All that glitters is not gold after all…
…Zim glitterati Danielle and Nigerian husband wanted for drug trafficking
THEIR marriage ceremony at The Nest, an upmarket and exclusive venue in Harare, was dubbed wedding-of-the-year in Zimbabwe last year.
It was attended by the who-is-who in the local social scene, cost a staggering US$500 000; the sort of money some companies in the country declare as annual profit.
The event, which reverberated across the city and flooded social media platforms, was hailed as the best to happen in 2022 largely because of the A-list guests, the theme, the decorum, a fleet of flashy cars, jewellery, money, cake and the flow of champagne resembling the Victoria Falls waterfall.
Money was splurged like confetti at the flashy wedding.
Green-themed, the party only had 100 guests who were treated to some of the finest wines, whiskies and champagnes the world has to offer. Even the rings and chocolates shared were some of the most expensive.
The guest list included some of Zimbabwe’s most familiar faces on the social scene such as Pokello Nare, Mike Chimombe, Jackie Ngarande, Tanya Chikuni, Michelle Chiyangwa, Pamela and Martin Hakunavanhu, Joseph Tazvi Mhaka, Trish Carmen, Luminitsa Jemwa and her boyfriend Khathu Muleya — you name them.
The couple, now based in Los Angeles, the United States, arrived in Zimbabwe three days before their lavish wedding on 9 January 2022, while Nigerian Afro-beats superstar Davido flew into the country with his friends aboard his private jet.
That was the wedding of Zimbabwean businesswoman, fashionista and socialite Danielle Simbarashe Allen — a Marondera born and bred woman who lived in Harare, London (United Kingdom) and now Los Angeles (United States) — Nigerian husband Igho Ubiribo who are now wanted by police in Nigeria for drug trafficking.
The two lovebirds’ celebrity wedding last year made headlines in both their native countries and across the continent; a lavish and expensive event which highlighted conspicuous consumption at another level.
The wedding also brought to the limelight the current reckless consumer culture, a lifestyle hyper-focused on spending money to buy material goods, and displaying ostentatious wealth to gain status and reputation in society rampant in Harare.
This culture is now best represented by some businesspeople and socialites like Philip Chiyangwa, self-styled preacher Passion Java, Prophet Uebert Angel, Nare, Mhaka, Roland Muchengwa and the so-called Rich Cousins: Gina Duri, Chipo, Thandie Makuyana, Riri Mum, Zodwa Mkandla, Michelle Kawome, among other flamboyant Zimbabweans whose source of wealth is suspicious.
Danielle, the late socialite Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure’s girlfriend, and Ubiribo, also known as Tiny, wedded on 9 January 2022 in Harare with green being the colour theme.
Ginimbi’s official girlfriend was Mkandla, but Danielle was in the driving seat until his tragic death.
Danielle and Ubiribo roped in the services of Yolanda Mubaiwa of Exquisite Events for the event’s arrangement and coordination. True to the name of the organisers, the event was exquisite.
Their metre-long tier cake was baked by Mrs Micheals. Guests were presented with gift packs that included a torch inscribed with the couple names, diaries, notepads and branded umbrellas as souvenirs.
The bride walked down the aisle accompanied by the groom’s mother who was celebrating her as per Nigerian culture and two dancers gyrating to the late South African music legend Brenda Fassie’s song “Nomakanjani”.
The song’s lyrics fitted the occasion.
Nomakanjani we dali wami
Nomakanjani we dali wami
(Whatever happens my darling, I’ll never leave you; till death do us part).
In wedding ceremonies, this line is often cited indicating that the marriage bond is intended to last until death.
Danielle, who by public acclaim is awesome and mesmerising, was dressed Nigerian-style and, according to a close source, the garment was made from one of the most expensive materials in the West African country and, as per the culture, it is usually worn by the chief.
The event also saw local socialites competing with Nigerians in splurging money and in vanity.
Later on the day of the wedding, an after-party was held at the upmarket hangout Pabloz at Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale where the couple not only dined with the guests, but also lavished them with expensive whiskies, cognacs and champagnes.
Reporters from The NewsHawks were there at Pabloz and witnessed the spending craze on food and alcohol. The spending competition between Danielle and her Nigerian party, and Zimbabwean socialites was fierce.
On high tables, the champagne lifestyle of the couple and their close friends and Zimbabwean socialites was self-evident.
All this spending in a sea of poverty.
Naturally, people were asking where does this sort of money come from. This did not have answers.
