Saturday, 24 February 2018
Items filtered by date: April 2017
Thursday, 20 April 2017 23:57

KODUGA: Naira Watch: Naira rises to N380/$

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: The naira Thursday appreciated by $5 to N380 per dollar in the parallel market due to improved dollar supply and decline in demand for dollars. Vanguard survey of the parallel market revealed that the parallel market exchange rate, which opened the week at N405 per dollar and dropped to N385 per dollar on Tuesday, dropped further  to N380 per dollar yesterday, translating to N5 appreciation for the naira Consequently, the naira has gained N20 or 4.9 per cent this week in the parallel market. Bureau De Change sources attributed the appreciation to the increased dollar supply to the segment from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

On Tuesday, the CBN sold $20,000 to each BDCs, up from $10,000 the previous week. The apex bank is expected to further sell $20,000 to each of the 3,185 BDCs today, thus boosting dollar supply. This, according to President, Association of Bureaux De change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, will prompt further appreciation of the naira before the close of business today.

The increase dollar supply to BDCs is part of the apex bank’s intervention in the foreign exchange market aimed to addressing the wide gap between the interbank exchange rate and the parallel market exchange rate.

Since Monday February 20th 2017, when it commenced the intervention, the apex bank has      injected $3.63 billion by intervening in the forex market 19  times as follows: Tuesday February 21st, $417 million; Thursday February 23rd, $231 million; Monday February 27th, $180 million; Friday March 3, $350 million; Monday March 6, N367 million;  Tuesday March 7,  $100 million; Thursday March 9, $170 million; Tuesday March 14, $190 million; Wednesday March 14, $150 million; Thursday March 16, $100 million, Monday March 20, $143 million; Thursday March 23rd, $100 million; Monday March 27, $185 million; Thursday March 30, $100 million; Monday April 3rd, $240 million; Thursday April 6th, $100 million; Monday April 10, $100 million; Wednesday April 12, $250 million and $280 million on Tuesday April 18.

Published in Headliners

Long before the railway lines were built and the Emir of Kano bought a motorcar, Frederick Lugard travelled from Lagos to Sokoto on foot. Before coming to the area around the River Niger and Benue, he had heard so much about this area of the Sudan as Central Africa was called in the 19th Century. Born in India in Madras (now called Chennai), but brought up in England, Lugard was a diehard imperialist for the Empire which Winston Churchill called the Empire on which the Sun never sets.

The aim of imperialists like Lugard was originally to create market for British companies who engaged in global competition with other imperial powers for the supply of raw materials and markets for finished products. By the middle of the 19th Century, British naval power could be felt in every part of the world. It was this phenomenon that took Lugard, a British colonel, to the army in India which the British had acquired as part of its imperial territories. It was the most prized colonial possession of Britain after the loss of the United States. Lugard saw action in Burma, East Africa, Sudan and later was made the governor of Hong Kong. He participated in the final conquests of the independent pre-colonial states.

Before Lugard came in at the dawn of the 20th Century, Lagos had been a British colony for more than 50 years. British forces had also taken control of the port city of Calabar but the rest of the territories were left to African states. Most of the European traders in Lagos had no interest in extending direct rule outside the colony. What they wanted was free passage to do their business and return to base in Lagos. The British missionaries too wanted passage to spread the Christian gospels and turn the Africans from worshiping God in the ways they inherited from their ancestors. Then Lugard led the team, created an army made up mostly of British, Scots, Irish and Welsh officers and soldiers recruited from Africa. It was this posse that knocked down government after government, forcing African states to sign treaty of friendship with the British government. By 1903, with the conquest of Sokoto and Kano, the job was virtually completed.

In his long journey across Nigeria, Lugard and his soldiers travelled mostly on foot. He was bitten at least four times by snakes. Occasionally, especially in the open North, he would have the opportunity to ride on a horse, a donkey or a camel. However, most of the job was done on foot. The heavy guns, the muskets were hauled across the land from battle to battle on foot by African soldiers and commandeered porters. In the beginning, it may not have occurred to them that they were creating a new state, but in the end that was what happened. In his peregrination, Lugard had toyed with putting the capital in Lokoja, Zungeru and even Calabar, but in the end, he settled for Kaduna, a new city on the Hausa plane. When the whole territory of what is now called Nigeria was ceded to Britain at the Berlin Conference of 1885 to 1886, Lugard came under direct pressure from his boss in London. They did not want the capital of the new territory in landlocked Kaduna. Lugard was ordered to bring the capital to Lagos.

