Fresh revelations have emerged in the alleged theft of N7 billion worth of properties belonging to the descendants of the late Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Alhaji Muhammed Sani Omolori.
This comes as Buhari Sani Omolori, one of the late monarch’s sons, has accused their eldest brother of fraudulently selling off the properties and pocketing the proceeds.
Buhari told THE WHISTLER on Monday that the Omolori family carried out investigations and found that the monarch’s eldest son, Ataba, allegedly stole original documents of the properties barely eight days after their father’s death and sold them without consulting his siblings or sharing the benefits with them.
He said no fewer than 12 offspring of the late monarch have died from illnesses that could have been treated if they were financially afloat or their legitimate inheritances had not been taken away from them.
Their late father was the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland and the Chairman of Ebira Traditional Council from 1956 to 1996. The monarch died about 26 years ago.
THE WHISTLER reported in 2021 that the children of the late monarch had filed a petition before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking investigations into how a briefcase containing original documents of their late father’s properties was stolen days after his death.
Some of the properties are said to be located in the Maitama, Katampe, and Mabushi districts of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Buhari said when the family first discovered that Ataba was in possession of the documents, the family reached out to him to amicably resolve how to share the properties amongst the beneficiaries of the late monarch.
“We wrote some letters within the family concerning the properties, in which we reached out to (one of) our eldest brothers, Alhaji Isah.
“Then he told us that all these properties, especially the ones in Abuja, were in the hands of Ataba (Mohammed Ataba Sani-Omolori) who was the Clark of the National Assembly and our eldest brother.
“He (Alhaji Isah) said he had reached out to him in the past that he should bring the properties so that they can be shared and he (Ataba) said he was holding it for the family. His response is even documented in a letter but it is being kept within the family. So, after this, he became very dodgy and at this point, we had not seen the documents.”
Buhari, however, recalled going through “our father’s stuff and I saw his papers about his landed properties and all of that. I made it clear that I’ve seen these properties (and) said that If anyone knows anything about this property, such a person should let us know because we were going to investigate.
“So, in the course of investigations, everything was linked to him (Ataba). Then we held a family meeting sometime in November last year (2021). In the family, one of our brothers was working with AGIS (Abuja Geographic Information System) and somebody said look, tell us what happened. The one in AGIS now said that look, these properties were owned by our father at some point but our brother, Ciroma (Ataba), who was the Clerk of the National Assembly, has sold them and they’ve passed from one hand to another. This was in a meeting in November last year,” he said.
Determined to get to the root of the matter, Buhari told this website that he confronted Ataba in February 2022 about the properties but that he was unyielding.
“So, after our meeting in February this year, I now confronted him (Ataba) and he wasn’t forthcoming. Then we called our sub-clan to intervene. They called him but he didn’t go there,” he said, adding that this prompted the family to write to the Attorney-General of the Federation over the matter.
In THE WHISTLER‘s initial report, the monarch’s children in a petition signed by Buhari and Nasir Sani Omolori, had said they suspected that the documents were stolen by some family members in connivance with their late father’s business associates.
While they didn’t mention specific names at the time, the late monarch’s children noted that “some of our brothers could perfectly sign his (their late father) signature” and that persons within the family were also suspected to have diverted proceeds of a contract executed by their father for the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA).
But in their fresh petition to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), urging him to compel the appropriate agencies to take up the case for investigation, Buhari pointedly accused his elder brother and immediate past Clerk of the National Assembly, Ataba, of perpetrating the theft.
Upon receipt of Buhari’s petition, AGF Malami in April 2022 wrote to the Inspector-General of Police, seeking an investigation into “Seven Million Property Fraud” against Mohammed Ataba Sani-Omolori. The IGP then referred the matter to the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Special Enquiry Bureau in the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department.
But Buhari and Nasir, in a subsequent letter titled “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” which they addressed to the Assistant Police Commissioner, accused the police of failing to act on the AGF’s directive more than three months after furnishing them with proof.
They said: “Following the directive from the Attorney general, Alh. Abubakar Malami of the federal republic of Nigeria to Inspector General of Police and down to Assistant commissioner of police Y. Y Abubakar to investigate the case of 7 billion naira fraud, which was committed by the former Clerk of NASS Ataba Sani Omolori against the family of the late Ohinoyi of Ebira land Alhaji Mamman Sani Omolori, you invited me to make a statement which I did on the 9th of May with several backup documents, you then said you will invite the former clerk of NASS to make a similar statement and for a face to face meeting between us and him and thereafter proceed with the investigation.
“One of the officers by name Hadji was sent to deliver a letter of invitation to the clerk in which His family and security agents claimed he was at the gym according to the officer and they couldn’t take the letter in his stead. 2)A couple of days after I called to find out the progress achieved in the investigation only for you to inform me that a senior police officer called to inform you that the former clerk of the NASS was not in the country and also the subject of investigation had already been resolved by the family. I responded unequivocally that it is not true. And made it clear that part of the documents attached showed attempts made by our sub-clan inviting him via a letter they copied us to a meeting which he refused to go as well as his refusal to respond to a note we previously sent to him on how he sold some of the properties.
“However, you then promised that anytime Alh. Ataba is back to the country you will deal with the issue appropriately creating an impression that the exercise would be snappy. After the lapse of almost three months’ I called to alert you again that Alh. Ataba had been around all this while, after which you said you are going to invite him for a statement. I called on the 21″ of July in which I was asked to come on Monday the 25th and I asked if he (Alh. Ataba) is coming on that Monday, the response was, ‘just come’ and come with all the evidence you may have to back up your arguments and I simply reminded DSP Idowu of all the attachment I had shown him and also given him.
“When I eventually went on the 27th, I was made to know that he denied most of the allegations against him. And also, that letter had been sent to various agencies for verification. Though I was made to know that the various agencies (AGIS, CAC) were at liberty to respond but I wouldn’t have expected it to take almost two months without any news from at least one of the agencies except something had gone wrong somewhere, what is more surprising is that I put a call to DSP Idowu but there was no response nor was my call returned. 4) It is pertinent for me to draw your attention to the fact that after my statement and conversation with you, I was confident your agency will assist in strengthening Justice considered seriously to have asked your agency to investigate.”
Efforts by THE WHISTLER to get Ataba’s comment did not yield results as several calls put across to his MTN number bounced.
Born on June 7, 1961, Ataba holds a law degree from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
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