Saturday, 18 November 2017

POLITICS

Saturday, 18 November 2017 01:40

EFCC grills ex-SGF Anyim

Barely 24 hours after his arrest, detectives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday grilled a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, on how he allegedly laundered over N13billion out of N58, 146,983,677.85 in the Ecological Fund account.

He was also asked to explain how the ecological cash ended up in the accounts of about 15 companies linked with him.

A third peg of the interrogation bordered on why Anyim collected N520million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on the eve of the 2015 general elections.

The reasons for the payment of the N520million were described by investigators as “unclear” as at the time of filing this report. 

According to findings, Anyim, who was described as sober in custody, was said to have used two of the 15 companies to make several transfers to 37 entities.

It was learnt that the EFCC opted to arrest the ex-SGF after he failed to respond to a letter of invitation from the agency.

It was gathered that Anyim, who was aware of the EFCC trail on him in the last one year, had banked on a political solution to his travails.

His sudden attendance of a dinner in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari in Abakaliki on Tuesday was said to be one of the rapprochements he was banking on to stave off the EFCC’s arrest.

But top sources close to investigation, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, claimed that Anyim had a lot of garbage to clear based on his conduct in office.

One of the sources said Anyim, who was SGF from May 2011 to May 29, 2015, was under probe for alleged “false declaration of assets, abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds and money laundering”.

The source said: “We have been conducting a covert investigation of Anyim in the last two years based on the alleged diversion and laundering of ecological funds.

“After reaching an appreciable stage, we invited Anyim, but he refused to honour the 10am appointment given to him. We had no choice than to effect his arrest at about noon on Thursday.

“We executed a search warrant in his house and we were able to recover some documents relevant to the investigation.”

Asked to be specific on the allegations against Anyim, another source added: There was the wild disbursement of cash from the SGF Ecological Fund account when Anyim was in charge. Most of the beneficiaries of the cash had nothing to do with ecological contracts.

“For instance, from May 2012 to May 2015, the SGF Ecological Fund Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria received an inflow of N58,146,983,677.85. From this fund, three of the companies linked to Anyim (Foundation Years, Obis Associate and Eldyke Engineering) received contracts worth over N13billion. Foundation Years alone received a net payment of N10,308,017,838.85 between 2014 and 2015.

“Curiously, on receiving the fund, Foundation Years and another Anyim’s company, Br-Kthru, made several transfers to 37 entities. Some of the organizations and individuals have no nexus at all with ecological issues. Investigators are probing the reasons behind the wild disbursement.

The source listed companies which Anyim allegedly used as fronts to “obtain contracts or laundered proceeds of the ecological funds contracts as Foundation Years Limited, Precious Integrated, Precious Petroleum, Mak & Mak, Chap Construction, Eldyke Engineering, Pryke Limited, Chipa Nigeria Limited, Prima A11 Limited, Pima International, Chanto Engineering, Ishiagu Microfinance Bank, Mulak Ventures, Vitro Engineering and Tip Top Nigeria.”

A third source said  Anyim has cases to answer in connection with alleged “false assets declaration, receiving N520m from the Office of the National Security Adviser on the eve of the 2015 general elections for unclear reasons and using proxies and companies in which he had interest to corner contracts from the Ecological Fund.

“So far, he is looking sober in our facility, but we have asked him to give account of the N13billion curious payments/ withdrawals/ transfers from the Ecological Fund account. We have conducted searches on the 15 firms, identified their accounts.

“More amazing was the transfer of the N520million to Anyim by ONSA on the eve of the 2015 general elections. He needs to account for this cash too.

“We have other strands of investigation, including the Centenary Project, alleged cornering of NDDC projects by cronies and alleged building of a 297-bed hotel within two years of becoming SGF. But we have not gone into these other allegations.

“Anyim knew all along that the EFCC had been on his trail. At a point, he wanted a political solution to his travails, but this has not worked for him. What is at stake has to do with public funds.”

All the efforts to contact Anyim or any of his aides for comment did not succeed as the mobile telephone numbers of virtually all the contacts were switched off.

Published in Headliners

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has made his first public appearance since the army took over on Wednesday.

He attended a graduation ceremony in the capital, Harare, handing out degrees.

Mr Mugabe had been under house arrest for days. The army made its move after a power struggle over his successor.

The military said on Friday it was "engaging" with Mr Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks "as soon as possible".