Thus when Lugard proclaimed the birth of the new state on January 1, 1914, it was done in Lagos, the colonial territory that had been seized by the British in 1865. The proclamation was done at the then Race Course which has now been aptly renamed Tafawa Balewa Square in honour of Nigeria’s first and only elected Prime Minister. The new territory was called Nigeria as suggested by the brainy adventurer and journalist, Flora Shaw, who later married Lugard. Lugard was transferred from Nigeria in 1919 and was succeeded as Governor by Sir Hugh Clifford who preferred to be called Governor and not Governor-General.

Since then, many men have stepped into Lord Lugard shoes. Despite the phenomenal changes that have occurred since then, many institutions created by Lugard and his colleagues have survived: the military, the civil service, customs, the police and many more. But Lugard’s greatest legacy is Nigeria itself. When the nationalists got independence for Nigeria in 1960, so successful was Lugard and his colleagues that none of the old states asked for independence. The well-established states like the Sokoto Caliphate, the new Oyo Empire centred on Ibadan, the Ekitiparapo Alliance, Borno, the coastal states of the Izon; none asked for independence. Everyone accepted the goodness of the new state created by Lugard and they invested their future in the expected eternity of Nigeria. Even when Emeka Ojukwu declared Eastern Nigeria as the independent state of Biafra, it was still based on the Lugardian formula. There was no history of one government in Eastern Nigeria predating Lugard.

But who would love to step into Lugard shoes? They are worn, dirty and uncomfortable. They are for those who are ready to work, to make sacrifice and create legacies and change the face of the earth. One of the great instruments that we inherited from Lugard and his men was the budget. Every government institution was expected to have its budget. Some years ago, a young friend of mine had met me in my country home in Okemesi, Ekiti State. He wanted to contest for the post of chairman of Ekiti-West Local Government and needed my support and advice. I made a simple request from him: get me a copy of the current budget of the local government. He did not know that local government too statutorily must present a yearly budget. I saw him several times after that but he said he was not able to lay hand on a copy of the budget. I understand that local government councils still pass through the ritual of yearly budgeting but neither them nor the public take the ritual seriously.

But budgeting is an important instrument of government. All the seven British governors (or governors-general) who ruled Nigeria before Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became the first African Governor-General in 1960, took the issue of budgeting seriously. The three titans who led Nigeria to independence, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo, took the issue of budgeting seriously too. Indeed, before April 1 when the financial year begins, according to British tradition, the budget would have been signed into Law or an Act of Parliament for implementation by the executive. Today, neither parliament nor the executive takes the budget seriously. In line with global trends, Nigeria financial year now starts from January 1. But in the Year of Our Lord 2017, when is the National Parliament passing the national budget? It seems we have worked ourselves to a situation where nothing is sacred anymore, not the budget, not the national flag, not the national anthem!

In an attempt to make everyone recognise the sacredness of the yearly budget, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua directed that government and all its agencies must close their accounts by December 31 of each year. Money not spent would revert to the Federation Accounts. However, we know what has happened since then.

By the time Nigeria gained independence in 1960, the public service comprised about 20,000 men and women, including about 2000 British officials. Today, I am sure the public service, with the army of politicians embedded in the fattening room, cannot be less than five million men and women. Can we really say that these five million citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are delivering the goods with the same level of efficiency like the 20,000? Are the trains running better and faster? Are the roads safer? Are the schools better? Are the hospitals more efficient? Are the judges wiser and less corrupt?

Few people want to step into the shoes of Lord Lugard. Who wants to trek from Lagos to Sokoto? For the 100 years the British were here, how many of the Governors, the Divisional Officers, the District Commissioners, the commanders and the top secretaries acquired land in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and other choice estates for their personal use? Lugard, who was governor also of Hong Kong, was not known to have acquired choice properties anywhere. He served the British crown and never claimed one plot of Nigeria for himself. How many people are willing to serve Nigeria now the way Lugard did the British imperial crown? Will serve Nigeria?

