A few days ago, the Premium Times Nigeria released an exclusive report linking TB Joshua and his wife to a shell company in British Virgin Islands, through papers leaked from the Mossack Fonseca law company (know as the Panama Papers). We held off writing about this for a few days because the initial article displayed no evidence (except for a few company details that could easily have been made up), and we couldn’t find TB Joshua’s name mentioned in the parts of the leak made public (for example, here and here).
However, upon further investigation we are now confident that the claims are true. The newspaper has released the documents (see right) they were basing the allegation on, and we have discovered that one of the team from the ICIJ (the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists who are coordinating the leaked data) is Musikilu Mojeed, the Managing Editor of Premium Times. This explains how the paper got hold of documents that are yet to be made public, and also makes it inconceivable that they would use forgeries. For those who still doubt it, you can wait and see because the ICIJ have said that they will “release the full list of companies and people in the Panama Paper files in early May”.
After the initial article, but before the papers were released, TB Joshua released an emphatic and unambiguous denial that he owned any business anywhere. He finished the Facebook update with a photo of the journalist responsible for the article, Nicholas Ibekwe (who you may remember from TB Joshua’s bribery scandal) who he accused of “representing a gang” and being responsible for a number of threats against his ministry and person. This post (and photo) has been shared over 500 times by TB Joshua’s followers, which genuinely represents a threat to Ibekwe.
Clearly TB Joshua did not want his followers to know about this shell company, or else he could have made up some kind of justification for its existence instead of complete denial. A former SCOAN insider we spoke to while writing this article was not surprised that he would have excessive funds to stash away, they told us “he mingles with governors, presidents and other high flying, sometimes dubious characters, so he has his fingers in different pots. He owned an array of cars when I was there. He had several top notch Landrovers, 2 Hummers (different colours which he had specially made) and loads of other stuff. His Italian suits which he wears maybe twice, are all imported at considerable costs“. A further recent addition to his assets is the $60 million dollar private jet he purchased last year. How does a “man of God” accumulate the kind of money to live like this? The Panama Papers might not reveal any specific details, but they certainly suggest the existence of secret, off the books business deals.
As with the building collapse court case, TB Joshua looks like he wants to handle this via social media rather than the courts. If these allegations are genuinely false and the documents are forgeries, he should take Premium Times to court and let the authorities examine the evidence. We don’t expect to see that soon though, because there seems to be ample evidence that the claims are true.