Nicholas Mutu, Nigeria’s longest-serving legislator, appears a lawless lawmaker. Evidence shows he serially violated the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.
WITH more than 20 years in the House of Representatives, Nicholas Mutu, 61, is the longest-serving member of Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber, the House of Representatives.But apart from his record-making stay in parliament, Mr Mutu, who represents the Bomadi/Patani Federal Constituency in the oil-rich but poverty-stricken Delta State, has also been in the news for fraud-related reasons.
On February 3, 2020, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned him at the Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged fraud and abuse of office. The case is ongoing at
Mr Mutu’s problems with the law is about to get bigger. A PREMIUM TIMES investigation has now unveiled him as a serial violator of Nigeria’s Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act that forbids public officer holders from engaging in or directing private businesses, except farming, while in office.
Our investigation also revealed how Mr Mutu set up an offshore company in Seychelles, a tax haven, to secretly purchase a London property valued at N566 millio
Details of the lawmaker’s secret London property was obtained as part of the Pandora Papers investigation, a massive leak from firms that specialise in setting up offshore companies in tax-haven territories such as the British Virgin Islands and Panama.
The Pandora Papers project, the biggest cross-border collaboration of journalists in history, is an investigation into a vast amount of previously hidden offshore companies, exposing secret assets, covert deals and hidden fortunes of the super-rich – among them more than 130 billionaires – and the powerful, including more than 30 world leaders and hundreds of former and serving public officials across the world.
The confidential documents also feature a global cast of fugitives, convicts, celebrities, football stars and others, including judges, tax officials, spy chiefs and mayors.
The leaked records came from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore jurisdictions for clients who seek to conceal their financial activities, some of which are suspicious and criminal.
Mr Mutu and his London property
According to records held on file by Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), an offshore law firm, Mr Mutu, in 2010, while a lawmaker, incorporated the Forest Group of Company in Seychelles.
In 2012, this offshore company bought a property in north London for £620,000.00 and sold it in 2014 for £730,000.00, approximately N566 million using the parallel market rate of N775 to a pound, according to U.K. Land Registry records. There is no evidence that Mr Mutu declared this asset to Nigerian authorities as demanded by law.
In a brief telephone call, the lawmaker claimed he was never a director of the offshore company, that it was owned and controlled by his wife and not by him, and that it had never owned any UK property.
But his claims are false as they are at odds with documents from the UK Land Registry and the Pandora Papers, which combined to properly document him as director, shareholder and beneficial owner of Forest Group of Company. The documentation include a copy of his passport which he voluntarily provided to his secrecy provider as part of an extensive due diligence requirement.
It is not illegal to secretly buy British properties using anonymous offshore companies. But under Nigerian law, public officials — including parliamentarians — must declare “all properties, assets and liabilities” to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).