One step we need to take to show that we are serious with Nigeria is to take the issue of budget more seriously. Lugard died 72 years ago on April 11, 1945. Nigeria remains his major legacy. If we care about that legacy, then those who inherit the dirty shoes of Lugard need to take their assignment more seriously. They should not wait longer before they pass the national budget. Let us start getting certain things right about Nigeria. In the words of American novelist, John Gardner, the author of Gredel: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

Published in Business and Economy
Thursday, 20 April 2017 00:42

KODUGA: Buhari suspends SGF, NIA DG

SPONSORED BY KODUGA.COM: PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Secretary by Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Ambassador Ayo Oke and has ordered a full scale investigation into their activities.

Lawal’s suspension is in connection with contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) while that of Oke is in connection with the staff of currencies recently discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at a flat on Osborne Road in Lagos.

The president has raised a three man committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to investigate the suspended officials.

It has two weeks to submit its report.

A statement issued by the Special Adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, on the issue in Abuja on Wednesday, said the men will be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

It added that the most senior officers in their offices to take temporary charge of their affairs.

The statement read: “President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the allegations of violations of law and due process made against the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr David Babachir Lawal, in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE).

“The President has also directed the suspension of the SGF from office pending the outcome of the investigations.

“In a related development, the President has ordered a full scale investigation into the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has made a claim.

“The investigation is also to enquire into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

“The President has also directed the suspension of the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, pending the outcome of the investigation.

“A three-man Committee comprising the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, is to conduct both investigations.

“The Committee is to submit its report to the President within 14 days.

“The most senior Permanent Secretary in the SGF’s office, and the most senior officer in the NIA, are to act, respectively, during the period of investigation.”

Meanwhile, the suspended SGF, has said that he was unaware of his suspension as he emerged from the Office of the Vice President moments after the development was announced.

Approached by State House correspondents for his reaction after his meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, he said he had not heard of the suspension.

Below is his exchange with reportersYour suspension has just been announced. How will you react to the development?

Who announced it?
The Presidency
Then ask them. Why are you asking me? Who is the Presidency?
Have you been informed of the suspension?
By who? About what? What about you? Have you been informed?
Yes sir.
By who?
By the Presidency sir.
I have not seen it. I should have been given… I have not seen the press release so I cannot comment on it.
It is currently trending online. Are you doubting the authenticity of the statement?
I have not seen it.
Tell us the outcome of your meeting with the Vice-President sir.
I am always here. I always meet the Vice-President. I used to come here even before I was made SGF.
The entry of the suspended NIA DG, Oke, was dramatic as he was not able to see either President Muhammadu Buhari or Vice President Osinbajo.

It was not clear why he could not enter the Vice President’s office through the Administration Entrance used by staff and visitors as he attempted to go through the back gate reserved for the Vice President.

But Oke, who was seen shedding tears, was denied the use of the gate causing his convoy of two Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) to turn towards the Service Chiefs Gate ostensibly in an attempt to see the president.

Again, he was denied entry.

Oke thereafter turned the vehicles around and drove out of the Villa under the full glare of television cameras.

About 30 minutes later, the Special Adviser to the president on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, ordered journalists out of the Administration Gate to enable the suspended NIA DG to return to see Osinbajo without prying eyes.

Published in Headliners

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.

Published in Headliners
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 11:05

BY RAY EKPU: A couple and three widows

It was an eclectic collection of young Nigerians, 23-36 years, making a pitch for fame and fortune. They spent all of 11 weeks in an enclosure they had no control over, no phones, no radio, no television, no internet. They lived largely without interaction with the outside world except what was permitted in the tightly structured Big Brother Naija reality show.

On the last day of the show one man and four women were the only ones standing out of an initial pool of 14. I call the five finalists one couple and three widows. The couple: Efe and Marvis. The “widows”: Bisola sans TTTony; TBoss sans Miyonse and Debie-Rise sans Bassey. It was a show that drew the highest viewership in Africa in recent years, viewership that ran into many millions. The success of the show derived its root from the careful choice of the contestants and the loading of the game with interesting features that tended to grab the consciousness of many young people in Africa.

