Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Headliners (1730)

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Abdullahi Shuaibu, described by the New York Police department as an employee of the United Nations was arrested for robbing four Manhattan banks, all during his lunch hour.

Shuaibu, 53, a journalist and former staff of the News Agency of Nigeria was picked up by police on Monday and charged with robbery and attempted robbery for the crimes committed during his two-month spree. All four banks are within walking distance of UN headquarters on First Ave. near E. 42nd St., where the Nigerian worked.

Authorities were led to the suspect after a retired police officer who works at the UN recognised him from a surveillance image previously released by the police. In the first incident, Shuaibu walked into a Santander Bank on Madison Ave. near E. 43rd St. on Feb. 27 and told the teller he had a gun. The bank employee complied and handed him an unknown sum of money.

He hit two more banks in March, first striking out at a Bank of America on Third Ave. near E. 47th St. on the 13th. He was also successful in robbing a Santander Bank on Third Ave. and E. 63rd St. on the 27th. During the most recent incident on Monday, Shuaibu walked into an HSBC on Third Ave. and E. 40th St. around 2:30 p.m. and passed a note demanding cash to the teller. The teller did not read the note and asked him for identification. He, however, instructed the teller to read the note, keeping his hand in his jacket pocket while simulating a gun, police said. Police arrested him later in the day when he returned to the UN.

Shuaibu was an employee of the News Agency of Nigeria and served as its UN correspondent between 2006 and 2009. The agency, however, terminated his appointment in April 2013 following his refusal to resume work in Nigeria at the expiration of duty tour and extended period which he requested to enable him complete an academic programme.

The termination of appointment was formally conveyed to the UN. A UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric denied that Shuaibu was a staff of the organisation. He told NAN in New York that the suspect was also not accredited to the UN after NAN withdrew his accreditation. Dujarric also said that the suspect only worked as a contract staff for three months in Darfur and his contract was terminated in 2012. However, Shuaibu on his LinkedIn page, describes himself as a “communications specialist at United Nations”. Shuaibu attended Ahmadu Bello University between 1980 and 1985, where he studied International Relations.

Posted On Wednesday, 19 April 2017 02:25 Written by

How NIA got property where $43.4m was found

Amaechi seeks N2b compensation

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Detectives are to question a former governor and some high-profile owners of apartments in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos where $43.4million was recovered last Wednesday.

Besides, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has identified how the controversial apartment 7B, where the $43.4m was kept, was acquired. Also recovered were £27,000 and N23m cash.

The EFCC has intensified investigation into the roles played by some apartment owners and tenants on how the cash was brought into the Towers, The Nation has learnt.

The anti-graft agency is said to be suspecting that some owners or tenants may have been complicit in the matter. A source said: “The more we investigate this $43.4m haul, the more we get fresh facts. It has become imperative to interact with some owners or tenants of apartments in the Towers.

“We have invited a former governor and other high-profile owners and tenants for interaction. It is just to ask a few questions on whether or not they were aware of such movement of cash.

“We have clues linking some occupants of the Towers to the cash haul. And in line with sections 16 and 17 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004, we are inviting these landlords or tenants.

“Unless we get to the root of this case, Nigerians may not know the truth or otherwise about the cash.

“We are not saying that those invited are guilty of any infraction or having link with the $43.4million but we need to hear from them – in line with the ongoing profiling of those in the Towers.”

Sections 16 and 17 of the EFCC Act reads: “A person when – (a) whether by concealment. removal from jurisdiction, transfer to nominees or otherwise retains the control of the proceeds of a criminal conduct or an illegal act on behalf of another person knowing that the proceeds is as a result of criminal conduct by the principal, or (b) knowing that any property is in whole, or in part, directly or indirectly represent another person’s proceeds of a criminal conduct, acquires or uses that property or has possession of it, commits an office and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than five years or to a fine equivalent 105 times the value of the proceeds of the criminal conduct or to both such imprisonment and fine.

“(1) A person who, without lawful authority (a) engages in the acquisition, possession or use of property knowing at the time of its acquisition, possession or use that such property was derived from any offence referred to in this section, or

(b) engages in the management, organisation of financing of any of the offences under this Act; or(c) engages in the conversion or transfer of property knowing that such property is derived from any offence under this Act; or

(d) engages in the concealment or disguise of the true nature, source, location, disposition, movement, rights with respect to or ownership of property knowing that such property is derived from any offence referred to in this section, commits an offence under this Act and is liable on conviction to the penalties provided in Subsection (2) of this section.

