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Guard reveals Abacha’s secret dollar$ vault

Posted by By Patrick Asonye on 2008/01/28 | Views: 959 |

Guard reveals Abacha’s secret dollar$ vault


A man who claims to have worked as a security guard attached to the family of late General Sani Abacha may have inadvertently squealed on the family of the former Head of State and where they hid a chunk of billions of naira allegedly siphoned while their patriarch was in office.

•We don’t know him - Maryam

A man who claims to have worked as a security guard attached to the family of late General Sani Abacha may have inadvertently squealed on the family of the former Head of State and where they hid a chunk of billions of naira allegedly siphoned while their patriarch was in office.

To beat government dragnet, the Abachas are said to have resorted to self-banking by converting one of their landed properties in Kano to vaults where assorted hard currencies were kept.

One of such locations was identified as an eight-storey building in the heart of Kano city.
The revelation is contained in a statement by the former guard, Mr. Yakubu Manfred Isah, currently being held at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja.

Isah’s 41-paragraph affidavit is signed on his behalf by his lawyer, Barrister Festus Keyamo, a copy of which was obtained by Sunday Sun at the weekend. Through his lawyer, the detainee also sent a copy to President Umar Yar'Adua pleading with him to save him from further "police extortion".
General Abacha, who dropped dead in Aso Rock on June 8, 1998, is believed to have siphoned about whopping $4 billion while in power and the Obasanjo administration had mounted a global hunt to recover the loot between 1999 and 2004. It paid off as part of the stolen funds was later repatriated to Nigeria by Swiss authorities.

Isah, who is being grilled by detectives to explain the source of his "sudden wealth", revealed that he, alongside another guard, was handsomely rewarded by the Abachas to keep silence following his discovery of their "house of hard currency" in 1999.

In the affidavit, Isah avers that while working for a private security outfit - Prudential Guards Nigeria Limited - in Kano way back in 1999, he had cause to be posted to No F1 Sani Abacha Way, location of the Nigeria International Bank, which shared the same eight-storey building with Astute Properties Nigeria Limited.

There, he further said, he discovered where the Abachas hid their money, large quantities of hard currencies in sacks. And to silence him, Isah said that they (Abachas) "settled" him with a chunk of the loot.

According to him, “I observed that on several occasions, over the years, Mohammed Abacha, first son of the late General Sani Abacha, used to come to the building late in the night with certain individuals and would proceed into the building and climb to the eighth floor (last floor). Thereafter, they would emerge after some hours with dusty bags which they would load into their vehicles and would drive off.”

He said his employers had warned him that the last floor was a no-go area to him and all his colleagues.
However, he continued, sometime in 2005, mother luck smiled on him as, according to him, “two gentlemen whom we recognized as some of those who used to accompany Mohammed Abacha to the building came to the building in the dead of night and mounted the flight of stairs as there was no electric light, and so the lift was not working.

"That on that night, I was with my colleague called Usman Amodu, who was with Habib Security, the guards of the building itself.
“That since Mohammed Abacha was not with them, we put ourselves on alert and crept after them as they climbed the flight of stairs.
"That we trailed them to the eight floor and as they unlocked the giant steel door leading to one of the rooms there, we pushed our way into the room with them and flashed our lights on their faces, and shouted at them to tell us what they were doing there.
“We also flashed our torch lights around the room and noticed bags of different shapes and sizes busting open with foreign currencies, some even falling to the floor. The whole room was filled with the bags of money.

"That the two gentlemen told us to calm down and explained that this was the Abacha vault where all the Abacha monies have been kept and told us that we must not tell anyone what we had seen. They explained that because of the assault by the Federal Government on the Abacha family, they could not lodge any money in any bank account anywhere in the world. They solicited our silence and co-operation.

“In order to be sure of our co-operation they promised to tell Mohammed later to 'settle' us later so that we can be happy. We refused and insisted on instant settlement.
“That one of the men put a call through to Mohammed Abacha, and after discussing with him for some time, he reverted to us and directed that we should take three small Ghana-must-go bags each, filled with foreign currencies. My colleague and I took the bags (six in total) and promised we would not tell anyone of our discovery.

