Sunday, 25 February 2018

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

The Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Anambra State, Most Revd Paulinus Ezeokafor, has asked Nigerians not to vote for politicians above 60 years of age in the 2019 elections.

Describing such politicians as a “burden on the growth and development of the country,” the bishop said they ought to have quit active politics at such an age.

Speaking on Sunday in Awka, Anambra State, the Prelate wondered why candidates who retired from service would want to pilot the affairs of the country.

“I can’t understand why retirees would want to seek political offices. Such people are a burden to growth.

“I urge Nigerians to stop electing such people. 2019 is crucial in our history. We should vote wisely; we should avoid voting for retirees.”

He urged christians to ensure active participation during the 2019 general election, just as he condemned Christians who speak ill of government but would fail to participate in election processes.

He insisted that the only way to vote out the wrong people during elections was to be fully involved, such as by obtaining the permanent voter card and casting one’s vote during elections.

The bishop condemn Christians who sell their votes for a token, adding that such people should be ready to endure the consequences.

He said Christians were entrusted with the responsibility of taking the lead in positive directions, tasking them to eschew nonchalant attitude.

Applauding the recent move by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission and Independent National Electoral Commission to check excessive spending by politicians during elections, the cleric said if implemented, it would restore sanity in the electoral process.

Workers at the National Health Insurance Scheme on Thursday temporarily grounded activities at the head office of the agency in Abuja, demanding the reversal of the controversial reinstatement of the Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf.

Also, the National Conscience Party has condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for the reinstatement of Yusuf, who was suspended by the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, for fraud-related offences.

The workers, under the aegis of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria and the Joint Health Sector Union, began the protest about 40 minutes after Yusuf resumed at the agency.

The unionists, who sang protest songs, said the reinstatement of Yusuf would thwart his investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The protesters, who described the reinstatement saga as ‘Yusufgate,’ said it was a mockery of Buhari’s anti-corruption war.

Addressing journalists on the premises of the agency, the Chairman of the NHIS arm of the union, Mr. Razaq Omomeji, said the protests would continue until Buhari reversed Yusuf’s reinstatement.

He said, “Our presence is to jointly endorse the position of the Secretary-General of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria on the reinstatement of Prof. Usman Yusuf. We demand and urge the President  and the Federal Government to reverse the reinstatement if they want to have peace and industrial harmony.

“We are a law-abiding people and we have never in the history of the NHIS, created any problem for anyone. But the reinstatement of Prof. Yusuf will cause chaos in the scheme.

“They should allow the man to be cleared by the EFCC before he is allowed to resume. We can help them in investigating the man.”

Omomeji said the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress were looking into the matter, adding that the NHIS boss had done nothing but described workers as thieves.

He said Yusuf bastardised the scheme by making arbitrary appointments in flagrant disregard for the Civil Service Rules.

“His first action when he took over the affairs of the scheme showed that he had no plan for the agency. He appointed a lady born in 1984 to Level 15. She was at Level 9 at the EFCC before she was brought here. Imagine that!”

Also speaking, Mr. Aina Benjamin, who is the Secretary of the Medical and Health Workers Union, NHIS branch, said Yusuf would launch a revenge attack on all the whistle-blowers in the agency and therefore called on Buhari to remove him.

“He is coming here to fight back and there is no way he would not come here with his own agenda and then the agency would not be able to progress and that is why we are asking the President to reverse this reinstatement,” Benjamin said.

He rubbished claims that the panel set up by the ministry to investigate Yusuf was not well constituted.

When asked if the workers would embark on strike if the President refused to remove Usman, he said, “We will wait for our national secretariat on the next line of action.”

The NCP asked Buhari to reverse the reinstatement of Yusuf because of the damaging effect the action would have on his image and the anti-corruption war of his administration.

The NCP in a statement signed by its National Vice-Chairman, Waheed Lawal, in Osogbo on Thursday, described Yusuf’s reinstatement as a betrayal of trust reposed in the President by majority of Nigerians who voted him into power based on his promise to fight corruption in the country.

He said it was absurd that the Presidency reinstated the NHIS boss who was accused of fraud, arguing that Yusuf’s  reinstatement while he  was still being investigated by the EFCC was a dent on the anti-corruption war of the present administration.

The statement read, “We, in the NCP, see the recall of Prof. Usman Yusuf as a betrayal of trust and confidence the Nigeria people reposed in the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. He  has, with this singular act, halted every progress this administration is making to curtail the act of corruption among public officers.