”The penalties for offences under subsection (I) of this section shall be imprisonment for a term not less than 15 years and not exceeding 25 years.”
Meanwhile, there were indications yesterday that the EFCC had been able to trace how the controversial 7B apartment, where the $43.4m was kept, was acquired.

Another source said detectives discovered that the 7B Apartment was bought in the name of a company allegedly owned by the wife of a senior government official.

“Since investigation is still ongoing, we will not release the identity of the owner of the company. Doing so might jeopardise investigation,” the source said, adding that the EFCC had interacted with “some people from the company.”

A National Intelligence Agency (NIA) source said of the apartment: “What happened was that because of the nature of the covert operations which the apartment will be used for, it was necessary to manage the process well.”

Only the Deed of Assignment was acquired by Thabis Ventures Limited on behalf of NIA. “And immediately the process for the purchase of the apartment was completed, the ownership was clearly stated in the name of NIA. All the papers are reflecting NIA too, he said, adding: “The title document is available for anyone to verify.”

Posted On Tuesday, 18 April 2017 01:45 Written by
SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: A man, whose identity has been shielded by a local church in Makurdi, has shocked church members with a tithe offering of N42 million.

Investigations by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Makurdi revealed that the money was paid into the UBA account of the NKST Church High level Makurdi. Although the resident pastor of the church, Dr. Frederick Ikyaan, initially denied knowledge of such offering, a copy of the church’s quarterly financial report, covering the months of January – March, confirmed the payment of N42million tithe to the church. The report showed that the lodgment was the highest single offering from an individual for the quarter. The money was paid into the church’s account in January.

The breakdown of the church’s financial report showed an income of N56.2 million and an expenditure of N33.7 million within the same period..
The church’s records also showed that out of the income, N44.6 million was generated from tithe, while a single person accounted for N42 million.
Reacting to the financial report, the pastor said his initial denial was based on the allegations that the donor was an appointee of the Benue State Government.

“ I still stand by my words that the person that gave us that money is not an appointee of the state government. In fact, he does not even stay in Benue but is an indigene of the state.”

He said there was nothing wrong with the offering and insisted that the church has nothing to hide. Meanwhile, the tithe offering has stirred controversy in a state struggling to pay the salaries of workers. Public discussion centred on the legitimacy of the donors income, as a man who pays N42m to a church as tithe must have made an income of N420 million in the month that he paid.

The NKST Church is an abbreviation for ‘Non go Kristu U Sudan hen Tiv’, meaning the Church of Christ Amongst the Tiv.

Posted On Sunday, 16 April 2017 16:08 Written by

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday raided a house in Ikoyi, Lagos recovering about $43m, N23m and £27,000 in cash.

The total cash when converted using the current  rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria amounts to N11,661,314,000. 

It was learnt that the recovery was made at a service apartment located at Osborne Towers.

The identity of the owner of the funds had yet to be ascertained as of press time but the recovery was made due to information from a whistle-blower.

In line with the whistleblower policy of the Federal Government, the whistleblower is expected to receive nothing less than N500m as a reward.

A source at the EFCC said, “We received a tip-off from a whistleblower regarding the existence of a huge sum of cash in an apartment in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi. We were overwhelmed to see such a huge sum of money.

“We had to quickly notify officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria to come with counting machines. We have been counting the money all day and everything will be transferred to the CBN this night because we don’t have a vault that can store such a huge sum of money.

“I can tell you that the whistleblower policy is one of the best things the Federal Government has ever done to help the fight against corruption.”

As of 8:51pm on Wednesday, the money was still being counted.

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the total cash recovery made by the EFCC in Lagos alone in the last five days sums up to N12,360,814,000 while the amount traced to private accounts sums up to N4bn.

In essence, the EFCC had made a recovery of about N16bn in the last five days due to the assistance of whistleblowers.

On Friday last week, the EFCC uncovered N448,850,000 in a shop at LEGICO Shopping Plaza, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos. The money stashed in several ‘Ghana Must Go’ bags were in N500 and N1000 denominations, hidden in a shop awaiting conversion into foreign currency.

