Monday, 20 November 2017
Headliners

Headliners (1798)

TROOPS yesterday launched a manhunt for Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu , barely 24 hours after the group’s proscription.

Nothing has been heard about Kanu since the proscription.

Some sources yesterday said he had gone underground.

Kanu is on bail for the alleged treason charges preferred against him.

The Nation learnt  yesterday that  his bail sureties might be asked by the security agencies to account for him.

Besides,  security agencies are  probing  IPOB leader’s alleged foreign links.

Investigators are said to be analysing a  video clip of Kanu and a Turkish citizen  as part of the probe.

A source, while confirming the search for Kanu, said: “Troops have been given a firm order to fish out and arrest the IPOB leader. As a prelude to it, the Defence Headquarters on Friday  declared IPOB as a terrorist organisation.

“Intelligence has, however, revealed that Kanu might have gone underground. As I speak with you, troops have actually searched his house and he was not found there.Troops have a mandate to arrest him wherever he might be.”

Asked what if he is not found the source said: “ We might follow legal process by holding his sureties responsible. These sureties will have to produce him.”

On the probe of Kanu’s alleged foreign links , another source said:”We are looking into the allegations of foreign support for Kanu. We are doing a profiling of his foreign contacts. We have some clues but we need to dig deeper.”

The Nation can also confirm that  government insisted on non-withdrawal of soldiers from Abia State to avoid a situation whereby the  IPOB will “take advantage and unleash mayhem” on innocent citizens.

Sources said the   presidency overruled Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on the withdrawal of troops because the police alone could not  cope with the “grave security” situation.

“The governor wanted a political solution to a military matter. But the federal government cannot watch and allow the situation to degenerate,” one of the sources said.

“Before Kanu was released on bail, these same governors in the Southeast, political leaders from the zone and others prevailed on the federal government to allow him home.

“Some of these governors and Igbo leaders made a commitment that they would  ensure that Kanu did  not abuse his bail conditions.

“The government bent backwards and ensured that Kanu was released on bail. But you can see what has happened. All those who gave the guarantee that Kanu would  respect his bail bond have been made to look foolish.

“Intelligence on IPOB revealed that without troops on the streets, the situation would have been worse.”

The  Embassy of the United States has asked Americans in Abia and Plateau states to review their security and maintain a high level of vigilance.

The Embassy’s cautionary note was contained in its travel alert.

It said: “Curfews have been declared in Abia and Plateau states because of violent attacks accompanied by threats of reprisals.

“Exercise caution in these areas; review your personal security plans; remain aware of your surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.

“Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”

The  National Leader (Southsouth) of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Senator Roland Owie,  yesterday  faulted the declaration of IPOB as a terrorist organisation.

In a statement in Abuja, Owie said the declaration smacked of double standards.

He said: “Now that IPOB has been declared ‘Terrorist group, the government should immediately declare Fulani herdsmen, Terrorist group.”

Owie added: “I urge President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to walk the way of justice and equity in handling the affairs of Nigeria and stop pretending that all is well.

“The gravest mistake of non-equitable administrations all over the world is the denial of wrongdoings on their part.  Unfortunately for such administrations, they forget that God cannot be mocked.”

“Gravitation will help a person if he builds the side of his house straight and plumb; but gravitation will oppose him and make his house fall down if he builds it out of plumb.”

 
Posted On Sunday, 17 September 2017 00:38 Written by

The South East Governors’ Forum has announced the proscription of activities of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

Arising from its emergency meeting on Friday in Enugu, Chairman of the forum, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi requested the group and other of such groups to articulate their grievances and send to the forum.

Umahi appealed to all governors in the zone to ensure compliance with the directive in their various states and for the Federal Government to withdraw the troops in the zone.

Umahi said: “All activities of IPOB are, hereby, proscribed. IPOB and all other aggrieved groups are advised to articulate their position on all national issues.

“Such should be submitted to the committee of governors, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo and National Assembly members from the South East zone through the chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum,” he said.

The Ebonyi governor said that the forum believed in the unity and indivisibility of the country and reinforced their desire for the restructuring of the country.

“We reinforce our desire for the restructuring of Nigeria where all national issues will be discussed and amicably settled to achieve justice and fairness to every Nigerian.

