Dapo Apara, a Nigerian chartered accountant, has accused a former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; a consulting firm, Alpha-beta, and a former commissioner in the state, Akin Doherty, of money laundering, fraud, tax evasion, and sundry corrupt practices.
Mr Apara, in writ of summons deposed to at a Lagos high court, claimed that Mr Tinubu and Alpha-beta reneged on certain agreements reached in the past about the management and control of the consulting firm.
Alpha-beta is a consulting firm handling the computation, tracking and reconciliation of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Lagos State in return for a commission.
Mr Apara, who claims to own 30 per cent stake in the company, alleged that Mr Tinubu “has directed and dictated the affairs” of the company by diverting assets to himself at the detriment of the claimant (Mr Apara).
Mr Apara claimed that apart from owning 30 per cent stake in the company, other stakeholders are Michael Ogunmola, trading under the name and style Mono Consulting (40 per cent); Tunde Badejo, trading under the name and style Ebo Consult (15 per cent); and again, Tunde Badejo, trading under the name and style Intergrev Services (15 per cent).
He also claimed that the company was being used for “massive corruption purposes including tax evasion, bribery of government officials, diversion of funds” and money laundering.
The 40-page writ of summons, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, was issued by Mr Apara’s lawyer, Tade Ipadeola.
Details of the claims include an order compelling an account of all sums due to Mr Apara from 2010 till date; an order tracing all funds and assets due to him from the inception of the company to date; an order of specific performance of certain clauses of the partnership agreement that created the company by extant partners; an order for payment to the claimants by the defendants, all sums adjudged to be due to him on the submission of the accounts; and payment of 10 percent interest on the sums adjudged to be due to him.
The first, second and third defendants, according to the writ, include Alpha-beta Consulting, Mr Tinubu and Mr Doherty, respectively.
Mr Tinubu was Lagos governor between 1999 and 2007 while Mr Doherty served in different capacities in Mr Tinubu’s government, notably as commissioner for finance between 2005 and 2007.
Mr Apara claimed that sometime in 2000, he solely conceived, prepared and presented a proposal to the Lagos State Government on providing consultancy services using his firm, Infiniti Systems Enterprises, with respect to using computerisation to track and reconcile the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.
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Following the presentation of his proposal to the Lagos State Government, Mr Apara claimed that Mr Tinubu, who was at the time the governor of Lagos State, demanded that 70 per cent equity interest in the project be assigned to a certain Olumide Ogunmola before he will approve the project.
Mr Apara said he then met the said Mr Ogunmola, who he had never met before, and it was agreed that a limited liability company be incorporated in which Mr Apara will hold 30 per cent shares while Mr Ogunmola and his partners will hold 70 per cent of the shares of the company.
Alpha Beta Consulting Limited was incorporated in 2002 with the shareholding ratio that shows that 30 per cent was allocated to him (Mr Apara), 40 per cent for Mr Ogunmola, and 30 per cent for Adegboyega Oyetola.
It remains unclear if the said Mr Oyetola is the incumbent governor of Osun State, a close ally of Mr Tinubu.
Mr Apara said that upon the commencement of business operations, Mr Tinubu directed that the 30 per cent shareholding of Mr Oyetola be transferred to one Tunde Badejo and this was done. He added that although he was a signatory to all the bank accounts of the company, payments from the bank accounts required only 2 signatories which was mostly handled between the other two partners, Messrs Ogunmola and Badejo.
After the incorporation of Alpha-Beta Consulting Ltd in 2002 and the company, Mr Apara said it was structured according to the dictates of Mr Tinubu, in his official capacity as the governor of Lagos State. Mr Tinubu thereafter approved that Alpha-Beta Consulting Ltd be awarded consultancy contract for the assessment and collection on behalf of the Lagos State Government, all taxes and Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) due and payable to the State at a 10% consultancy fee (subject to a benchmark which varies from time to time).