On Monday, the commission again recovered €547,730 and £21,090 as well as N5,648,500 from a Bureau de Change operator in Balogun Market, Lagos. The figure sums up to N250,558,670 when converted to naira, according to the EFCC.

Sources at the anti-graft agency told our correspondent that due to the existence of the Bank Verification Number and other anti-corruption mechanisms put in place by the CBN and other anti-graft agencies, it had become difficult for politically exposed persons to deposit money in their private accounts.

Detectives at the commission told our correspondent that many more recoveries are expected to be made in the coming days as long as whistle

Posted On Wednesday, 12 April 2017 23:35 Written by

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Again, a whistle blower on Tuesday led the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to a staggering sum of N4 billion suspected to be proceeds of corruption.

The commission disclosed this in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.

However, EFCC did not state where and how the latest discovery was made.

It said investigations revealed that the money belonged to a former deputy governorship candidate in Niger State.

“The suspect uses the names of two companies – Katah Property & Investment Limited, and Sadiq Air Travel Agency – in laundering the funds.

“Each of the company has N2 billion fixed in its deposit account domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank.

“The suspected owner of the account and the account officer are currently on the run,” the commission said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the EFCC on Monday intercepted huge sums of money in various currencies totalling about N250 million at the popular Balogun market in Lagos.

According to its spokesman, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the discovery followed information from a whistle blower that the money was being moved somewhere in the market for conversion into foreign currencies by unnamed persons.

The April 10 episode came barely three days after the commission recovered N449 million at an abandoned bureau de change in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Similarly, a tip-off by a whistle blower also led to the discovery of N49 million in crispy notes of N200 and N50 abandoned at the Kaduna International Airport on March 13.

Posted On Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:49 Written by

•Gets N25 million, SUV  

•Jubilations as TBoss was evicted

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: After 78 days of dramatic activities in the Big Brother Naija (BBN) house, the lifestyle reality show came to an end, Sunday night, with Delta State contestant,  Efe Ejeba winning the coveted prize of N25 million and a Kia Seranto SUV.

Efe, an upcoming rapper and last man standing on the show beat fellow finalists – Bisola, TBoss, Debie-Rise and Marvis – in a tension-filled finale that had fans of the show canvassing vigorously for their preferred housemates.

The 24-hour three-month long live show which commenced recording in Johannesburg, South Africa on January 22, 2017, with 12 housemates who were later joined by two others, and another two but fake housemates, climaxed in glamorous live performances that had DJ Neptune, music artistes Innocent Idibia, aka 2Baba, Tiwa savage and Emmy Gee, throwing up so much vibes amidst pomp.

While in the house, Efe, who is the youngest contestant – aged 24 – was unique for his frankness, multiple-term as Head of House, and his common use of pidgin diction with jokey phrases.

A graduate of Economics from the University of Jos, Plateau State, the self-acclaimed ‘street’ boy, who was one of the usually nominated housemates for possible eviction, had, each time, led the vote chart.

Female housemate and multi-talented entertainer, Bisola, was a high contender for the prize. She told Big Brother in a Diary Room session earlier that win or lose; “I feel like a winner already.” She noted that it took her eight years to be selected as a participant, and believes the show will impact her career greatly.

Big Brother who expressed optimism for her talents admonished her in a touching way, as she fought back tears. It was the most emotional last Diary Room session.

He said: “It’s been an amazing experience having you in the house – your versatility, your incredibility. Yes, there have been moments you have told big Brother that certain things you have done and may have said, that you wish to take them back; but who can judge you, except they have been through this experience themselves. It’s always good to find out why people do what they do. That curiosity leads to understanding, and understanding opens up the human souls to compassion, and compassion is the cornerstone of love. For there is no guilt in humans, all there is, is love. Bisola, as you leave tonight, may genuine love find you. May you prosper beyond your imagination. You are a gold fish… you are a gold fish; there will be no hiding place for you. All the good things will locate you. You can sing, you can act… the question is not what can Bisola do? It is what can’t Bisola do? Big Brother has truly enjoyed your stay in the house and wishes you all the very best in your future endeavor. You’ve got a Midas touch, go touch anything a d it will turn to gold. Good luck to you…”

2Baba opened the show, singing his latest song, ‘Holy Holy’, followed by Mavin Record’s First Lady, Tiwa Savage with ‘Key to the City’. When Emmy Gee climbed the stage featuring AB Crazy and DJ Dimplez, they sang ‘Rands and Nairas’. Tiwa Savage returned one more time to the stage, doing the medley, ‘Romatic’ and ‘All Over’, while 2Baba closed the performances with the classic, ‘African Queen’.

