An investigation by SaharaReporters into the assets of Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Lieutenant-General Abdulrahman Dambazau (ret.) has discovered that he and his wife own properties in the US whose total worth, in millions of dollars, raise questions about the source of the minister’s funds. Two real estate consultants told our correspondents that the properties traced to Mr. Dambazau have an estimated value in excess of three million dollars in the US alone.
Our investigators found that the minister’s real estate holdings include an impressive and expensive and huge seven-bedroom house he purchased in Winchester, Massachusetts, a few miles outside of Boston. The property cost $1.99 million. Mr. Dambazau’s massive 6,500 square feet home also boasts six bathrooms, an eat-in kitchen, an enclosed backyard, a front porch, central air conditioning, a spa bathtub in the master bedroom, a fireplace, and hardwood floors throughout. Descriptions of the property also state that the “master bedroom has a cathedral ceiling, double walk-in closet, linen closet, a spa-like tub, and a separate shower with three shower heads, and double sinks.”
Our investigation into Mr. Dambazau’s inexplicable real estate assets comes on the heels of public outrage that the minister’s name was removed from the list of serving, and retired military officers recommended for further investigation by a presidential panel that investigated arms and equipment procurement fraud in the Nigerian armed forces between 2007 and 2015.
An earlier report by SaharaReporters disclosed that Mr. Dambazau and other top military officers were in a panic as the investigation panel prepared its latest interim report. Several military and political sources in Abuja revealed that Mr. Dambazau, who served as Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) between 2008 and 2010, worked furiously behind the scenes to suppress aspects of the probe panel’s report that implicated him.
In response to public outrage, Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, issued a statement denying that the report was influenced by figures outside the investigation panel.
SaharaReporters obtained documents stating that Mr. Dambazau purchased the Winchester property shortly after it was built in 2013. According to the deed of ownership he bought the property on August 29th, 2013 from the building firm for one million nine hundred and ninety thousand dollars ($1,990,000).
In addition to the deed of ownership, SaharaReporters also obtained the Declaration of Homestead form that clearly states, “We, Hadiza B. Dambazau and Abdulrahman Dambazau, are the owner(s) of the premises located at 109 Church Street Winchester, MA 01890, by virtue of a deed.”
Our investigation also revealed that Mr. Dambazau sold the property to new buyers for $2 million on May 28th, 2015—exactly one day before President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in in Abuja. The property sale document includes Mr. Dambazau’s passport number A06275929 and is notarized by Amy Kornbluth, the Vice Consul of the US Embassy in Abuja.
In addition to the home in Winchester, Mr. Dambazau’s wife, Hadiza Dambazau, recently purchased a condominium in the city of Boston. The property is part of the Millennium Avery Condominium complex. Documents obtained by our investigators show that Mrs. Dambazau has had the property in her name since its purchase on May 19th, 2016. The deed states that the condominium was purchased for $892,000 and is Unit #410 located at 580 Washington Street, Boston MA, 02111.
Mr. Dambazau also owns other assets and properties in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The assets are hard to explain, given the relative modesty of the salary earned by Nigerian military officers. The minister’s properties include Hajjar Plaza, an impressive building along Ahmadu Bello Way that contains numerous offices, and Lebrex Plaza, located in Utako, along Ajose Adeogun Street, which also has many shops and businesses. SaharaReporters also found that the Interior Minister owns a huge real estate at 15 Dodoma Street, in Wuse Zone 6 in Abuja.
Our investigation discovered that Mr. Dambazau often used Mohammed Dauda as a front to purchase several of his real estate assets in Nigeria. Several sources told our correspondent that Mr. Dauda is the chairman of Labrex International Ltd.
Our correspondent asked President Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, to respond to Mr. Dambazau’s extensive acquisition of real estate assets, but he merely stated, “I have no information on this issue,” adding that he could not comment further. Garba Shehu, who also serves as Mr. Buhari’s media and publicity aide, pointed our correspondent to the president’s statement “issued two days ago that he would not cover up or hide corrupt conduct by those in his government.” Mr. Shehu stated that nothing had changed since Mr. Buhari issued that release.
We spoke to Dambazau, but he hung up on our reporters.