The ultimate winner of the show, Efe, a 24 year-old graduate of Economics is from Warri, the headquarters of Pidgin English. He exhibited the Warri-ness in him by the excellent pidginisation of his conversation in the House. He also revealed in a Truth or Dare game that he had slept with two sisters. Is that what they voted for – his readiness to tell the truth even if it was unflattering of him? His favourite expression “based on logistics” seems to have endured beyond the show as many young people now preface their conversation with it. A few years ago, Uti Nwachuku who won the Big Brother Africa show donated the Nigerian slang, “a beg a beg” to the continent. It has gained continent-wide currency. Does it mean therefore that the sexy-ness of the underclass idiom called pidgin is a major fascination for African youths? Did the fact that Efe is a pidgin English rapper contribute to the attractiveness of his brand as he cornered more than 60 per cent of the votes to win the prize?

Who else stood out of the pack? Bisola, unmarried mother of a seven-year old-girl, was born in the UK, bred in Nigeria, brilliant actor, singer with the temper of a wasp. She was the runner up. There was also TBoss whose face would launch a thousand ships. She flaunted her flawless body including her boobs as a sign of her entitlement to the fame or notoriety that can come from the exhibition of obscenity. She has six tattoos on her body in places seen and unseen. She also pierces her skin at seven places, seen and unseen. Because of her unique self-consciousness of her physical endowments she is ready to flash her oh la la figure by limiting what is not seen by the public to the minimalist’s minimum. On the show she said she could blow the 25 million naira prize within one week.  

This Romanian-Nigerian girl also let it out that she could act nude if the price was right. Not a dancer, not a singer, not an excellent conversationalist but the voters kept her in the house till the last day, apparently because of her readiness to push the envelope. Were they wondering what she would do next, whether she would drop her G-string? Many viewers wonder why she allowed Kemen on her bed, put her head on his shoulder and got him to give her a massage if she was not leading him on to paradise. Kemen got punished for crossing the invisible line as TBoss unspooled her anger for being violated by the body building, big bicep flaunting guy. She seems to guard the boundary of decency ruthlessly and when Miyonse, her friend, was flirting around with Gifty she promptly nominated him for eviction. The public seemed to approve of her action. They evicted him from the show that week.

There was also the powerfully built Uriel who liked cooking – and eating – who was apparently infatuated with the sexy baritone of Big Brother. She loved the Diary Room Session and made it her playground. She had made this important announcement on being fired from the house that she has not had any relationship with a man for one year. She added either as an admonition, a warning or a revelation: man no be wood. That is an indication that she was open to the business of love.

Debie-Rise, the Kogi State guitar-wielding girl, apparently thought her guitar twanging skills would take her into the SUV. She was genuinely in love with Bassey. When he was evicted she was a fountain of tears. While in the House both of them wore their “Love” like a heavy perfume but Bassey, on exit from the House, confirmed that he had a girl friend and described Debie-Rise as just a friend that he would like to work with.

Thin Tall Tony, 36, the oldest contestant hid his marriage status from his fellow housemates because his wife preferred it that way. Tony, lean as a rake, handsome as a peacock, and tall as a masquerade tree was smooth in dance, speech and manners. But Bisola feels hurt that Tony did not tell her he was married when they got entangled in the delicate threads of romance, real or rigged. Now out of the house Bisola is busy airing her grievances like jewels, but Tony has moved on.

This is one indication that whatever romance was going on in the House had nothing to do with love. The entanglement was based purely on existentialism. In the outside world there are millions of eligible persons fit for romance so the contestants were not searching for romance in the House but fame and fortune. If romance or the appearance of it would lead to the 25 million naira then it was worth exploiting. Besides, if men and women are locked up in an enclosure day and night and they are involved in joint everyday activities – cooking, eating, cleaning and drinking – bonding and networking inevitably become a part of their routine.

The fact that all the contestants were pushing for the ultimate prize nullifies the very notion of self-less love and brings to the fore the artificiality of the romance. It also nullifies the reality-ness of the show because each contestant comes with pictures in their heads of what they think the voters want to see. In that case, they must then act in a manner as to secure their admiration not only in their task execution but also in hiding their character flaws and wearing their best mannerisms. How different is that from the movies, from being what you are not?

By the laws of the Big Brother Universe, the show is entertainment-based. But it managed to deliver information and education as well even though the content of the latter was somewhat negligible. If the show did not provide a huge dose of entertainment it would have lost the bulk of its followership who are largely young Africans. But they could be reached when education and information were packaged as or with entertainment. That is a lesson for content providers in the mainstream media.

The show has been a confidence booster for all the participants. Each of them talks of being able to use the platform as a jump-off point to something great. They were also able to pick up some new skills and knowledge, learn new ways of dispute resolution and how to develop the spirit of tolerance. The campaign on the girl-child’s education and the seminar on “consent is sexy” were some of the important issues that Africans must pay attention to. I wish they added drama sketches on corruption, religious and ethnic tolerance, tenets of democracy and self-reliance.

Some moral purists were against the airing of the show because they said it was a celebration of nudity, alcoholism and erotic dancing. However, the show was meant for adults aged 18 and above and is not vastly different from what adults experience at parties and night clubs or what they see in the movies. In this case, it was even easier to control what anyone wanted to see. If you did not want to see adults kissing you could change the dial, or shut the television or shut your eyes. Democracy provides for heterogeneity. We cannot have a world designed and dictated by the Talibanic apostles of religious and moral extremism. People must have choices. People must make their choices with the full appreciation of the consequences of their choices without some moral godfather’s cane on their backs. 

For me the most valid criticism was its airing from South Africa. The organisers explained that they have a fully fitted studio in South Africa. But Big Brother Nigeria one was aired in Victoria Island, Nigeria, 10 years ago. If it was possible to do it 10 years ago why is it not possible to do it 10 years later? The second excuse is that the power situation in Nigeria is appalling. It is hereby agreed that that is so. But any company that runs its business in Nigeria must be ready and willing to enjoy the benefits and bear the burdens too. Benefits and burdens are in one pack. They are not separate or separable. MTN is a telecommunications company of South African origin. It operates in Nigeria and provides power for its operations because it knows that the Nigerian market is huge. It committed an offence and it was hit with a huge fine. It is still here, operating and paying the fine. Why hasn’t it thrown in the towel? Because this market is huge.

If the organisers of the Big Brother Naija show want to stage another one, Nigeria must be the hosting place. We need the direct benefits and gilt-edged opportunities for suppliers, hairdressers, artisans, etc. They can reap the bountiful fruits of the show to which Nigerians have committed many millions for its success. Why should we kiss the maid if we can kiss the mistress?


Published in Parliament

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr Usman Muktar, says the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, runway is ready for operation and can be opened on Wednesday.

Muktar stated this while speaking with newsmen during an inspection of the airport’s runway on Monday in Abuja.

The Abuja airport was closed on March 8 for six weeks to enable rehabilitation of its 3.6 kilometres runway to be carried out.

Flight activities were consequently diverted to Kaduna International Airport during the period.

The Federal Government had announced that the airport would be reopened for normal operations on April 19.

Muktar disclosed that NCAA had concluded the second phase of inspection as follow-up to the recommendations made to the contractors to correct some areas of concern earlier identified by a team of experts.

According to him, they inspected yesterday, made some observations but the findings that were found were not safety critical and today it is found that they have been rectified.

“We have carried out the inspection and we have confirmed that the job has been done quite satisfactorily in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard and recommended practices.

“So, the airport, the runway is very ready to accept flight operations safely.

“By this, we are declaring that the airport and its runway are quite operational at the time that has been determined as the official opening of this airport,” he declared.

Muktar said that the agency had already issued “Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)’’ to all aviators worldwide that the airport was ready for reopening on Wednesday as scheduled.

On the calibration of the airport, he said that nothing had been tampered with as far as the instrument landing system was concerned to warrant recalibration.

According to him, calibrations are normally scheduled and very soon this airport will also be calibrated along with others.

“It will be normal routine calibration which will be applicable to other airports that are due for recalibration,” he said.

Earlier, the Managing Director, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Saleh Dunoma, had said that the runway was fully ready for reopening, adding that it had been completely cleaned up.

Dunona said that NCAA had given the operators a “clean bill of health’’, adding that some of the observations raised by the team of experts on the repair of the runway had been corrected.

He explained that the runway was cleared “because we have our technical team working across the length and breadth of the runway to make sure that every detail is observed.

“That is why all equipment has been evacuated from the runway.

“Later, all the professionals in NCAA and FAAN will carry out a detailed inspection again to ensure that all debris is cleaned up during final cleaning.