Meanwhile Christopher Mutsvangwa - the leader of the influential war veterans' association, once loyal to Mr Mugabe - said he should step down at once.

He called for a huge turnout in street protests on Saturday.

"We want to restore our pride and tomorrow is the day... we can finish the job which the army started," Mr Mutsvangwa said.

"There's no going back about Mugabe. He must leave."

Liberal groups opposed to the president have also backed the rally.

The leader of last year's #Thisflag protests, Evans Mwarire, urged people to turn up.

President Mugabe at graduation ceremony - 17 NovemberImage copyrightAFP
Mr Mugabe is chancellor at the Open University

Mr Mugabe's attendance at the graduation is an annual tradition but he was not expected this year.

BBC Online Africa editor Joseph Winter says he was allowed to be there partly to keep up the pretence that the military have not staged a coup and partly because of a genuine, deeply felt respect for him going back more than 40 years.

Mr Mugabe walked slowly up a red carpet and joined the crowd in singing the national anthem, then opened the graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe's Open University, where he is chancellor.

One of the people he conferred a degree upon was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of the general who detained him on Wednesday, the state broadcaster reports.

Neither the 93-year-old president's wife, Grace Mugabe, nor Education Minister Jonathan Moyo - an ally of hers whose house was reportedly raided by the military - were present.

The army acted after Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

Mr Mnangagwa was seen as a potential successor and his sacking was supposed to have paved the way for Grace Mugabe - who is four decades younger than him - to take over the presidency instead.

Published in Business and Economy

Zimbabwe's long-time President Robert Mugabe is reportedly refusing to step down immediately, despite growing calls for his resignation.

The 93-year-old was put under house arrest during a military takeover on Wednesday, amid a power struggle over who would succeed him.

There has been no official word on the outcome of talks he had with regional envoys and the army chief earlier.

But sources say he has so far refused to agree to move aside.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said earlier it was "in the interests of the people" that Mr Mugabe "resign... immediately".

The army moved in after Mr Mugabe last week sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, signalling that he favoured his wife Grace Mugabe to take over his Zanu-PF party and thus the presidency.

The BBC's Andrew Harding, in Zimbabwe, says that if President Mugabe can be persuaded to step down officially it could help legitimise the military's dramatic intervention.

On the streets, it is hard to find anyone who wants Mr Mugabe to stay on, our correspondent adds, but negotiating the manner of his departure and some sort of transitional agreement to follow could take some time.

So what's going on in Harare now?

It's very unclear.

Photos in the Zimbabwe Herald earlier showed Mr Mugabe meeting army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga and the two envoys from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) at State House in Harare.

Alongside them was Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Roman Catholic priest known to Mr Mugabe for years, who has been brought in to mediate.

Sources close to the talks say Mr Mugabe - who has been in control of Zimbabwe since it threw off white minority rule in 1980 - is refusing to stand down voluntarily before next year's planned elections.

"I think he is trying to buy time," one source close to the army leadership told the AFP news agency.

Some observers suggest that Mr Mugabe may be trying to seek guarantees of safety for himself and his family before stepping aside.

Zanu-PF officials had earlier suggested Mr Mugabe could remain nominally in power until the party congress in December, when Mr Mnangagwa would be formally installed as party and national leader.

Mr Mugabe in the meeting at State House in HarareImage copyrightZIMBABWE HERALD
Mr Mugabe met officials at State House in Harare
Published in Headliners
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 18:56

Yvonne Nelson’s Baby Daddy Is Married

Yvonne Nelson

An interview with pregnant Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson was published by WOW magazine on Sunday, November 12, alongside photos.

The actress spoke about her pregnancy and parenting with the father of her child. She revealed that the father of her child is London-based but did not reveal any further details.

According to popular Ghanaian celebrity blog, Zionfelix, Yvonne Nelson’s baby daddy is a Fashion Photographer.

An article published on the blog on Monday, November 13, named the man as Jamie and he is indeed a photographer who is based in London.

He travelled to Ghana from London to witness the birth of his daughter with the Ghanaian actress. He currently lives in Ghana.

Jamie Roberts

On 1st November, GhanaCelebrities.Com reported that Yvonne Nelson’s invisible baby father is allegedly someone’s husband–and now, mounting evidence seems to confirm this.

Apart from published screenshot conversation of a Nigerian woman who claims to be his wife, the online platform has identified the baby daddy as Jamie Roberts–and the Nigerian wife as Keela Harrison.

Here’s what looks like a photo from their wedding in London, indicating that indeed Jamie and Keela married.

With Keela saying there has not been any divorce yet, it seems the reason why the man who got Yvonne Nelson pregnant could not marry her is that he’s married to another woman–with whom he has kids.

Yvonne confirmed in her interview with WOW Magazine that, Jamie has kids with another woman.

Keela Harrison Roberts

Aside these interesting findings, the wife of Yvonne Nelson’s baby father has described him as useless, the same man Yvonne claimed is responsible.

The wife in what’s said to be a leaked chat said Jamie is a “lazy ass, broke ex-convict and woman abuser.”

Keela
Published in Entertainment
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 18:46

Drama as Ndume resumes

…I don’t begrudge anybody, says Ndume

 

The resumption of former Senate Leader, Mohammed Ali Ndume Wednesday after serving out 90 legislative days of suspension did not go without drama.

The drama played out when Ndume in his usual boisterous manner raised a Point Order apparently to announce his return to the chamber. 

It was obvious that senators were wondering what the Borno South lawmaker wanted to say so soon after he was left off the hook.

Ndume surprised everybody in the chamber when he recalled the sudden death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke (Osun West) whom he said sat behind him in the chamber.

Ndume who told his colleagues that he used to call Adeleke his “landlord” in the chamber prayed the Senate to observe a minute silence in honour of late senator.

Not done, Ndume also recalled the recently signed North East Development Commission Act.

The Bill that led to the Act, he said, was spearheaded by him and Senator Kabiru Gaya to address the humanitarian crisis created by the activities of Boko Haram in the North East geo-political zone.

He thanked his colleagues for ensuring speedy passage of the Bill and President Muhammadu Buhari for appreciating the necessity to sign the Bill into law in record time.

While Ndume was marshaling his points, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) was gesturing at the back ground to raise another point of order.

It was not clear what Melaye (Kogi West) wanted to say but Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who might have sensed trouble, did not recognise him.

When Ndume was done, Saraki simple ruled that “the points made by Ndume are noted” and quickly moved on to other legislative matters listed for the day.

At a press briefing, Ndume said that he went to court to challenge his suspension to seek clarification on the position of the law about the way and manner the Senate suspended him.

The lawmaker said that he did not go to court for any personal benefit but to seek clarification in the interest of democracy.

He insisted that there was nothing personal about his suspension neither is he holding anybody responsible for his suspension.

He also said that he went to court to test the law in defence of democracy and reiterated that he does not begrudge anybody over his suspension.

He noted that the court had since declared his suspension as illegal, null, void and of no effect.

Ndume who added that the Senate has signaled its intension to appeal the court ruling declared “we will watch how it goes.”

He said, “There was nothing about what happened. I did not see anything personal; I did not take anything personal. I don’t begrudge anybody but if there is anybody who took personal leave that to God.”

Published in Politics
Friday, 10 November 2017 21:30

Senegal book World Cup ticket

Senegal on Friday sealed a return to the FIFA World Cup for the first time since their 2002 debut thanks to a 2-0 win over South Africa in World Cup qualifying African Group D.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Diafra Sakho scored the opener for the visitors in Polokwane, before a somewhat fortuitous Thamsanqa Mkhize own goal sealed the three points for the Teranga Lions.

The visitors are now five points ahead of nearest Group D challengers Burkina Faso with one game remaining.

Senegal stunned the world by beating World Cup holders France in their first ever game at the global finals in 2002.

If they are to produce performances to match that at Russia 2018, it is likely that Liverpool’s Sadio Mane will be the catalyst.

Unsurprisingly, Mane was integral to the victory that booked their World Cup return, with a wonderfully incisive through ball teeing up Sakho for the opener.

2010 World Cup hosts South Africa played their part – and even dominated possession for spells – in a lively match, with Lebogang Manyama hitting the crossbar.

But the second goal, just before half-time, knocked the wind out of their sails.

Head coach Aliou Cisse was the Senegalese captain during their 2002 debut, which saw them follow up that remarkable opening win against France to reach the quarter-finals.

The former midfielder will be hoping he can inspire them to achieve similarly superlative heights next year in Russia. (NAN)

Published in Business and Economy

Inner London Crown Court has sentenced five Nigerians to various jail terms over the theft of £610,000 from business bank accounts.

According to Newham Recorder, Victor Oke, 39, of Galleons Drive, Barking, used stolen data provided by Desmond Uyiosa Abifade, 25, of Henniker Road, Stratford, to falsely impersonate company directors via telephone banking.

Once Oke gained access, he diverted funds to ‘mule’ beneficiary accounts monitored by Moses Kuye, 28, of Connaught Road, Silvertown.

Melinda Mensah-Oke, 37, also of Galleons Drive, impersonated company directors when a female voice was necessary, while Arinola Kuye, 27, also of Connaught Road, acted as the group’s money launderer.

They were caught after being spotted by fraud investigators at HSBC, who passed the case to the dedicated card and payment crime unit (DCPCU) to investigate.

The DCPCU is sponsored by the banking industry and made up of officers from the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police Service, bank investigators and support staff from UK Finance.

Police were able to analyse when and where the calls were made to identify the phones used and from there, the perpetrators.

All five were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, which they pleaded not guilty to.

On Wednesday, Oke was sentenced to four years in prison, while Moses Kuye was jailed for three years and three months.

Mensah-Oke received a fourteen month suspended sentence and Abifade a two year suspended sentence.

Arinola Kuye was given a 12-month community order and instructed to complete 50 hours of unpaid work.

DC Dave Cass, who investigated the case for the DCPCU said: “This was a concerted effort to commit fraud against two companies and profit from crime.

“The police take fraud very seriously and these sentences should send a message to fraudsters that you will be caught and punished.”

All losses were refunded to the genuine business account holders.

Published in Headliners

The popular ‘Squareville’ mansion in Lagos, home of embattled Psquare brothers, Paul and Peter Okoye, has allegedly hit the market for sale.

Perhaps the Psquare brothers have finally decided to sell their joint properties as part of the separation saga.

According to reports on Friday, visitors to the iconic mansion located on Lola Holloway Street, Omole Estate, Ikeja, were met with `For Sale’ sign-post in front of the property.

At the time when Psquare moved into the mansion in 2010, Peter Okoye was quoted saying, getting a land in Omole Estate (Ikeja, Lagos) alone is N100m.

“When you look at the house, especially the finishing, it is over $2million, and when people speculated that the house was worth N300 million, we had not even finished the interior.

“What do you think is the cost of a mansion that has a swimming pool, six living rooms, and ten master bedrooms, all fully furnished.”

There have been strains in the relationship of popular Nigerian music duo in recent times.

Social media was set on fire recently after Peter posted a Snapchat video revealing that he is in Philadelphia on his own for a solo show – without his twin brother, Paul.

My name is Mr P, Peter said As from today, guess what? Its show time, I’m about to go on stage.”

This post came days after his brother, Paul wrote on instagram saying; “Only a woman can come where there’s peace and destroy it.’’

According to a letter sent to their lawyer recently by Peter, he demanded for a termination of the agreement as a group.

Peter based his decision on some serious allegations against his twin Paul and Jude their older brother and manager.

He accused Paul of no longer willing to co-operate with him, and the cancellation of their scheduled music tour to the United States.

He added that Paul was also slandering his wife and children with lies on social media, and alleged that his family was being threatened with threat messages.

Peter further accused his older brother Jude of once threatening to kill him and shoot his wife Lola.

Peter stressed that he was tired of the drama and all he wanted was opting out of the Psquare group and contract.

NAN

Published in Arts & Culture

The UN mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) released rebel fighters accused of shooting a UN peacekeeper, confidential documents seen by the BBC show.

The two men were handed back to their commander in 2015 despite injuring the UN peacekeeper - a war crime under international law.

Because the incident happened shortly before crucial elections, UN officials chose to "appease the electoral process" by "set[ing] the alleged war criminals free, handing them over", a UN report says.

This revelation is the latest blow for a peacekeeping mission beset by problems.

'This cannot go unpunished'

The incident itself took place in December 2015.

Four rebel soldiers belonging to a mainly Muslim militia, Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) which translates as the Union for Peace in CAR, approached a UN checkpoint on motorcycles in the central town of Galaboroma.

A peacekeeper asked them to stop and told them to put their hands above their heads for a search. But instead, two of the men took out weapons and aimed at the UN troops, a confidential investigative report reveals.

UN soldiers shot back, killing a rebel named Junior and injuring another.

The remaining two rebels were arrested and transferred to the battalion headquarters in the nearby mining town of Bambari. The detained men had allegedly injured one of the UN peacekeepers.

Following a previous attack against civilians and UN peacekeepers, the UN mission in CAR, known as Minusca, said: "Any attack targeting the civilian population, UN and humanitarian personnel is a war crime that can be prosecuted in accordance with Central African law and international law."

For its part, the UPC denied that its troops had attacked the UN peacekeepers. "It's false," said UPC spokesman Souleymane Daouda.

But the UN's top official in Bambari at the time, Zlatko Bars-Dimitroff, recommended an "immediate transfer" of the rebels to Bangui for a "proper investigation" by local judicial authorities.

For the next 14 days, a flurry of emails between senior UN and CAR officials decided the fate of the two rebels - Rodolphe Sombo-Igain and Ilyassa Ibrahim.

'They effectively let them go'

"Kindly convey to UPC leadership that by taking such reckless actions their elements have committed a serious crime which cannot go unpunished," Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, known as Minusca, wrote in an email obtained by the BBC.

"UPC would receive a strong message that attacks against Minusca [the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR] will have consequences (no impunity)," Mr Bars-Dimitroff wrote in agreement.

Yet, in order to "appease the electoral process in Ouaka Region, UN authorities decided to set the alleged war criminals free, handing them over to local UPC leader Ali Darassa," the confidential UN report says.

 
Fergal Keane visits Bambari - where UN peacekeepers separate two rival warlords.

Human Rights Watch has documented multiple war crimes committed by Mr Darassa and his faction, one of the major rebel groups fighting for control of the country's resource-rich central region.

Technically, the two rebel soldiers were released on "liberté provisoire", (provisional freedom) and effectively means the court can still investigate the suspect while that person is free from detention.

But "releasing someone on 'liberté provisoire' in the current context, is effectively just letting them go," explained Human Rights Watch researcher Lewis Mudge.

Published in Business and Economy
• Amina Mohammed linked to 1.4m illegal Nigerian woods in China
• New allegations challenge environment record of top UN official
• I signed permits legally, Buhari’s former aide insists

 

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) yesterday released a report showing how over 1.4 million illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria, worth $300 million, were laundered into China.

The report which was first made exclusively available to The Guardian by Global Media Max, a strategic communications services agent to the EIA, claimed that multiple independent sources told undercover investigators that over $1 million was paid to top Nigerian officials to release the woods stopped by Chinese authorities. The EIA is a US-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in 1984 by Dave Currey, Jennifer Lonsdale and Allan Thornton — three environmental activists in the United Kingdom — to investigate and expose crimes against wildlife and the environment. It also campaigns to prevent environmental crime.

Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Forest Campaigns at the EIA, Lisa Handy, said the report indicted the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations and President Muhammadu Buhari’s former Environment Minister Amina Mohammed who now faces questions regarding her role in the entire process.

“Thousands of permits,” she said, “were ultimately signed by the then Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN)”, according to the report emanating from a two-year investigation by EIA on the “Rosewood Racket” detailing the journey of illegal African rosewood, also known as “kosso,” from the remote forests of Nigeria.

Mrs. Mohammed was reportedly supposed to start her new position as Deputy Secretary-General of the UN on January 1, 2017, but extended her time as Minister of Environment at the request of President Buhari to round off critical responsibilities. EIA investigators said they found that she signed thousands of retroactive CITES permits in January 2017 as one of her last acts as Minister of Environment, and just before she was sworn in as the Deputy Secretary-General to the UN.

The permits were reportedly used by Chinese importers to release over 1.4 million illegal logs that had been detained at the Chinese border for months, after having left Nigeria in violation of both Nigerian law and international CITES obligations.Alexander von Bismarck, EIA Executive Director, who was quoted in a sumarised reported and later spoke with The Guardian on telephone from his U.S. base, said: “As a legally binding treaty ratified by nearly all members of the United Nations, CITES can play a critical role in protecting endangered trees and fragile forests. The international community needs to urgently bring transparency to the CITES permitting process in order to fight the organised criminals that profit from the extinction of endangered species.”

Von Bismarck added: “The power and reach of organised timber criminals in forest rich countries is overwhelming if illegal wood is allowed to be sold overseas without consequences.“This is why we urgently need regulatory changes in consuming countries to stop timber shipments based on evidence of being illegally logged, transported or traded. Such laws have already been passed in the U.S. and the EU. This case shows that China has the ability to take action when it stopped thousands of containers of illegal rosewood. But the fact that the wood was ultimately released shows that China urgently needs domestic legislation to ban the import of illegally sourced wood.”

EIA says the products of the illegal logging found their way to luxury furniture boutiques in China, “despite protections placed on this threatened tree species by the CITES.”It further stated that the exploding Chinese demand for kosso over the past five years had triggered a series of “boom-and-bust” cycles that led to the depletion of forests across West African nations.

“In most of the countries, kosso has been illegally logged in violation of harvest and log export bans, including in protected areas. Precious trees have been laundered into the international market through regional smuggling routes, using mis-declaration and falsification of official documents.”The boom, according to the EIA, began in Gambia and Benin, but Chinese traders had to rapidly move on through other countries in the region — before settling on the largest untapped forest resources of Nigeria — as supply was exhausted in just a few short years.

Since 2013, Nigeria has been transformed from a net importer into the world’s largest exporter of rosewood logs, and is to date one of the top wood exporters on the continent. The unprecedented and uncontrolled level of logging across the country is causing desertification, imperiling the livelihoods of millions of people, and threatening national parks and endangered emblematic species such as the most vulnerable chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti) in the world.

Kosso was added to Appendix II of CITES in 2016, meaning that logging and trade must be strictly controlled and kept at sustainable levels. The results of the new EIA investigation show that the enforcement of the convention faces serious challenges when dealing with transnational criminal networks. The report shows how Sino-Nigerian criminal networks took advantage of an obsolete and opaque permitting system to launder illegal wood using CITES paperwork.

Efforts to get a response from the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations did not yield immediate results as several telephone calls to her mobile phone which a presidency official said was roaming, did not go through. There was also no response to a text message at press time.

But Mrs. Mohammed was quoted last month as having referred to the permits in an interview last month in her sprawling 38th-floor U.N. headquarters office in Manhattan overlooking the East River. The certificates, she said “came in bags, and I just signed them because that is what I had to do…I don’t remember how many.”

She reportedly described her own action as part of “a complicated, though legal, balancing act aimed at ensuring Nigeria’s threatened forests were being harvested sustainably while also honouring contracts with Chinese rosewood importers and protecting the livelihoods of a growing number of Nigerians who depend on the timber trade.”

What looked like an official reaction — though unsigned — came much later through a third party.“The Secretary-General has been informed by the Deputy Secretary-General about the reports and reiterates his full support and confidence in her. She, of course, categorically rejects any allegations of fraud,” Ms Mohammed reportedly said in response to The Guardian enquiries.
 
“The Deputy Secretary-General welcomes the effort to shine more light onto the issue of illegal rosewood logging and exportation that she fought hard to address during her tenure in the Nigerian Government.  She says that her actions as Nigerian Environment Minister were intended to deal with the serious issue of illegal wood exportation.  As a result, she instituted a ban and set up a high-level panel to find policy solutions to the crisis of deforestation in Nigeria.
 
“Ms. Mohammed says that the legal signing of export permits for rosewood was delayed due to her insistence that stringent due process was followed.  She says that she signed the export certificates requested before the ban only after due process was followed and better security watermarked certificates became available.”

Asked whether the investigators actually consulted Mrs. Mohammed, Von Bismarck told The Guardian on telephone last night that she was reached by Foreign Policy reporter for comments and she denied that the woods were illegally exported, although there were local laws banning logging in Taraba and other parts of Nigeria.

The illegal business, according to him, has further increased poverty and enriched the traders by some $1billion between 2014 and 2017. He also insisted that on-the-spot checks on containers in Nigeria and China as well as Chinese trade data confirmed that logs were imported from Nigeria.“The logs provide luxury furniture for many thousands of dollars in China,” Von Bismarck said.

But Nigeria’s leading environmentalist and director at the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOME), Nnimo Bassey expressed “serious doubts” that “Amina Mohammed as Minister of Environment would preside over illegalities in the management of environmental resources.”He, however, said he was aware that “there have been a lot of pressures and subterfuges on Nigerian forests including during her short tenure.

“My impression is that she fought particularly hard to ensure that the Nigerian environment was protected and raised the importance of the ministry to new levels. This includes the hard fight to protect Nigeria’s last remaining pristine rain forest in cross River State that has been under intense threat from the proposed superhighway project.”

Published in Headliners
Page 1 of 31

Africa Reporters Television (ARTV)

Newsletter

- Advertisement -



Ads