubu’s many activities in Lagos provide the origin of the money, but speculated that he could be moving the money because he was not keen on spending “that much” on the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari. Tinubu publicly backs Buhari, but there are indications that he has many reservations about the president. One source told us a few years ago that Tinubu has to back the president to avoid going to jail for corruption.
The former governor owns substantial real estate in the UK. The country’s National Crime Agency (NCA) states that: “The best available international estimate of the amount of money laundering is equivalent to some 2.7% of global GDP or US$1.6 trillion in 2009. The NCA assesses that many hundreds of billions of pounds of international criminal money is laundered through UK banks, including their subsidiaries, each year.
“The scale of the laundering of criminal proceeds is a therefore strategic threat to the UK’s economy and reputation. The proceeds of virtually all serious and organised crime in the UK as well as the proceeds of a significant amount of international serious and organised crime (including corrupt Politically Exposed Persons seeking to launder the proceeds of their corruption and hide stolen assets in the UK) is believed to be laundered into and through the UK.”
New laws – Unexplained Wealth Orders – came into force in the UK at the end of January this year. It allows the country’s law enforcement to seize corrupt assets especially those belonging to “politically exposed persons” such as Tinubu. But it has long been suspected that the UK authorities turn a blind eye to the corruption of “politically exposed persons” from friendly regimes. It is unlikely that they would move to investigate the suspicious movement of $5m every month from a Lagos branch of Zenith Bank to an account in the UK – until Tinubu falls out favour with whoever is in power in Nigeria.