By Mohammed Dahiru
Retired Rear Admiral Tahir Yusuf, a former Nigeria Navy Director of Account facing investigation for multi-billion naira fraud while in service, has vandalised the largest bakery in Zaria, Kaduna State, in a bid to forcefully take over after a family dispute.
Following the family feud, the retired naval Officer, using armed soldiers and widely acclaimed thugs in the city, instituted a series of armed assault, lootings, and vandalism on both residential and business premises of Bitmas Bakery Limited to make good his threat, while accusing his wife of stealing the business from him.
“He claimed that the business belongs to him and that the wife wanted to snatch it, but I’ve worked with her since my undergraduate days in ABU for the past eight years, handled documents and MoU’s which required me to be privy to confidential files, I’ve never known or seen any other founder besides her. I literally watched her grow the business through thick and thin, from the scratch,” Zainab Mahmoud, Company Manager, Bitmas Bakery, narrated.
Findings by DAILY NIGERIAN revealed that Mr Tahir had recently altered Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC documents of the business by fraudulently inputting himself as a director in the company.
“We discovered this when we requested for an updated record of our documentary asset with the CAC due to the ongoing court case and then lo and behold he has attempted to alter the file with him as director of the company, contrary to our original certificate of incorporation since 2014,” Bitmas Bakery’s lawyer, Bello Kalayi, said.
A close examination of the company’s documents exclusively obtained by DAILY NIGERIAN shows that the company was founded in 2014 but officially registered with the CAC in 2017 with company number 1175101 in the name BITMAS BAKERY LIMITED which listed the bios of Zainab Wantadi Tahir and Habiba Tahir both of No. 1 Block Road, GRA, Zaria, Kaduna State as directors of the company.
“Zainab Wantadi is her (Zainab Tahir Yusuf) name and the other director is her daughter. There is no other known founder, CEO or director in the legal sense,” Mr Kalayi explained.
My life is in danger, Dr. Zainab Cries Out
Zainab Tahir Yusuf, a 2010 Graduate of Medicine from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria who holds a masters degree in Clinical Research from the University of Liverpool, England and a post graduate diploma in Paediatrics from the University of Warwick, England narrated that after she met Mr Tahir back in 2009 and got married in 2010.
She said a few months to her graduation, the then serving naval officer had expressed concerns about her being on a call as a practicing medical doctor and offered to open a business for her instead. That was when with little or no knowledge of business, she opted for a bakery business investing her money, Mr Tahir’s token support and his wedding gifts to her as a bride, as well as her Zaria residence where some of her staff take shelter.
“It would be hypocritical for me to say he didn’t help me at any point. But the business is a product of my savings and he contributed. He gave me a gift and I used it well. If he had said it was his share in the business it would have reflected somewhere. It was not me alone he gave the gift because he has two wives and Alhamdulillah I used mine well,” Mrs Tahir told DAILY NIGERIAN.
The medical doctor, who noted that it was not news that her husband has issues with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, since 2015, said she had to start shuttling between Nigeria and Dubai to take care of him.
She said when his domestic abuse become unbearable, she had to take a decision to walk out of the marriage; and he felt she took the bold decision because she was financially stable.
“But that wasn’t why I decided to walk. Let me make it clear that the issues started way before now but this is the first time I am talking to someone outside my family about it,” she stated.
“Every marriage or relationship has its ups and downs, some you can work out and others you can’t. Mine unfortunately got to a point that couldn’t work out so in order to protect my sanity and children, I took that decision. That was what triggered the physical, emotional and financial abuse from the father of my children.”
“More than anything I hold dear is integrity and trust so I have never stolen from Tahir, his family or anyone. For him to be accusing me falsely and dragging my name in the mud is heartbreaking because I have children that will probably grow up and hear this one day.”
Investigation by DAILY NIGERIAN revealed that Mr Tahir fled the country to Dubai, United Arab Emirates in March 2018, after getting wind of his imminent arrest by the EFCC from some fifth columnists.
The mother of three who swore she has never attempted to take what’s not hers said, “Bitmas Bakery Limited is mine, a separate entity from his other enterprises which I never laid claim to, but this is mine 100%. Out of sheer wickedness he wants to cripple me and spoil my name,” she lamented.
“I asked him, why are you doing all this and he said it was because I was financially independent that was why I had the guts to walk out on him, so he must bring me down.”
An exclusive audio clip obtained by DAILY NIGERIAN between the retired Rear Admiral and Basira Bobelleacock, Mrs Tahir’s sister buttressed this claim as Mr Tahir was heard cursing, “I have spoken to her severally it’s because she feels she is financially independent now…”
“You know this same person you got married to is not an illiterate, she is a professional in her dealings, but left her job and refused to work for 10yrs because of you…have you thought of the future?” Basira countered.
“Did she think of the future before walking out on me?” Mr Tahir retorted.
As disagreement intensified between the warring parties both in public and in private, Mr Tahir threatened that, “the next time he sees me, he will kill me,” Mrs Tahir reported.
An Array of Assaults
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that on the the morning of August 12th 2021, Shetima Yusuf, a younger brother to the retired Rear Admiral stormed the premises of Bitmas Bakery Limited along with his accomplice, Aminu Isah and Dalhatu Hashim and attempted to take over management under the pretext that they were board members of the company.