He noted further that due to the technology deployed by him, the Internally Generated Revenue of the state grew from a base of about N10 billion in 2002 to over N300 billion in 2019.
Things Fall Apart
In 2010 or thereabouts, he alleged, Mr Tinubu directed that the incorporation structure of the Alpha-Beta Consulting Ltd be changed from a Limited Liability Company to Limited Liability Partnership under a newly promulgated law of the Lagos State Government. Mr Apara said Mr Tinubu explained to him that the purpose was to further shield his (Tinubu’s) Involvement in Alpha-Beta Consulting Ltd from public scrutiny. This was done in 2010.
Mr Apara claimed that Mr Tinubu thereafter directed that Mr Ogunmola be designated as Managing Partner of Alpha Beta Consulting LLP, while he was designated as Deputy Managing Partner. He explained further that in 2014, Mr Tinubu directed that Mr Ogunmola should cease being the Managing Partner and he (Mr Apara) then became the Managing Partner with access to review the financial records.
But things took a dramatic turn sometime in 2016 when Mr Tinubu told him he had has received feedback that he (Apara) was reviewing past financial records of the company and he was displeased with this action. He claimed Mr Tinubu therefore announced that he intends to bring Mr Doherty into the management of the company as Managing Director to take over the financial management of the company, while he (Mr Apara) should revert to his former role as Deputy Managing Director and not get involved in the company’s financial affairs.
“The 2nd Defendant (BOLA AHMED TINUBU) also warned the claimant not to even think of exposing his involvement in the financial affairs of the lst Defendant to the EFCC as the then Acting Chaiman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, will always protect him (the 2nd Defendant),” Mr Apara said in the writ.
“The 2nd Defendant (Tinubu) also threatened to use the agencies of the Lagos State Government such as the Lagos State Internal Revenue service (LlRS) and the Lagos State Building Control Agency to harass and seize the assets of the Claimant if the Claimant ever betrayed him.”
Mr Apara said he disagreed with the Mr Tinubu’s request that he should revert to the role of a deputy.
“Instead the Claimant agreed with the 2nd Defendant that he will transition to a consultant to the 1st Defendant to manage the technology and get remunerated on a monthly basis for this task,” he claimed.
“Thereafter, the 3rd Defendant was brought to the office premises of the 1st Defendant by Mr. TUNDE BADEjo, a partner, and introduced to the staff as the new “Managing Director” of the 1st Defendant.
“Thereafter, MR. TUNDE BADEJO told the claimant that if he (the claimant) ever came to the office of the 1st Defendant, he, MR. TUNDE BADE]O, win terminate the life of the Claimant.
“This incident was reported to the Police in 2018 and is under investigation. When the Police commenced investigation into this complaint by the plaintiff in 2018, the 2nd Defendant (BOLA AHMED TINUBU) interfered in the PoLice investigation to frustrate it.”
Mr Apara said that despite being a signatory to the company’s account, from 2018 to date, Messrs Badejo and Tinubu have colluded to operate the bank accounts of the amongst themselves without his involvement contrary to the subsisting mandate which stipulates that he and Mr Badejo jointly sign any amount as “A” signatories, apart from a limit of N10 million monthly which may be signed jointly by any “A” and a “B” signatory.
The “B” signatory was designated as Mr Bode Oluyemi, an employee of the company.
Suspicious that his signature was being forged to enable the Messrs Tinubu to operate the bank accounts of the company without his involvement, Mr Apara claimed that he wrote to the bankers of the company in February revoking his mandate for any debit transactions.
Alleged Breach of Agreements
Mr Apara claimed that Clause 8 of the Partnership Agreement which relates to Profit and Losses provides that “the Partnership’s profits and losses (including profits and losses of capital) shall be divided between and borne by the Partners in proportion to the shares in its capital for the time being owned by them”.
However, he said, the company has received from the Lagos State Government commission for its services estimated at over One hundred and fifty billion naira from 2010 to date with the profits of the Partnership being that sum minus legitimate costs.