It was a live crossing show, with Ebuka Obi-Uchendu hosting the South African studio leg, while former BBN winner, Katung Aduwak anchored the live broadcast from the Lagos screening center, the Classique Event Place, Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikeja, with fans of the show, sponsors, Nigerian media and past contestants of the show.

Marvis was the first to leave the house. When asked if she would want to further her relationship with Efe, she became evasive. Marvis’ exit was followed by guitar girl Debie-Rise who had disappointment written all over her. Asked where her heart belongs between Efe and Bassey, she noted that although it was natural to get attracted to one or two person, “But I really like Bassey.”

It was jubilations at the Lagos screening center when TBoss was evicted, just as the crowd at the Johannesburg studio where sort of booing her. She had been the most controversial housemate, noted for a beautiful body, full of tattoos and piercings which she displayed at will. The internet was abuzz last week when it was said that the Nigerian-Romanian housemate could not recite the National Anthem. She, also being the reason Kemen was disqualified from the show. However, she was declared overall winner of Friday Payporte arena games with a voucher of N500, 000 for shopping.

Presenting another side-laurel; the ONE campaign prize, won by Bisola was Honorable Desmond Elliot and Sarah Makka. She will be joining organisers in New York to speak further at the United Nations Assembly on educating the girl-child.

When Efe was declared winner, it was clear Bisola was the first runner-up.

Previously evicted housemates include Miyonse, Soma, CocoIce, Gifty, Uriel, ThinTallTony, Bassey, Balley, and Kemen, who was disqualified for breaking the rule of the game. They were all present at the Lagos live screening.

In the last three months, Big Brother Naija was estimated to be the most watched show on the African continent, shutting down Instagram, Facebook and Twitters with trending issues on a daily basis.

Posted On Monday, 10 April 2017 12:12 Written by

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Residents of Uzebba community, Owan East local government were thrown into mourning on Friday afternoon after a 36-year old man identified as Segun Odihiri beheaded his 83 years old mother after allegedly raping his own daughter.

Head of the victim identified as Maria Odihiri was severed with a cutlass.

Witnesses told The Nation that the lifeless body of the deceased was still in the pool of blood when residents trooped to the area to have a glimpse of the incident.

An eyewitness, Mr Ekemeiren Ojekhugbo, said Segun killed his mother for raising an alarm that he (Segun) was raping his own daughter.

Ojekhugbo said that Segun was apprehended while trying to dispose of the body of her late mother.

“For him to cover his shame, he took up a cutlass and cut off his mother’s head while the daughter ran for safety.

“Segun was apprehended by some youths after he injured two of them before he was eventually apprehended by the vigilante members.

The culprit has been taken to the Owan West Divisional Police Command Sabongidda Ora for interrogation and investigation.

Posted On Saturday, 08 April 2017 00:57 Written by

*Fed Govt: no safe haven for corrupt officials

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: Nigerians of “questionable characters” who own property in the United Kingdom (UK) were put on notice yesterday — they will soon be unmasked.

A criminal finances bill that will introduce the concept of “Unexplained Wealth Orders” is in the works. It is designed to close a loophole which has left the authorities powerless to seize property from overseas criminals, unless such individuals are first convicted in their country of origin.

Property suspected to belong to corrupt politicians, tax evaders and criminals could be seized by enforcement agencies under the proposed laws aimed at tackling London’s reputation as a haven for looted funds.

The Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption hinted of the law yesterday in New York, United States (U.S.) through its Executive Secretary, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye. 

Owasanoye told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that negotiations between the Federal Government and the British authorities had reached an advanced stage” to release information about Nigerians, who own property in that country next year”.

According to him, the measure being taken by the governments of both countries is aimed at stepping up the fight against corruption.
He said: “There’s no doubt that rogues in government oppress and impoverish their people by corruption and this must be sanctioned by collective action. We need to make sure that there is no safe haven for corrupt officials to run to.

