Wednesday, 17 January 2018
Items filtered by date: September 2016

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of  Kaduna State on Monday said the Federal Government had been notified about the earth tremor that rocked Kwoi  in  Jaba Local Government  Area of the state on Sunday.

He also called on residents of the state to remain calm following reports of earth tremor in the state that caused panic and confusion among the people of the area.

 It was gathered that on July 30, 2016, Hayin Magani in Ikara Local Government Area of the state  was rattled by earth tremor which destroyed some homes and injured some people.

The Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the LGA, Mr. Ben Kure, confirmed the development, saying that the first one happened around 10.30am on Sunday.

 He  had said, “I was in the church around 10.30am when the whole town shook. It lasted for about three to five seconds. I came out of the church and we inspected the town and there was no damage to any building and no one was injured.

 “Two hours later, while I was driving to Kaduna, a palace official called to inform me that there was another one that took place. When I inquired, he said that there was no damage.”

 Worried by the development, El-Rufai said a formal report had been made  to the appropriate Federal Government’s agencies to investigate the development, report precisely on the event and issue an appropriate guidance.

 The governor’s Special Assistant on  Media and Publicity,  Samuel Aruwan, said in a statement that his principal  had notified the geological and emergency agencies for necessary actions.

 Besides, while sympathising with the people of Kwoi, el-Rufai directed the State Emergency Agency to, as a matter of urgency, mobilise to the area immediately.

 The statement read in part,“The governor sympathises with the people in the Kwoi area over the reported earth tremors. He has directed the State Emergency management Agency to mobilise to the area and comfort our citizens. The national geological agency has also been notified, and has been invited to investigate the tremors in the Kwoi area and provide an appropriate guidance.

“The Kaduna State Government is receiving updates from the area. Relevant government agencies have been directed to take steps to comfort the residents of Kwoi area and to allay their fears as they come to terms with an unusual event.

“The Kaduna State Government wishes to appeal for calm, and urges everyone not to spread unverified information, or create panic.”

Published in Business and Economy

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested four domestic servants, including a driver and a houseboy, whose names were used to open bank accounts for Mrs Dame Patience Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Sources within the anti-graft agency said on Sunday that the companies’ accounts were opened at Skye Bank.

The companies are Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.

The four companies’ accounts, which have since been frozen by the EFCC, have a balance of about $15m while another account, which bears Patience Jonathan’s name, has $5m.

Mr. Sammie Somiari, who deposed to an affidavit on behalf of the ex-President’s wife, said the former First Lady was the owner of the money in the accounts.

She had revealed that she gave millions of dollars to the then Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa, to open accounts for her.

Somiari, however, claimed that Dudafa opened five accounts for Patience and that only one of the accounts was in her name, while the other four were opened in the names of companies belonging to Dudafa.

A detective at the EFCC, however, revealed that Dudafa used his domestic servants’ names to open the four other accounts and then deposited the money into the accounts.

The operative added, “We were investigating Dudafa when we stumbled on those four companies’ domiciliary accounts opened at Skye Bank with a balance of about $15m. On further investigation, we were able to identify the directors of the companies.

“When we detained the directors, we found out that they were Dudafa’s domestic servants. One of them was a houseboy while another one was a driver. Their photographs were used in opening the accounts and their signatures were forged.

“We found out that these domestic servants were completely innocent because they had no access to the accounts. We have since released them. The sole signatory to the accounts was Patience Jonathan and she was issued with a special card, which is accepted worldwide. She has a separate account, which was opened in her name and has a balance of $5m.”

The detective said a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs, who allegedly helped Dudafa to perpetrate the fraud, would also be arraigned.

It was learnt that two Skye Bank executives, Demola Bolodeoku and Dipo Oshodi, who helped Dudafa to open the accounts on March 22, 2010, were also being investigated.

The detective added, “This is a clear case of fraud and there is no way the bank officials will say they did not know what was going on. They are under investigation and those found culpable will be arraigned.”

The EFCC operative said he could not immediately confirm if the transaction was reported to the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit.

He explained that the commission had discovered a trend which politicians used in laundering and concealing funds, saying it was becoming more rampant due to the operation of the Bank Verification Number which links all accounts owned by an individual.

He added, “What we have noticed is that in order to conceal funds, what politicians and top civil servants do is to open bank accounts in the name of family or friends and then make themselves the sole signatory to the account.

“Don’t forget that we traced about 17 bank accounts to the immediate past Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.).