"The men then told us to resign immediately and leave Kano for them to be sure of our co-operation.”
Contacted Friday evening, Abacha’s widow, Maryam, said Isah was not known to any member of the household.
Similarly, Force Public Relations Officer, Assistant Commissioner of Police Akpoebi Egbson, said Friday night: “I have no information on it now. I will have to make inquiries before I know what to say. For now, I have nothing to say about the fellow.”

But Isah said that with the instant wealth, he relocated to his village in Kogi State in a chartered cab.
Regretably for him, the cab driver, he further said, had turned his blackmailer, having found out the content of the bags they carried. He claimed to have been paying money to the unnamed driver over the years but got tired last year when the fellow reportedly made another demand on him.
In anger, Isah claimed it was the said driver who gave a tip off to the police that he was a robber. Worse still, his police interrogators, he also alleges, are milking him mercilessly, even after confiscating his property.

Below is a full text of Isah’s affidavit.

I, Yakubu Manfred Isah, Male, Nigerian citizen, businessman of No. 3 Gongola Estate, Ajaokta, Kogi State, do hereby make oath and state as follows:
1. That I was employed as a Security Officer by Prudential Guards Nigeria Limited, Kano State, in 1999.
2. That I was posted briefly to Equitorial Trust Bank as security guard by my employers after my employment, until I was finally posted to Nigeria International Bank Limited, Kano Branch sometime in November, 1999.
3. That the said Nigeria International Bank is located at No. F1, Sani Abacha Way, Kano, on the ground floor of the building belonging to Astute Properties Nig. Ltd. It is an eight-storey building.
4. That the said Astute Properties Nig. Ltd is owned by the Late General Sani Abacha and his family. Thus, it is right to say that the property belongs to the Abacha family.
5. That whilst I was on duty in that premises I observed that on several occasions, over the years, Mohammed Abacha, first son to the late General Sani Abacha, used to come to the building late in the night with certain individuals and would proceed into the building and climb to the eight floor (last floor).
6. Thereafter, they would emerge after some hours with dusty bags which they would load into their vehicles and would drive off.
7. Incidentally, when I was posted to that building, my colleagues and I were given strict instructions not to have anything to do with the last floor and we were never to patrol to that height.
8. That we did not intercept them because we recognized Mohammed Abacha who is the head of the Abacha family, owners of the building.
9. That sometime in 2005, two gentlemen whom we recognized as some of those who used to accompany Mohammed Abacha to the building came to the building in the dead of night and mounted the flight of stairs as there was no electric light, and so the lift was not working.
10. That on that night, I was with my colleague called Usman Amodu, who was with Habib Security, the guards of the building itself.
11. That since Mohammed Abacha was not with them, we put ourselves on alert and crept after them as they climbed the flight of stairs.
12. That we trailed them to the eight floor and as they unlocked the giant steel door leading to one of the rooms there, we pushed our way into the room with them and flashed our lights on their faces, and shouted at them to tell us what they were doing there.
13. We also flashed our torch lights around the room and noticed bags of different shapes and sizes busting open with foreign currencies, some even falling to the floor. The whole room was filled with the bags of money.
14. That the two gentlemen told us to clam down and explained that this was the Abacha vault where all the Abacha monies have been kept and told us that we must not tell anyone what we had seen. They explained that because of the assault by the Federal Government on the Abacha family, they could not lodge any money in any bank account anywhere in the world. They solicited our silence and co-operation.
15. In order to be sure of our co-operation they promised to tell Mohammed later to “settle” us later so that we can be happy.
16. We refused and insisted on instant settlement.
17. That one of the men put a call through to Mohammed Abacha, and after discussing with him for some time, he reverted to us and directed that we should take three small Ghana-must-go bags each, filled with foreign currencies. My colleague and I took the bags (six in total) and promised we would not tell anyone of our discovery.
18. The men then told us to resign immediately and leave Kano for them to be sure of our co-operation.
19. We told them that, in order not to arouse suspicion of anyone, we would work for some weeks or months and thereafter resign voluntary. They agreed.