Now it has merged Ubiribo comes from a family of drug peddlers. His father was involved in drugs, while his older brother was jailed for drug dealing and is still serving a prison term. Ubiribo is now on the run.
According to a Nigerian paper The Punch, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) this week declared a popular Port Harcourt-based prophetess and founder of Christ Power Adoration Ministries Faith Ugochi as well as celebrity Ubiribo and Danielle wanted for recruiting teenage girls into drug trafficking.
Police have cracked their drug ring.
In a statement, the spokesperson of the anti-drug agency, Femi Babafemi, said the Zimbabwean woman and her Nigerian husband serve as the arrowheads of an international syndicate operating from Los Angeles.
That is where Danielle and her husband currently live.
Interestingly, Nigerian social media influencer Ray Hushpuppi, who flaunted a lavish lifestyle supported by laundering millions of dollars, operated from Los Angeles. But his luck ran out and he was arrested.
He was tried and sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.
Ramon Abbas (40), as Hushpuppi is known, was also ordered by a federal judge to pay US$1.7 million in restitution to two fraud victims, according to the United States Department of Justice.
Abbas was “one of the most prolific money launderers in the world,” Don Alway, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said in the statement.
Prosecutors said Abbas and a Canadian man laundered money from various online crimes including bank cyber-heists and business email compromise, or BEC, a prolific crime in which crooks hack into email accounts, pretend to be someone they are not, and fool victims into wiring money where it doesn’t belong.
In 2019, Hushpuppi helped launder some US$14.7 million stolen by North Korean hackers from a bank in Malta, funnelling the money through banks in Romania and Bulgaria.
He also helped launder millions of pounds stolen from a British company and a professional football club in the UK, got a New York-based law firm to transfer nearly US$923 000 to a criminal account, and acknowledged in a plea agreement that he helped defraud someone in Qatar who sought a US$15 million loan to build a school.
In the case in which the Zimbabwean fashionista Danielle is involved, Babafemi said a freight agent, Ukoh Ifeanyi Oguguo, was immediately arrested, while further investigations led to the arrest of four more suspects: Chikodi Favour, Obiyom Shalom Chiamaka, Nnochiri Chidinma Promise and Edward Omatseye (aka Montana).
“The 15-year-old Favour was the first sales girl to be arrested at a fuel station in Ajah area of Lagos. She thereafter led the operatives to a duplex accommodation around the Ikate area of Lekki, which was later discovered to be a rented apartment by the criminal group purposely for four young girls that the syndicate uses for marketing and distribution of illicit drugs,” he said.
“Another girl, Shalom, who is a fresh graduate of Agricultural Science from Rivers State University of Science and Technology, was picked from the house alongside Favour.
During their preliminary interviews, it was learnt that the syndicate rented another building used as a drugs warehouse inside Richmond Estate, Lekki. By the time operatives located the house, it was discovered that other members of the syndicate had broken into the store and carted away bags of illicit substances.
“However, some illicit drug paraphernalia, including sealing machines, bloating machines and packaging bags, were recovered from the warehouse. A follow-up operation led to the arrest of Edward Omatseye at his residence around the Lekki area. Edward confessed during an interview to be working for Igho and his wife, Danielle, who are identified as the overall heads of the criminal group.
The statement added: “Investigation was able to establish that Favour and Shalom were recruited as sales girls in the illicit drug trade by Prophetess Faith Ugochi of Christ Power Adoration Ministries, using her church platform to recruit teenage girls brought to her for help, on behalf of the celebrity couple: Igho Ubiribo (aka Tiny) and Danielle Simba Allen (aka Dani), who are the owners of the business, while Edward Omatseye (aka Montana) coordinates the illicit drug trade activities for them in Nigeria, with Nnochiri Chidinma Promise as representative of Ben Cargo Ltd, a freight company responsible for the shipment of illicit consignments into the country.
“While Nnochiri Chidinma Promise and Edward Omatseye (aka Montana) have already been charged to court and are currently facing trial at the Federal High Court, Lagos alongside Ben Cargo Ltd, a freight company which had been linked to two previous drug seizures and also involved in the current case, several attempts to get Prophetess Faith Ugochi, Igho Ubiribo and Danielle Simba Allen submit themselves for questioning have proved abortive.
“A letter of invitation sent to Prophetess Faith Ugochi of Christ Adoration Ministries, No. 27 Anozie Street, Mile 2, Diobu, Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 28th November 2022 was received and acknowledged by her mother with whom she runs the Church. The letter was followed with a reminder on January 9, 2023 after a long wait. In the same vein, letters of invitation were also extended to Igho Ubiribo and Danielle Simba Allen.
