Thursday, 20 July 2017

SPORTS

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday ordered the temporary forfeiture of a property at Banana Island, Lagos, reportedly bought for $37.5m in 2013 by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The property, designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses, according to court papers presented on Wednesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Apart from the property, the court also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The funds were said to have been found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486.

Justice Chuka Obiozor ordered the temporary forfeiture on Wednesday, following an ex parte application to that effect brought before him by a counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Anselem Ozioko.

Ozioko had told the judge that the EFCC “reasonably suspected that the property was acquired with proceeds of alleged unlawful activities of Diezani.”

The lawyer said investigations by the EFCC revealed that Diezani made the $37.5m payment for the purchase of the property in cash, adding that the money was moved straight from her house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s First Bank account in Abuja.

“Nothing could be more suspicious than someone keeping such huge amounts in her apartment. Why was she doing that? To avoid attention.

“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubts because, as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” Ozioko told the court.

The ex parte application taken before the judge was filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the Constitution.

Listed as respondents in the application were Diezani; a legal practitioner, Afamefuna Nwokedi; and a company, Rusimpex Limited.

After listening to the EFCC lawyer on Wednesday, Justice Obiozor made an order temporarily seizing the property and the funds.

He directed that the order should be published in a national newspaper.

He adjourned the case till August 7, 2017 for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear before him.

Published in Headliners

Over the past few weeks, crowd-control vehicles, guns and tear gas have been shipped into Kenya, reports Kenya's Standard newspaper.

This comes ahead of the general election on 8 August.

The newspaper reports at least a dozen new South Korean-made riot control vehicles arrived in Nairobi at the weekend.

It also says anti-riot gear including teargas canisters, batons, anti-riot wear and guns came through Mombasa port.

The newspaper adds that this "points to an assessment by the security forces that there could be violence after the announcement of the results".

Every week until the election the BBC's Dickens Olewe is taking an in-depth look at an aspect of the vote.

Published in Business and Economy
Tuesday, 18 July 2017 00:24

I Am A Radical For Jesus – Tonto Dikeh

Nollywood actress Tonto Dikeh whose marriage recently was annulled and who has also declared that she’s now a born again christian made a post on what it truly means to know Jesus.

The mother of one said:

“Being born again isn’t a license to be BORING,OR DIRTY IN APPEARANCE..
Being born Again is living a fun filled,Happy joyous life knowing that you have a mighty God by your side..
Being born again isn’t about not having friends or hanging out,it’s about having the right friends that will elevate,motivate,inspire you and most especially pray with you..
Being born again means having Access to the best and the most beautiful things of life..
Being born Again is having Peace and never been afraid to show how genuinely happy you are no matter who that affects..
Being born Again is having to see a hate word and still praying for them..
God wldnt call you only to make you A boring person or a less fashionable person,As a matter of fact I believe a born Again Christian shld have the finest things of life..Because if my life isn’t Colourful how then can I convince you that a LIFE IN CHRIST IS A BLISSFUL ONE..
My fellow brethren it is time for us to Allow the world see Jesus in us colorfully.. MY NAME IS TONTO DIKEH,I AM A RADICAL FOR JESUS,MY LIFE IS AS BRIGHT AS THE COAT OF MANY COLORS,I SPEAK IN HEAVENLY TONGUE AND AM AN ENTERTAINER #KINGTONTO #MAMAKING #RADICAL4JESUS”

Published in Arts & Culture

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday, intervened in inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market with the supply of 195 million dollars as part of effort to stabilise the market.

The acting Director, Corporate Communications of the apex bank, Mr Isaac Okorafor, in a statement, said 100 million dollars was offered through the wholesale segment.

He said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment received 50 million dollars, while tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), among others, got 45 million dollars.

Okorafor said that the CBN was pleased with the state of the market, and assured that the bank would continue to intervene in order to sustain liquidity in the market and guarantee international value of the naira.

He said the apex bank remained determined to achieve its objective of rates convergence, “hence the unrelenting injection of intervention funds into the foreign exchange market’’.

Okorafor expressed optimism that the naira would sustain its run against the dollar and other major currencies around the world, considering the level of transparency in the market.

He, therefore, advised stakeholders to abide by the guidelines to ensure transparency in the market.

Last week, the CBN intervened in the various segments of the foreign exchange market with the injection of 396.8 million dollars.

