By Tony Egbulefu
For 28 years, Babagana Abba Dalori lived a quiet and dreary life.
With all the risks to lives and limbs in his native Borno State, North-east Nigeria, he wished above all things to graduate safe and alive from the Electrical and Electronics Department of University of Maiduguri, (UniMaid), do his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and relocate permanently to Abuja to make a living under the relative safety of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT).
By 2010, he was through with schooling, completed his NYSC and pronto, he hit Abuja.
Dalori found home in Gwarinpa Estate, nestling way into the estate’s inner reaches.
For two years, Abuja served him a harsh reality check.
He pounded the streets of the FCT, battling lack and joblessness.
Faced with the dire choices of either to swim or sink, he reached into his Sixth Sense for a self-reliance option.
It paid off handsomely, but leaving a path that is today, strewn with wreckages of other people’s destinies.
Now 35, Dalori’s grass to grace narrative aptly brings to memory the Arabian fairy-tale Alibaba in “Alibaba and the 40 Thieves.”
The method and tactics are similar; the point of departure is that rather than thieves, Dalori’s casualties on his way to fame and fortune were trusting and innocent victims.
From a pool of personal savings and financial help from different quarters, he procured a commuter tricycle, (Keke NAPEP) in 2012, which he initially operated himself in Gwarinpa, swallowing the sense of self-worth he earned with his certification in academics and character in the ivory tower.
As the disingenuousness in him kicked in, Dalori spurned the path of persevering application and unravelled as a smart alec.
By sweet-talking unsuspecting members of the public to pool resources together and procure tricycles, which he would superintend their management under non-binding agreement to reward them often with as much as 200 per cent interest on their capital, Dalori grew the number of his tricycles from one in 2012 to 50 in 2014.
With the killing he made with the tricycle experiment, he branched into bus commuting, sand mining and trucking, acquiring over 100 dumper trucks in what was a record time for a start up.
Four years down the line, 2016, he formalised his new business forays with the registration of Galaxy Transport and Construction Company, becoming the Director/CEO and his widowed mother, a co-director.
While the company was not registered as public liability company, it harvested investment funds from members of the public, most of whom their knowledge of his businesses is zilch.
Dalori’s investment portfolio continued to expand with the willingness of members of the public to contribute finances to him in their belief that indeed they will be or already are part owners of his sprawling business enterprises.
Due to the mouth-watering returns he made to his investors, Galaxy Transport and Construction Company easily spread its operations to 11 states of the North, and Abuja, boasting of investors’ profile of 27, 400 as of today, as revealed by investigators of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC.
Dalori’s disguised intent and true personality began to unfurl to his investors from 2017.
Having amassed astonishing wealth from his investors free money, he decided to treat them as the suckers they were.
He then began a gradual shutdown in payment of return on investment to his investors.
By the following year, 2018, he had completely turned off the tap on the flow of return on investment and would not even breathe a word to traumatised investors who made persistent inquiries as to what had befallen their investments.
At this point, Dalori had long moved on and was now running an oil and gas entity with his incorporation of Galaxy Global Energy Limited.
Aside this, he told EFCC investigators that he invested about N400 million to acquire a quarry licence with which he started stone crushing in Mpape, Abuja in 2017.
Others in the litany of his businesses which evolved entirely from funds from his gamed investors include: Galaxy Miners Concepts Limited, Galaxy Global Farms, Galaxy Guest Palace Limited, Galaxy Hospital, Galaxy Computing, Galaxy block making and Galaxy car wash and real estates.
Comprised in his realty acquisitions are allegedly, five units of six bedroom mansions, situated in Police Estate, Gwarinpa, landed properties in Dakwa, Niger State, spread across three locations, measuring 5.7, 2.5 and one respectively in acres.
In Paiko, a location after Gwagwalada (coming from Abuja) is 30 acres, he earmarked for realty and just a distance of about 2km from this, and within the same Paiko is another 29 acres for realty and 13 acres of farmland.
Further investigations by the EFCC revealed that Dalori who in 2018, acquired a farmland, measuring 200 acres in Gaube, Kuje, Abuja yet has another land acquisition in Lape Layout, a little after Ungwa Madaki, Nyanya, Abuja.
