From smuggling to adultery, multi-billionaire businessman Alhaji Dahiru Barau Mangal is fast building a reputation as the new face of crime in Nigeria. A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT who spent much time in Katsina, Mangal's home state, investigating his activities reports on the stinking skeletons in the cupboard of the man reputed to be one of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's closest friends.
That Alhaji Dahiru Barau Mangal is one of the richest men in Nigeria and in Africa is an open secret. That the foundation of his stupendous wealth is traceable to smuggling is also a well known fact, especially in his home state Katsina, where the 51-year-old multi-billionaire businessman is dreaded by many on account of his mind-boggling wealth and his closeness to Nigeria's President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
However, what many people do not know is Mangal's other side as an adulterer who would go to great lengths to cover his tracks. Painstaking investigations by National Newspoint in the northwestern state of Katsina revealed that Mangal indeed has a son out of wedlock, a grievous sin in Islam which could attract death by stoning under the Shari'ah Law being implemented by Katsina and several other core northern states of Nigeria.
Interestingly, it was President Yar'Adua who during his first term as Governor of Katsina State (1999 – 2003) started the implementation of Shari'ah law in the state. Katsina subsequently dominated world news following the controversy arising from the conviction of 30-year-old Amina Lawal for adultery by a Bakori, Katsina State, Shari'ah Court on March 22, 2002. The case sparked global outrage and the poor woman was spared death by stoning only after her conviction was upturned by the Appeal Court.
“If the law were to be applied to the same measure to both the rich and the poor, the likes of Alhaji Dahiru Mangal would have been called to account by the Shari'ah Court,” one analyst told National Newspoint.
Even though he may have a good point, the truth is that nobody has had the guts to formally report Mangal to the Sharia Court for adultery proceedings. One reason for this is that Mangal is that nobody is ready to cross the path of a man who is reputed as the President's buddy, chief financier of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruthless head of an untouchable smuggling mafia.
Streetwise but with little formal education, Alhaji Dahiru Barau Mangal is a business-cum political behemoth who calls the shots at AFDIN Group (Nigeria) Limited, the holding company of his vast business empire that includes but is not limited to Max Airlines, AFDIN Construction Company Nigeria Limited, Manasawa Oil, Mangal Oil, and Manasawa Enterprises.
The AFDIN Football Club proprietor is, however, better known in Katsina as a notorious smuggler who has become an untouchable by warming himself into the hearts of people in power and deploying his enormous resources in the service of the ruling party. His other source of strength, National Newspoint learnt, lies in his ability to woo and maintain his hold on the youth, who could be relied upon to reciprocate when “duty” calls.
Of course, by far the biggest fish in Mangal's dragnet is President Yar'Adua, who is reported to have benefited immensely from Mangal's generousity and political astuteness. And with this relationship, the business czar has successfully entrenched himself, building both his business and political empires beyond Kastina as well his “notorious smuggling haven,” said one analyst.
A WALK TO PROMINENCE
Like most other Nigerians, Dahiru Mangal had a humble beginning. From the lineage of late Barau Tukut of Manasawa Quarters of Kastina Metropolitan City, Dahiru attended Gafai Primary School from the mid-1960s to 1971 before proceeding to Kastina Arabic Teachers' College for Higher Islamic Certificate, graduating in 1976.
Mangal, who cut his teeth in the transport business rather early, is reputed for notoriety, according to sources, right from his youth during his cross-bother conflicts with security men during his daring smuggling expeditions. His undying desire to exploit the fertile smuggling business across the Nigeria/Niger border, a source disclosed, “further enlivened him. And gradually he maintained a stronghold in smuggling with an unusual ability to scale the several security checks in a manner that could be described as hypnotism.”
Mangal is said to have found his opportunity later in life from his association with the leadership echelon in the state. National Newspoint learnt that his relationship with the then military administrations of Colonel Yahaya Madaki and Navy Captain Emmanuel Acholonu as well as the civilian administration of Saidu Barda in the 1990s exposed him to legitimate business in government contracts. This paved the way for the emergence of his expansive political empire. And with his stupendous wealth came political relevance following his massive funding of PDP, the ruling party both in the state and the federal level since the return to democratic governance on ay 29, 1999.
Known locally as the “Mr. Fix it”, Mangal's weight in Kastina politics is a “deciding factor”, a PDP source said. This corroborates the story in a recent edition of the Lagos-based weekly magazine, The News, which reported that President Yar'adua extensively enlisted Mangal's help to reconcile aggrieved political forces in the state during the build-up to the 2007 polls. This was done to ensure that the feud over the governorship contest by Alhaji Bello Masari, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the favoured candidate, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, did not degenerate. Mangal's mandate also extended to reconciling former House of Representatives members and those of the State House of Assembly who were “forced to step down,” a source said.
