Sunday, 24 September 2017

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Items filtered by date: September 2017

A run-away former governor has lost a choice hotel in Singapore to the latter day wife he used to launder his loot.

The ex-governor is currently under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly benefitting from the $2.1billion arms scandal.

Also hanging on his neck is an allegation that he mismanaged N19.8billion public funds while in office.

He has refused to honour EFCC invitation CR: 3000/EFCC/ABJ/ASO/TM5/VOL.5/596.

The Nation gathered that the ex-governor used to frequent Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

But following the recent signing of six agreements by Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he reportedly left Dubai for Singapore.

A highly placed source familiar with the  ongoing probe of the ex-governor, said the suspect entered into a marriage of convenience with the woman  in Singapore with a view to  protecting the investment of his laundered funds in the  choice hotel.

He reportedly bought the hotel in the name of the ‘wife’.

“But the marriage turned into a scam because the ‘wife’ divorced the ex-governor and took possession of the hotel,” the source said yesterday.

“The suspect has been battling to retrieve the hotel from his ‘wife’. It is however doubtful if he can get it back.”

It was learnt that the ex-governor is now in a serious dilemma.

Investigation revealed that over N600million of the $2.1billion arms scandal fund has so far been traced to the ex-governor.

Another source said EFCC has been on his trail in connection with the alleged mismanagement of N19.8billion state funds between 1999 and 2007.

“Documents showed that he collected N600million illegally from the $2.1billion arms deal cash through the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA),” the source said.

“Initially, the suspect was based in Dubai but following a close up by detectives, he left the UAE for some countries where he has been on a make-shift life.

“We are weighing options on how to extradite him in order to bring him to justice. We will explore all legal options.

Responding to a question, the source added: “The former governor has been giving one excuse or the other for not honouring the invitation of the EFCC.

“At a point, the suspect said he had a heart-related problem but intelligence report confirmed that he was pretending.”

Meanwhile, the acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu has asked Nigerian youths to take up the gauntlet and become change agents in the fight against corruption in the country.

Represented by the head of the Benin Zonal office, Mailafia Yakubu, at an event to mark World Peace Day celebration in Benin City, Magu said the biggest challenges facing Nigeria were the “twin evils of corruption and impunity.”

He charged the youths to imbibe the culture of excellence as future leaders of the country and to shun all forms of criminality.

“The corrupt and other economic and financial criminals can no longer hide because the Commission is working hard to bring them to justice,” he added.

Magu said it was disheartening that some youths were involved in advance fee fraud but warned that the prevailing economic challenge was not an excuse to commit crime.

He said:  “I agree that the country is going through a process but it is not an excuse to commit crime, be legitimate in your dealings so you can be the future leaders that you are.”

Published in Headliners

A Senator is in trouble with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for obtaining a N1.2billion loan from the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) to buy electrical equipment but he allegedly  ended up diverting the facility to personal use.

Three years after securing the loan for his firm, he has only paid back about N150million.

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North) has been summoned by the EFCC for interrogation through the Clerk to the National Assembly.

Besides the loan, Nwaoboshi is under investigation for collecting N1.580bilion contract to supply some construction equipment and trucks to the Delta State Direct Labour Agency in 2010.

The senator allegedly supplied mostly refurbished trucks as new vehicles. This has been confrmed by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), The Nation learnt.

The senator is among the 18 of the nation’s 109 senators who are either under investigation or trial for over N367.5billion alleged fraud by the EFCC.

Nwaoboshi may face trial for alleged abuse of office in securing the loan, alleged diversion of the facility and contract fraud.

Nwaoboshi is said to have secured the N1.2billion loan, under the Local Industrial Growth Scheme when he was sitting on the Board of Directors of NEXIM Bank.

Although Nwaoboshi excused himself on the day the NEXIM board approved the facility for his company, the anti-graft agency said “the deal signifies of internal abuse”.

An EFCC document said: “The loan, which was approved for the senator when he was a member of the bank’s board of directors, was meant for the purchase of equipment and electrical materials but the senator allegedly diverted part of the funds to acquire properties in Lagos.

“Criminal diversion is a serious offence and NEXIM may have to report him to the Central Bank of Nigeria. As a director of the bank, the circumstance of the award of the loan is one that raises fundamental conflict of interest and corporate governance issues.”

The senator is said to have been defaulting in repayment.

“He has not honoured the invitation of this commission but since he has no immunity, our detectives are on his trail,” an EFCC source said.

The Senator is also under probe for allegedly using one of his companies, ‘Bilderberg Enterprises Ltd’,  to secure a contract from the Direct Labour Agency, Delta State to supply construction equipment at N1,580,000,000.00.

But, instead of supplying the equipment according to the specifications, the company allegedly supplied used equipment, contrary to the Bill of Quantity which specified new ones.