“Accordingly, we appeal to President Muhammad Buhari to, please, withdraw the military in the South East zone, while police perform their traditional role of maintaining law and order,” he said.

Umahi said that the forum was in touch with their northern counterparts “who have assured us of the safety of our people living in the north and we have also planned for exchange of visits to reinforce confidence.

“We wish to assure Nigerians that full investigation is ongoing on all allegations of killings, maiming and other unlawful conduct in the zone within this period,” he said.

He said that appropriate actions would be taken against those found culpable.

Umahi said that governors in the zone had taken adequate measures to protect the lives and property of indigenes and non-indigenes and urged northern governors to do same in their respective states.

“We advise all residents of the zone to go about their normal businesses as governments of each state is committed to protecting everybody,“ he said.

The governor said that all those invited for the meeting were present except the leadership of IPOB that sent in their apologies.

At the meeting were governors of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu while Imo was represented by the deputy governor.

Other notable personalities that attended the meeting were the Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, the General Officer Commanding 82 Division, Maj.-Gen. Adamu Abubakar and the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo.

Posted On Saturday, 16 September 2017 00:46 Written by

Up to 150,000 people took to the streets of the Togolese capital, Lome, calling for political reforms, for a second day, journalist Blame Ekoue told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

He said people were carrying banners saying: "[President] Faure must go now", "Togo is not a monarchy" and "we want reform now".

President Faure Gnassingbe has been in power since 2005. He succeeded his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who seized power in 1967.

One protester told Blame:

Fifty years is enough. The Gnassingbes must go. The reforms must be done. They must release political detainees now." 

In the coming days, the national assembly is expected to meet in a special session to discuss changes to the constitution limiting presidential terms, but it is not clear if this will placate the protesters.

Posted On Thursday, 07 September 2017 23:12 Written by
Barely two weeks after the signing of six agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Federal Government has initiated moves to seize assets of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and four others in Dubai.

The others are: a former Managing Director of the defunct  Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed and his son, Shamsudeen.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced eight choice assets to Mrs. Ibru and two to Mrs. Diezani.

Although the ex-FCT Minister and his son are on the Federal Government’s list, their Dubai houses are yet to be listed. The investigation is on.

The profiling of the suspected assets of more than 25 Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) is ongoing.

The EFCC has done “considerable intelligence work on the assets of Diezani and some of her business associates”, a source told The Nation on Sunday.

The source said: “Following due diligence by the EFCC, the Federal Government has already compiled a list of first batch of suspects with houses in Dubai, whose assets ought to be attached.

“They are a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; a former Managing Director of the defunct  Oceanic Bank, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru and a former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Sen. Bala Mohammed and his son, Shamsudeen.

“The government will soon formally apply to the UAE for the seizure of the assets traced to these Nigerians.

“Despite the fact that many assets were said to be allegedly owned by Mrs. Ibru, only eight choice mansions has been identified by the EFCC.

“Mrs. Diezani has two apartments, including  the one marked as J5 Emirates Hills (30 million Dirham) and another tagged E146 Emirates Hills, valued at 44million Dirham.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “The EFCC is profiling more than 25 PEPs based on the huge database from the UAE.

Some of these assets are in Emirates Hills, Marina, Jumeira, Bur Dubai in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE. “We are yet to focus on looted funds stashed in the Emirates,” the source said.

On the inclusion of the ex-FCT minister and his son, the source added: “This is based on intelligence report. We will keep you posted on the outcome of their suspected assets in Dubai. Ours is to make their names available for investigation by the UAE.

“Even those  who bought houses through proxies can be detected.”

Following a state visit to the UAE by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 19, 2016 , the Federal Government entered into  six agreements with the Emirates.

The agreements, which were signed by President Buhari last week, are:

  • Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement;
  • Agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection;
  • Judicial Agreements on Extradition;
  • Transfer of Sentenced Persons;
  • Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters; and
  • Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters(recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth).

Sections 7 of 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 mandate the agency to seize suspicious assets.

Section 7 says: “The commission has power to (a) cause any investigations to be conducted as to whether any person, corporate body or organization has committed any offence under this Act or other law relating to economic and financial crimes.

“(b) Cause investigations to be conducted into the properties of any person if it appears to the commission that the person’s lifestyle and extent of the properties are not justified by his source of income.”

