It is only natural that eyebrows will be raised if a business that is doing so well decides to suddenly liquidate and subsequently sell-off its assets. It will be more suspicious if the same business decides to abandon its household name for a new and less renowned nomenclature. This is the case with Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park that have been successfully renamed to Magic land amusement and 4U Supermarket.
This was after its Lebanese owners and directors, Fauzi Fawad and Mustapha Fawaz decided to voluntarily liquidate the company.
Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland amusement Park are no doubt popular businesses and never short of patronage in the heart of the nation’s capital. Thus, the sudden liquidation of both businesses despite its relative success in the nation capital must have come as a surprise to business analysts. This is considering the fact that, Wonderland is Abuja’s biggest and most popular amusement park, while Amigo is one of the largest supermarkets in the Nigerian capital.
Although, intense competition or increasing debt or liability may be a major reason why a company can liquidate, the company doesn’t seem like a struggling company from the level of daily patronage it gets. Another reason behind a company’s liquidation is involvement in fraudulent activities. Fraudulent activities could come in various forms like deliberately underreporting or omitting income or overstating the amount of deductions.
It can be recalled that, in May 2013, the Joint Task Force in Kano, reported that, the co-owner of Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park, Fauzi Fawad was named as a member of a Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist cell in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, Mr Fawad was mentioned by “all those arrested,” for being in possession of heavy weapons, and other terrorism related activities. Fauzi Fawad was reported to have been on the run after the incident was linked to the Lebanese, according to the Joint Task Force. In this vein, there is little or no doubt that the co-owner of these two businesses cannot be easily exonerated from the illegal possession of ammunition.
Fauzi Fawad and Mustapha Fawaz were alleged to be involved in the weapons and ammunitions scandal discovered in the residence of their Lebanese compatriot, Abdul Hassan Taher Fadlalla and this has been an image albatross for them and their businesses. The subsequent confession of Mustapha Fawaz leading to the interception of another member of the syndicate named Abdullah Tahini yet a Lebanese national at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport with undeclared $60,000 hidden in his luggage on his way to Beirut. These murky activities may have prompted the business owners to the businesses and not because of insolvency. This is not new in the world of business, as business owners try to find a way to wriggle out of their own undoing.
The Brigade Commander, 3rd Brigade, Nigerian Army, Iliyasu Mr. Abba said among the weapons discovered during the operation were 17 AK 47 rifles, 44 magazines, four land mines and 12 RPG bombs, 14 RPG charger, 11 66 mm anti-tanks weapons, one SMG magazine, one pistol and magazine. Also, 11, 433 rounds of 7.26 mm special, 76 hand grenade, rocket propelled guns, 122 calibre artillery and anti-mines weapons were recovered. “What you are seeing here is weapons of mass destruction in terms of our situation here right now in Nigerian.
“If these things have been brought out only God knows the type of destruction they will cause to innocent persons in the state or in the country,’’ he said. He said also the Department of State Security Service (SSS) in Abuja had been investigating the case for long. In a remark, the state Director of the SSS, Bassey Ettang, said that the three suspects had a link to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
More so, Mustapha Fawaz also confessed in front of Abuja Division of the Federal High Court of his involvement with in illicit importation of arms into the country got an order to survey the Israeli Embassy in Nigeria alongside two of his Lebanese compatriot.
Fawaz also disclosed that, both of his business outfits, Amigo and Wonderland, had special surveillance cameras with which he monitored the movement of expatriates, especially those of Israeli extraction. Similarly, the third accused person, Tahal Roda, who was arrested inside the house where a large cache of arms and ammunition were discovered in an underground bunker at No 3 Gaya Road, off Bompai Road in Kano, admitted that he was not only aware of the existence of the arms, but also frequently serviced them.
Although, the court later discharged and acquitted Fawaz and other accomplices, it sentenced Mr. Talal Ahmad Roda, the third accused person and also a Lebanese national, to life imprisonment having found him guilty of conspiracy in the matter. According to the court, the Nigerian government could not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Fawaz and other acquitted persons are terrorists. In a contrary reaction, the Acting Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr Simon Egede, who was in charge of the prosecution, maintained that the visual evidence government tendered was enough to nail the accused persons.
He said: “The videos confirmed the unauthorized and illegal surveillance carried out by the first accused person along with his foreign collaborators, where they captured different strategic buildings in Abuja, while perched on top of Sheraton Hotel building. This simply means, the former Amigo and Wonderland owners are not innocent of the terrorism crime they were accused.
On this regard, even the United States of America has banned both Fauzi and Fawad from doing business with any American citizen. The United States Department of Treasury also said it has frozen all property and assets owned by Fauzi Fawad, Mustapha Fawaz and Abdallah Tahini.
The court injunction ensured that Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland amusement reopened for business after the government initially order it’s locked down. As a matter of fact, both businesses seem to have continued where it stopped in terms patronage as they remain continuously flooded with customers after the court ordered the federal government to reopen both locations for business.
It was therefore a matter of curiosity when on June 26, this year advertisements appeared in a national daily giving notification on the liquidation of Wonderland Amusement Park and Resort Ltd and Amigo Supermarket Ltd.
An intense investigation by Economic Confidential eventually suggested that the liquidation was more a public relations stunt than any foul weather affecting the companies.
While previous reports identified Fauzi Fawad and Mustapha Fawaz, this magazine can declare authoritatively that two of the three new directors of the two entities are also Lebanese from the same family with the embattled Fawad and Fawaz. Interestingly, both Fawad and Fawaz are mere variants of the same name. According to the new arrangement as shown in the registration details, Fawaz Mohammmed with a London address has the highest stake of N8,000,000 from the new Magic Land Amusement and 4U supermarket, Kassem Yousesef, another Lebanese has N1,500,000 while the Nigerian Alhaji Muhammed Usman has a meagre N500,000 stake in each of the two farms.
The nature of the business according to the new owners is to establish, acquire and carryon office trading outlets, supermarkets, departmental stores for the sale of all kinds of products whether in wholesale or retail. In other words, the Magic Land Amusement and 4U Supermarket will render the same services as the defunct Amigo Supermarket and Wonderland Amusement Park. Thus, it’s more or less, continuation of both businesses with different names and owners.