Comprised in Galaxy Global Energy Limited is an array of fuel stations, spread across Northern Nigeria and three gas plants, located in Bwari, Abuja and in Mab Global Junction, Galadima, Gwarinpa.
Dalori’s formula is typical of Nigerian wonder banks- entice hordes of investing public with fraudulent promises of huge returns on investment- then grab their money and slam the door shut in their faces.
To suck-in as many unsuspecting victims as he could into his edifice of corruption, Dalori employed a massive electronic media advert campaign on the handsome reward on investment his companies offered.
He moved his fraudulent marketing pitch some notches further with a financing of “Zero Hour”, a movie production with a cast of A-list Nollywood and Kanywood actors, which was a little short of an advertising gimmick to convince unsuspecting members of the public to invest in his companies.
A victim painfully concedes that “Dalori’s gimmicks paid off as different people took their hard-earned savings, inheritance, pensions and other sources of income and invested in Galaxy.
He used his investors’ money to incorporate different entities without getting their consent.”
Why do Nigerians still patronise businesses and schemes that promise unrealistic returns on investment despite the sad lessons from wonder banks and ponzi schemes?
Head Advance Fee Fraud, EFCC, Omar John Sini puts it down to greed.
“Every human being inherently has some level of greed deposited in him. It’s just depends on how someone can moderate his or her own in order for it not to get the better part of his or her senses.
Instead of people to think before venturing into something, they venture into it before thinking.
So I will say it’s greed.
“Galaxy at some point was giving 200 per cent return on investment.
It doesn’t make sense. What was he doing, what was he selling with investors’ funds that he would not only make gains for himself but also make available such capital and interest to investors.
He was just giving it so that they will go and enjoy it and invite more people. That was why he made it so attractive so that people will join in their thousands.
I tie it to greed and advise that we always think before we venture into any kind of investment,” Sini said.
To prevent further erosion of his investors’ funds, pending the conclusion of investigations by the EFCC, all bank accounts belonging to the Galaxy group have been frozen at the prompting of the Commission, backed by court orders.
By accepting deposits from members of the public when his company is not a licensed financial institution, Dalori and his company are in breach of provisions of Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act.
But the media aide to Dalori, Mr. Cletus Onoja blamed his principal’s inability to honour his financial obligation to his investors on the loss of one of his companies’ largest dredgers in his Jere sand mining site in Kaduna State.
Another reason he advanced was the suspension of quarry activities in Abuja since October last year by the Federal Government, following earth tremors in the capital city.
Dalori in his own eyes is a philanthropist and self-made made.
“I have a mindset to be an entrepreneur, assist people and provide jobs since there are no white collar jobs again.
“I started as a transporter with a tricycle at a Yakasuwa Market, Gwarimpa, Abuja and the Keke NAPEP business later expanded to 50 tricycles.
“I bought a house in Gwarimpa and ploughed the money into transportation business.
I later sold the house for N8.2million in 2014 and used the money to diversify into other businesses.
“Between 2012 and 2014, the businesses boomed as my friends, relations and classmates picked interest in what I was doing.
But natural disaster and flood affected the businesses in 2018, thereby creating problems for me and the consequent inability to meet up with the investors,” he told the EFCC.
Remorseless, he told the Commission’s investigators that there was nothing fraudulent in his ripping off a staggering 27,400 investors in his companies.
“All I was doing was to assist fellow Nigerians and I have no intention to defraud anyone.
The businesses were okayed and I was paying good returns to the investors before the natural disaster and floods caused my problems and affected the investments.”
Distortion of facts couldn’t have been any worse for, while Dalori and Onoja find convenience in citing a 2018 flood that affected the company’s Jere sand mining site and the Federal Government’s suspension of quarrying in the FCT, same year, as reasons for leaving the companies’ investors in the lurch, EFCC’s findings establish that a good number of personal acquisitions including the massive 200 acres farmland in Gaube, Kuje, Abuja, which Dalori made with his investors’ funds were carried out in 2018.
•Tony Egbulefu is a staff of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC