Monday, 25 September 2017

NEWS AND STORIES

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Headliners (1734)

A run-away former governor has lost a choice hotel in Singapore to the latter day wife he used to launder his loot.

The ex-governor is currently under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly benefitting from the $2.1billion arms scandal.

Also hanging on his neck is an allegation that he mismanaged N19.8billion public funds while in office.

He has refused to honour EFCC invitation CR: 3000/EFCC/ABJ/ASO/TM5/VOL.5/596.

The Nation gathered that the ex-governor used to frequent Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

But following the recent signing of six agreements by Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he reportedly left Dubai for Singapore.

A highly placed source familiar with the  ongoing probe of the ex-governor, said the suspect entered into a marriage of convenience with the woman  in Singapore with a view to  protecting the investment of his laundered funds in the  choice hotel.

He reportedly bought the hotel in the name of the ‘wife’.

“But the marriage turned into a scam because the ‘wife’ divorced the ex-governor and took possession of the hotel,” the source said yesterday.

“The suspect has been battling to retrieve the hotel from his ‘wife’. It is however doubtful if he can get it back.”

It was learnt that the ex-governor is now in a serious dilemma.

Investigation revealed that over N600million of the $2.1billion arms scandal fund has so far been traced to the ex-governor.

Another source said EFCC has been on his trail in connection with the alleged mismanagement of N19.8billion state funds between 1999 and 2007.

“Documents showed that he collected N600million illegally from the $2.1billion arms deal cash through the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA),” the source said.

“Initially, the suspect was based in Dubai but following a close up by detectives, he left the UAE for some countries where he has been on a make-shift life.

“We are weighing options on how to extradite him in order to bring him to justice. We will explore all legal options.

Responding to a question, the source added: “The former governor has been giving one excuse or the other for not honouring the invitation of the EFCC.

“At a point, the suspect said he had a heart-related problem but intelligence report confirmed that he was pretending.”

Meanwhile, the acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu has asked Nigerian youths to take up the gauntlet and become change agents in the fight against corruption in the country.

Represented by the head of the Benin Zonal office, Mailafia Yakubu, at an event to mark World Peace Day celebration in Benin City, Magu said the biggest challenges facing Nigeria were the “twin evils of corruption and impunity.”

He charged the youths to imbibe the culture of excellence as future leaders of the country and to shun all forms of criminality.

“The corrupt and other economic and financial criminals can no longer hide because the Commission is working hard to bring them to justice,” he added.

Magu said it was disheartening that some youths were involved in advance fee fraud but warned that the prevailing economic challenge was not an excuse to commit crime.

He said:  “I agree that the country is going through a process but it is not an excuse to commit crime, be legitimate in your dealings so you can be the future leaders that you are.”

Posted On Sunday, 24 September 2017 02:24 Written by

A Senator is in trouble with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for obtaining a N1.2billion loan from the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) to buy electrical equipment but he allegedly  ended up diverting the facility to personal use.

Three years after securing the loan for his firm, he has only paid back about N150million.

Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North) has been summoned by the EFCC for interrogation through the Clerk to the National Assembly.

Besides the loan, Nwaoboshi is under investigation for collecting N1.580bilion contract to supply some construction equipment and trucks to the Delta State Direct Labour Agency in 2010.

The senator allegedly supplied mostly refurbished trucks as new vehicles. This has been confrmed by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), The Nation learnt.

The senator is among the 18 of the nation’s 109 senators who are either under investigation or trial for over N367.5billion alleged fraud by the EFCC.

Nwaoboshi may face trial for alleged abuse of office in securing the loan, alleged diversion of the facility and contract fraud.

Nwaoboshi is said to have secured the N1.2billion loan, under the Local Industrial Growth Scheme when he was sitting on the Board of Directors of NEXIM Bank.

Although Nwaoboshi excused himself on the day the NEXIM board approved the facility for his company, the anti-graft agency said “the deal signifies of internal abuse”.

An EFCC document said: “The loan, which was approved for the senator when he was a member of the bank’s board of directors, was meant for the purchase of equipment and electrical materials but the senator allegedly diverted part of the funds to acquire properties in Lagos.

“Criminal diversion is a serious offence and NEXIM may have to report him to the Central Bank of Nigeria. As a director of the bank, the circumstance of the award of the loan is one that raises fundamental conflict of interest and corporate governance issues.”

The senator is said to have been defaulting in repayment.

“He has not honoured the invitation of this commission but since he has no immunity, our detectives are on his trail,” an EFCC source said.

The Senator is also under probe for allegedly using one of his companies, ‘Bilderberg Enterprises Ltd’,  to secure a contract from the Direct Labour Agency, Delta State to supply construction equipment at N1,580,000,000.00.

But, instead of supplying the equipment according to the specifications, the company allegedly supplied used equipment, contrary to the Bill of Quantity which specified new ones.

Also  Bilderberg Enterprises Limited (previously known as Bilderberg Enterprises Nigeria Ltd) was alleged to have  secured  contracts from Nine local government areas in Delta State worth over N2billion when the said company was yet to be registered under the Company and Allied Matters Act.

The senator is also under the searchlight of the EFCC for allegedly using a firm, Golden Touch Construction Project Limited, to buy a 12-storey building in Apapa, Lagos belonging to Delta State Government at N805, 000,000.00.

It was learnt that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had no record that the senator “declared all the companies and bank accounts he has interest, despite being operational prior to the time he made the declaration.”

A document from the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) confirmed that the senator supplied refurbished trucks to the Delta State Government as new vehicles.

The EFCC’s brief said: “Nwaoboshi, who has failed to respond to the commission’s invitation, is battling to stop the Commission from moving to secure the final forfeiture of his property.

“He has filed two actions before a court in Lagos and a Federal High Court in Asaba, asking that the interim forfeiture order of Justice Abdulaziz Anka be vacated. The Federal High Court Asaba refused the ex-parte application, further hearing is slated for October 3, 4 and 5, 2017.

“A Federal High Court in Lagos in April ordered the temporary forfeiture of a 12-storey building belonging to the senator over an alleged contract scam of N1.5bn.

The said building, which the court ordered Nwaoboshi to forfeit to the Federal Government is at 27, Marine Road, Apapa.

“Justice Anka made the forfeiture order after entertaining an ex parte application brought before him by the EFCC.

“Joined with Nwaoboshi in the application were his two companies – Golden Touch Construction Project Limited, and Bilderberg Enterprises Limited.

“The EFCC told the judge that Nwaoboshi, through his company, Bilderberg Enterprises Limited, got a N1.580bn contract to supply some construction equipment to the Delta State Direct Labour Agency sometime in 2010.

“The senator is also alleged to have forged assets declaration documents before the Code of Conduct Bureau, where he concealed 46 different accounts to which he is a signatory.”

 
Posted On Friday, 22 September 2017 02:17 Written by
A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an order proscribing the pro-separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The court has also declared illegal all activities of the group, particularly in the South-east and Southsouth.

It restrained “any person or group of persons from participating in any of the group’s activities”.

The Acting Chief Judge of the court, Justice Adamu Kafarati, granted the orders after hearing an ex-parte application filed and argued yesterday by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.

Justice Kafarati directed the AGF to ensure the publication of the IPOB proscription order in the official gazette and two national dailies.

With Malami in the court were the Solicitor-General of the Federation (SGF), Tayo Apata; Acting Director, Civil Litigation, Mrs. Maimuna Shiru; and other lawyers in the Federal Ministry of Justice, including T. A. Gazali and Oyin Koleosho.

Specifically, the judge said: “That an order, declaring the activities of the respondent – Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-East and South-South regions of Nigeria amount to acts of terrorism and illegallity, is granted.

“That an order proscribing the existence of the respondent (IPOB) in any part of Nigeria, especially in the South-east and South-South regions of Nigeria either in groups or as individuals by whatever names they are called and publishing same in the official gazette and two national dailies, is granted.

“That an order restraining any person or group of persons from participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intention or otherwise of the respondent (IPOB) under any other name or platform, however called or described, is granted.”

Posted On Thursday, 21 September 2017 02:23 Written by

Kenya's Supreme Court has blamed the country's electoral commission (IEBC) for its decision to annul the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The judges said the 8 August poll was "neither transparent or verifiable".

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu said the IEBC did not verify the presidential results before they were announced.

Mr Kenyatta got 54% of the vote against opposition leader Raila Odinga's 44%.

Mr Odinga went to court alleging that he had been cheated out of a win and that the IEBC did not follow the law in the conduct of the election.

The Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of annulling the election on 1 September but it has only now explained why it took the decision.

It was the first time in Africa that a court had agreed with an opposition demand to cancel a presidential election over rigging allegations.

'Could have been hacked'

Ms Mwilu also said that the commission had not complied with a court order to allow its electronic voting system to be scrutinised.

She said that the IEBC's refusal to comply with the order to grant access to its electronic voting system led the court to believe Mr Odinga's claims that the system "could have been hacked".

The electoral commission has disputed that its system was tampered with.

Opposition coalition Nasa has been pushing for the sacking of IEBC officials whom it blames for bungling the polls, saying that a new team should be in charge of the re-run scheduled for 17 October.

Doubts have however been cast on this date because OT-Morpho, the French company that provided the voting kits, has said that it needs to reconfigure the more than 40,000 kits and that the process would not be complete until at least the end of October.

The judges had ordered for the re-run to be held in 60 days.

Posted On Wednesday, 20 September 2017 11:51 Written by

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have visited two mansions in Dubai allegedly belonging to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The properties, located at E146 Emirates Hill and J5 Emirates Hill, are said to be worth 74,000,000 dirham (N7.1bn).

Emirates Hill, which has been described as the Beverly Hills of the United Arab Emirates, is home to some of the richest men in the world including billionaire Chairman of the Stallion Group, Sunil Vaswani.

Others, who are Diezani’s neighbours, include the immediate past Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif; a former President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari; and Robert Mugabe junior, the son of the President of Zimbabwe and one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, President, Robert Mugabe.

A source within the EFCC told our correspondent that the anti-graft agency was already applying for the forfeiture of the properties through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.

If the commission is able to clear all legal hurdles and ensure the final forfeiture of the property, it would bring the total amount of cash and assets finally recovered from Diezani to $200m (N70bn).

A detective, who did not want his name in print, said the anti-graft agency would exploit the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty the Federal Government had recently signed with the government of the UAE.

The agreements, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, are Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Civil and Commercial Matters, Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and an Extradition Treaty.

The source stated, “We have informed the UAE authorities that from our investigation, we believe Diezani bought the properties with the proceeds of crime. The whole process is still ongoing but with the MLAT, signed by President Buhari, it has made work a lot easier for us.”

The detective explained that before the Federal Government signed the treaty, the UAE law prevented foreign officials from having access to properties in the country without the express permission of its owner.

He added that with the new treaty, the UAE authorities were more cooperative and would readily give information of properties from their Land Registry System.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay(SAN), who hailed Buhari for signing the treaty, told The PUNCH that some corrupt senators, who also owned properties in Dubai, would be made to forfeit them.

Sagay also disagreed with some legal experts who said the Dubai treaty would need to be ratified by the National Assembly before it could be activated.

He said, “The UAE MLAT is not a treaty as such but an agreement; so, it will be operated without their (senators) approval.

“So, let that start worrying them (senators). He (President) will implement it directly. So, those of them that have acquired properties in Dubai and other Middle-East countries should kiss their properties good bye.”

Posted On Monday, 18 September 2017 02:57 Written by


• As Citizens Battle To Dethrone Eyadema Family’s Stronghold
• Abuja, France Should Step In

The Togolese seem to be protesting the hegemonic rule by the Gnassingbe Eyademas. Did you see this coming?
It did not come as a surprise, because succession crisis in Togo is as old as the country itself. Remember that the first President of Togo, late Sylvanus Epiphanio Olympio, was assassinated in a military coup that brought late Gnassingbe Eyadema to power, who was then a sergeant. Late Eyadema got to power after serving in Indo-china and during the war of independence in Algeria, as well as Vietnamese independence war against French colonial rule. So he came home after working under French military rule and later when Togo became independent, he continued to work with Togolese armed forces. But he carried out a coup with others that resulted in Olympio’s death. However, in that coup, just like what happened in France under Napoleon, the leaders could not settle for who should head the country’s leadership. So, he organised his own coup and became Togo’s head of state. Since then, the late Eyadema ruled Togo under a one party regime (PRT), even when there was a multiparty system in 1990 he continued to win elections.

He got into power during the cold war, when military take-over was the norm in Africa, though supported by the Western world. At the end of the cold war, multi-party democracy became the order of the day and France, the former colonial power and at the same time provider of military, economic and commercial activities for francophone countries under the Canal France International (CFI) policy, said all colonies must undergo multi-party democracy. Togo had a one party system before the multi-party policy, but after the policy was implemented, election was organised and the late Eyadema won. And he consistently won the elections thereafter, because he had so managed the electoral process that he could not see himself losing elections and this continued until he died suddenly.

Upon his demise, West African leaders said election must be held, after protests against the son taking over automatically. So, election was held with all the electoral processes in the hands of Eyadema’ family. Though there was internal fighting in the family, but Faure Eyadema won. He came into power, when many West African countries had keyed into the culture of two terms for elected officers. He has been there for two terms and he has not made any one pronouncement as to the political future of the country. A constitution review was done in 2016, which recommended two terms and multi-party system for the country, but that constitution is yet to be approved by Togolese Assembly. So, the people felt the only thing they have to do is to go on the streets, and that is where we are now in Togo. Of course, repression and trying to neutralise the opposition is the order of the day.

The French government wanted multi-party system across its colonies in Africa. Why did Togo miss that mark and the attendant reforms that came with this policy?
Togo missed it because the late Eyadema was considered a very faithful partner of France in Africa. So, he had been able to entrench and endear himself to leaders of all political parties in France, to the point that he was able to win all elections. So, you have multi-party democracy, but he constantly won the elections, though they were not transparent, free and fair. There is this contradiction in France foreign policy to its colonies. On one hand, French leadership supports multi-party system and rule of law, but on the ground in the colonies, those principles are not implemented. And because the late Eyadema had friends across different political formations in France, he was able to get away with it, which is why they are in this crisis now.
Is the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) not a contributor to the crisis, as one would have expected that they would step in to ensure compliance with the 2016 constitution review and getting the Assembly’s backing?

Of all ECOWAS countries, Nigeria is the most influential. It has the biggest economy; biggest military force and you see what Nigeria did in The Gambia. But Nigeria has never done that for Togo. Ghana wanted to, but it does not have the political and military clout to deal with Togolese succession crisis. Nigeria has always been silent. The little Nigeria did was to say that election must hold, when Obasanjo was in office. It did not go far to say that a constitution must be in place for a two-term maximum. If that had been done, the issue would not have happened.

In the geo-political configuration of ECOWAS, members will only go the way Nigeria goes and this has been demonstrated. Nigeria is the highest financial contributor and ECOWAS headquarters is in Nigeria. It is only when Nigeria moves that others follow and that is what happened with The Gambia. Senegal could not do anything.

Are you saying some forces within Nigeria are contributing to the crisis in Togo?
Yes, I will say so. This is because unlike in The Gambia’s case, when we said no, we didn’t want this, no action is being taken on Togo. We intervened in Liberia and Sierra Leone, when their internal crises was about to spill over, but when it comes to Togo, there are some internal forces in Nigeria that are friendly and in support of Eyadema’s regime.

And what do you think is the interest?
There is a very powerful Togolese political lobby in the Nigerian political landscape. And do not forget that the late Eyadema was one of the founders of ECOWAS. He had been friends with Gowon and successive governments after Gowon. Maybe, his son does not have that influence, but the father had.
What is the future of Togolese political landscape? There was a time the father had issues just like the son is having now, but the former got away with it.

Are we going to have a repeat?
When a crisis starts and it is not resolved fundamentally, it disappears temporarily, but reappears again. That is what is happening in Togo, and if care is not taken, that country will go into a civil war. It is time for ECOWAS to step in, to say look, let us do this: Faure Eyadema is at the end of his second term, so let us have a new constitution that says any president can stay in power for a period of five years and not renewable after a second term. If this is done now, they can now negotiate a settlement for Faure to contest again, but will not re-contest again after this last outing. This could be done as a middle of the road agreement and then the place will calm down. And it will be made clear that, if he contests and wins, he will not return again and this will break the Eyadema’s family stronghold on the country. If not, the crisis may become so bad that the country may implode. There is need to have a middle of the road agreement.

The sit-tight syndrome is the norm in Africa. Looking at Faure’s reformation posture, when he assumed power, don’t you think seeing previous leaders before retained power at all cost encouraged him to also want to stay put?
He deceived the international communities and Africa. He gave the impression that one of the things he wouldn’t do is behave like his father. But you only know people when they get to power, and not before. A man or woman becomes a liberator or an oppressor, when he gets to power, and that is when you know the nature of his regime. Also, in many African countries, incumbent presidents don’t have the intention of leaving. The only opposition to a life president is death.

What geo-political setting gave the Eyadema family the upper hand to have remained in government for over 50 years?
If you look at Africa’s post independence history, the late Eyadema was one of the few leaders that captured power and stayed in power. In the 50s and 60s, the notion of spending two terms in power and leaving was not there. You stayed in power as long as you wanted. And if you look at Nigeria, it is the internal dynamics and contradictions that forced some people out of power. Gowon did not want to leave, Shagari was removed by a coup, Babangida did not also want to leave, when election was conducted, he scuttled it. That culture of you must spend two terms was not yet ingrained into Africa’s political culture. I do not see why the likes of Paul Kagame and Museveni are still in power. It retards progress and promotes under-development, because the resources meant for education and vocational training is spent on promoting dictatorship.

The biggest problem Africa is facing since 1492, when it had contact with Europe, is that we have simply remained a continent that supplies raw materials and nothing else. The transformation of these raw materials in Africa has not been realised simply because, even after independence, African leaders have not invested heavily in education and vocational training, like it is done outside. If you invest three or four percent of the budget on education and vocational training, what are you going to achieve?

This is what is happening in Nigeria, with almost ten million out-of-school children, which is one of the highest in the world. This is aside the fact that half of our population cannot read and write. These are potentials for economic development. You can only reverse it, if you invest heavily in education and vocational training, just like in South Korea. We are not doing that; we are only perpetuating leaders, spending money to perpetuate rulers. That is the tragedy of Africa.

And Togo is an example; it spends about three percent on education and vocational training, but look at the money it spends on armed forces, which is about 50 percent of the budget. So, there cannot be development.

Do you see external forces’ conspiracy in this? What sense is in it, if you spend less on education and much on military and security, which is sourced externally?
Yes, a bit of foreign conspiracy, but mainly because African leaders have decided to under-develop Africa. We need to be saying that, because this is 50 years after independence. And they are under-developing Africa to promote their longevity in power.

Ironically, in spite of the huge budget on security, Africa states are not able to fight terrorism because they are under-equipped and the armies are like that of the 60s, while the terrorists are very sophisticated, in terms of intelligence and arms. And we are now being haunted by the neglect and under-funding of education and vocational training. This is what is playing out.

If you look at the education and vocational budget of those countries that are helping us, it is very high. They have well-equipped personnel, as well as well-funded armed and ammunition institutions that are up to date.

Are Togolese not also guilty, especially for being so tolerant of tyrants and sit-tight leaders’ excesses?
I would not agree, because from time to time, there have been protests and revolts over corrupt and indolent leadership. Citizens have not considered these leaders as people that cannot be changed. There have been crises, showing displeasure for leadership styles on the continent.

Unfortunately, however, when you switch on the television, you see hundreds of African youths wanting to leave the continent to go to Europe. This is a product of leadership failure, because they cannot see hope in their countries. This is a continent that is one of the richest in the world. There is no type of raw material that is not in abundance in the continent, but what are our leaders doing about them?

Yes, there might be followership conspiracy, but fundamentally, the buck stops at the doors of our rulers. Look at how our revenues are being stolen and taken abroad.