Thanks to his influence on the traditional institution in Kastina State and his excellent grassroots political mobilisation, Mangal has become a household name and a major decision maker in Kastina politics. This has, in turn, earned him a pride of place in the PDP both in the state and the national level.
A BRUSH WITH AUTHORITY
Considering the kind of foundation on which he built his business Mangal has expectedly had some brushes with the law. An example was during the days of late maximum ruler General Sani Abacha, when the then Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Coomasie moved against Mangal following persistent reports of his brazen smuggling activities, in particular, his alleged attempts to fully control the Katsina – Niger Republic route, which infuriated other smuggling cartels and led to a simmering public disturbance. Mangal was arrested and detained but Coomasie's retirement worked in his favour and he was soon released.
Mangal was to later have another close shave with the law during the civilian administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo when Nuhu Ribadu, erstwhile chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in 2006 ordered the arrest of AFDIN Group Chairman and CEO as a result of his smuggling activities which were compounding Nigeria's economic problems. Again, the powers that be came to Mangal's rescue as the PDP, in reciprocation of his immense contributions to the party's fast-approaching 2007 elections, ensured that he was left off the hook. This time, it was the then Governor Yar'Adua who reportedly intervened and Obasanjo, after a word of caution to the business czar, let him go with an admonition never to sin again, an admonition which Mangal has however refused to heed, continuing with his smuggling activities even with more zeal. National Newspoint's investigations revealed that the man has gone back to his old ways and, despite his business profile, is becoming more and more daring in his smuggling activities by the day.
COURTING THE PRESIDNET'S HEART
As an astute businessman with a good PR acumen, Alhaji Dahiru Mangal knows his onions. He knows that wooing and keeping his position in the heart of the President is a sure ticket to sustaining his sprawling business empire.
As a result, his relationship with President Yar'Adua is waxing stronger and stronger with the business mogul gaining pecuniary advantages and political clout at Aso Rock, the Nigerian seat of power in Abuja, where many of his political cronies are ready helping hands working extra hard to protect Mangal's various business interests.
Reputed to be one of the top businessmen in the country “who have the ears of the President,” Mangal is not resting on his oars. National Newspoint learnt that he is presently building a befitting mansion for the President from his personal resources. The mansion is located behind the Government House Katsina and being erected on a site said to have formerly belonged to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
After purchasing the property through his construction company, Mangal went into action, determined to build an architectural masterpiece for President Yar'Adua. Though the cost of the mansion could not be ascertained, a source who preferred anonymity said: “From its foundation and landscape, this house would gulp more than a billion naira. Asked how he knew the house was designated for a gift to the President. It is an open secret.”
ADULTERY, SECRET MISTRESS AND THE PAINS OF A NEGLECTED SON
Back to the adultery tale with which we started this story. It is the pride of any father to see to the needs of his children. And the parental bond that exists between the child and his or her father triggers holistic development, say experts on family matters.
Unfortunately for Shehu Dahiru Mangal, the secret son of Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, this joy may elude him for a long time to come. National Newspoint learnt that Shehu, who is a product of the love affair between Mangal and Halima Abdullahi of Batsari Local Government of Kastina State is a victim of circumstances.
National Newspoint during its investigations in Katsina State learnt that that the adulterous relationship between Mangal and Halima stretches back to about 20 years. Shehu Dahiru Mangal, the living proof of the relationship, was said to have been born 18 years ago. A competent source however disclosed that “Mangal, desperate to keep the relationship out of public notice, has kept an unwelcome distance from Shehu, his own blood.”
Apart from a monthly sustenance fee of 50,000 which he passes to Halima through a close friend, Mangal has effectively abandoned the task of rearing Shehu to the poor woman. As a result, the poor boy who did not ask to brought into this world has been denied education and decent living. A former Student of Isa Kaita College of Education, Mangal Junior dropped out of school due to the mother's inability to pay his fees and meet his day-to-day needs. He is currently eking out a living as a tractor driver.
As son and mother languish from poverty, Mangal, the super-rich power broker that has the ears of The President and the PDP, continues to live it up, seemingly untouchable on account of his powerful connections in high places. But, as it has often been said, truth is constant and justice will eventually prevail. Who knows, one day Alhaji Dahiru Barau Mangal may well be called to account; after all, Allah never sleeps.
NATIONAL NEWSPOINT MGAZINE