“Often times, they do this in connivance with bank officials and that is why the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has said henceforth, whenever we are investigating a bank official, we will probe the entire bank as well because these officials usually act under the instruction of their superiors.”

Jonathan’s wife has, however, sued Skye Bank for freezing her bank accounts and giving the EFCC vital information about her finances.

She also wants the court to order Skye Bank to pay her damages in the sum of N200m for what she termed a violation of her right to own personal properties under Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution.

Published in Headliners

Dr Islamiyat Oluwatoyin Abdulkadir, who had been orphaned since age six, has emerged the overall best graduating medical student at the International University of Africa, Khartoum, Sudan.

Abdulkadir, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), in a telephone interview from Sudan, said her academic achievements so far, seemed like a miracle.

“My academic achievement so far till today, seems like a miracle to me. Not only that, my life as a whole, is a pack of miracles,” she said.

Abdulkadir said that her late mother, having lost her husband when she was barely three, enrolled her at the Ad-din International Group of schools to start her primary education.

She said her mother later died when she was six years old.

She was then in primary school and was left in the care of her grandmother, with no hope of furthering her education again.

“Thinking that was the end of schooling for me, my grandmother withdrew me from the school but the founder, Alhaja Sekinat Adekola, gave me scholarship for my primary and secondary education.

“I emerged best student in my primary and secondary schools and even in my WASC and had a high score of 274 in my JAMB examinations.

“I have always had passion to be a medical doctor, but because I was not sure of my chances. I filled Bio-Chemistry in my JAMB form and came out with a high score of 274.

“This score was high enough to get me into the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and with the hope of changing to medicine later.

“I had to jettison this dream because of the financial commitment involved in studying medicine.

“It was at this time that an admission team from International University of Africa, Sudan came to recruit Nigerian students into their school of Nursing.

“I presented myself for the written and oral interview and luck once again smiled on me as I emerged the best student and a scholarship was awarded me for my admission in their school of nursing.

“After the end of the first semester examination, I emerged the best student, and the opportunity I had been waiting for presented itself.

“I approached the School’s Faculty of Medicine for a cross over from Nursing Faculty to Medicine, and the request was granted.

“So through thick and thin of financial difficulties, culture shock, hunger and loneliness, I braved it through and emerged the best graduating student of the medical school on September 2, 2016.

“For me to clinch the overall best student, I had a CGPA of 3.37/4.00, making a ground breaking record in the history of the faculty by scoring above 3.24, the last highest grade,” she said.

Abdulkadir said her graduation speech was full of emotions and gratitude to Almighty Allah, who brought her from nothing to something.

She added that her dead parents would be happy in their graves with her achievements.

“One certain thing I know about myself which can not be disputed, is that I am a living miracle of Allah.

“If you have searched for a proof of miracle but to no avail, look no further as I am here to testify to the miracles of God.

“I want to seize this opportunity to thank my God-sent angels, Alhaja Sekinat Adekola, founder, Proprietress of AD-din International Group of Schools for the good background I got in the school.

“I also wish to thank my academic mentor, Dr Adefemi Afolabi, Senior Lecturer and Consultant General Surgeon, Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, UI and UCH, Ibadan, Nigeria,” she said.

Abdulkadir said one of her aims, was to give back to the society where she came from; Oyo state, Nigeria as a whole and most especially, the children.

“I believe that the definition of success is incomplete without giving back to the society,” she added.

Dr Adefemi Afolabi, a Consultant General Surgeon and also the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, (CMAC), University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, said he met the young doctor on Face book.

“Mark Zuckerberg provided the medium Facebook, through which I accepted to be her mentor at a critical stage in her education career.

“I am proud to describe her as as my princess, daughter, mentee; I know she is meant for the top of her medical career.

“She told me she is highly motivated to give back to children who are growing up in difficult circumstances through her social entrepreneurial skills in the future.

“I enjoin all well meaning Nigerians and philanthropists to reach out to many of the indigent students who are still struggling to accomplish their dreams of a better future,” he said.

In a similar reaction, Alhaja Sekinat Adekola, the Founder of the Ad-din group of schools and also the Iya Adinni of Yoruba land said all glory should go back to Allah.

“I am happy to be part of her success story through the grace of Allah. I charge other less fortunate children to always accept their lot with Allah.

“They should be focused and determined in achieving their aims and purpose in life; Islamiyah was very determined to make it in life and she is making it.

