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CSOs Berate FG, VIPs As Pandora Papers Implicate Peter Obi, Nine Others

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Civil rights groups on Monday berated politicians and the elites as 10 Nigerian politicians were implicated in the Pandora Papers for tax evasion.

They were among hundreds of individuals from other countries indicted by the papers for hiding their wealth and assets in offshore locations to evade taxes.

Civil rights organisations including Transition Monitoring Group and the Centre for Public Accountability, in separate interviews said report showed deep rooted corruption in Nigeria.

The Pandora Papers is an investigation based on one of the biggest-ever leaks of financial documents which exposed a hidden world of shielded wealth belonging to hundreds of politicians and billionaires.

Published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Sunday, the papers listed 336 politicians, including nationals of eight African countries.

The project saw 600 journalists from 150 news organisations around the world poring through a trove of 11.9 million confidential files, contextualising information, tracking down sources and analysing public records and other documents.

One of those named is a former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, according to the investigations.

Obi, a Former Vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party in the 2019 election was said to have used a Monaco-based foreign company, Acces International to incorporate an offshore entity in one of the world’s most notorious tax havens noted for providing conduits for wealthy and privileged corrupt political elites to hide stolen cash to avoid the attention of tax authorities.

He allegedly paid Acces International to provide nominee directors for his company, Gabriella Investments Limited.

Gabriella Investment Limited was born on November 17, 2010, with registration number 1615538 while two figureheads – Antony Janse Van Vuuren and Lance Lawson — were appointed its first directors while ultimate control resided with Obi.

When contacted earlier, Obi stated, “I don’t declare what is owned with others. If my family owns something I won’t declare it. I didn’t declare anything I jointly owed with anyone”.

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren did not respond when asked if the commission would initiate investigations into the allegations against Obi and other Nigerians mentioned in the Pandora Papers.

He did not respond to calls and to a text message seeking his comment on the development.

According to an interactive map of the leaked documents, five Côte d’Ivoire politicians were helped by foreign agents to stash money suspected to be looted away from public view.

Ghana has three politicians listed in the documents, which has been described as “An offshore data tsunami”.

Chad, Kenya and Congo Brazzaville have two politicians each listed in the infamous documents that had reportedly sent shivers down the spines of public figures globally; while Gabon has three politicians listed.

Angola has nine politicians listed in the document, while Zimbabwe and South Africa have two each; Mozambique has one.

But the Executive Director of the Centre for Public Accountability, Olufemi Lawson, said the Pandora Papers revelations only confirmed what many Nigerians already knew as far as the culture of transparency among the political class was concerned.

He stated, “Even though the revelations transcend the shores of Nigeria, particularly on how corruption has become a global phenomenal, we should be concerned that people whom our citizens regard as otherwise transparent and credible, do also lack the needed integrity to manage public institutions and resources”.

Also, the Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, government fight against corruption was leaving a huge deficit and gaps by refusing to tackle political corruption, Premium Times reported.

He stated, “It looks like the government places more emphasis on political loyalty and political cover-up than the fight against corruption. This explains the silence on blocking leakages and taking strong measures to sanction official corruption in Nigeria”.

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