“Britain has promised that by 2018, it will provide Nigeria with the information about who owns what and where; that’s very helpful.
“These include all the houses that have been bought by public officials or accounts that are held by public officials on which they are right now not paying taxes or which they cannot explain the sources.

“So, if you cannot buy a house in England, you have to look for somewhere else. But, if all countries criminalise this, then it becomes much more difficult unless you want to buy the house on Mars.”

The official said Nigeria and other African countries, who are victims of illicit financial flows, must challenge developed countries to block illicit financial flows from developing countries.

Owosanoye said: “Receiving states – the countries of the North – need to be proactive to block the proceeds of crime even before a request is made by victim countries.

“This is because, in many situations, it is clear that illegality is taking place. We think that reversing the burden of proof to improve the confiscation of criminal proceeds of crime would help, especially when we are going after the asset and not necessarily the person.

“If the person who claims to own the asset would not cooperate in giving information, then this should be a point in favour of the state.”
He contended that the burden of proof for criminal proceeds should shift to the suspects and not the government, citing the case of a former Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Owasanoye said: “A former Managing Director of the NNPC was found with $9 million cash and over N70 million in his house in a small place he has built.
“He said the money is a gift. He was asked if he could tell the very generous angels who gave him this money. He’s not been able to provide that information. That sort of disposition should be used to penalise a claimant of asset who cannot justify the origin of the asset.

“The proposed ‘Unexplained Wealth Order in England,’ which hopefully we were told would pass through the legal process this year, should really help to deepen the conversation in this regard. It (Unexplained Wealth Order) would help to quickly recover assets.”

Owosanoye said research records showed that about 60 per cent of capital flight from Africa came from Nigeria because of the size of its economy.
With the ‘Unexplained Wealth Orders’, the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue and Customs and other agencies, will be able to apply to the High Court for an order forcing the owner of an asset to explain how he/she obtained the funds to acquire it.

The orders will apply to property and other assets worth more than £100,000. If the owner fails to demonstrate that a home or piece of jewellery was acquired using legal sources of income, agencies will be able to seize it.

The targets of the law are not just criminals, but politicians and public officials, known as “politically exposed persons”.
Depending on how quickly it passes through parliament, the bill could come into force as early as spring this year.

Posted On Wednesday, 05 April 2017 11:54 Written by

*Governor urged to withdraw suit

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: To repatriate a $550million loot traced to ex-Head of State Gen. Sani Abacha, the Federal Government is to resolve two legal hurdles in the United States.

The hurdles are:

  • an application filed before a court by Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu and his wife; and
  • an action by a United States lawyer, Godson Nnaka, who is fighting to have part of the money.

Besides, the government is seeking “political solutions” to the conditions set by the Swiss government for accessing the loot, The Nation learnt yesterday.

The Swiss government would like to monitor what Nigeria does with the loot, a development which the Federal Government considers as an affront on the country’s sovereignty.

Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice  Abubakar Malami (SAN) and  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chair Ibrahim Magu, who returned from the US on Sunday, were said to have made progress in “negotiating the last phase of the process for the release of the $550million”.

Pending legal cases in the U.S. by the two Nigerians and the conditions attached to the use of the loot have caused the delay in repatriating the $550million loot.

The U.S. insisted on the removal of the legal obstacles before it could invoke the procedure for the release of the funds to Nigeria.

Following likely loss of the $550 million, President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to resolve the stalemate through “political solutions”.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The Federal Government is inching closer to the resolution of legal hurdles and the template for the release of the $550 million Abacha loot. We have spent close to 20 years pursuing the repatriation of these stolen funds; it is time to get over it.

The source added: “The government is trying to prevail on the Governor of Kebbi State, Alh. Atiku Bagudu and a U.S.-based lawyer, Mr. Godson Nanka to withdraw their pending matters in some courts in the U.S..

“The government has decided to plead with Bagudu and his wife, Aisha to withdraw their  suit in the U.S., which is inhibiting the process of releasing the cash, which has been stashed in Switzerland.” 

In the suit number 13-CV-1832 (JDB), Bagudu and his wife urged the court to reverse its judgment,  which declared that the money  attributed to them was illicit fund laundered into the U.S. and therefore forfeited to the American government.”