20. Early that morning, we chartered a vehicle to Kogi State where, incidentally, my colleague and I come from and we dropped off at Ofoke Village, near Ajaokuta, my colleague and I later chartered different vehicles to keep our monies in secret locations and came back to Kano. I resigned after four months and went back to my home town to invest my money.
21. That the driver of the vehicle on the day we took our monies home later traced me and came and told me that after we alighted on that day, he realized that my colleague and I could have gone for armed robbery hence we were carrying foreign currency. He demanded for money to keep silent.
22. That because of my pledge not to tell anyone the source of the money, I simply told him to keep quiet and gave him some money to go.
23. That thereafter, he kept coming back for more.
24. That sometime in 2007, I told him I was tired of giving him money and that for his information the money he saw on the said day was not the proceeds of crime but money legitimately given to us to settle ourselves.
25. That he then left in anger.
26. That suddenly on the 8th of December, 2007, anti-robbery policemen broke into my house at about 3 a.m in the wee hours of the day and arrested me for armed robbery after searching the whole of my house.
27. They took me to Lokoja where I was detained and granted bail the next day when the found nothing incriminating on me.
28. I was again arrested on the 12th of December, 2007 and brought to Force C.I.D, Abuja, where I was again detained and granted bail three times, each bail attracting huge amount of money. So far I have spent N25 million on bail. It is now business for them to detain and release me.
29. That during my interrogations I requested for opportunity to consult my lawyers but they refused.
30. I was tortured, beaten and slapped several times during interrogation to confess that my colleague and I broke into the Abacha vault and stole the monies, so that they can regard my various properties as proceeds of crime so that I can trade my detention for my properties for the police to plunder them.
31. So far, the police have confiscated the following properties from me:
Toyota Jeep Landcruiser V8
Toyota Avensis Saloon
Toyota Corolla light blue
Toyota Hiace bus (staff bus)
Bora Volkswagen car
Key to Toyota Tacoma
Key to Toyota beast
Brief case (contents: N500,000 in N200 denominations, $100 about 25 pieces 50 pounds sterling about 20 pieces)
A purse (contents: Business cards, I.D. Cards, armlets, some pieces of N200 notes and a cheque booklet of First Bank and a deposit bank booklet).
3 Mercedes 190 tyres fairly used with rims
Two Nokia sets for me (I) N91 (ii) Nokia Communicator
Two sets for Elder Noah, two for Nusa Audu and Zekeri Audu
One set for Mathew and one for Blessing
The keys to my house
Money in the small brief case; $100 = 208 700, 42100 pound sterling
Small UPS machine
Small printer
One laptop
One licensed gunand18 pieces cartridge
32. That in a bid to incriminate me, the police have invited Mohammed Abacha, who denied knowledge of any break-in in any of his father’s properties or any foreign currencies kept in that place.
33. Curiously, the police let Mohammed Abacha go before they went to search the building in Kano a few days ago, only to see that the place was so dusty with signs on the dusty floor that items have recently been evacuated from the place.
34. That also in a bid to milk me dry, the police have gone ahead to “manufacture” some fake complainants from Kano who claimed that they own a Bureau de Change and that it was the late Ibrahim Abacha who gave them the money to trade before the money went missing in 2005.
35. That I have investigated whether they reported any loss of money to any police station since 2005, and I have found out that they did not.
36. That it was because we did not steal the money or broke into anywhere that is why no report of any stolen money was reported anywhere since 2005.
37. That the police have once again released me on bail after collecting so much and this time they have told me to go and surrender the title documents of everything I own in this life or else I would be detained and tortured again.
38. That I have used this opportunity of brief freedom to run to my lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, to protect me and to let the world know what is happening to me.
39. That apart from this affidavit, I have voluntarily given my true statement to my lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo at his Abuja office at No. 10 Maseru Street, Off Harare Street, Wuse, Zone 6, Abuja, to protect me.
40. That I am willing to face any criminal charge if the police fee that I have committed any offence known to law.
41. That I swear to this affidavit in good faith.
Sworn to at the Abuja High Court Registry
This 24th day of January, 2008.

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