Why it’s bad time for Danjuma’s 33 properties, billions of dollars to be uncovered

For the first time, former Minister Theophilus Danjuma’s worth has hit the news.

The retired general has been estimated to be worth $1.2bn (N432bn).

The unveiling of the former minister’s wealth is happening in President Muhammadu Buhari administration employing all means to seize questionable wealth Nigerian elite stash abroad.

According to Bloomberg, the Danjuma’s wealth is an amalgam of oil business and real estate, commanding no fewer than 33 properties in high-end locations across the world.

The only time news of his wealth spilled into the open was in 2017, during the globe-shaking Panama Papers report by a consortium of investigative journalists around the world.

He was among prominent Nigerians operating foreign accounts and running business in tax havens while he was in government.

The Swiss branch of banking giant, HSBC, also has him as one of its politically exposed clients whose accounts are managed in secrecy.

Bloomberg uncovered in a report that Danjuma had also acquired the ‘Kings Arms Hotel’,  a 300-year-old inn next to London’s Hampton Court Palace, once the home of King Henry VIII.

“The 80-year-old Nigerian is worth $1.2bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with his family office managing a portion of that wealth, often through low-key holdings such as the 14-room hotel,” the report stated.

Hannatu Gentles, the second daughter of the retired general, confirmed to Bloomberg in an interview that the property was indeed bought for N1.09bn by the family and would bear the ‘Danjuma’ name.

“This is the first, and will possibly be the last, listed building we’ve worked on,” Gentles said. “It’s taken longer than we wanted, but our name is attached to the building and we want to be proud of our work. It’s been a hard slog.”

In addition to the Kings Arms Hotel, the Danjumas have developed residential properties this year in Esher and Wimbledon. They also own a boutique hotel in Lagos, serving beef carpaccio and lobster bisque in one of three dining areas and displaying works from the family’s art firm.

The ex-minister was awarded an oil block in 1998 by the late President Sani Abacha.

That marked the beginning of Middle Belt champion up-swing into wealth.

Danjuma’s daughter added that the family invest in real estate in other jurisdictions, too, but in the UK we always thought let’s stick to areas that we know.”

She noted that her father bought a residence in Singapore years ago, “and it made sense then to buy some more,” she said, adding they’ve since sold the properties because of tax law changes.

Danjuma the billionaire and leader of Nigeria’s Christian Elders Forum has been a sworn enemy of the Buhari-led government he believes is out to accomplish an Islamic agenda.