Relying on 18 USC 983 (a) (4) and Rule G (5) (a) of the Sup¬plemental Rules for Admiralty or Marine Claims and Assets Forfeiture Actions of the Fed¬eral Rules of Civil Procedure (Supplemental Rules), Bagudu said: “I have a claim to and interest in the property alleged to be subject to forfeiture in this action.”

“If we continue with this suit without a political solution, the $550 million will still be held up in the U.S..

“The President has asked AGF Malami to discuss with the governor and his wife to withdraw the matter in the interest of the country. I think Bagudu has agreed to do so.”

Also, a U.S.-based lawyer, Mr. Godson Nnaka, who was recruited in 2004 by the Federal Government to recover funds stolen by the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, had instituted a case in a U.S. district court  against the Federal Government.

He has asked the court to declare that he is entitled to 40  per cent of the recovered loot. He also pleaded with the court to make him  the funds’ exclusive attorney.

“He alleged that he was excluded from  the fund recovery case after spending much time and money in tracing the looted funds.

“So far, we have no choice than to negotiate with the counsel. This is another legal challenge which the U.S. is using to delay the repatriation,” the source said.

A government source also made some clarifications on why the U.S. and Switzerland were involved in the loot recovery.

The source said: “The looted funds originated from the US jurisdiction to Switzerland. Many U.S.-based  banks or financial institutions were involved in the wiring of the funds. They include  Chemical Bank, New York; Commerzbank AG, New York; Marine Midland Bank, New York (now HSBC USA, NA;  Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, New York (now JP Morgan Chase); ANZ Banking Group, New York; Bankers Trust Company, New York; Barclays Bank, New York; Citibank NA, New York;  and Chase Manhattan Bank, New York.

“About $321million of the cash is said to be stashed in some banks in Switzerland. So, tracking the assets is an intertwined challenge between the U.S. and Switzerland.”

Asked to be specific, the source said the government had signed a pact with Switzerland.

“The pact, which is titled a “Letter of Intent on the restitution of illegally-acquired assets forfeited in Switzerland,” was signed by Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Swiss Head of Foreign Affairs Department, Didier Burkhalter. The document reveals that $321 million acquired illicitly by the Abacha family was initially deposited in Luxemburg before being confiscated by the Swiss Republic Judiciary and Canton of Geneva following a December 11, 2014 forfeiture order.

“If the $321million loot is released, the total repatriation to Nigeria by the Swiss authorities will amount to $1.044billion in 12 years.

“The Switzerland government has released $723million to the country in the last 11 years.

“Well, as for the conditions set by Switzerland , the Federal Government regarded as an affront on its sovereignty. Some of the conditions include  the use of the funds for projects that will benefit all Nigerians and that World Bank should “ supervise the spending of returned assets by the Nigerian government”.

The government submitted five project proposals to the Swiss government bordering on social benefit projects for the 2016 budget but the looted funds were not released.

The Federal Government and Switzerland last month signed an agreement on the return of the $321million.

A rights lawyer Femi Falana(SAN) had asked the  Federal Government  to reject the conditions attached to the repatriation of the stolen funds in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said allowing the World Bank “to supervise the spending of returned assets breaches international law principles and standards”.

Posted On Tuesday, 04 April 2017 11:03 Written by

•Says MKO couldn’t have died of natural causes 
•Insists Obasanjo took part in coup against Abacha

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, has said that the winner of the 1993 presidential election, Chief MKO Abiola, could not have died of natural causes.

Abiola whose election was annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration in July 1993 was arrested by the late Gen. Sani Abacha-led junta in 1994 when he declared himself the winner of the election and his resolve to reclaim his mandate.

The business mogul turned politician later died in detention in controversial circumstances on July 7, 1998.

But Bamaiyi, the Chief of Army Staff under the Abacha regime, has insisted in a book that was launched in Abuja on Thursday that former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar owes the nation more explanation on the death of the late politician.

“I believe only Gen. Abubakar and those he used to handle Abiola’s death can tell Nigerians how Chief M.K.O Abiola died. Abiola could not have died the way he reportedly died,” Bamaiyi declared in the book titled Vindication of a General.

Recalling the circumstances in which he learnt about Abiola’s death in the said book, Bamaiyi, who was also the Chief of Army Staff in the brief period Abdulsalami held sway as head of state, said: “One evening, the Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar called while I was in Lagos to tell me we had a problem.

“I asked him what was wrong and he told me Chief Abiola was dead.