Sections 28 and 34 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 and Section 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act, 2004 empower the anti-graft agency to invoke Interim Assets Forfeiture Clause.

“Section 28 of the EFCC Act reads: ‘Where a person is arrested for an offence under this Act, the Commission shall immediately trace and attach all the assets and properties of the person acquired as a result of such economic or financial crime and shall thereafter cause to be obtained an interim attachment order from the Court.’

Section 13 of the Federal High Court Act reads in part: “The Court may grant an injunction or appoint a receiver by an interlocutory order in all cases in which it appears to the Court to be just or convenient so to do.

Posted On Monday, 04 September 2017 11:26 Written by

Losing both eyes to the deadly paws of cataract just five years ago, Master Holy Ogene, a talented musician is appealing to well-meaning Nigerians to save his sight and dreams

At the first encounter, his visual handicap is not obvious, considering  the way he carries himself with little or no assistance at all. It is astonishing to find him deriving strength and courage from his inability to see. It is true that even in his physically challenged state, Master Holy Ogene has managed to craft a worthy name for himself, struggling to make ends meet and  living without his parents help.

Christened Master Holy Ogene by his parents, he lost his sight in highly unfortunate circumstances just five years ago when he was still a student at Babs Fafunwa Millennia Senior Secondary School, Ojota, a Government school where both eyes were infected by cataract.

In an interview with  our correspondent, he recalled the genesis of his present situation.

“When I was born, I had short sighted. I was asked to use glasses but my father refused to let me use them as he believed I was too young to use recommended lens.”

Tragedy  actually struck when he was admitted to Babs Fafunwa Senior Secondary School at Ojodu Berger where the inability to cope due to large groups of students finally coerced his father to let him use recommended lenses. However, the damage had already been done at the ripe age of 14.

“It was after I started using glasses upon admission that I got cataract on my left eye and it got serious. My Dad had to take me to Eye foundation and they advocated surgery as the only solution. I was about 14 at the time and the implications of an eye surgery was much which included an operation via my brain and the risk being my Dad signing a form if anything happened to me.”

The delayed decision in undergoing a surgery led to the complete closure of the right eye after cataract covered the second eye.

The 22 year old who is an upcoming musician and politician witnessed the loss of both eyes after the unfortunate incident. Not willing to concede to defeat, he picked up a singing career due to his current condition.

“Singing comes from emotions, how I feel and the society around me. How I feel being depressed and just hearing people around me. At times, when I eat I don’t see what I eat,” Holy said.

He described his foray into politics by the nature of his unique singing talent. He was able to attract the attention of politicians and majorly the political presence of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

“Due to my knowledge, and my brain, I operate phones and create technology. I created caller tunes and the current one for my phone was created by me. I created caller tunes and ways to advertise politicians which instantly peaked their interest in me, especially the PDP, though I would not want to say much over that.” He however attested to creating his own caller tune himself.

The event which happened in his heydays in secondary school hampered him from acquiring higher education but did not stop him from developing his mind.

“I wasn’t able to go to university but I went for some lessons to take my knowledge to another level.”

When asked if he used braille as means to communicate or express himself; he stated that he did not believe in the use of braille phones, he attested to the capability of using any phone no matter the complexity in functionality in less than three days.

“I use a normal phone and there is no phone I can’t use. Right now, I can send you a text message as fast as possible,” he demonstrated using his Nokia phone. Even the caller tune I created, you can hear it yourself; I did it in less than 3 minutes.” He reaffirmed: “I create caller tunes for myself and can operate any phone in 3 days.”

“I require #340 000 for the operation which is the specific operation price but the total is #360 000 drugs inclusive. Eye foundation gave me a bigger bill of #750 000 which is much. The Federal Medical Centre Asaba is cheaper and I have the doctors report with me here offering me #360 000.”

Ogene appealed  to well-meaning individuals, Churches, NGOs, and most importantly government officials and political parties. “I think this is a medium where parties can use my knowledge instead of making me a nuisance in the society to create an avenue where I can get my sight back.”

Ogene isn’t new to donations, he claimed that he had been given donations in the past but they had been very meagre to pay the bills for the drugs prescribed. “I got only #10 000 to #15 000 with little assistance from people but you know drugs and it has been almost two years and nothing else came. I don’t stay with my parents in Delta State, I have been feeding alone and life has been a little bit terrible and horrific.”