Despite the huge income made by the company, he said, Messrs Badejo and Doherty “acting under the direction of the 2nd Defendant (TINUBU) breached Clause 8 of the Partnership Agreement and denied” him (Apara) his share of the profit from the partnership as provided in the agreement.
“The Claimant avers that Messrs Tunde Badejo, Michael Olunride Ogunmola and Akin Doherty have colluded and conspired to run the affairs of the business in a manner designed to bankrupt the 1st Defendant through suspicious monetary transfers to 3rd parties running into billions of naira contrary to the Partnership Agreement,” he averred, listing some of the alleged suspicious transactions.
He alleged further that during a review of the company’s account, he discovered that huge sums of money earned by the company over the years were not reflected in the account.
“The claimant avers that the account review alluded above revealed large scale fraudulent transactions some of which are stated above and diversion of the lst Defendant funds running into billions of naira by the 2nd and 3rd Defendants,” the writ stated.
“The Claimant shall contend at the trial of the suit that au actions of the 3rd Defendant acting alone or in connivance with the 2nd Defendant is a continuing violation of the Laws of Lagos State as it pertains to Partnerships as well as a violation of the Partnership Agreement through which the 1st Defendant came into existence.”
Mr Apara claimed that he confronted Mr. Badejo who then admitted to him that the funds of the company were grossly mismanaged over the years including the diversion for purported joint venture purposes at the direction of Mr Tinubu.
“The said partner confided in the Claimant that it was the style of the 2nd Defendant (TINUBU) to corrupt his office and extort benefits of between 70% or more from all projects on-going in Lagos State since he became Governor in 1999 to date,” Mr Apara said in the writ.
“The said partner further cited as example to the Claimant the Global Computerisation Project which is being handled by another company of his called Soft Alliance and Resources Limited and where all the payments received are diverted to the 2nd Defendant (BOlA AHMED TINUBU).
“The Mr. Tunde Badejo also cited the case of the Land Use Charge) Project which followed a similar pattern. The Claimant avers that Mr. Tunde Badejo further admitted that the diversion of the 1st Defendant funds over the years running into billions of naira into suspicious accounts was done in a “smart” way to shield the 2nd Defendant (BOLA AHMED TINUBU) from public scrutiny and to hide his assets from the Code of Conduct Bureau and the anti-corruption agencies.”
Mr Apara claimed that after Mr. Badejo had explained the facts to him, it became clear to him that the company was being used for “massive corruption purposes including tax evasion, bribery of government officials, diversion of the funds.” However, he said that Mr. Badejo thereafter threatened that his life will be in danger if he ever reveals the admitted facts to third parties.
After a thorough and full assessment of the information he received from Mr Badejo which confirmed the poor records book keeping of accounts, Mr Apara said he decided to whistle blow the fraudulent activities, adding that as a stakeholder, he is entitled to the payment of his dividends from 2010 to date in accordance with agreements reached.
In 2018, Mr Apara made newspaper headlines when he took to Twitter to vent his frustration over the operation of Alpha-Beta.
Tweeting via @DapoApara, he revealed that the company has generated about N1.5 trillion for the Lagos government since 2002, from which Alpha-beta earned 10%.
In the writ issued by Mr Apara’s lawyer, he said he had made attempts to have the matter settled out of court with Messrs Tinubu and others but such attempts were unsuccessful.
“The Claimant caused his lawyers to write the defendants several letters from 31st July 2018 to 21st September 2020 and Defendants refused or neglected to respond,” the lawyer said.
PREMIUM TIMES’ efforts to get the company’s side of the story Thursday were unsuccessful. A telephone number listed on the company’s website failed to connect.
When PREMIUM TIMES reached out to Tunde Rahman, spokesperson to Mr Tinubu, the telephone line rang out several times Thursday morning but was not answered. Text messages sent to his known telephone number were also not replied to.