“How on earth will a man who can’t account for the expenditure of N919m NHIS fund be recalled back to duty? Why will a man who publicly said f**k you to a serving minister be recalled just like that? Why is the Presidency condoning Yussuf? Is it because he’s the President’s kinsman?

“We are perturbed by this development and it has become imperative for the President to address the nation on his stance, as it is becoming clearer that nepotism and favouritism are a determinant to most of his policies, as the recall of AbdulRasheed Maina remains unresolved till date.

“It is on record that one Mr. Femi Akingbade, the former acting Executive Secretary of NHIS was summarily removed from office on mere allegations contained in petitions submitted against him, with the baggage of revelations emerging from the administrative panel of enquiry of how Yusuf diverted funds through phony contracts, illegal training and spending of unbudgeted allocation on cronies and friends.

“It was only during his short stay that the association of HMOs threatened to disengage from the NHIS owing to maladministration and policy somersaults. However, if the President was actually dissatisfied with the Ministry of Health panel, he should have instituted a fresh panel to investigate  the allegations levelled against Yusuf.

“We hereby call on the President  to immediately reverse itself, allow the law of the land to take its full course on the Usman Yusuf case, give the anti-corruption agency the marching order to conclude their investigation, so this nation can be on the part of justice again.”

In a related development, the immediate past Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association in Osun State, Dr. Suraj Ogunyemi, has described the reinstatement of Yusuf as a slap on the face of the minister.

Ogunyemi, who said this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Osogbo, described the reinstatement as unfortunate.

He said such would portray the government as not being serious with its anti-corruption war, saying the Presidency ought to have allowed investigations to be concluded before returning him to his duty post if he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

In an address read by Dr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos and Conference President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) want President Muhammadu Buhari to act as a father to all by tackling “some glaring failures of government” and lopsidedeness in federal appointments to give every Nigerian a sense of belonging.

We, the representatives of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria, bring you our cordial greetings and blessings. We desired this meeting, in order to continue the dialogue we initiated with you even before your election as President. We therefore thank you for granting us this audience, which affords us the opportunity to share with you, once again, our thoughts and concerns on some issues affecting our dear country, Nigeria.

First, we thank God for bringing you back to us after a period of ill health. We hope and pray that you continue to make progress on the way to full recovery, in order to be able to face the enormous challenges emanating from your exalted office.

Your Excellency, needless to say that, as President, you are the father of our dear country Nigeria. It is therefore pertinent that as loyal citizens as well as informed members of the society, we come to you from time to time to express not only our willing cooperation with the government in working for the progress of our country, but also to share with you the feelings of the multitude of Nigerians at this moment. We work with the people at the grassroots and therefore, have first-hand information about what they are going through.

There is no doubt that when you came into office, you had an enormous amount of the goodwill of Nigerians, since many saw you as a person of integrity who would be able to bring sanity into a system that was nearly crippled by endemic corruption.

Nearly three years later, however, one has the feeling that this good will is being fast depleted by some glaring failures of government which we have the moral responsibility to bring to your notice. Else, we would be failing in our duty as spiritual fathers and leaders.

Our concerns

Your Excellency, there is too much suffering in the country: poverty, hunger, insecurity, violence, fear… the list is endless. Our beloved country appears to be under siege. Many negative forces seem to be keeping a stranglehold on the population, especially the weaker and defenceless ones.

There is a feeling of hopelessness across the country. Our youths are restive and many of them have taken to hard drugs, cultism and other forms of violent crime, while many have become victims of human trafficking. The nation is nervous.

Just as we seem to be gradually emerging from the dark tunnel of an economic recession that caused untold hardship to families and individuals, violent attacks by unscrupulous persons, among whom are terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, have led to a near civil war situation in many parts of the country.

We are saddened that, repeatedly, innocent citizens in different communities across the nation are brutally attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed. Lives are wasted and property, worth billions of Naira, including places of worship, schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes.

We are still more saddened by the recent massacre of unarmed citizens by these terrorists in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states which has caused national shock, grief and outcry.

The silence of the Federal Government in the wake of these horrifying attacks is, to say the least, shocking. There is a feeling of helplessness among the people and the danger that some people may begin to take laws into their hands.

We therefore earnestly urge the government to take very seriously its primary responsibility of protecting the lives and property of its citizens and ensure that such mindless killings do not reoccur.

Herdsmen may be under pressure to save their livestock and economy, but this is never to be done at the expense of other people’s lives and means of livelihood. We would like to add our voice to those of other well-meaning Nigerians who insist that a better alternative to open grazing should be sought, rather than introducing “cattle colonies” in the country.