Holy who was accompanied by his distraught mother solicited the help of well-meaning Nigerians to save his sight by not letting the light of his dreams die a premature death, at the very tender age of 22.

His phone numbers are 08104974780 and 08142556716 while his account details is Ecobank, Ogene Holy 3823067769.

Courtesy: thenationonlineng.net/sight-and-dreams/

Posted On Sunday, 03 September 2017 14:19 Written by

The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Friday beat Cameroon 4-0 to consolidate its position at the top of Group B in the 2018 World Cup African qualifiers.

A goal apiece from Odion Ighalo, Chelsea FC  winger, Victor Moses; skipper Mikel Obi and substitute Kelechi Iheanacho ensured  Nigeria grabbed the maximum three points at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.

After a sluggish start, Ighalo puts Nigeria ahead after receiving a fine pass from  Mikel in the 28th minute. The China-based forward, however, got yellow-carded for taking off his jersey while celebrating. 

Mikel made it 2-0 in the 42nd when he latched onto a Victor Moses corner.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Victor Moses combined with gangling winger Moses Simon before slotting home from inside the box.

Iheanacho, who came in for injured Ighalo, made it 4-0 when he nodded past goalkeeper Fabrice Ondo from Ogenyi Onasi assist in 77th minute.

With the victory, Nigeria top Group B with nine points, while Cameroon have just two points from three matches.

Posted On Saturday, 02 September 2017 01:07 Written by

The Olori has also reverted to her maiden name Zaynab Otiti Obanor. She disclosed this via an official statement on her official Instagram page @hhzynab on Wednesday.

Her post partly reads: “What I can confirm is that the Ooni and I are no more. I inhale love and exhale gratitude.

“No matter how much time you’ve invested, no matter the use of media to silence and manipulate, no matter the circumstance, slander, embarrassment, threats and lies: get out and seek immediate help!

“My journey continues as a humanitarian aiding women and victims of domestic violence and abuse with the United Nations.

The revelation has confirmed media reports in recent times that the Oni marriage’s to the Benin-born queen was having crisis.

Ooni got married to his ex-Edo bride at an elaborate society traditional marriage held in Benin, the Edo State capital on March 16, 2016.

Although the monarch was not physically present, he was represented by his father, Oluropo Ogunwusi.

 

OFFICIAL STATEMENT:

We have got to stop this culture of shaming and vilifying women with false stories of infidelity & nefarious behavior. The spreading of false information (through "sources" afraid to be identified) is the mark of cowards and a cover up for guilty parties to justify their horrific actions.

There is absolutely no truth to the media circulated lies of infidelity and infertility- on my end. What I can confirm, is that the Ooni and I are no more. I inhale love & exhale gratitude. My journey continues as a Humanitarian aiding women and victims of domestic violence & abuse with the United Nations.

No matter how much time you've invested, no matter the use of media to silence & manipulate, no matter the circumstance, slander, embarrassment, threats and lies: Get out and seek immediate help! We've seen this movie before. Women being dragged in the press & blamed for everything under the sun.

This behavior is unacceptable. I urge those involved to be mindful of their actions for the eyes of our Almighty God are always watching. The seeds of slander is a cancer that harvests to eat away the souls of the planter. The throne is sacred and the attempts to tarnish the name of a Queen, in defense or on behalf of a silent King makes all involved look terrible. Remain dignified in all you do. It's not the end of the world, but the start of a new chapter and you must turn the page with grace.

The world is watching. As I bid adieu to this chapter, my wish to you all is to step into your lives - boldly & fearlessly, the way God intended and live not just by words, but through example.

The best chapter in our lives is the one we are writing now.

Thank you for your love and support.

With peace, love &  light,

Her Highness, Zaynab Otiti Obanor.

 

Posted On Thursday, 31 August 2017 00:22 Written by

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday announced a major management shake-up that culminates in the appointments and redeployment across the value chain.

The Group Managing Director of the Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, told NNPC officials shortly before the announcement was made public that the new appointments would not only help to position the Corporation for the challenges ahead but would help fill the gaps created due to statutory retirements. A total of 55 top management officers were affected in the exercise.

According to a statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu,  under the new arrangement, Roland Ewubare, formerly MD of the Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), moves to the National Petroleum Investment Management Services, (NAPIMS) as the new Group General Manager while Diepriye Tariah, former GGM and Senior Technical Assistant to the NNPC GMD takes over from Ewubare as MD of IDSL.

The statement reads in part: “Malami Shehu, Executive Director, Operations, of the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company (KRPC), was appointed Managing Director of the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC) while Adewale Ladenegan, former MD of the Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC) was moved to KRPC to assume duty as MD.

“In the same vein, Muhammed Abah, until recently, the Executive Director Operations of WRPC succeeds Ladenegan as MD of Warri Refinery.

“With the retirement of  Farouk Ahmed as the MD of the Nigerian Products Marketing Company, (NPMC), Umar

Ajiya, former GGM in charge of Corporate Planning and Strategy, (CP&S) now assumes duty as MD of NPMC.

“Bala Wunti, former, General Manager, Downstream, GMD’s Office, takes charge as GGM CP&S.

Other changes include: Usman Yusuf who takes over as GGM/STA to the GMD, Adeyemi Adetunji confirmed as MD, NNPC Retail, alongside Dr. Bola Afolabi, who now functions as GGM in charge of Research and Development Division of the Corporation.

“Also on the list is Mrs. Ahmadu-Katagum appointed GGM (Shipping) in the Downstream Autonomous Business Unit and Kallamu Abdullahi takes over as the GGM in charge of the Renewable Energy Division in the Downstream ABU. 

Dr. Shaibu Musa was promoted MD of the NNPC Medical Services Limited, while Ibrahim Birma is the new GGM in charge of the Corporation’s Audit Division now renamed Governance, Risk and Compliance Division.”

 
Posted On Wednesday, 30 August 2017 01:34 Written by

Court orders final forfeiture of cash

Protesters seek ex-minister’s extradition

The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday ordered the final forfeiture of N7.6billion allegedly stolen and hidden by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Justice Abdulazeez Anka granted an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the money’s final forfeiture to the Federal Government.

He held: “I’ve read the motion on notice seeking the final forfeiture of the sum of N7,646,700,000 reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity.

“I have also gone through the affidavit in support of the application.

“In the circumstances, I am of the view that the application has merit and is hereby granted as prayed. Parties have a right of appeal.”

Moving the application, EFCC’s lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo said the money was part of “huge sums” allegedly diverted by Mrs Alison-Madueke from various subsidiaries of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

According to him, it was “fraudulently converted from NNPC by Mrs Alison-Madueke”.

He said the commission published an advertorial after the court ordered the money’s temporary forfeiture, but no one came forward to claim its ownership.

In an affidavit to support the application, an investigating officer, Usman Zakari, said he was part of a team of operatives who investigated an intelligence report that huge sums were laundered.

He said it was looted through former Managing Director, Crude Oil Marketing Department, Gbenga Olu Komolafe; former Managing Director, Petroleum Products Management Company (PPMC) Prince Haruna Momoh; Group Managing Director, Nigerian Products Marketing Company (NPMC) Umar Farouk Ahmed, Stanley Lawson, Babajide Sonoiki and some bank chiefs on behalf of Mrs Alison-Madueke.

The deponent said Mrs Alison-Madueke called a bank chief to her office for a meeting where she informed him that some officials of her ministry would be bringing funds to his bank.

She allegedly directed that the “funds must neither be credited into any known account nor captured in any transactional platforms of the bank”.

The investigator added: “In carrying out this alleged scheme of fraud, the sum of $153,310,000 was moved from NNPC through B.O.N Otti and Stanley Lawson, both former Group Executive Directors, Finance and Account of the NNPC” to the bank.

He said using the same fraudulent scheme, another $45million was also conveyed to the bank.

He said the money was conveyed in cash from Abuja to the bank’s headquarters in Lagos; $113,310,000 was taken out of it and moved to another bank in a bid to conceal its illicit source.

The investigator said the remaining $40million was conveyed in cash to a bank chief, Dauda Lawal.

Zakari said $108,310,000 was taken from the $113,310,000 and was disguised and invested in an off balance sheet investment using an asset management company owned by the bank as a special purpose vehicle.

He said the remaining $5million was conveyed in cash to another bank’s managing director “for safe keeping”.

The sum in the asset management company was allegedly converted to N23,446,300,000, which EFCC said it recovered in drafts from the bank.

It also recovered the $5million held by the bank MD.

The operative said the $40million conveyed in cash to Lawal was subsequently converted to N9,080,000,000 and retained by him.

Zakari said the N23,446,300,000, $5million and N9,080,000,000 were forfeited to the Federal Government on February 16, following an order by Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court.

According to him, the $45million was converted to naira by the bank in a bid to conceal and disguise its illicit origin.

He said EFCC received N7,646,700,000 in draft from the bank.

He recalled that the court on August 9 granted an interim order of forfeiture of the money and directed EFCC to publish the order in national newspapers to enable any person interested in it to appear in court and show cause why it should not be forfeited permanently to the Federal Government.

“The applicant has complied with the order of this court by publishing the said order on the 16th of August. It is in the interest of justice to grant this application,” Zakari said.

Justice Anka “granted the application as prayed”.

The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has frozen London properties valued at £10 million allegedly bought for the former minister.

The two properties located at Regents Park in London, along with one in Buckinghamshire, have now been frozen based on the request of Nigerian authorities.

According to online news medium, Premium Times, a London court gave the freeze order in September 2016 but details of the rulings have only recently become public.

But the agency was too late in preventing a further two properties worth £8 million from being sold.

In July, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) had revealed four properties it alleged were bought for the former petroleum minister by individuals and firms seeking her influence in obtaining lucrative oil assets and crude oil lifting contracts.

Some of the oil assets were assigned to people believed to be her cronies through Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAAs).

The DoJ’s affidavit stated that businessmen, Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko were involved in the purchase of two of the properties allegedly bought for Alison-Madueke.

The UK order obtained by Africa Confidential, a newsletter specialising in politics and business in Africa, has revealed that three of the properties have been frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Posted On Tuesday, 29 August 2017 02:39 Written by

•Shagaya sues Unity Bank, says accounts frozen without court order
•Freeze: I have lost business goodwill, can’t pay N514m debts on chartered aircraft, Shagaya tells court •Unity Bank: Our hands are tied by the law

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen over N8, 627,458,773.36 billion in three accounts of Hajiya Muinat Bola Shagaya, an associate and friend of a former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.

Shagaya’s relationship with about 10 firms/account names are also being investigated by the anti-graft agency, The Nation learnt yesterday.

But Shagaya, who did not hold any public appointment during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, has dragged Unity Bank to the High Court of Lagos State for allowing the EFCC to Post No Debit (PND) on her accounts without a valid court order.

She says the action taken on her accounts violates Section34 (1) of the EFCC Act, 2004.

Besides, the withdrawal ban placed on one of her accounts has prevented her from defraying N514, 800,000 incurred as cumulative costs in the course of an Aircraft Lease Agreement of a bombardier Jet, according to documents which Shagaya filed and deposed to at the Court alongside with her counsel, Napoleon Emeaso-Nwachukwu.

Hearing of the matter is slated for September 28.

However, Unity Bank says its hands are tied by the law in complying with the EFCC’s directives to freeze Shagaya’s accounts.

The EFCC in a letter to the Unity Bank Managing Director in respect of one of the frozen accounts said: “The commission is investigating a case in which the above-mentioned account featured.

“In view of the above, you are requested to kindly check the table below and provide us with Certified True Copies (CTC) of the following information, which should include but not limited to the following: (i) The deposit slips/telex copies (front and back) that conveyed the authority of the transactions; (ii) Any investment made with the funds in any of your products which should include fixed/term deposit and their liquidation and the interest incurred, Banks Acceptance, Commercial Papers and any other relevant information in relation to these.

The EFCC listed the transactions in the said account as “N300m(Bola Shagaya RTGS);  N300m (Additional N300FTD at 15% TRAN); N500m (Time Deposit); N2,317,013,698.64 (BNG COLLAOS FOR FTD-CUSTOMER ACCOL); N2.3billion (Opening a Time Deposit Account); N292, 495, 029.82 (Withdrawal from Time Deposit); N292, 495, 029.82 (TAK Asset Mgt Limited); N300m (Term Loan booked for 356 days); and N2,025,455,015.08 (BNG COLLAPS OF FTD Customer Account.”