“Any moment from now, if there is any aircraft, we are ready to receive that aircraft, but of course, in aviation there are procedures because NOTAM has to be issued and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) will do that and then we are ready,” he said.

Published in Business and Economy

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.”

Published in Headliners
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.

Published in Headliners
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 23:52

YES434: Buhari insists on Magu

SPONSORED BY YES434.COM: IBRAHIM Magu will remain the boss at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Presidency has said.

Twice the Senate has refused to confirm Magu as the agency’s chairman, but the Presidency remains undeterred by the rejection.

It believes that:

  • the Presidency does not necessarily need to seek Magu’s confirmation – going by Section 171 of the 1979 Constitution; and
  • President Muhammadu Buhari is satisfied with Magu’s response to the report of the Department of State Services (DSS) on which the Senate based its action.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated the government’s position in an interview with some media houses.

According to The Cable, an online medium which was part of the interview, Osinbajo said President Buhari did not find the indictment by the DSS a strong reason to replace Magu.

The Vice President said the President felt the DSS report was “not meritorious” enough to withdraw Magu’s nomination.

Osinbajo said: “We should commend the president for not interfering with what the DSS said. The DSS came up with a report and the man who was accused refuted it.

“He explains and gives a reason. When that happened, the president looked at what Magu said and what the DSS wrote and he said ‘I am satisfied with what Magu said’.

“He then decided to retain Magu as the nominee for EFCC. I don’t see any reason why that should be contested.

“The president has not interfered with what the DSS said. If he wanted to interfere, he would have ordered the DSS to keep quiet. He didn’t do that, but he said ‘I don’t think the DSS report is meritorious enough to withdraw his nomination.’

“The president reserves the right to say, ‘this is who I want’. I’m fully in support of Magu as the EFCC chairman just as the president is.”

Osinbajo faulted the Senate for rejecting Magu based on DSS reports claiming that the decision was not in line with global standards. He said it is not only in Nigeria that lawmakers reject nominees based on reports.

He cited the nomination of the Attorney-General of the United States, Jeff Sessions who was retained by President Donald Trump despite negative reports.

He added: “You see the American example… There are various reports. People come up with all sorts of things. Look at Jeff Sessions (US attorney-general), for instance. There were many reports. Some accused him of being racist, some of this and that, but he is in office today.”

The Vice President said in the light of Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution, the President can retain Magu as EFCC chairman without confirmation by the Senate.

He said the Constitution is much more superior to EFCC Act which recommends the confirmation of the nominee for EFCC chairman.

He insisted that the Presidency can represent Magu for confirmation or leave him to do his job.

He said: “It is up to the Senate to make their judgment, and it is up to us say what we want to do. If our candidate is rejected, we can represent him. No law says we can’t represent him. And again, there is the other argument, whether or not we need to present him for confirmation and that’s a compelling argument from Femi Falana.

“His argument is that under the constitution, Section 171, and if you look at that section, it talks about the appointments that the president can make. They include appointments of ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies, such as the EFCC.

“In that same Section 171, the Constitution rightly said that certain appointments must go to the Senate, such as ministerial and ambassadorial appointments. Those of heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the Senate. That’s what the constitution says.

“But the EFCC Act, which of course as you know is inferior, says that EFCC chairman should go to the Senate for confirmation.

“I am sure that even a pocket book lawyer knows that when a legislation conflicts with constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails.

“I agree with Mr. Falana that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the Senate, but we did so and it was rejected by the Senate, but I believe that it can be represented.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong about the fact that the Senate has rejected him. The Senate has acted in its own wisdom to say ‘No, we don’t want him’, and we can say, ‘This is our candidate… we like the gentleman and we want him to continue.”

The Senate has twice rejected the nomination of Magu by Mr. President due to adverse reports from the Department of State Security (DSS). At the last rejection, the lawmakers specifically asked that Magu be sacked and not represented for the position.

For the second time, the Senate on March 15 rejected Magu following reports from the DSS.

It recommended that Magu be sacked and not re-presented for the position.

To make good its threats, the Senate on March 28 suspended the confirmation of 27 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in protest against the continued stay of Magu as acting chairman of EFCC.

Published in Business and Economy

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

Published in Headliners
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