Aliyu Abubakar

  • Entrepreneur with many friends in nigerian politics
  • Nigerian  nationality

Investigated in milan in a parallel proceeding to the main one on opl245

Aliyu Abubakar is a Nigerian businessman with interests in various sectors, the main ones being real estate and oil. Five Nigerian companies controlled by Abubakar – Novel Properties and Dev. Co, Imperial Union Ltd, Megatech Engineering Ltd and A Group Properties – received part of the money which Eni and Shell transferred to the Nigerian federal government’s bank account at the JP Morgan bank in London as payment for the Opl 245 licence. This is why the Italian authorities have requested the seizure of $520 million of his property.

Another company said to be associated with Abubakar, Rocky Top Resources, also received funds from the deal. Dan Etete was the account manager for the company.

According to bank documents, Abubakar Aliyu received $54,418,000 in cash and moved $466,064,965.44 transferred “after repeated conversions into local currency and dollars and as a result of transactions called ‘forex trade'”. The Prosecutor argued that the funds were “intended to remunerate public officials such as Jonathan himself, Attorney General Mohammed Adoke Bello, Minister of Petroleum Diezani Alison Madueke, National Security Advisor, General Aliyu Gusau”. These are all politicians who, according to the prosecution, had an illegal interest in the Opl 245 deal. In the first instance judgment, however, the judges again questioned the prosecution’s approach: “The movement of money,” the judges wrote, “shows that it was Alhaji Abubaker Aliyu who managed the money that the prosecution claims was intended for corruption and the prosecution itself identifies him, in the indictment, as an intermediary of public officials and not of the private corruptor Etete”3. According to judges the further investigation as to why the money was also paid back to Nigerian public officials or their alleged front men is outside Italian jurisdiction and therefore can only be conducted by Nigerian investigators. The money from the possible illicit payments comes from a commission from the oil companies, who are, however, uninvolved in the use of the money in this second phase.

The judgement at first instance suggested that Aliyu Abubakar, considered by the prosecution to be a front man for Dan Etete, may in fact have intervened on behalf of the other business and political group claiming ownership of Malabu Oil & Gas: namely Mohamed Sani Abacha, the son of the former dictator.

Aliyu Abubakar’s prosecution case is still pending in the court of Milan because it was separated from the main trial due to a notification problem: according to the Italian investigators, he had found a way not to be found in order to avoid being notified of the crime as required by Italian law. As late as November 2019, Aliyu Abubakar declared that he did not know whether he was a witness or a suspect.

Among the facts that have been challenged in Milan, there is a “gift” that is alleged by the Prosecutor to be made to the then Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke Bello, who played a key role in the the government’s negotiations with Eni, Shell and Malabu. The Prosecution claimed that Adoke acquired a plot of land in Abuja, valued on paper at $4.5 million, for $1.9 million. The company which first acquired the plot and then sold it to Adoke Bello belongs to Abubakar Aliyu. Adoke paid part of the purchase price through an mortgage loan with very high interest which was repaid by cash deposits into Adoke’s account by a very large number of people, including two bureau de change. A total of 80 cash payments, mostly of small amounts (around USD 6 000)’ below the figure that triggers money laundering inquiries, the prosecutor wrote. The cash deposits were said by the Prosecutor to have originated from the Opl 245 deal, a claim upheld by the judges.

Adoke denies any wrongdoing, claiming that the transaction was entirely legitimate and that Abubakar took back the plot after Adoke ran into difficulties repaying his mortgage, which was then repaid by Abubakar. The Court agreed with the Prosecutor that Adoke “received a benefit deriving directly from the funds flowing from the OPL245 transaction” amounting to “a few million dollars” and that a “mixture of economic interests” existed between former minister Adoke Bello and businessman Aliyu Abubakar. But the “gift” thesis was rejected because of reports by Ednan Agaev, a former Russian diplomat suspected to be linked to the Russian secret service, who was involved in the negotiations for Opl 245 as an intermediary for Shell. Agaev testified that Etete owed Adoke Bello about 400 million naira (i.e. roughly 2.5 million dollars at the 2011 exchange rate) and that this was therefore the reason for the ‘gift’. This hypothesis, however, seems to rule out the possibility that Aliyu Abubakar represented someone other than Dan Etete in the negotiations.

More on Aleph


Bank documents

Bank account balances documenting money transfers within Nigeria


Abubakar’s court submission

Letter by Aliyu Abubabar to Milan prosecutors, 5 May 2015


Abuja property’s documentation

Documents about the acquisition of a real estate in Abuja and following investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria


Agaev's examination

The transcript of Ednan Agaev's deposition in court as an intermediary of Shell for the negotiations with Malabu Oil and Gas

Stories of Aliyu Abubakar

9 September 2021
Milan Judges: Adoke received “a benefit” from OPL 245 funds
Mortgage with Unity Bank was repaid via OPL 245-derived cash payments from Bureaux de Change In their judgment acquitting Shell, Eni and other defendants of international corruption in the OPL 245 deal, the Milan judges ruled that Nigeria’s former Attorney General, Mohammed Bello Adoke SAN, received some $2… Read More
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26 August 2021
When Mohammed Bello Adoke telephoned JP Morgan
Former Nigerian Attorney General in June 2011 telephoned JP Morgan to arrange transfer of OPL 245 funds from FGN account even though he was no longer a Minister, the Milan court records reveal by Lorenzo Bagnoli An internal email exchange between anti-money laundering officers at JP… Read More
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