In a separate letter Cr: 3000/EFCC/LS/STF/ STF3MP/ Vol.11/182 which Shagaya made available to the court, the EFCC asked Unity Bank to Post No Debit(PND) on 10 accounts linked with her.

The account names are (i) First Deep Water Discovery Limited; (ii) Bola Shagaya; (iii) FAPLiNs Nigeria Limited (iv) Lingo Nigeria Limited; (v) Buri Barclays BDC; (vi) Links Global Synergy Ltd; (vii) OKIOIL Nig. Ltd; (vii) JEMARVIZ Nig Ltd; (ix) PJ Oil and Gas Ltd; and (x) AFDIN Ventures Ltd.

The anti-graft commission said: “The commission is investigating a case in which the above mentioned accounts featured.

“You are requested to kindly place the account on Post No Debit (PND) category pending the conclusion of the investigation.

“This request is made pursuant to Section 38(1) and (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and Section 21 of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011.”

In the third letter, the EFCC said it was looking into two other accounts including Voyage Oil and Gas and Bola Shagaya from 2008 to date.

It said: “The commission is investigating a case in which the above mentioned accounts featured. In view of the above, you are requested to kindly provide us with Certified True Copies (CTC) of the following information which should include but not limited to the following: (i) The Mandate Card  and statement(s) of all domiciliary and Naira account(s) in the above mentioned accounts from 2008 to date with letter of certification in accordance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011; (ii) any investment made with the funds in any of your products which should include fixed/term deposit and their liquidation and the interest incurred, Bank Acceptance, Commercial Papers and any other relevant information related to these.

“You are further requested to kindly place the account on Post No Debit (PND) category pending the conclusion of investigation.”

But Shagaya accused Unity Bank of complicity on her travails following  the bank’s alleged failure to exercise the requisite due diligence.

She said the freezing of her accounts did not comply with Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act, 2004. She specifically referred to the bank’s refusal to allow her to make transactions on Account 000326118 including payment of N514, 800,000 to Global Apex Air Limited, through Heavywind Integrated Services, for the lease of a bombardier Jet.

She said the Aircraft Lease Agreement between her and Global Apex Air Limited has been terminated with her forfeiting US$1million.

In an affidavit she deposed to, Shagaya said: “The official of the Defendant (Unity Bank) whom my Personal Assistant relayed the development to, informed him that on the 3rd of November, 2016, the Defendant received a letter from the EFCC through their Lagos office informing it that my account with it is under investigation and requested that the account be put on “Post No Debit” pending the outcome of the investigation hence the Defendant’s inability to honour my payment instruction.

“Initially I laughed off the excuse as a ploy of the Defendant to deter me from taking legal actions against it for dishonouring my payment instructions especially that of the 31st of October 2016 which ultimately led to the termination of the Aircraft Lease with Global Apex Air Ltd. And the loss of the sum of One Million United States Dollars deposited with the Lessor by me.

“On the 27th of January, 2017 the Defendant responded to my Solicitor’s letter. In its response, the defendant stated that: “it observed that long before your client forwarded her cheques and payment instruction to the Bank as indicated in your letter under reference, the EFCC had formally informed the Bank that an investigation relating to your client’s account was ongoing and sought the cooperation on the Bank accordingly.” The Defendant’s letter ended by stating that “Based on our understanding and the fact that the Bank was already aware that the Law Enforcement Agency had taken definite steps to comply with Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act, 2004, behoves the Bank not to allow the dissipation or removal funds in your client’s account without appropriate clearance from the Law Enforcement Agency or a judicial order directing the release of the funds to your client.”

“I will also contend at the hearing of this Suit that the Defendant negligently and wrongfully failed to exercise the requisite due diligence and by extension, the duty of care it owed me as my banker prior to complying with the alleged freezing instruction from the EFCC.

“The Defendant did not request and ensure it was obliged the Freezing Order from a court of competent jurisdiction prior to complying with the instruction to freeze the Claimant’s account

“The Defendant failed to honour the Claimant’s payment instructions of the 31st of October 2016 as well as those of the 1st and 2nd November 2016 which preceded the alleged instruction from the EFCC.

“The Defendant failed to promptly notify the Claimant of the freezing other account. The freezing of the Claimant’s account did not comply with Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act, 2004.

