A few days after he was invited by the EFCC in connection with his alleged looting of the property of Bayelsa State, Senator Seriake Dickson is again in the news for negative reasons. His former commissioner, Furoebi Akene wants him in the dock without further delay.
The former commissioner says Dickson should be tried by the EFCC in connection with the allegations of graft against him. He hinted that the ICPC had since questioned him over same allegations and expressed the optimism that the former governor will not go away with the property which he alleged belonged to the government and people of Bayelsa State.
Akene noted that the property which Dickson is alleged to have converted to personal use, were suspected to be property acquired by the state government through the state development and investment company.
According to him, he was at the exco meeting where officials of the company briefed the government on the property. He challenged the state officials to bring up the minutes to confirm actual information about the property in question.
Akene told TNN that “the EFCC should do its work thoroughly because that state has suffered from the accountable tendencies of leaders and that is why the state is like this today and the worst of all the leaders is Dickson.
“He didn’t listen to people. He knows everything. From the beginning of his tenure to the end of his tenure, did you see any advert for contract award or job placement? None. And this is against the procurement law of 2007. He decided on who does the job and at what rate, so bills were inflated shamelessly. So, the laws should be invoked to catch up with him.
“I have written several times on the so-called transparency briefing he initiated. There was nothing like transparency in anything. It was a doctored briefing and he is saying people accused him of 2012 flood palliatives, that he never received anything. He mentioned the things he received from the Dangote brothers; anyway those are very minor issues.
“I have talked about this severally. He created the Bayelsa Development and Investment Company and BDIC took over a lot of Bayelsa property and even bought houses in South Africa, UK and the then deputy managing director submitted his report and enumerated all Bayelsa property in UK, South Africa, Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other states and he evaluated them to be costing more than N200 billion.
“So, I always asked, what of these property? Are they not yielding any revenue that they didn’t contribute to the IGR of Bayelsa State for this number of years? Nobody answered. And there are unconfirmed stories, I say so because the people that revealed this remained anonymous-that Dickson and his family has converted most of these property to become their personal property.
“In the state we know, no project was completed, no housing estate was built. The road to his place was just sand-filled and has washed away. How can you deceive the people that you are launching a sea plane? How many people can afford a sea plane ride?
“My pain is that elders in the state that would have told this man to his face that what he is doing is not right became his errand boys. These were supposed to be his fathers, but they became his errand boys.
“Of course, the political class in Bayelsa, you cannot count up to five per cent of politicians that will stand up and say I am comfortable, to hell with anybody. So, they continue to remain yes men, as long as they are getting stipends to survive. We don’t have an objective house of assembly. A lot of things have gone wrong.
“So, my advice is that the EFCC should unbiasely(sic) do their work. I know that before this, time ICPC invited him ad had drilled him over a month ago, before this EFCC own came up. So, they should do their work professionally.
“Recently, those local government chairmen he installed went to pay him solidarity visit. What do they know about the matter for which they went to pay solidarity visit? It is sad in that state that people will watch these things and keep quiet.
“I was commissioner for lands and survey in his government. Bayelsa Development and Investment Company is a Bayelsa owned company and he used the name of the state to acquire these property.
“The list of these property are in the exco minutes, as submitted by the deputy managing director of that company and he has converted these property to his own, under Dickson and family. Who was Dickson before Goodluck made him attorney-general of Bayelsa State? Dickson has not gone to court to win any case.
“Who was he before Goodluck brought him, among all the lawyers in Bayelsa State, then moved him to become a federal lawmaker and then imposed him to be governor. So, at what point did he get money to acquire these property? Who are members of his family that are buoyant enough to acquire property in the UK? Those are cock and bull stories. These are property that were initially acquired by the Bayelsa Development and Investment Company which he converted to himself.
“I have details of the property acquired by the state government through the BDIC; those details are in the exco minutes. I am not aware of them being Dickson’s personal property. Let them bring out the list of those property which are in the exco minutes, to the public.
“Justice is what everybody wants. I will be happy if he in the dock to defend himself with facts and figures. I don’t believe in victimisation. I believe in justice. So, if he has frustrated the whole state that God gave him to administer and he looted their treasury for the people to suffer, then let it be. So, I will be happy if he is in the dock to prove himself, whether he is right or wrong.”
Dickson has been undergoing interrogations at the EFCC over allegations of graft. The former governor, who currently represents Bayelsa West as a senator in the National Assembly, was grilled for hours by the EFCC over corruption allegations last Tuesday.
Dickson was reported to have presented himself to the EFCC following an invitation by the agency over allegations bordering on abuse of office and misappropriation of public funds during his eight-year reign as governor of Bayelsa State.
Dickson was the governor of the state between 2012 and 2020. He was a member of the House of Representatives for Sagbama/Ekeremor Federal Constituency of Bayelsa State from 2007 to 2011 and was also the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Bayelsa State from 2006 to 2007.
A top politician from the state, Mr Richard Kpodo, popularly called Pererich, is also in court against Dickson. He has challenged Dickson to account for all the monies he collected for the eight years he served as governor.
Details from the petition submitted to the EFCC by an NGO, asking the anti-graft agency to investigate the assets declared by Dickson reveal very shocking information about the alleged looting of the state by the former governor.
For instance, Dickson is suspected to have six posh properties, estimated at £4,179,000 not fully disclosed to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in his asset declaration forms.
He is also suspected to have interests in two foreign companies, similarly under questionable circumstances.
The petition said “in 2015, Dickson was accused by the All Progressives Congress (APC) of embezzling over N15 billion received from donors after the 2012 flood that devastated the State.