“International women join the Nigerian women in congratulating Islamiyah Abdulkadir in achieving this feat.

“Also your alma mater, all Addinians and Addinites, join me in felicitating with you in this land mark of yours.

“My gratitude goes to Dr Afolabi, the CMAC of UCH, for his fatherly role throughout her stay in the medical school.

“I hope she will be lucky to be absolved in the UCH as a doctor after passing all required examinations necessary for her to practice as a medical doctor in Nigeria,” she said.

Published in Headliners

A Special Court Martial of the Nigerian Army has demoted the Director, 68 Reference Hospital, Yaba, in Lagos State, Major General Patrick Falola, to the rank of Brigadier General.

The demotion follows the conviction of the Major General who was accused of unlawfully admitting students for clinical training without due clearance from the army headquarters.

Channels TV reports that Falola was said to have admitted international students from Espan Formation University, Cotonou in Benin Republic between July and September, 2016.

President of the Special Court Martial, Air Vice Marshal James Gbum, said the accused was found guilty of the first count

Delivering judgment in the case against Falola, who is also a Commander of the Armed Forces Hospital in Kano, Gbum sentenced the accused officer to a reduction in rank from Major General to Brigadier General on count one of the charge.

He was, however, discharged and acquitted of the second count of fraudulent misapplication of the hospital’s property.

Lawyer to Falola, Wing Commander Enokela Onyilo-Uloko [Retd], however, criticised the conviction, saying it was a premeditated attempt to taint the unblemished record of his client whom he described as a distinguished medical officer with outstanding records.

Onyilo-Uloko said the judgment of the Special Court Martial has no legal backing

“On hearing of this kind of conviction, we know that it is based on nothing. There is no law, no instruction put on the ground by the armed forces that the senior officer needs to take permission from the higher authority before allowing such training.

“No such law or instruction was tendered in evidence, but they are saying that he should use his initiative.

“When there is no law criminalising an act, when that act is done, it does not amount to criminal offence,” the lawyer said.

He further vowed to appeal the judgment of the Special Court Martial.

However, the judgement of the Army Court Martial is subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Army Council.

Published in News & Stories
Thursday, 08 September 2016 23:24

Breaking: INEC postpones Edo election to Sept 28

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has finally announced the postponement of the Sept. 10 governorship election in Edo by two weeks.

Mr Solomon Soyebi, INEC national Commissioner in-charge of voter education and publicity, made the disclosure at a press conference at INEC’s office in Benin on Thursday.

Soyebi said the election would now hold on Sept. 28.

He attributed the postponement to alleged security threat as reported by the security agencies

Published in Business and Economy

Even by Nigerian standards, the alleged siphoning off of $1 billion (£750 million) from a $1.3 billion international investment in a lucrative oil block through “fees” to a former oil minister’s company and assorted middlemen has been shocking.

Jonathan Fisher QC called it “grand corruption”. High Court Judge Mr Justice Edis declared: “Given the large sums of money involved that are effectively paid to a former minister to a bank account in the Middle East, the whole exercise is backed by murky instructions.”

The saga of OPL245 — a huge Nigerian oilfield containing an estimated nine billion barrels of crude — began in 1998 when the then petroleum minister, Chief Dan Etete, awarded the licence to Malabu Oil & Gas, a Nigerian company with no assets and no employees, for $20 million, seemingly a tiny fraction of its real value.

Over the next decade, there were a number of legal wranglings between Shell and Malabu over ownership of the field.

Eventually, in 2011, the field was sold by the Nigerian government to Eni and Shell.

The two oil giants paid the government but $1.09 billion was subsequently sent to Malabu.

Shell and Eni insist they did not know this would happen. The arrangement — memorably described by a middlemen as a “safe-sex transaction” — was controversial enough.

But then it was claimed in High Court proceedings that the beneficial owner of Malabu was none other than Etete, the former oil minister who awarded the oil block to Malabu in the first place. Etete denied this, saying he was just a consultant.

So, the Nigerian state only retained $208 million — the signature bonus paid by Shell.

The remaining $1 billion-plus was channelled to bank accounts in London, Switzerland and offshore locations allegedly controlled by Malabu, Etete and five other Nigerian companies whose beneficial owners were not known.

Anti-corruption campaigner Global Witness’s Barnaby Pace says: “The $1 billion that went missing was equivalent to 80% of Nigeria’s health budget but the money did not benefit the country’s citizens. The deal proves how critical it is that the public can find out who the real owners of companies are so that criminals cannot disguise their identities.” ENI and Shell deny wrongdoing.