Also  Bilderberg Enterprises Limited (previously known as Bilderberg Enterprises Nigeria Ltd) was alleged to have  secured  contracts from Nine local government areas in Delta State worth over N2billion when the said company was yet to be registered under the Company and Allied Matters Act.

The senator is also under the searchlight of the EFCC for allegedly using a firm, Golden Touch Construction Project Limited, to buy a 12-storey building in Apapa, Lagos belonging to Delta State Government at N805, 000,000.00.

It was learnt that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had no record that the senator “declared all the companies and bank accounts he has interest, despite being operational prior to the time he made the declaration.”

A document from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) confirmed that the senator supplied refurbished trucks to the Delta State Government as new vehicles.

The EFCC’s brief said: “Nwaoboshi, who has failed to respond to the commission’s invitation, is battling to stop the Commission from moving to secure the final forfeiture of his property.

“He has filed two actions before a court in Lagos and a Federal High Court in Asaba, asking that the interim forfeiture order of Justice Abdulaziz Anka be vacated. The Federal High Court Asaba refused the ex-parte application, further hearing is slated for October 3, 4 and 5, 2017.

“A Federal High Court in Lagos in April ordered the temporary forfeiture of a 12-storey building belonging to the senator over an alleged contract scam of N1.5bn.

The said building, which the court ordered Nwaoboshi to forfeit to the Federal Government is at 27, Marine Road, Apapa.

“Justice Anka made the forfeiture order after entertaining an ex parte application brought before him by the EFCC.

“Joined with Nwaoboshi in the application were his two companies – Golden Touch Construction Project Limited, and Bilderberg Enterprises Limited.

“The EFCC told the judge that Nwaoboshi, through his company, Bilderberg Enterprises Limited, got a N1.580bn contract to supply some construction equipment to the Delta State Direct Labour Agency sometime in 2010.

“The senator is also alleged to have forged assets declaration documents before the Code of Conduct Bureau, where he concealed 46 different accounts to which he is a signatory.”

 
Published in Headliners

A new round of demonstrations is expected across Togo as the country grapples with an unprecedented political crisis, brought about by calls for the introduction of presidential term limits.

Faure Gnassingbé has been head of state since 2005 when he took over from his father Gnassingbé Eyadema, who seized power in a coup in 1967, seven years after independence.

The anti-government protests began in August and have spread to the whole country.

Demonstrations have largely been peaceful and their scale has been huge, with organisers claiming that as many as 800,000 people - out of a total population of 6.6 million - took to the streets on 19 August.

On Sunday, the country's bishops threw their weight behind the opposition.

Opposition supporters praying during previous protestsImage copyrightAFP
These oppositions supporters prayed during a previous all-night vigil
People throwing stonesImage copyrightAFP
Protests have been largely peaceful but there have been some clashes with riot police

Why don't the government and opposition settle their differences in parliament?

The government has tried this.

On Tuesday, MPs voted in favour of a proposed change to the constitution to introduce a two-term limit ahead of the next presidential election in 2020.

The change will require a referendum before it comes into effect.

The matter is settled then...

Not at all.

The opposition boycotted the vote, claiming Tuesday's parliamentary session was a ruse by the government to make itself look reform-minded and allow Mr Gnassingbé to stay in power until 2030.

Faure Gnassingbé (file photo)Image copyrightAFP
Faure Gnassingbé inherited power from his father but has since been re-elected twice

Some opposition politicians want the president to step down immediately, and none of them want him to be able to stand in 2020.

They say Mr Gnassingbé is already in his third term, since he took over from his father in 2005 and was re-elected in 2010 and 2015.

The opposition wants to revive a paragraph in the 1992 constitution that says "under no circumstances may anyone serve more than two terms".

The Gnassingbé dynasty is 50 years old. Why has it taken until now for the Togolese people to protest?

This is not the first time.

In 2005, an estimated 500 people died in a government crackdown against opposition protests.

What's different this time?

For many years, the south of the country was seen as anti-government but the Gnassingbé family drew all the support it needed from the north, where they come from.

Tikpi Atchadam, leader of the National Panafrican Party (PNP)Image copyrightAFP
Tikpi Atchadam has breathed new life into the opposition

This time some of the biggest demonstrations have taken place in cities like Sokodé in the centre-north and Dapaong and Mango in the north.

A new opposition figurehead, Tikpi Atchadam, leader of the National Panafrican Party (PNP), hails from the north.

What has the government done?

It has cut off all mobile 3G data to try and prevent people from using social media to mobilise.

The government has also called for its own supporters to demonstrate.

It accuses Mr Atchadam of links to Islamist radicals, but has not produced any evidence to support its allegations.

Published in Business and Economy

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said on Wednesday the Federal Government has approved the payment of N45billion severance package to former staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways.