While thinking of how best to help cattle owners establish ranches, government should equally have plans to help the other farmers whose produce is essential for our survival as a nation.

In a similar vein, daredevil kidnappers, who at present are having a field day, with a feeling of invincibility, must be made to understand that there is a government in this country.

The government should invest more in equipping our Police Force with modern and high-tech devices that would help them track down and arrest these criminals and make them face the wrath of the law.

The Federal Character Principle is enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: “The Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies (Section 14, Sub-section 3-4.

Disregard for this Principle in some Federal Government appointments, as well as perceptible imbalance in the distribution of federal amenities, has created the loss of a sense of belonging in many parts of the country, hence the constant cries of marginalisation, agitation for secession and calls for restructuring.

These and many more of such problems are, in our opinion, grave matters that should be worrying all political leaders in our country today, rather than any bid for re-election.

Conclusion, assurance of prayers

Our Church has always complemented the efforts of government in such areas as providing quality education and primary health care services to our people.

We continue to make our contribution to nation-building through our prayers, admonitions and assistance to needy. Nigerians whenever we can. As the voice of the voiceless, we shall continue to highlight the plight of our people and play our prophetic role of sensitising the government, thus promoting good governance, national unity and cohesion.

We strongly feel that everybody in government at this moment has to take more decisive steps to restore the confidence of the Nigerian people in our governments.

Our collective efforts must be seen in the desire to return to the fine principles of democracy, such as true federalism negotiation and consensus building, as means of achieving a more equitable distribution of the resources of our country and good governance.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria on Thursday told President Muhammadu Buhari that the enormous goodwill with which he assumed office in 2015 is being fast depleted by some “glaring failures” of his government.

The bishops said this when they paid the President a courtesy visit at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Their address at the visit, copies of which were made available to journalists, was jointly signed by the CBCN President and Archbishop of Jos, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama; and the Secretary who is also the Bishop of Gboko, Most Rev. William Avenya.

“There is no doubt that when you came into office, you had an enormous amount of the goodwill of Nigerians, since many saw you as a person of integrity who would be able to bring sanity into a system that was nearly crippled by endemic corruption.

“Nearly three years later, however, one has the feeling that this goodwill is being fast depleted by some glaring failures of government, which we have the moral responsibility to bring to your notice, else we would be failing in our duty as spiritual fathers and leaders,” the bishops told Buhari.

They regretted that there was too much suffering in the country, with poverty, hunger, insecurity, violence and fear, among others, pervading the land.

They said, “Our beloved country appears to be under siege. Many negative forces seem to be keeping a stranglehold on the population, especially the weaker and defenceless ones.

“There is a feeling of hopelessness across the country. Our youths are restive and many of them have taken to hard drugs, cultism and other forms of violent crime, while many have become victims of human trafficking. The nation is nervous.

“Just as we seem to be gradually emerging from the dark tunnel of an economic recession that caused untold hardship to families and individuals, violent attacks by unscrupulous persons, among whom are terrorists masquerading as herdsmen, have led to a near civil war situation in many parts of the country.

“We are saddened that, repeatedly, innocent citizens in different communities across the nation are brutally attacked and their sources of livelihood mindlessly destroyed.

“Lives are wasted and property, worth billions of Naira, including places of worship, schools, hospitals and business enterprises are torched and turned to ashes.”

The Catholic Bishops said they were still saddened by the recent massacre of unarmed citizens by suspected terrorists in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba states, which has caused national shock, grief and outcry.

They said the Federal Government’s silence in the wake of the attacks was shocking.

Thursday, 08 February 2018 00:56

Nasarawa Tiv flee to Benue

There is an influx of Tiv residents from Nasarawa State into Benue State, following sustained attacks by suspected Fulani militia.

Suspected Fulani herdsmen are said to have launched attacks on Tiv indigenes in Nasarawa State.

The busy Lafia/Makurdi road has been overtaken by victims of Fulani attacks who are heading towards Benue.

Areas mostly affected are Kadarko, Awe town and the border communities.

Women with children on their back were seen trekking long distances, looking tired and hungry. Some of the children were half-naked, just as men carrying mattresses and personal belongings also fled.

A Nursing mother, Juliana Uma, said her husband and two children were killed after suspected herdsmen attacked their village.

She said she doesn’t know where she was going, but just fleeing for her life.

“Since they killed my husband and children I have to run for my life,” she said.