The case also highlights the dangers faced by oil corporations operating in Nigeria.

For Shell, the OPL 245 block is crucial because it could replenish its proven global oil reserves by a third. It is adamant it only paid the government and not Malabu or Etete. But investigations into the OPL245 affair continue in the UK, Italy and Nigeria.

“Shell is co-operating with the authorities and is looking into the allegations, which it takes seriously”, the company said. “Shell attaches the greatest importance to business integrity.”

For Italy’s ENI, the saga has taken a far more bizarre twist. According to reports in the Italian press, extraordinary allegations have now been circulating that ENI chief executive Claudio Descalzi and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are linked to Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

Other claims have also been circulated in what Italian prosecutors regard as a conspiracy to topple the two men, with Renzi being targeted because of his support for Descalzi.

The reports claim prominent Nigerians who lost out in the OPL 245 sale are involved in the plot. They allegedly include former ministers, an attorney general and members of former Nigerian president Sani Abacha’s family.

In Nigeria, the OPL245 affair is a major challenge for President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected last year on an anti-corruption ticket. “We shall strongly battle another form of evil that is even worse than terrorism — the evil of corruption”, he declared.

His track record so far is unimpressive. His Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is said to be under-resourced and incompetent.

Multiple case files have been opened but are often incomplete or missing, it is claimed.

Sources say this is frustrating for investigators at Britain’s National Crime Agency, who are trying to probe the alleged laundering of OPL245 money through London banks and properties.

Last week, the two governments agreed criminal assets stolen in Nigeria and seized in Britain can be returned to the West African country, but such breakthroughs are rare.

Buhari’s governing style is also a source of frustration. Critics say he is slow in his decision-making, which allows the EFCC to wallow in indecision.

In the OPL245 case, a legal dispute over $85 million frozen in a NatWest bank account in London belonging to Etete is meandering through the UK courts, yet the Nigerian government has not even sent a proceeds-of-crime submission to the judge. The funds remain frozen and the case languishes.

Buhari’s critics say his approach means that much-needed funds from corruption cases are not bringing in revenue for an ailing economy ravaged by low oil prices, and the oil blocks themselves are not being developed.

Meanwhile, as the scandal drags on, other western firms can be forgiven for shying away from investing in Buhari’s Nigeria.

Evening Standard

Published in Headliners
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 21:06

Edo governorship election must go on-INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Wednesday said would not postpone Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination scheduled to hold on the same day.

The National Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this during a stakeholders’ meeting held in Benin, Edo, South-South Nigeria.

Punch reports that a total of 1,742 candidates are expected to sit Mathematics 1 and 2 papers on September 10, a development which sparked a protest by some of the affected candidates and parents on Monday.

There had also been calls for the postponement of the poll to a later date to allow the students exercise their rights to vote.

But the national commissioner, who spoke through the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun, said INEC had given adequate notification on the date for the election prior to the date fixed for the examinations.

“It is important to draw your attention to the fact that INEC gave notice of this election on March 2, 2016. There was no registration for WASSCE candidates as of that time.”

He stated that the commission had held a robust discussion with the examination body and security agencies on the issue, where it was agreed that the examination should be moved to Ondo and Delta states, as holding it simultaneously might create security challenges.

According to him, “The issue is, basically, security. So, the security agencies advised WAEC accordingly that giving room for people to move around may pose some challenges because many people will cash in on the situation.

“Permit me to remind you also that there are about 1.9 million registered voters ‎in Edo State, whose interest also should be taken care of. At the end of that meeting, we agreed that the exams be shifted outside Edo State to places that are nearby.”

“Indeed, WAEC had even concluded arrangements to do this. It suggested Ore, Agbor and one other place. Yes, there might be some inconveniences for the students to travel outside Edo State; but, of course, it is not too much pain to bear if you have your state at heart.”

“I do not think we need to suspend an election because WAEC is going to conduct GCE. It is not SSCE but GCE for those who did not do well in the past exams‎.”

Published in Business and Economy

The Federal Government on Wednesday in Abuja dismissed social media reports linking it and Dangote group with a plan to ‘flood’ the country with Genetically Modified rice (GMO) as extremely uncharitable. 

This is contained in a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr Femi Adesina.

Adesina described the report as the hand work of unscrupulous individuals who were bent on tarnishing the good image of the government.