You talked of revenue, which is about the economy. If you look at countries with sit-tight leaders, they rely on external assistance for sustenance of their economies. Is the unhealthy state of the economy not playing a role in all of these crises?
We need to move away from those classical theories. In the 1960s, South Korea and Nigeria were at the same level of development, but South Korean leadership, without any political revolution, decided that they must spend a huge sum of their budget on education and vocational training and it has moved from four per cent to about 56 per cent. And the result? We have Kia, Daewoo and industrial gadgets, among others. Since 1960, Nigeria is still a country of raw materials with mono economy.

In that kind of situation, you cannot industrialise and become independent of external forces. If you have money and don’t spend it on education and vocational training, definitely you will not reap where you didn’t sow. If you spend three per cent of the budget on education and 60 per cent on the political class, what do you expect to get? You only get under-development.

But I want us to move away from the thinking that it is external forces. Yes, they exist, but the internal forces must be the engines for development. If a leader says, as recommended by UNESCO, I will spend 26 per cent of the budget on education and vocational training; 10 years after, you will see the result.

We are just stagnating. And because we fail to do the right thing, our future generation is doing anything possible to go to Europe that is in crises. This is because we have refused to do the needful. It is pathetic for a continent that is so rich. I won’t even accept all these claims that Niger and Chad are very poor, because there are human beings living there, just like there are material resources in the countries. It is because of the way the resources are being managed that is responsible for their being qualified as poor countries.

African leaders meet at different occasions, whether on regional basis or centrally, yet its structure, including the Africa Peer Review mechanism, has not been able to check their excesses…
To really evaluate the political system in Africa, we need to look into the percentage spent on education and vocational training. It is a very important index. If you spend 15 per cent on education and vocational training and increase it every year, it means you are moving into production of the much-needed manpower to transform raw materials into industrial finished products. Right now, we are not adding wealth to what is on ground. What is the whole basis of exporting gas and petrol to South Korea, when we were at the same level in 1960? It is simply that we have not got it right and not invested in education and vocational training.

This, for me, is a big indication. As long as we do not invest in education and vocational training, we cannot maximally exploit the benefits of our raw materials. We only wait for transfer of technology, which is propaganda. Send your people to school, invest heavily in education and vocational training and you will see people performing wonders. This century is driven by knowledge of economy and digital revolution.

The whole idea of education has dramatically changed. You go to school to acquire knowledge, as well as for skills. You are studying physics, but you must also learn how to be either a carpenter or hairdresser or mechanic, so that you realise your full potentialities as a human being. You have a skill and your brain is functioning, that is the modern concept of education. Korea and Japan are doing that. China and Germany are also doing it. It is not just mono way of acquiring education. Let me give you an example. There are two sectors booming in Nigeria today: Nollywood and hip-pop. These two sectors are populated by graduates, who did not read theatre arts or music. What they have done is that, because they have trained their mind, anything they put their hands on, they could learn. If you do that in the university before leaving, there would have been a better transformation of Nigeria’s economy. 

Don’t you think ECOWAS and AU need to take a stand to say Faure Eyadema must leave, not minding possible humiliation to the Eyadema dynasty? Wouldn’t this send signal to other sit-tight leaders?
You need France and Nigeria to do that. AU will only follow Nigeria and France’s position. If today, Paris mounts pressure on Eyadema to promulgate into law the new constitution, that is the end of the game. If Nigeria says, promulgate the new law so that it becomes an act of parliament, Nigeria will have to seek Paris’ cooperation and understanding to make that a reality. So, it is a question of Paris and Abuja making the move.

The tragedy about Africa is that we have rulers who still behave, even with elections, like kings. You know a king is never replaced until he dies. That is what we are facing in Africa. And until there is a struggle to entrench the new position, it will not come like that. No human being will give up his/her privileges without a fight. Democracy and human rights did not come without a struggle. Change in Africa would only come through a struggle. And where there is struggle, there is no liberation.

The attitude of sit-tight African leaders can be checked, but it is a question of the will of the civil societies, to say we have gone through this path before and enough is enough.

Posted On Sunday, 17 September 2017 12:59 Written by
TROOPS yesterday launched a manhunt for Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader Nnamdi Kanu , barely 24 hours after the group’s proscription.

Nothing has been heard about Kanu since the proscription.

Some sources yesterday said he had gone underground.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One protester told Blame:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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