Meanwhile, the naira continued to maintain its stability in the market, exchanging at an average of N364 to a dollar in the Bureau de Change segment of the market.

Published in News & Stories

There is hardly any doubt that the subsisting economic recession in the country is taking its toll on all sectors of the economy. The arising pains, from time to time, become so heavy that even the most enduring lets out a cry of exasperation. The other day, operators in the automotive sector were reported to have cried out that low demand for their products might cause them to shut down their operations. What that means is that auto-manufacturers or assembly plants in the country have reached their wit’s end. That situation has been driven by many factors but certainly not because Nigerians no longer need brand new cars and vehicles. The forces include non-availability of financial resources needed to purchase new cars; poor state of the economy resulting from the on-going economic recession; devaluation of the Nigerian currency against major international convertible currencies; lack of or inadequate consumer finance facilities for vehicle purchase; high cost of the cars/vehicles assembled in the country; availability of cheaper alternatives especially functional second hand cars; ineffective implementation of government’s policy on ‘buy Nigerian made goods’; and inflation that has eroded the value of money.

If the auto-manufacturing companies are allowed to shut down, the inherent dangers will include loss of jobs by the employees leading to higher national unemployment rate. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country will nose-dive as the contributions made by the auto-makers will be lost. There will be decline in government’s revenue as a result of lost income taxes; industrialisation of the country will suffer a major setback; small and medium scale enterprises that provide services or supply materials to the companies will lose their contracts and perhaps, die. Local capacity and skills development will tend downwards; and ultimately, all the investment that had been made will be lost even as the government goes about in search of more investors.

Incidentally, what is happening to the business of the auto-manufacturers currently cuts across all sectors of the economy. Individuals and organisations, including governments at all levels, are struggling to make ends meet. It is incumbent on each and everyone to find innovative and creative solutions that will facilitate overcoming the current challenges posed by unhealthy economic environment. Thinking out of the box is paramount. It does not matter how long and how far and loudly the cries of drowning individuals, corporations and governments are heard, such are unlikely to produce positive solutions. That the auto-manufacturers are reported to be operating presently at five per cent of installed capacity can be noted as worrisome but such notation will not change the situation. Companies as big enough as the auto-makers should have the means of reading and interpreting goings-on in the market place as well as the know-how to generate ideas that, when implemented, should turn the table in their favour. If the directors and managers are unable to deal with ensuing challenges and as a result the companies are shut down, that will be a clear sign of leadership failure and a bad baggage they will carry around for the rest of their careers. Consequently, it is not in the interest of the leadership of the auto-companies to keep waiting until they are shut down. No amount of outcry will assure that the companies either remain productive or improve on capacity utilisation. Therefore, they should think and act.

But the auto-manufacturers would have seen the issue of low sales coming if only they had been market-sensitive. Indeed, if their marketing, research and development departments were alive to their responsibilities, they would have foreseen the situation. With such early knowledge, the companies would have strategised on how best to deal with the challenge in order to keep their operations on-going despite the country’s economic situation. One way this would have been achieved is by exploring the export market, especially in countries that are not suffering from economic recession. It would also have been necessary for the auto firms to strategically re-assess their cost profiles with a view to identifying and effectively managing major cost drivers in order to achieve lower selling prices of their products.

It is imperative, however, that it is recalled that the Federal Government not too long ago unfolded the National Automotive Industry Plan. That plan received broad-based acceptable by stakeholders, including the auto-producers. As good as that plan may be if it is not implemented in its letter and spirit, the challenges that face the automotive sector will not abate in the short to medium term. The government must therefore ensure that the implementation is driven to the extent that the intendments are achieved with the operators having little or no cause to complain. If, for example, governments and their agencies patronize domestic auto-assemblers by buying their vehicles, that will be exemplary and may encourage other corporate entities in the country to do the same. If governments’ employees are made to buy locally assembled cars, private sector operatives may also follow. This can be achieved faster if governments arrange, through the banks, new vehicle purchase finance facilities for their employees. The ‘buy made in Nigeria goods’ slogan needs to be catalysed through government examples. These initiatives will assist in solving the ‘low sales’ challenge being faced by the automotive industry. 

Additionally, the production cost of the auto companies needs to be studied to reveal and rectify what drives them too high resulting in high selling prices and inability to compete with imported ones. Furthermore, issues of poor infrastructure such as power, high cost of funds, inadequate foreign exchange, non-payment of employees’ salaries by most state governments, rising cases of unemployment, depreciation of the Naira, and so on require urgent remedial attention if enduring solutions must be found. In the final analysis, government should appreciate that with the reported development, realisation of its objectives and projections in the National Automotive Industry Plan, is under threat and thus, must do something to counter the threat.

http://guardian.ng/opinion/auto-plants-may-shut-down-amid-poor-sales-2/

Published in Parliament

The Gambian President Adama Barrow has set up a commission to look into the assets of the former leader Yahya Jammeh.

He is accused of stealing more than $50m (£38m) from the state before he fled into exile earlier this year.

The commission will investigate a number of public enterprises said to have links to Mr Jammeh.

The former president, who held power for 22 years, ran several businesses, including bakeries and farms.

Initially he refused to accept defeat in last year's election but stepped down when threatened with military intervention.

Published in Business and Economy

A crackdown on visitors with visa overstays is imminent in the United States of America with Nigeria, Brazil, Venezuela, China and  Colombia listed as countries with the most total overstays that do not participate in the visa waiver programme.

The Trump Administration says it has a problem with visa overstays in the country and is now determined to step up enforcement to try to cut down on the violations.

Consequently, the government is introducing a face scan for all US citizens travelling abroad.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said this is aimed mainly at better tracking visa overstays and also at tightening security.

The agency said it’s the only way to successfully expand a programme that tracks non immigrant foreigners.

A report in May showed that more than 54 million visitors checked in last year – and nearly 630,000 of them didn’t go back home.

John Wagner, the Customs deputy executive assistant commissioner in charge of the programme, confirmed in an interview that U.S. citizens departing on international flights will submit to face scans.

The number of visa overstays was about 200,000 higher than the previous 12-month period.

Libya, a country of special interest because of terrorism concerns, saw 43 percent of its students refuse to leave on time, while a staggering 75 percent of students from Eritrea broke the terms of their deal, the report said.

Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Centre for Immigration Studies, said those kinds of rates should force a rethink at the State Department, which issues visas, and should spur immigration officials to put more effort into deterring and deporting overstays in the U.S.

“The fact that more than 700,000 visits were overstayed last year shows just how much we need to step up interior enforcement to create more of a deterrent, not only by identifying and deporting overstays, but by weakening the job magnet by cracking down on employers who hire illegal workers,” she said.

Published in Headliners

Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo says  his decision to retire 93 top military officers on his assumption of office  in 1999 has gone a long way in  saving  and stabilizing  the nation’s democracy.

Obasanjo branded the move as a kind of engineering in politics, pointing out that the mass retirement was inevitable  on account of the  lavish life style of some  top military men in the corridor of power.

He spoke at his 80th birthday celebration organized by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Abuja at the weekend.

The former president also warned people from referring to him again as Matthew, a name he said he dropped a long time ago.

He said: “If anyone does not want to see my red eyes, don’t call me Matthew again.”

He said that  moving people from one position to another could be a blessing in disguise, citing the examples of former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade .

Oyinlola was military administrator of Lagos during the Abacha regime and was one of those affected by the Obasanjo purge while Gemade lost his position as PDP chairman in a move believed to have been sanctioned by the ex-president.

Obasanjo said the development has not affected his relationship with both men because to him, Nigeria comes first in everything.

He said: “Talking about engineering in politics, when I got into office as elected president, I got 93 officers of the armed forces out of the military because they were used to what is called the chummy chummy life in government house, and if I had left them in the military they would have been the ones that would have created more problems for us and our democratic dispensation would not have lasted as it has.

“Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola was one of the 93 officers, but in everything in life there may be a silver lining. If he hadn’t been out at the time he may never have been governor. If Senator Gemade had not been kicked out as chairman he would never have become a senator, but I’m happy that I was looking for perfection and what is best for Nigeria.

“Gemade is my friend and is still a friend and will remain a friend, but when it comes to Nigeria even with the best of my friends, Nigeria will come first. And for that I have no apology and I will have no apology for that.”

Published in News & Stories

Court documents filed by the US Department of Justice in Houston have revealed that former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, warned  her alleged business partners – Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore –against lavish spending, including splashing millions of dollars on a yacht.

“If you want to hire a yacht, you lease it for two weeks or whatever. You don’t go and sink funds into it at this time when Nigerian oil and gas sector is under all kinds of watch,” she said to Aluko in a recorded conversation.

But her warning was not heeded as Aluko went on to buy Galactica Star, a luxury yacht, for $80million.