He, however, confirmed that the Federal Government had in 2014 signed a one billion dollars Memorandum of Understanding, (MoU) for investment in integrated rice project with Dangote Industries Ltd.

“Further to this agreement, Dangote Industries Limited, this year cultivated over 8,000 hectares in Hadejia, Jigawa State, creating over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for farmers who are the major beneficiaries of the scheme.’’

According to him, the Buhari-led administration is also in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other reputable companies to tap into the vast potential in the private sector.

This was aimed at broadening the economic base of the country.

“The gains of the diversification drive especially in the agriculture sector are already yielding dividends as shown by the recent statistics in the sector published by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“These engagements will continue until the present administration has laid a solid foundation for the economic development of the nation.

“It is therefore ridiculous that a government that is wholly devoted to the generation of employment for Nigerians, especially through agriculture will turn around to get involved in an activity that will reverse the gains of the same partnership,’’ he said.

He noted that President Buhari had said it repeatedly “we have the capacity to feed ourselves in Nigeria and even export from what we produce in the country.’’

“He has also said that through the provision of N200 billion by the CBN for small holder farmers and processors involved in local production of rice and other grains, rice importation will hopefully stop in the next three years.

“While the Buhari administration is working assiduously with well-meaning Nigerians to bring the country out of the current economic situation it has found itself, a few self-serving individuals are bent on distracting the administration from the avowed focus to reflate the fortunes of the country through the diversification of the economy which, very soon, Nigerians will begin to see and experience the results.’’

The Presidential aide warned purveyors of such malicious information and those thinking of embarking on the same route to have a rethink and retrace their steps.

Published in Headliners

The Acting Inspector General of Police, (IGP), Ibrahim Idris has deployed additional 25,000 policemen, helicopters, gunboats, 10 Armoured Personnel Carriers, APCs, and 55o patrol vehicles to Edo State to provide security for Saturday’s governorship election in the State.

The IGP also deployed a Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, assisted by an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG and three commissioners of Police to coordinate the security operations supervise the deployment of security personnel and facilitate the electoral process throughout the State.

A statement issued by the Force Public Relations Officer, Don Awunah on Tuesday said in order to ensure safety of life and property before, during and after the election, “the IGP has approved the deployment of additional 25,000 Police personnel, comprising the Police Mobile Force (PMF), the Counter Terrorism Units (CTU), the Anti bomb Squad (EOD), the Marine Police, Conventional policemen, the Armament Units, Personnel from Force criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (FCIID), Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) and the Sniffer Dog Section.

“In addition, the Police Aerial Surveillance Helicopters and Gun Boats, 10 additional Armoured Personnel Carriers and 550 patrol vehicles will be deployed, to cover all the polling units, rack centers, collating centres, Riverine areas and difficult terrains.

“As part of additional measures at guaranteeing a credible election which outcome will be generally acceptable, the IGP will convene a Peace Accord Meeting of all the political parties, candidates, INEC officials, election observers and other stakeholders before the date of the election in Benin City, Edo State. This meeting will focus on the overall desirability of peace during the election and adherence to the rules of the game.”

The statement added that all police personnel and other complementing sister security agencies were under strict instructions to be professionally polite and civil but firm in the discharge of their statutory duties.

It said they were to provide adequate security for the electorates, INEC officials, electoral materials, election observers and all stakeholders throughout the period of the election.

“For the avoidance of doubt, political parties and their leader, traditional rulers, community leaders, parents and guardians are advised to warn and prevail on their members, supporters, subjects, children and wards to be law abiding and not allow themselves to be used as canon folders to cause disturbance of the peace or disruption of the electoral process. The spirit and letters of the law will be fully applied on any person or group of persons found violating the Electoral Act.

“The Inspector General of Police therefore wishes to assure the Edo electorates and all law abiding citizens of adequate security throughout the elections. He enjoins them to cooperate with police in the discharge of their duties as the security personnel will operate within the framework of democratic policing,” it stated.

Published in Business and Economy
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 01:25

Michael Ibru dies at 86

The patriarch of the Ibru family in Delta State, Olorogun Michael Ibru, is dead.

The deceased was the husband of the former managing director of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Cecilia Ibru.

The business mogul, who was aged 86, a statement from the family said, died in a hospital in the United States of America on Tuesday morning.

The deceased, an Officer of the Federal Republic and the Otota of Agbarha-Otor kingdom in Delta State, was also the Chairman, Michael and Cecilia Foundation.

Published in Headliners
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