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom said there are seven IDPs camps with over 100,000 people there. He appealed to the Federal Government to assist with relief materials.

In what could be described as a total humiliation of his health minister, President Muhammadu Buhari has reinstated the suspended Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Usman Yusuf.

Mr. Yusuf was suspended by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in June 2017, following allegations of gross misconduct.

A panel commissioned by the minister after Mr. Yusuf’s suspension later found him culpable of infractions that ranged from nepotism to theft of public funds.

An administration official familiar with the development told PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday evening that Mr. Buhari did not consider Mr. Yusuf’s indictment by a ministerial panel before asking him to return to work.

According to the source, the letter of reinstatement was sent to Mr. Adewole on Tuesday evening.

Mr. Adewole confirmed receipt of the reinstatement letter to PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday night, but did not elaborate on when Mr. Yusuf would resume or under which terms.

“It is true that the president has reinstated him,” Mr. Adewole said.

The reinstatement letter urged Mr. Yusuf to work closely with the minister upon resumption.

Presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, did not immediately respond to requests for comments about the development.

For the minister to cooperate with Mr. Yusuf will not be easy, said Eluma Asogwa, a legal practitioner.

“This is a humiliation of the minister,” Mr. Asogwa told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Tuesday night. “He has sent a wrong signal and encouraged insubordination amongst heads of agencies against ministers.”

“This has now become a growing trend that does not portend well for our polity, it does not even augur well for the anti-corruption war of the president,” he said.

Mr. Yusuf did not immediately respond to requests for comments about his reinstatement Tuesday night.

The House of Representatives had demanded Mr. Yusuf’s reinstatement shortly after he was suspended, saying the minister was wrong and absolved the NHIS boss of any wrongdoing.

Mr. Yusuf had also replied the minister that he would not obey the suspension, saying the minister had no powers to suspend him.

Mr. Yusuf, 54, was suspended on July 6 over corruption allegations.

He took over the state-run health insurance provider on July 29, 2016.

But his reign at the agency has been fraught with graft controversies.

The suspension came weeks after the Senate launched investigations into his activities as the NHIS chief.

The lawmakers accused Mr. Yusuf of “corrupt expenditure of N292 million” which he allegedly spent on health care training “without recourse to any appropriate approving authority.”

The NHIS chief denied any wrongdoing.

The panel established by the health minister indicted Mr. Yusuf following which he was suspended indefinitely.

Mr. Adewole in a letter to the embattled NHIS chief, dated October 5, indicated that the committee that investigated Mr. Yusuf had submitted its report.

He said the report had been forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for further action.

 
 

A former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide, yesterday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that she was holding plea bargain talks with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mrs. Akinjide, Senator Ayo Adeseun, and a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief, Mrs. Olanrewaju Otiti, were accused of laundering N650 million.

EFCC said they allegedly received the money from former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, who was named in the charge as being at large, ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Trial was billed to resume yesterday with EFCC set to call its witness. But Akinjide’s lawyer Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN) said the N650 million had been returned to the Federal Government as part of the plea bargain.

He said: “My lord, the charge before this court is essentially in relation to the PDP campaign funds for the 2015 elections in Oyo.

“Before trial commenced, the defendants, who were chieftains of the PDP in Oyo at the time, acting on the collective decision of the party, decided to refund the monies mentioned in the charge.

“In the light of the above, before the trial commences full-blown, we are imploring the court to allow parties to explore possible amicable settlement.

“I have had a talk with the lead counsel for the prosecution, and so, going forward, we think it wise not to subject this matter to further adjudication, so as not to waste the time and resources of the court.

“In that light, I have suggested that all counsel meet, so as to look at a way forward on this charge, especially considering the fact that the monies complained of, has already been refunded.

“My application, therefore, is that this court adjourns further hearing, pending the outcome of discussion by counsel.”

Prosecuting counsel Rotimi Oyedepo confirmed that the money had been returned, adding that the case was not only about the money, but the fact that the defendants allegedly dealt “with proceeds of unlawful activity”.

He added that the N650 million was recovered from Akinjide and not from chieftains or principal members of the PDP.

Referring to Sections 270 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), Oyedepo said the law allows for such “settlement discussions” by parties.

He said EFCC was not opposed to such discussions even though his witness was in court.

Justice Muslim Hassan adjourned the case to enable parties conclude the talks.

He said: “In line with Section 270 of the ACJA, which allows parties to explore plea bargain, this case will be adjourned.”