The national carrier was liquidated by ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2005, and the workers had been embarking on protests nationwide over their unpaid entitlements.

Sirika told State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that money has been approved for the settlement of the entitlements.

“Governments, in the past, decided just to liquidate Nigeria Airways without tending to the issue of the entitlements of the workers and they have been struggling to get that paid. We came in and took it very seriously. 

“I’m happy to announce that Mr. President has approved N45 billion which has been confirmed to be the entitlements of these workers and Ministry of Finance has been instructed to pay the money. The ministry wrote to me last week that they have received the instruction to pay these workers, and therefore, they are setting up the modalities to pay.

“You should know it won’t be paid through my ministry before somebody will say I take some of it. It will be paid by finance through a process, and that process will commence very soon,’’ he said.

The minister disclosed that the Council approved the procurement of operational vehicles for Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

NAN

Published in Business and Economy

A journalist from north-eastern Nigeria has won the third BBC World News Komla Dumor Award.

Amina Yuguda is a news presenter on local network Gotel Television, where she has reported on high-profile news stories, including the Boko Haram insurgency.

She will start a three-month placement at the BBC in London in September.

The award was created to honour Komla Dumor, a presenter for BBC World News, who died suddenly aged 41 in 2014.

Ms Yuguda said her win was a "huge honour".

"I was overwhelmed with joy. Storytellers have always had an important role in Africa... this is what defines us. Today journalists are taking on that responsibility."

 
Amina Yuguda: "I want to tell stories from an African perspective"

She impressed the panel with her story-telling and her ability to convey complex ideas in a way that resonates with a wide audience.

She is excited to work at the BBC, given her understanding of the corporation's impact among pastoralists in her hometown, saying in her application:

"With little or no formal education, my countrymen can hold their own in a variety of topics, including the Trump presidency in America, North Korea's defiance, Russia's foreign relations under Putin, and more."

BBC World Service Group Director Francesca Unsworth said Ms Yuguda was a worthy winner:

"To find someone who possesses many of Komla's qualities is something for us to celebrate, and we are very excited about working with Amina."

Previous winners of the Komla Dumor Award were Ugandan news anchor Nancy Kacungira and Nigerian business journalist Didi Akinyelure.

Published in Arts & Culture

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said on Wednesday the Federal Government has approved the payment of N45billion severance package to former staff of the defunct Nigeria Airways.

The national carrier was liquidated by ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration in 2005, and the workers had been embarking on protests nationwide over their unpaid entitlements.

Sirika told State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting that money has been approved for the settlement of the entitlements.

“Governments, in the past, decided just to liquidate Nigeria Airways without tending to the issue of the entitlements of the workers and they have been struggling to get that paid. We came in and took it very seriously.

“I’m happy to announce that Mr. President has approved N45 billion which has been confirmed to be the entitlements of these workers and Ministry of Finance has been instructed to pay the money. The ministry wrote to me last week that they have received the instruction to pay these workers, and therefore, they are setting up the modalities to pay.

“You should know it won’t be paid through my ministry before somebody will say I take some of it. It will be paid by finance through a process, and that process will commence very soon,’’ he said.

The minister disclosed that the Council approved the procurement of operational vehicles for Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

NAN

Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 21 September 2017 02:23

Federal High Court proscribes IPOB

A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an order proscribing the pro-separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The court has also declared illegal all activities of the group, particularly in the South-east and Southsouth.

It restrained “any person or group of persons from participating in any of the group’s activities”.

The Acting Chief Judge of the court, Justice Adamu Kafarati, granted the orders after hearing an ex-parte application filed and argued yesterday by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.

Justice Kafarati directed the AGF to ensure the publication of the IPOB proscription order in the official gazette and two national dailies.

With Malami in the court were the Solicitor-General of the Federation (SGF), Tayo Apata; Acting Director, Civil Litigation, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru; and other lawyers in the Federal Ministry of Justice, including T. A. Gazali and Oyin Koleosho.

Specifically, the judge said: “That an order, declaring the activities of the respondent – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegallity, is granted.

“That an order proscribing the existence of the respondent (IPOB) in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-east and South-South regions of Nigeria either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called and publishing same in the official gazette and two national dailies, is granted.

“That an order restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the respondent (IPOB) under any other name or platform, however called or described, is granted.”

Published in Headliners

Kenya's Supreme Court has blamed the country's electoral commission (IEBC) for its decision to annul the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The judges said the 8 August poll was "neither transparent or verifiable".

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu said the IEBC did not verify the presidential results before they were announced.

Mr Kenyatta got 54% of the vote against opposition leader Raila Odinga's 44%.

Mr Odinga went to court alleging that he had been cheated out of a win and that the IEBC did not follow the law in the conduct of the election.

The Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of annulling the election on 1 September but it has only now explained why it took the decision.