“I was shocked and asked him what we were going to do about it. He told me he was handling the situation.

“I was disturbed because I expected problems in Lagos. But nothing happened.

“I was directed to lead a delegation to Abiola’s house to commiserate with the family and was told Abiola had some visitors, including some Americans.

“He had taken tea, which raised suspicion about his death.

Bamaiyi said the late business mogul never relinquished his mandate in spite of the pains of incarceration.

“At no time did Abiola relinquish his mandate. His death came as a surprise to me because he had been healthy when we met,” he added.

Bamaiyi recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters and others were involved in a coup plot against the late Abacha in 1995.

He also said the botched 1997 coup allegedly led by a former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya against Abacha was real.

He said Diya made $60,000 and N2 million cash available for the feeding of soldiers during the coup against Abacha.

He said the plan was to “blow up” Abacha’s car at a function in Sheraton Hotel, Abuja with an RGP-7.

Excerpts from the book, whose launch was presided over by a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon said: “It will forever remain a puzzle to many Nigerians that two former helmsmen, a former head of state and his deputy, were arrested and tried for the coup that sought to remove General Sani Abacha from power in 1995.

“Interestingly, the 1995 coup, which, either out of ignorance or for political reasons, has been termed ‘phantom’ by the actual players highlights the challenge of lack of honour and integrity among highly-placed officers because of naked pursuit of power.

“Despite spirited denial by these key officers, some of them will always tell the truth, including Col. Lawal Gwadabe and Col. Bello Fadile, whose recordings cannot be denied.

“I want to state clearly and without fear of contradiction that the 1995 coup in which Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was convicted was real.

“I am glad that Gen. Mujakpero, who investigated the coup, stood his ground in asserting that it really happened.

“Gen. PN Aziza carried out his duties by trying and convicting Gen. Obasanjo, and has clearly stated that if he retried that case, he would still convict Obasanjo.

“I know the coup was real and was reported to Gen. AZ Kazir when he was GOC 1 Mechanised DIV, but he did nothing about it until he was appointed COAS.

“I remember going go Gen. Kazir when I was commander of the Lagos Garrison and telling him there were rumours about the coup. He confirmed that he had heard about it.

“I asked him what he was going to do about it, and he said he was handling it. He was my boss, so I did not go further.

“I don’t remember the exact date. But on a Sunday, the COAS, Maj. Gen. Kazir, invited us into his study at his residence.

“Present at the meeting were Gens. Kazir; Olanrewaju who happened to be in Lagos from Jos; Muktar, the DMI; and Adeleke Kola, the provost marshal, and me, Comd. LGC.

“Gen. Olanrewaju briefed us on how the coup plan started from his Division and said that he had lot of officers involved.

“In Lagos, we had two involved officers named Col. Bello Fadile and Col. Gabriel Ajayi- my Col. Administration and Quartering. The decision to arrest these officers was made at the meeting.

“Based on Gen. Olanrewaju’s briefing, it was clear the officers could strike anytime.

“It was decided that Gen. Olanrewaju be given an aircraft to take him to Jos. The same aircraft would then proceed to Yola to bring in Col. Gwadabe, who came to Jos and was put in detention.

“I read some falsehood Colonel Ajayi wrote several times claiming he and I took Holy Communion in the church, but I did not say anything to him.

“I received instruction to arrest him in the evening. I directed CO 26 Battalion to arrest him, and he was arrested.

“If I had received this instruction before going to church, I would have ordered his arrest as soon as he left church.

“I was not involved in the matter again after Ajayi’s arrest.

“Headquarters Lagos Garrison Command (HQ LGC) has always been the venue for coup trials in Lagos and was used as such in 1995.

“After the trial and conviction of Gen. Obasanjo and Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, efforts were made by many Nigerians, including some army officers, to get them released.

“At one point, I went with Gen. PN Azazi to the Head of State and we pleaded with him to pardon the two generals and release them from prison because they were a former head of state and his deputy.

“He promised to look at it. But I was told later, though I did not confirm it, that some security officials advised him against the release, and nothing was done.

“I did not go to Abacha because I had doubts about Gen. Obasanjo’s involvement in the coup based on the briefing we received from DMI, Col. Sabo, the SIP report, and the statements of other coupists.”

Bamaiyi also fingered a former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Oladipo Diya and others in the 1997 Coup plot against Abacha.