The section reads: “The prosecutor may receive and consider a plea bargain from a defendant charged with an offence either directly from that defendant or on his behalf; or offer a plea bargain to a defendant charged with an offence.”

The defendants, who pleaded not guilty, were re-arraigned on a 24-count charge of conspiring to obtain the N650 million from Mrs. Alison-Madueke, a sum EFCC said they reasonably ought to have known “formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act”.

Justice Hassan adjourned till February 22.

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 04:03

Metuh brought to court on stretcher

•Trial for March 14

Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spokesman Olisa Metuh was brought to court yesterday on a stretcher in compliance with an order of a Federal High Court, Abuja that he must attend court or have his bail revoked.

Justice Okon Abang, in a ruling on January 25, rejected a medical report tendered by Metuh’s lawyers, claiming he was on admission in a hospital.

Instead, the judge ordered Metuh to attend court yesterday or have the bail earlier granted him revoked.

In compliance with that order, his lawyer ensured he was brought to court early yesterday in a white ambulance, belonging to the National Hospital, Abuja.

He was later taken into the courtroom on a stretcher, with the assistance of some medical personnel, friends and relations.

He was covered with a white cloth, with an opening only in his head area, possibly to allow him breathe. He had bandage on his legs and neck area.

Metuh and his company, Destra Investment Limited, are being tried on allegations of corruption and money laundering.

When proceedings opened, Metuh’s lawyer Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) told the court that his client was in court in obedience to the court’s order, but was not in a good state to stand trial.

He sought a month’s adjournment within which he said Metuh would have been fit enough to stand trial.

Lawyer to Destra Tochukwu Onwugbufor (SAN) agreed with Ikpeazu’s position.

Lead prosecution lawyer Sylvanus Tahir said he appreciated the first defendant’s (Metuh’s) health condition, having seen the manner he was brought to court.

Tahir said he was not opposed to the defence’s request for adjournment for a month.

He noted that none of the papers tendered by the defence suggested the length of time that the first defendant will be hospitalised, but added: “We leave the decision about the time to the discretion of the court.

“May I disabuse the mind of everybody (the court, the gallery and the defence team) that we are prosecutors, not persecutors. And in doing that, we have no ill-will or ill-feeling against anybody,” Tahir said.

Ikpeazu appreciated Tahir for his understanding. And, as regard when his client will be fit for trial, he said the doctors were not categorical.

He said: “We believe that within the one month that we have asked, and we pray extensively to that effect, that the first defendant should be fit to continue with his trial.

“That period is a reasonable period for the medical doctors to enter a proper evaluation and assessment of the state of health of the first defendant. We fervently hope and pray that he will be fit to continue with this trial,” Ikpeazu said.

Justice Abang , in his ruling, said he was mindful of granting the adjournment sought by Metuh’s lawyer in view of his state of health and since the prosecution did not oppose the request for adjournment.

The judge added: “A court of law must be firm in its decision. A court of law must be fair to parties in a matter placed before it. And, when occasion demands, a court of law must also be humane.

“I have seen the condition that the first defendant is in the courtroom. On the account of the condition in which I have seen the first defendant in the courtroom, I am inclined to exercise my discretion in his favour in adjourning this matter, at his instance, to enable him receive medical treatment.”

Justice Abang adjourned to March 14 for possible continuation of trial in the case.

At the conclusion of proceedings around 10.15am, Metuh was again moved out of the courtroom, still on the stretcher, into the ambulance stationed close to the court’s main entrance.

EFCC grills 61 suspects

Director returns N240m

WHO GOT WHAT

•N839, 780,738.09 was remitted to Broadwaters Resources. The cash was diverted to liquidate a loan.
•N1, 629,250,000 was paid into the account of Global offshore and Marine Limited out of which about N840m went to Crystal TV Limited. The signatories to the account of Crystal TV are related to Stella Oduah
•About N780million was transferred to Tip Top Global Resources Ltd belonging to the family of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim. Anyim’s staff were discovered to be signatories to the account

There is N9.4 billion meant for the installation of security devices at the 22 airports?

This is the knot the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is battling to untie.

Its detectives have traced about N3.9billion of the N9.4billion to a company belonging to a former Minister of Aviation, Sen. Stella Oduah and five other firms.

The firms are Broadwaters Resources Company Limited; Sobora International Limited; Global offshore and Marine Limited; Tip Top Global Resources Limited and Crystal TV .

About 61 suspects have been grilled by the anti-graft agency in connection with the alleged diversion of the cash.