“Since the unlawful freezing of my account by the Defendant, I have not been able to transact with that account due to my inability to access same thereby causing business losses and opportunities.

“By reason the Defendant’s action, I have suffered loss of reputation and damages and my person brought to disrepute, public opprobrium and odium.

“The actions of the Defendant which consist in unlawfully freezing my account without an Order of a Court of competent jurisdiction and failing to disclose same to me promptly was unreasonable as well as defamatory of me before my business associates who now see me as a criminal and an untrustworthy fellow who is in the habit of issuing due cheques and payment instructions that she knew would not be honoured.

She said she had lost a lot of business goodwill since her accounts were frozen including

o    The loss of $1,000,000 deposited with Global Apex Air Ltd. Due to her in ability to pay accrued costs in line with Aircraft Lease Agreement which was occasioned by the failure of the Defendant to oblige the Claimant’s payment instruction to Heavywind Integrated Services.

o    Loss of business opportunities and goodwill occasioned by her inability to operate her account domiciled with the Defendant due to its freezing.

o    Loss of reputation occasioned by the Defendant’s wrongful dishonouring of her payment instructions to third parties.

“If not compelled by this Court, the Defendant will not on its own volition unfreeze my account even when it is glaring the Defendant had wrongfully breached the duty of care it owes complying with an illegal instruction in freezing my account.”

But in a letter to Shagaya’s counsel, Unity Bank said it has a legal and ethical responsibility to render assistance to law enforcement agencies.

The bank explained its constraints in a letter by its Head, Legal Services Department, Mr. Alaba Williams and Mr. Olusegun Olukoya of the same department.

The bank said:  “While the Bank respects the contractual nature of the relationship with your client, it is without prejudice to the Bank’s standing as a responsible law abiding Corporate Citizen.

“In spite of the Bank’s contractual relationship with your client, that relationship is not without a legal and ethical responsibility to render assistance to law enforcement agencies when required of the Bank.

“Considering the sensitive nature of the investigation touching your client’s account as advised by the EFCC in October 2016, the Bank had to exercise caution in relation to further transactions, especially debits, in the account of your client under investigation.

“The need for the Bank to exercise due caution in the matter of the operation of your client’s account after receipt of notification of the ongoing investigation by the EFCC was informed by our understanding of various existing statutory provisions  relevant to the request of the EFCC received by the Bank.

“Based on our understanding and the fact that the Bank was already aware that the Law Enforcement Agency had taken definite steps to comply with section 34(1) the EFCC Act, 2004. It behoves the Bank not to allow the dissipation or removal of the funds in your client’s account under investigation, before the Court Order seeking to preserve the funds was obtained.

“The contractual relationship between your client and the Bank does not permit us to pre-empt the investigation by the Law Enforcement Agency and the related Court Proceedings which outcome could lead to forfeiture of the funds in the same account.

“The Bank could be considered an accessory after the fact if it allowed the dissipation of the funds in your client’s account without appropriate clearance from the Law Enforcement Agency or a judicial order directing the release of the funds to your client.

“Therefore contrary to the allegation in your letter, the Bank had a proper justification for refusing the payment instructions from your client for funds to be removed from her account in issue when there was an ongoing investigation by the EFCC in respect of the said funds. The Bank is therefore not in breach of any contractual obligation to your client. The Bank is also not liable to your client for the sum of N700,000,000.00 (Seven Hundred Million Naira) or any other sum that matter as damages claimed by you.

“Please, note that Unity Bank Plc. is committed to comply with the extant laws and Regulations of all competent Authorities and Jurisdictions.

“In addition to adopting best practices; ethical and legal considerations always guide our commercial decisions protecting the good name and the reputation of the bank remains the primary consideration in all actions taken by the Bank. Accordingly, the Bank protects its products and services from being involved in allegation of unlawful activities. Hence we  will cooperate fully with all Regulators and Law enforcement Agencies.

“We are of the humble opinion that your client should kindly resolve any outstanding issues with the Law Enforcement Agency and facilitate the removal of the “Post No Debit” on her account with the Bank.

“Litigation against the Bank will therefore not be necessary in the circumstance.”

Posted On Sunday, 27 August 2017 00:23 Written by
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