The yacht, a stupendous luxury on water, was once rented by Jay Z and his wife, Beyonce, for close to a million dollars during a holiday last year. It also once hosted Beyonce’s 32nd birthday in 2013.

Both Aluko and Omokore are alleged to have paid bribes between 2011 and 2015 to Diezani who ensured that shell companies owned by the businessmen received billion-dollar contracts to sell Nigeria’s crude oil.

The oil swap contracts were a controversial barter arrangement which saw Nigeria use middlemen to sell crude oil in exchange for refined products. With local refineries under-performing, oil swap deals were used to shore up local demand for petroleum products.

Between 2010 and 2014, under Diezani’s watch, Nigeria was estimated to have channelled over 352 million barrels of oil worth a total of $35 billion into oil swap deals.

But with the contracts mostly opaque, Nigeria reportedly lost more than $900 million in crude oil swap deals between 2009 and 2012.

The deals came under severe scrutiny with former Central Bank Governor, now Emir Muhammadu Sanusi, describing them “not properly structured, monitored and audited.”

President Buhari cancelled the oil swap arrangement in November 2015, seven months after taking office. 

The US Justice Department (DOJ) lawsuit has provided more insight into the scale of theft of Nigeria’s oil riches under Diezani Alison-Madueke’s watch.

The civil lawsuit, brought by DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, is seeking to recover $144 million in assets, including a $50 million luxury condo apartment in New York and the $80 million yacht.

Prosecutors say both assets were proceeds from bribes paid by the two Nigerian businessmen for lucrative oil contracts. The lawsuit seeks the forfeiture of both assets.

Prosecutors claim that the businessmen, Aluko and Omokore, laundered money through the US by purchasing lavish assets.

The $50 million New York condo is at One57, located opposite Carnegie Hall in midtown Manhattan. The building currently holds the record for the most-expensive residential sale in New York following a $100.5 million apartment purchase in 2014.

Aluko’s $50 million condo is the 8th most expensive in the building, but following a loan default, his mortgage lenders are set to auction the apartment on July 19.

The yacht and penthouse are not the only items under scrutiny by the DOJ.

The government also alleges that Aluko, Omokore and others funded a lavish lifestyle for Alison-Madueke.

According to the allegations, they conspired to purchase millions of dollars in real estate in and around London for Alison-Madueke and her family members, then renovated and furnished these homes with millions of dollars in furniture, artwork and other luxury items purchased at two Houston-area furniture stores at Alison-Madueke’s direction.

According to Financial Times, the two are accused of buying a total of four residential properties in and around London worth 11.45 million, and furnishing them with furniture, artwork and other luxury items.

“In one day in May 2012, Mr. Aluko was said to have wired $461,500 and $262,091 to two furniture stores in Houston from a Swiss bank account, on behalf of Mrs. Alison-Madueke, the civic complaint filed in the court claimed.

In return, the government alleges Alison-Madueke used her influence to direct a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to award Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAAs) to two shell companies created by Aluko and Omokore: Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Ltd. and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd. (the Atlantic Companies).

Under the SAAs, the Atlantic Companies were required to finance the exploration and production operations of eight on-shore oil and gas blocks. In return for financing these operations, the companies expected to receive a portion of the oil and gas produced.

However, according to the complaint, the Atlantic Companies provided only a fraction of the agreed upon financing or, in some instances, failed entirely to provide it.

The companies also failed to meet other obligations under the SAAs, including the payment of $120 million entry fee.

Nevertheless, according to the allegations, the companies were permitted to lift and sell more than $1.5 billion worth of Nigerian crude oil.

The government contends the Atlantic Companies then used a series of shell companies and intermediaries to launder a portion of the total proceeds of these arrangements into and through the U.S.

Published in Business and Economy

Hull City have signed Chelsea defender Ola Aina on a season-long loan.

Full-back Aina, 20, made three substitute appearances in the Premier League and one in the FA Cup, and started two EFL Cup games last season.

He is the first major arrival at Hull since Leonid Slutsky was appointed as manager in June.

"I'm very excited to be here and it is the start of a new chapter in my career. I just want to hit the ground running," Aina told Hull's website.

Born in London and with England caps up to under-20 level, Aina has declared his allegiance to Nigeria.

He been part of three FA Youth Cup-winning sides at Stamford Bridge and twice helped them win the Uefa Youth League.

Published in Headliners
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