“I was shocked because I have never heard anything like that for the past eight years I have been working with aunty Zainab. So I resisted and they created a scene and harassed the staff, which scared customers away,” Ms Mahmoud, the factory manager, said.
“When I called to complain to her, she asked me to disregard the takeover threat that it was just her husband acting up.”
Opening up further on the incident, Mrs Tahir told DAILY NIGERIAN that for refusing to comply with their demand, they brought in the police, who arrested her manager.
“All this was taking place when I was out of the country. At this point my family was still trying to reconcile us because I really wanted to patch things up,” she said.
The assault did not stop there. About a month later, two staff of the Bakery, Zainab Mahmoud and Mustapha Abdullahi Mshelia sustained several degree of injuries, following an attack on them by Shetima Yusuf, Abdullahi Salisu and Dalhatu Hashimu, when they went to pick up items kept at the Chikaji Industrial Layout Warehouse.
“I was using that warehouse to keep my bakery stock and I also kept some goods my friend requested me to buy for her in Dubai ahead of her wedding so that she can retrieve it from there when it’s time so when the need arose, I sent my staff to collect the items and this unfortunate incident occurred,” Mrs Tahir said.
On September 29, 2021, about 50 armed thugs, allegedly led by Abdullahi Salisu, Dalhatu Hashim and Bala Kumasi, stormed Mrs Tahir’s residence situated at No. 1 Rock Road, GRA Zaria, where the manager of the Bakery, Zainab Mahmoud and Mustapha Mshelia live. The assailants attacked the occupants of the house, threw everyone out, sealed the property and left.
Days after the occupants re-entered the sealed property, precisely on October 4, 2021, the aggression worsened when a certain Samaila Musa, popularly known as Sarkin Gandu, came with armed thugs, beat up the occupants.
“They seized their valuables and threw them out. All the while Sarkin Gandu was on the phone apparently taking instructions from Tahir at the other end of the receiver,” Dr Zainab stated.
On October 10, 2021 around 7pm, the same Sarkin Gandu stormed the bakery with more than 20 armed hoodlums and vigilantes and started shooting sporadically, vandalizing the facility and scaring off everyone.
“They were just selling off the bread at a cheap rate, dishing out the milk for free. At the time they were doing all this damage, I just knew the business couldn’t be his otherwise he wouldn’t have caused this much damage on his own business interest,” Ms Mahmoud argued.
“On the 10th of October, my manager called me at night saying that they’ve taken over the bakery after firing guns to scare away the staff, putting off the lights, dashing out the baked bread, selling bread worth five thousand naira for one thousand naira along with the crates.
“After that attack, the next morning we went to inspect the bakery and N900,000 cash was missing, items in the store worth N29,000,000,000 were also not there, not mentioning other items like yoghurt, flour, eggs, meat etc. that they opened and just asked people to take. To this point I don’t know the extent of damage that has been done to the business,” said Dr Zainab.
On the morning of October 11, Mr Tahir himself stormed the facility alongside others, whom he instructed to grab and hold the manager – Ms Mahmoud – down while he assaulted her repeatedly, leading to body harm.
Amidst all the turmoil, police authorities in both Zaria and Kaduna have been accused of not treating the matter with the sensitivity it deserves.
“In one of the instances when we report abuse and threat to our lives, the area commander was fuming, vowing to bring the perpetrators to book, but within a blink of an eye, after some apparent phone calls, his tone changed and he asked us to go and settle it because it’s a family matter,” Ms Mahmoud said.
She said she was even assaulted right inside a police division in Zaria by the aggressors but the authorities looked the other way.
“At the time the admiral assaulted us at the warehouse I overheard him on the phone using the term ‘soft targets’, and not long after, the police started picking up people associated with the business one after another,” Ms Mahmoud further alleged.
Despite a petition to Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police by Bello Ibrahim & Co, solicitors to Bitmas Bakery, verbal and written complaint to the Police Area Command Zaria as well as the Commissioner of Police Kaduna state both of whom acknowledged receipt of the complaints, they failed to take appropriate action against the perpetrators.
“They deliberately refused to intervene in the violent takeover of our client’s business, residences and death threats even when credible video, audio and other evidence had been provided to them.
“Within a space of one month, I have been invited by the Kaduna State Police Command more than three times to answer funny and frivolous petitions bordering on theft of property etc but they had nothing concrete to hold unto that’s why they couldn’t hold me, they just keep playing Tahir’s script,” Mrs Tahir also alleged.
Spokesman for Kaduna Police Command, Mohammed Jalige, said the police are fair in dealing with the case.
“Both Zainab and her husband are unknown to us in terms of personality. As Police officers, we don’t care who they are, what matters to us is the case at hand and anyone who is guilty shall be legally prosecuted whoever that person is.
“Besides, the case has two faces, there is the civil aspect of it and there is the criminal aspect. Anything civil is not our call, we can only advise accordingly and the criminal aspect of it has to be investigated by the police which is what we are doing right now and we would avail the public of developments,” Mr Jalige said.
When approached, Mr Tahir did not to respond to our inquiries on the matter.