The Man Who Sold A Fake Airport For R1.1 Billion

PICTURE: Naira Brains

LAGOS: On Thursday, May 7th, 2015 at the court Nwude, through his lawyer, argued that the sentence given to him was unknown to law and not contained in Act establishing the offence.

Have you ever been contacted by a “Nigerian Prince”, or other entity claiming that you can be part of a multi-million dollar deal, wanting to give you a tender, simply by providing them with your information? These 419 scams are innovative and seem pretty convincing (some of them do at least). 

Well have you ever heard of Emmanuel Nwude? This guy is like the Guptas of Nigeria. He was able to “sell” a fake airport to a Brazilian bank director (Nelson Sakaguchi) for price amounting to $242 million dollars (R1.1 billion at the time) in the mid-90s.

Nwude impersonated Paul Ogwuma, then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and successfully convinced Mr. Sakaguchi to “invest” in a new airport in the nation’s capital, Abuja, in exchange for a $10 million commission. In August 1997, the Spanish Banco Santander wanted to take over the Banco Noroeste Brazil. The Brazilian bank, called Banco Noroeste (based out of San Paulo) later collapsed in 2001. 

Emmanuel was later arrested in 2004, but the courts initially dismissed the case because the fraud did not take place in Abuja. As soon as Emmanuel (and his co-conspirators) walked out of court, they were re-arrested and the case was moved to Lagos. Bomb scares and bribery were also used in an attempt to have  the case thrown out and charges dropped against them. 

Emmanuel was eventually sentenced to several years in prison, and had all of his assets seized. However, he fought the courts, and claimed he possessed a lot of these assets before the fake Airport scheme, and (according to Wikipedia) has already gotten somewhere to the tune of $52 million back in his possession.