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Cablegate: (S/Nf) Nigeria: Kano Businessman Alleges Yar'adua

VZCZCXRO3296
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHUJA #0320/01 0520630
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 210630Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2117
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8760
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000320

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/AA, INR/B

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/18/2033
TAGS: PGOV PINR KCOR NI
SUBJECT: (S/NF) NIGERIA: KANO BUSINESSMAN ALLEGES YAR'ADUA
CORRUPTION

REF: 07 ABUJA 2627

Classified By: Political Counselor Walter Pflaumer for Reasons 1.4 (b,
c, & d).

1. (S//NF) SUMMARY: XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged a close
association between President Yar,Adua and Katsina native
and rumored smuggler Dahiru Mangal. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal
is the President's "Mr. Fix It," taking care of "anything
filthy" Yar'Adua needs done in addition to smuggling items
for several wealthy Nigerian businessmen through Niger into
Kano. Another Kano business contact corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's
allegations, but observed that Mangal no longer deals openly
in illicit activity since Yar'Adua named him a special
advisor earlier this month. As well, XXXXXXXXXXXX maintained that
he had been approached by a man claiming to represent First
Lady Turai Yar'Adua and seeking an USD 2 million pay-off.
While Post cannot independently authenticate these
allegations of corruption by the President or First Lady,
Post has heard rumors of an emergent "Katsina clique" in the
Presidential Villa. END SUMMARY.

2. (S//NF) Kano real estate entrepreneur and longtime Mission
contact XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff February
10 that Katsina native Dahiru Mangal, who XXXXXXXXXXXX contends
deals in illicit smuggling of goods into Nigeria, is also
known as President Yar'Adua's "Mr. Fix It." XXXXXXXXXXXX alleged
a close association between the President and Mangal, dating
to the former's tenure as governor of Katsina, and claimed
the latter remains to this day Yar'Adua's "go-to man" to
accomplish "anything filthy that Yar'Adua needs done."
Mangal, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, is also the "go-to" for any wealthy
Nigerian, who wants to import "just about anything" into
Nigeria. He declined to state whether Mangal smuggled
weapons, drugs, or persons into Nigeria. (On February 17,
PolOff queried another Kano business contact, who
corroborated XXXXXXXXXXXX 's accusations, however claimed Mangal no
longer goes by "Mr. Fix It" since Yar'Adua officially named
him a special advisor earlier this month. Allegedly,
Yar'Adua instructed Mangal to cease any illicit activity if
Mangal wished to enjoy official recognition by the President.
The contact implied this may connote, inter alia, that
Yar'Adua desires to maintain at least the appearance of
respect for rule of law, and thus, does not want any of his
close advisors openly involved in suspect activity.)

3. (S//NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff XXXXXXXXXXXX
several Nigerian businessmen who have employed Mangal's
services over the past several years. Reportedly, Mangal owns a warehouse across
the Niger border (likely close to the Katsina border with
Jibiyya and Maradi) in which he stores hundreds of 40-foot
shipping containers. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed Mangal is able to
import goods from around the world, including China. In
return, Mangal requests a flat fee of 2 million naira (USD
17,000), excluding the cost of goods. Approximately 100
containers per month are brought into Kano, and goods are
then delivered to clients or sold in Kano's Kurmi market.

4. (S//NF) Mangal also operates several legitimate
businesses, XXXXXXXXXXXX asserted, including Mangal Airlines. The
National Hajj Commission of Nigeria contracted Kabo,
Bellview, Meridian, and Mangal Airlines for the December 2007
hajj operations, which transported approximately 100,000
Nigerians to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage. (Note:
Many Nigerian Muslims have criticized the GON's handling of
the 2007 hajj claiming several thousand Nigerians were left
stranded in Saudi Arabia and could not return to Nigeria,
except without extraordinary hardship, and several others
were never airlifted from Nigeria at all. End Note.)

5. (S//NF) Moreover, XXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXX had been approached recently by a man claiming to speak on
behalf of First Lady Turai Yar'Adua. The person, who arrived
at the meeting with XXXXXXXXXXXX in a Peugeot with a
"presidential" license plate, told XXXXXXXXXXXX the First Lady
would "allow" them to construct the homes so long as she is
given an advance payment of 250 million naira (USD 2
million). XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was willing to offer the First

ABUJA 00000320 002 OF 002


Lady twenty plots of land instead, to which the presumed
emissary grimaced. The negotiations, XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff,
continue.

6. (C//NF) NOTE: During a late January conversation with
PolOff, XXXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXXX
purchased an USD 10 million house in central London
approximately 7 years ago, XXXXXXXXXXXXX.
This house apparently was excluded from President
Yar,Adua,s public declaration of assets in June 2007, which
put his total wealth at approximately USD 7 million. END
NOTE.

7. (S//NF) COMMENT: While XXXXXXXXXXXX is a trusted, longtime
Mission contact who has provided veracious information in the
past, we cannot independently confirm his statements
regarding Mangal or the First Lady. Certainly, the man who
approached XXXXXXXXXXXXX seeking a pay-off may simply have been
attempting to exploit the First Lady's name for personal
enrichment. We have heard rumors of the emergence of a
"Katsina clique" in the Villa -- a group of individuals from
the President's home state of Katsina who reportedly
constitute Yar'Adua's inner circle and increasingly, control
access to him. The surfacing of this group may be a
corrollary to Yar'Adua's lack of national exposure (and
hence, his deficiently broad support base) and his inability
thus far to stamp his authority on the ruling People's
Democratic Party. Rumors abound alleging that the First
Lady, Special Advisor Tanimu Yakubu, and Minister of
Agriculture Sayyadi Ruma are involved in corrupt practices.
Reports of both the First Lady and Yakubu's taste for the
high life and tendencies toward illicit enrichment surfaced
during a December 2007 debrief by XXXXXXXXXXXXX
outlined problems he saw in the Villa and cases XXXXXXXXXXXXX
was closely watching (Ref A).
Several contacts from XXXXXXXXXXXXX, moreover, maintain that while
the President "appeared incorruptible" during his tenure as
governor, his wife siphoned off millions in public funds for
private use. Post will closely monitor these accusations and
report any new developments. END COMMENT.
SANDERS

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