The EFCC has obtained a court order to impound six dredging vessels, quarry equipment and some equipment bought for Crystal TV under the Interim Forfeiture clause in its Act.

The commission has raised a team to interrogate Mrs Oduah, a senator.

According to a fact-sheet, which was obtained by our correspondent, Tip Top Global Resources Limited, which is linked with the family of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim, was paid N780million for unknown services.

The document states: “The contract is for the sum of N9,443,549,531.25 for the procurement and installation of equipment in 22 airports. No evidence that due diligence was carried out before the contract was awarded.

“ This contract was initially awarded to a company called Cybernetics Limited. Ex- President Goodluck Jonathan approved the award to Cybernetics and  the Bureau of Public Procurement issued a certificate of no objection. But due to the reduction of  the cost from over N10b

to N9.4b., Cybernetics rejected the award.

“I-SEC, which was supposed to be technical partner to Cybernetics, was later proposed by the ex-Minister of Aviation for the contract.

”Out of the contract sum, N3, 911, 887, 753.56 was fraudulently diverted, misappropriated and laundered through some companies. Investigators have been able to trace the cash.”

A director of I-SEC is said to have refunded about N240million to EFCC out of the slush funds traced to him. The EFCC has located six dredging vessels, quarry equipment and equipment bought for Crystal TV.  An interim forfeiture order has been obtained on these equipment.

The N3, 911, 887, 753.56 was “paid to other beneficiaries who do not have direct or indirectly connection to the execution of the contract.”

“About N839, 780,738.09 was remitted to Broadwaters Resources Company Limited N839, 780,738.09 which had no relationship with I-SEC.   The cash paid into Broadwaters was later diverted into another firm called Sobora International Limited to liquidate an existing loan into First Bank. The shareholders and signatories to the account are people related to Stella Oduah. Her cousin, who is a staff in her private company called SEA Petroleum and Gas Limited was a signatory into the account.

Another N1, 629,250,000 was paid into the account of Global offshore and Marine Limited out of which about N840m went to Crystal TV Limited. The shareholders and signatories to the account of Crystal TV are related to Stella Oduah and the cash was used to liquidate existing loan by Crystal TV.

“From the same N1.6b, about N780million  was transferred to Tip Top Global Resources Ltd belonging to the family of  a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim where Anyim’s staff were discovered to be signatories to the account.”

Meanwhile, the EFCC has raised a panel to interrogate Sen. Oduah, who is scheduled to appear before the team on February 19th.

“We are set for the ex-Minister’s grilling, it is left to her to keep to the appointment date which she has fixed,” a top source added.

EFCC said: “Oduah was invited on three occasions to report for interview on the 13th June, 2017, 29th June 2017 and 13th November 2017 but she failed to honour any of the invitations.

Rather than appear to face a panel that was raised by the EFCC to interrogate her, Mrs. Oduah, through a letter dated  January 5, 2018, informed the commission that she would  honour the invite on January 29, 2018.

“The letter was duly acknowledged by the commission and just as the investigators were looking forward to her arrival Oduah played a fast one on the EFCC with another letter indicating that she would no longer be available on January 29.

“She cited an invitation by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to accompany him to London where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture at the House of Commons on January 25.

“Oduah stated that her next convenient date to honour your invitation is 19th February, 2018.”

 

Transparency International has accused the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, of acquiring properties in the United Kingdom with proceeds of corruption worth £15 million.

The properties are located at 7 and 8, Whittaker Street, Belgravia, London.

According to Transparency International, the report was conducted by Unexplained Wealth Orders, a new investigative power designed to help law enforcement agencies act on corrupt assets.

TI said the houses at the two addresses are owned by Landfield International Developments Limited and Renocon Property Development Limited.

The report said the companies are managed by Toyin Saraki, the wife of the Senate president, and one of Saraki’s personal aides.

“The report is particularly useful where there is no realistic prospect of cooperation or conviction in the country of origin, but there are sufficient grounds for suspicion that an asset has been acquired with the proceeds of corruption,” UWO said.

Other people indicted in the report include Igor Shuvalov, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister; Ahmed Mahmoud Azwai, former Libyan Major General; Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister of Pakistan; and First family of Azerbaijan, a country in Asia.

It could be recalled that in 2015, Panama Paper exposed Saraki’s ownership of at least three secret offshore firms, which he allegedly used in concealing assets abroad.

Also In November 2017, Saraki was named among over 120 politicians and leaders in nearly 50 countries who have reportedly been utilising shell companies in tax haven to conceal assets, evade tax or launder funds.

 
 
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