“A reminder was also sent when the couple didn’t show any readiness to respond to the first invitation. While Prophetess Ugochi fled her home and went into hiding, but continued her prophetic ministration on Facebook, the duo of Igho and Danielle initially sent a legal representation to ask for another time to honour the invitation, they have since gone incommunicado.
“Curiously, they hurriedly moved all funds traced to their company Lasgidi Backwood Ltd where all proceeds from the sales of illicit drugs were deposited into a private account of one Victor Imagoro.
“The agency has since blocked the sum of eighty million Naira (N80 000 000) traced to the account and obtained a court order to seize all properties, including a fuel station, linked to the suspects in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
“The NDLEA has further sought and obtained an order of the Federal High Court Lagos to declare wanted the celebrity couple: Ubiribo Igho and Danielle Allen, as the arrowheads of the illicit trade as well as Prophetess Faith Ugochi, who recruits teenage girls as sales representatives for the duo.”
Nigerian detectives say while they have arrested some drug peddlers, those who are on the run, including Danielle and Ubiribo, will be hunted down and brought to justice to face the consequences of their actions.
Who is Danielle?
Danielle Simbarashe Allen is a half-Zimbabwean, half-British businesswoman, fashion designer and socialite.
She is from Marondera, 75 kilometres east of the capital Harare.
Danielle was born on 9 June 1979. She was born to a British father and a Zimbabwean mother, hence she is of mixed race (coloured) and has dual citizenship.
She grew up in Marondera where she later lived with her grandmother after the death of her parents.
Danielle went to Diggelfold Primary School and Nagle House for her secondary education in Marondera before she moved to London where she got a degree in hospitality management.
She started several businesses, including a modelling agency in London, and then an events and accessories company.
Danielle later moved to Nigeria where she went on to run a franchise for The Body Shop being the sole distributor for the brand.
She opened her trademark business, TIR Fashions, in October 2013 in Zimbabwe with a supporting factory in Nigeria.
TIR Fashions has grown into a big brand. Danielle’s designs have been worn by some of Zimbabwe’s high-profile celebrities like Ammara Brown and Ruvheneko Parirentaywa.
In 2016, TIR Fashions was listed amongst the designers to showcase at Africa Fashion Week Nigeria. Danielle also participated at the Off Show at London Fashion Week 2014.
On her LinkedIn profile, Danielle writes about herself: “Danielle Allen is a British-born entrepreneur of Zimbabwean heritage who has always had a passion for designing. She decided to launch a fashion house in her motherland Zimbabwe in October 2013 with a supporting factory in Nigeria where she is currently based.
“Her trust in the motherland and with Africa at heart, has been the foremost reasons of investing her time and money in Western Africa and beyond as she now finds herself investing in Africa as a whole.
“As a designer she is a perfectionist. Articulate without a trace of mediocrity, this evidently is shown in the excellent quality and finishing of the brand’s designs. She has only scratched the surface of her plans to take Zimbabwe by the horns, putting them on the map is her end goal.”
Before meeting her husband Uribibo, with whom she lives in Los Angeles, she dated Ginimbi for sometime.
The relationship ended when Ginimbi died in November 2020.
Hardly a month after Ginimbi’s death, Danielle moved on after meeting Uribibo in Ghana on New Year’s Eve in 2020. They moved to Nigeria.
In February 2021, Daniella and Uribibo left Nigeria for good and never went back. Now they are wanted there for drug trafficking.
The couple got married on 6 July 2021 in Las Vegas, United States, after having been together for only three months. Their wedding was held at The Chapel of the West, Las Vegas.
This led to their flamboyant traditional wedding in Harare in January last year.
Davido, Nigerian international music superstar who attended their wedding, wished them “success and happiness in their marriage”, which many admired as a dream life, not knowing how it was funded and what the couple does for a living.
“I call the groom Tiny because we grew up together and I am happy for him that he has found Daniella. I wish them success and a happy, peaceful and loving marriage,” Davido said at the time.
Hardly a year after that, Uribibo and Danielle are on the run, wanted for drug trafficking in Nigeria. They now face a dark future, a long jail term if they are caught, which is almost certain they will.
A number of Zimbabwean socialites flaunting expensive and flamboyant lifestyles – which teach young people bad lessons – are involved in criminal activities. It is just that they have not yet been caught.
This reminds us that people must learn to be content with what they have. All that glitters is not gold.