“The APC has also alleged that Governor Dickson diverted N17.5 billion from the Bayelsa State Government to fund his 2019 re-election campaign for governor. The allegations are denied by Dickson,” the petition read in part.
The NGO, in its requests, asked the EFCC to review “the asset declaration forms submitted by Dickson during his periods in office as Attorney General of Bayelsa State, Governor of the State and as a member of the House of Representatives:
“To verify that Dickson’s income and declared assets were sufficient to buy the freehold for 43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX (Freehold) and 171 Shirland Road, London, W9 2EU and the leasehold for Flats A-D, 43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX: and, if not, to investigate whether the property was acquired through the proceeds of corruption.
“To verify that Dickson declared his ownership of the above properties and correctly recorded
their stated purchase prices: and if not to commence forfeiture action.
“To verify that Dickson recorded his interests in The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited (incorporated in the Seychelles) and The Seriake Dickson (incorporated in the UK): and, if not, to take appropriate action.
“To verify that whether Dickson managed or operated bank accounts associated with The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited (incorporated in the Seychelles) and The Seriake Dickson (incorporated in the UK): and, if not, to take action.”
The petition also read that Dickson’s company, ‘The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited’ is registered in the Seychelles and that any shareholding should therefore have been declared.
“Given that there is a charge on 171 Shirland Road in favour of a UK bank (Tab 12), The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited must have operated a bank account to receive the loan. It is highly likely that this account was in the Seychelles where the company was registered or in the UK where the bank loan was made.
“The UK company registry records a company called ‘The Seriake Dickson’ being incorporated on 22 February 2010 and dissolved on 4 October 2011. It was registered as a not-for-profit company (“company limited by guarantee”) with an address at of 4 Levens Hall Drive, Westcroft, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire MK4 4FL. No accounts were ever filed. It is likely that the company would have had an associated UK bank account,” it further read.
It listed his UK properties to include 43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX (Freehold);
Flats A-D, 43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX (Leasehold) and 171 Shirland Road, London, W9 2EU.
For example, 43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX (Freehold), which had a purchase price stated as £800,000, was “valued at £2,000,000 as at March 2020”.
“43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX (Freehold). The deeds record that the property was purchased on 14 May 2012 (thus during Dickson’s tenure as a Governor) by The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited, a company incorporated in the Seychelles.”
“The title deeds give Daniel Ford & Co of 35 Balfe Street, London N1 9EB as the agent for The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited. Daniel Ford & Co is a London-based estate agent which reportedly arranged the purchase of a three London properties for former oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke that have now been seized as proceeds of corruption.
“In December 2017, the company’s co-owner, Adeyemi Edun, was reportedly arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on suspicion of money laundering. Mr. Edun denied any wrongdoing.
“Flats A-D, 43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX (Leasehold). The OCOD records that the leasehold rights to Flats A-D, 43, Well Street, London, E9 7QX are held by The Seriake Dickson Trust.
“The title deeds for Flat A (Title No: AGL256116), Flat B (title no: AGL256114), Flat C (title no: AGL256117) and Flat D (title no: AGL256112), downloaded from the UK government’s land registry portal (https://eservices. landregistry.gov.uk/) between 24 February 2020 and 23 March 2020, all record that leaseholds being purchased by ‘The Seriake Dickson Trust (incorporated in Nigeria) of 35 Balfe Street, London N1 9EB’. The stated London contact address for the Trust is that of Daniel Ford &Co (Tabs 6-9).
“A search of the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission registry on 31 October 2017 confirms that The Seriake Dickson Trust (company no: 38600) is registered at Zone A 13, Apo Legislative Quarter Abuja.
“The trustees of the Trust are named as Henry Seriake Dickson and his siblings; Mrs. Grace Opekere Seriake Dickson of 4, Odienna Close Wuse 2, Abuja: Timi Dickson, Dickson Akpolagha, Oruaze Moses Dickson of 2, Daniel Obele Street, Ekeki Yenagua, Bayelsa State: and Amalate Tunner Johnny, an ally of Dickson and King in Bayelsa of 7A, Angola Street zone 1, Abuja.
“The trust was established on 18 May 2010, thus when Dickson was a member of House of Representatives.
“171 Shirland Road, London, W9 2EU. The OCOD records that the freehold rights to 171 Shirland Road, London, W9 2EU are held by The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited.
“The deeds record that the property was purchased on 2 February 2011 (thus during Dickson’s tenure as a member of the House of Representatives) by The Seriake Dickson Investments Limited. The purchase price was stated as £1,370,000.
“The title deeds also record that a charge against the property in favour of FBN Bank (UK).
“The value of the property as at March 2020 was £2,179,000.”
Dickson also allegedly makes income from rent with one bedroom flat fetching an estimated £1,357 per month in the area where one of the said properties is located.
“A similar search for 171 Shirland Road, London, W9 2EU also reveals that the occupants would appear unrelated to Dickson, thus also suggesting that the property was rented.
“The current rental value of a one-bedroom flat in the area is £1,581 per calendar month.
“It is likely that the collection of any rents would have required a UK bank account,” the petition also noted.
Dickson however claims that the allegations were untrue. He said in a statement that “I understand that there is a petition from an NGO alleging that these investments (largely buildings, plots, farms, etc in my village, Orua, Yenagoa, and two buy-to-let houses in the UK) were not declared. I have a duty to clarify these issues with the investigating authorities who by law have the responsibility to inquire into these matters.
“However, for the avoidance of doubts, let me state that my family investments, Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became