It was the first time in Africa that a court had agreed with an opposition demand to cancel a presidential election over rigging allegations.

'Could have been hacked'

Ms Mwilu also said that the commission had not complied with a court order to allow its electronic voting system to be scrutinised.

She said that the IEBC's refusal to comply with the order to grant access to its electronic voting system led the court to believe Mr Odinga's claims that the system "could have been hacked".

The electoral commission has disputed that its system was tampered with.

Opposition coalition Nasa has been pushing for the sacking of IEBC officials whom it blames for bungling the polls, saying that a new team should be in charge of the re-run scheduled for 17 October.

Doubts have however been cast on this date because OT-Morpho, the French company that provided the voting kits, has said that it needs to reconfigure the more than 40,000 kits and that the process would not be complete until at least the end of October.

The judges had ordered for the re-run to be held in 60 days.

Published in Headliners

Shareholders of Oando Plc from across the South-West states on Tuesday staged a protest in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, and demanded that the company’s Managing Director, Wale Tinubu, should step down because of the firm’s poor financial position.

Making reference to the report of the last Annual General Meeting of the company, which was held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where the External Auditor, Ernst & Young, stated that Oando reported a comprehensive loss in 2015 and 2016, the National President, Renaissance Shareholders Association, Olufemi Timothy; and the National Coordinator, Proactive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Taiwo Oderinde, condemned the meeting, saying it was stage-managed to continue the mismanagement of the company’s finance by the current management.

Timothy stated, “Oando Plc is practically dead because it is no more a going concern. Its contemporaries are doing well and bringing glory to their shareholders. We are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Senate Committee on Capital Market to intervene before it is too late. 

“We are dying because our investments in the company have grown wings. The share we bought for N90 has come down to N5 under Wale Tinubu’s watch. A proper probe should be carried out. Tinubu should step aside. The company has gone with its current reported N263bn negative working capital.

“We worked hard to invest in the company but what did we get in return? Absolutely nothing! The poor shareholders are suffering and many have died. We have a lot of retired people dying because their investments have gone. Under the current management, Oando suffers a lot and we cannot tolerate it again.”

Oderinde said that Transparency International rated Nigeria poorly in its global corruption index because of alleged corrupt practices within institutions like Oando.

“Enough is enough and Wale Tinubu must go. If you go to the Transparency International’s website, you will see their rating of Nigeria on the global corruption index and it was stated therein that not only individuals are corrupt in Nigeria, but institutions too. Little did we know that TI was referring to companies like Oando,” he said.

The protesters also visited the NSE office in Dugbe, where the Branch Manager, Mr. Kayode Ogun, urged them to write a formal letter to the bourse, stating their demands, while calling on them to exercise restraint while the NSE looked into their petition.

Published in Business and Economy

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have visited two mansions in Dubai allegedly belonging to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The properties, located at E146 Emirates Hill and J5 Emirates Hill, are said to be worth 74,000,000 dirham (N7.1bn).

Emirates Hill, which has been described as the Beverly Hills of the United Arab Emirates, is home to some of the richest men in the world including billionaire Chairman of the Stallion Group, Sunil Vaswani.

Others, who are Diezani’s neighbours, include the immediate past Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif; a former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari; and Robert Mugabe junior, the son of the President of Zimbabwe and one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, President, Robert Mugabe.

A source within the EFCC told our correspondent that the anti-graft agency was already applying for the forfeiture of the properties through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

If the commission is able to clear all legal hurdles and ensure the final forfeiture of the property, it would bring the total amount of cash and assets finally recovered from Diezani to $200m (N70bn).

A detective, who did not want his name in print, said the anti-graft agency would exploit the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty the Federal Government had recently signed with the government of the UAE.

The agreements, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, are Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters, Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and an Extradition Treaty.

The source stated, “We have informed the UAE authorities that from our investigation, we believe Diezani bought the properties with the proceeds of crime. The whole process is still ongoing but with the MLAT, signed by President Buhari, it has made work a lot easier for us.”

The detective explained that before the Federal Government signed the treaty, the UAE law prevented foreign officials from having access to properties in the country without the express permission of its owner.

He added that with the new treaty, the UAE authorities were more cooperative and would readily give information of properties from their Land Registry System.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay(SAN), who hailed Buhari for signing the treaty, told The PUNCH that some corrupt senators, who also owned properties in Dubai, would be made to forfeit them.

Sagay also disagreed with some legal experts who said the Dubai treaty would need to be ratified by the National Assembly before it could be activated.

He said, “The UAE MLAT is not a treaty as such but an agreement; so, it will be operated without their (senators) approval.

“So, let that start worrying them (senators). He (President) will implement it directly. So, those of them that have acquired properties in Dubai and other Middle-East countries should kiss their properties good bye.”

Published in Headliners
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