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REVEALED: Bank documents expose how Lagos Speaker Obasa received N1.1 billion in one week

Lagos State Speaker Mudashiru Obasa (Credit: Vanguard)

Mudashiru Obasa’s personal bank accounts reflect a consistent pattern of questionable transactions in both Nigerian naira and American dollars.

Despite being the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa conducted business deals that netted him $2.4 million in his personal bank accounts within a period of one week early last year, Peoples Gazette can report as part of ongoing examination of his shady business practices in public service.

The series of 11 transactions of nearly $2.4 million (estimated N1.1 billion at N458/$) immediately went into what appeared to be the politician’s mutual fund arrangement processed by Standard Chartered Bank, documents said.

The deposits started flowing into Mr. Obasa’s 8700018529 account with Standard Chartered, a major handler of foreign exchange transactions in Nigeria, on January 31, 2019 — running for a week through February 8. 

They came in as $180,000 twice and $140,000 once on January 31; $100,000 on February 1; $200,000 on February 5; $250,000 four times on February 7; and $299,073.43 twice on February 8.

The suspicious inflows, totalling $2,398,146.86, were subsequently cleared out in apparent mutual fund investments by the Speaker on February 7 and 8, 2019, bank documents said. Some of the payments were deposited by Adebayo Emmanuel Ezekiel, who did not indicate reasons. The federal code of conduct regulations banned Mr. Obasa from conducting commercial businesses as a lawmaker.

Standard Chartered did not return a request seeking clarification on the specific purposes of the dollar transactions, and whether or not its compliance officers flagged Mr. Obasa’s dealings.

The Gazette uncovered the suspicious foreign exchange deals as part of our ongoing dissection of Mr. Obasa’s personal and company bank accounts, as well as the larger Lagos State House of Assembly financial records. 

Two articles on how Mr. Obasa disbursed N9.7 billion in Lagos Assembly imprest earmarks and how he received N51.7 million 11 times within 24 hours were published last week.

The Speaker has been under investigation of the anti-graft EFCC for several months, triggered by a series of corruption allegations published by Sahara Reporters in March. The Standard Chartered account was listed as amongst three accounts frozen by a federal judge based on a request of anti-graft detectives.

Cashing in 

Mr. Obasa has denied multiple requests for comments about his suspicious bank transactions from the Gazette. But he strongly denied all allegations of corruption in his response to Sahara Reporters publications and during an Instagram interview with political and entertainment columnist Dele Momodu.

Yet Mr. Obasa’s personal bank accounts reflected a consistent pattern of questionable deals in both naira and American dollars between 2016 and 2019. 

In 2016, N26,950,000 was moved twice from Lagos Assembly bank account into Mr. Obasa’s Wema Bank account. The Speaker also conducted several naira and dollar transactions at the time.

In 2018, Mr. Obasa received several direct and questionable transactions from Lagos Assembly account. For one, he received N9, 950,000 and N10 million on the same day on April 5. A few days later on April 17, he received N9,190,950 and still drew N12 million on April 26. 

Outside the curious dollar transactions in 2019, Mr. Obasa regularly drew large sums from Lagos Assembly accounts. He received N5.5 million, N17 million, 5.5 million on January 25, 28 and 30, respectively.

He also N9.95 million, N17 million and N12 million on February 6, 19 and March 1, respectively, amongst several other transactions.

No excuse

Mr. Obasa was held at the EFCC office in Lagos early October, but he was released a few days later. The Speaker was not questioned on the fresh revelations the Gazette has published on him since last week because the detectives had not learnt about them beforehand, an anti-graft official said on Monday. 

Mr. Obasa was released because he “succeeded in mobilising all manner of forces,” to prevail on the anti-graft office, anti-corruption campaigner Lanre Suraj told the Gazette on Monday.

But the EFCC has no further excuse not to take Mr. Obasa back into custody based on fresh revelations, Mr. Suraj said.

“We commend Peoples Gazette for exposing clear cases of money laundering and theft against Speaker Obasa,” Mr. Suraj said. “Anti-corruption agencies no longer have an excuse not to do what is expected of them in the interest of all people in Lagos.” 

Lanre Suraj

The anti-corruption activist said Mr. Obasa’s suspicious use of public funds could undermine legislative independence in Nigeria.

“His fraudulent actions clearly justify calls that lawmakers should not be allowed to be in charge of their own budget,” Mr. Suraj said. “But that could then undermine their independence, especially if the governor is asked to take charge of legislative expenditure.” 

Still, Mr. Suraj said a mechanism should be explored that could help implace “probity, accountability and transparency in use of allocated funds for lawmakers.”

Download statements of Mr. Obasa’s personal bank accounts here.

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