The book says: “Again, within a space of two years, Gen. Oladipo Diya, second in command to Gen. Sani Abacha, was caught in the centre of another coup.

“It is an issue which Nigerians have extensively debated and commented upon.

“Unfortunately, the coup plotter, Gen. D. O. Diya, cowardly denied that he masterminded it with the support of officers like Gen. Ibrahim Sabo, who wanted to destroy me.

“Gen. Diya started planning to overthrow Gen. Abacha as early as 1994 when I was at Lagos Garrison Command (LGC).

“At that time, it was the responsibility of the service chiefs to receive the Commander-In-Chief anytime he visited Lagos, which during Gen. Abacha’s time, was occasional.

“The commander LGV would receive the Chief of General Staff (CGS) at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (Presidential Wing) and see him off.

“I always received Gen. Diya at the airport and escorted him to his private residence at Fajuyi Road in Ikeja or the Vice President’s home at Ikoyi, depending on where he felt like staying.

“On one such visit, at his Ikeja residence, he mentioned how Gen. Abacha had not been doing well. He made the statement during the next visit and I asked him what the problem was.

“Gen. Diya mentioned that the Commander-In-Chief did not come to the office early and was not listening to him and other senior people in the government.

“I told him I believed Gen. Abacha would listen to him because of their special relationship. I knew how many times Gen. Abacha had stopped plans to retire him.

“On the next visit, Diya said openly that there was a need to remove Gen. Abacha and that he was being blamed for the failure of the government from various quarters. I asked him which quarters he was talking about but he did not mention specifics.

“Gen. Diya went on to tell me I was one of the officers he trusted and he would rely on me to get Gen. Abacha out of office so the country would move forward under his leadership. I told him I would think it over and get back to him.

“I informed Gen. Abacha, who said he was going to put Gen. Diya on trial. I suggested there would be no evidence for a conviction and Gen. Diya would not be acting alone, so there was need for patience.

“I was appointed the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in April 19996 and Gen. P.N. Aziza was appointed to take over LGC. It became Aziza’s responsibility to receive and see off the CGS (Diya) at Murtala Muhammed Airport.

“After returning to Lagos from a tour of 2 Mech. Div., Gen. Aziza came to me at the COAS official residence. He looked worried, and I said ‘I hope all is well.’

“He later told me how Gen. Diya had told him of the need to overthrow Gen. Abacha, and he believed Gen. Diya was serious about it.

“I laughed first, and Gen. Aziza was surprised. He said, ‘Giwa [this is how we addressed each other since we were such old friends], why are you laughing at something so serious? You know this is a matter of life and death.’

“I told him it was nothing new. Gen. Aziza asked me what I was going to do about it. I assured him I would do something.

“I knew Gen. Aziza would want me to act, and it was in my best interest to do so because if there was an investigation, I would be held responsible for having known about a coup and hiding it.

“I went to Abacha the following day and told him what Gen. Aziza had told me. Gen. Abacha said he wanted to hear from Aziza directly. I sent for Gen. Aziza to meet me in Abuja, and the two of us went to see Gen. Abacha.

“Gen. Aziza told him exactly what he had told me. From Gen. Abacha’s looks, he was not surprised. He directed us to play along with Diya until we knew what he really wanted.

“I suggested to Gen. Abacha that he should call Gen. Diya for Aziza and me to challenge him and then make him resign or retire.

“Gen. Abacha disagreed and said we did not know what had been happening. I later found out that Gen. MC Ali as COAS and some service chiefs were retired because of their alleged plan to remove Gen. Abacha.

“Other meetings took place at a guest house with Gen. Diya, Gen. Olanrewaju, Co 7 Gds Bn, Gen, Diya’s security officer—Major Fadipe and me. Of course, Gen. Abacha was always briefed after the meetings.

“Other meetings were held between Gen. Diya and me in his office. The issue of international support came up, he told me he was working on it.

“When the issue of feeding soldiers was brought up, he provided USD $60,000 to be given to GOCs to provide feeding for soldiers if there was the need.

“The money was taken to Gen. Abacha and I made a joke with him saying: ‘This is your worth at present.’ He only smiled and collected the money and later returned it to me. The money was used as exhibits during the trial.

Posted On Saturday, 01 April 2017 01:05 Written by
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