Image

Why Buhari Won’t Arrest Obasanjo |The Republican News

Obasanjo-and-Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari and Former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former president, has cried out that President Muhammadu Buhari plans to arrest him.

 

I consider it the mother of all false alarms: Buhari lacks motivation for such an action.

But according to Obasanjo’s June 6 statement, which was signed by an aide, the plan arises from “(Buhari’s) desperation to frustrate, intimidate and blackmail him into abandoning his divine mandate to protect the rights of the people to better life and living” because of Obasanjo’s indictment of his administration in January.

Expressing disgust with Buhari’s abysmal performance in office, Obasanjo had urged him not to seek re-election.  Ordinarily, Obasanjo’s status as a statesman ought to be enough for him to speak out on matters of national interest.  But having squandered that, he now mistakes his six-month-old university diploma for God’s very mandate.

But to be clear: in a normal polity, the prosecution—not persecution—of Obasanjo should have started on or right after May 29, 2007, following his loss of presidential immunity, for a truckload of offences that are now well-known to Nigerians.  But he had carefully planned his future, handpicking those who took over from him, thereby foreclosing the option of justice when Umaru Yar’Adua took office in 2007.

Mr Goodluck Jonathan, who eventually assumed the presidency in 2010, ought never to have been anywhere near that office, considering his abysmal record as governor of Bayelsa.

Still, Obasanjo shoehorned him onto the express path to the presidency, and when he made a mess of it, accused his creation of being fake and ineffective.

But he was fake and ineffective by design: Obasanjo’s.  But Obasanjo knew if he had made the patriotic choice and allowed the emergence of a strong and popular president, he might have wound up in prison rather than as a larger-than-life political deity forever trying to define Nigeria in his image.

But the man with a “divine mandate” (to protect Nigerians) has never apologised to Nigerians for his chicanery in manipulating the political process for his own purposes.

Now that in Obasanjo’s eyes, Buhari has descended to the same political lower life form—even if so in the eyes of many disappointed Nigerians—we must remind ourselves not only of Obasanjo’s responsibility for our suffering but also of other crimes as president that he has yet to pay for.

Crimes that, despite Obasanjo’s “alarm,” Buhari has no intention of making him pay for, nor can make him pay for.

And then there are those that he selfishly continues to commit. In the June 6 statement, Obasanjo said, among others, “We are currently in a nation where the Number Three citizen is being harangued and the Number Four citizen is facing similar threat within the same government they serve.”

This illustrates the double standards and arrant hypocrisy by which Obasanjo has perennially divided and cheapened Nigeria.

Bukola Saraki may have other issues with the executive branch, but at the heart of his troubles are allegations of false declaration of assets from his governorships of Kwara State.  Lest we forget, in 2006 during Obasanjo’s second term, 15 governors, including Mr Jonathan, were indicted for similar offences by his Joint Task Force and recommended for trial.

But Obasanjo personally rubbished the report and instead, gave Mr Jonathan the vice-presidency.  In that light, Obasanjo is consistent: the only side he has ever been on is Obasanjo’s, not justice.

To hear Obasanjo tell it, however, he is clean, and he was absolved by everyone, particularly the EFCC.  On that score, here is how he attempted to handcuff Buhari in his statement: “The same EFCC that had conducted a clinical investigation on the activities of Obasanjo in and out of government…would now be made to stand down the existing report that gave Chief Obasanjo a clean bill of health on the probes…”

Obasanjo never says that it was his EFCC that “cleared” him while he supervised it.  Or acknowledge that Nuhu Ribadu, who chaired the commission at the time, subsequently declared publicly that his government was more corrupt than Sani Abacha’s had been.

One more example: in April 2010, a report of the United States confirmed that over 80 Nigerians had collected bribes, some of them in the millions of dollars, from Halliburton.  They included former heads of states, notably Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalam Abubakar…and Obasanjo!

That report, and a local one two years earlier by the Mike Okiro panel set up by Yar’Adua, reached the same conclusions that are well-known to Buhari.  But no Nigerian leader, certainly not Buhari, has had the courage to do anything about it.

That is because Buhari is not interested in fighting corruption symptomatically.  His corruption does not involve people who are as “important” as Obasanjo.  He also appears to be working with the template that leaders don’t harass former leaders, an EFCC official describing last year an arrangement under which Buhari will not arrest Jonathan or his wife.

Note that until Obasanjo shot Buhari’s re-election plans full of holes, Buhari never expressed one negative thought about him.  Only then did Buhari dig up Obasanjo’s infamous expenditure of $16bn in the power sector between 1999 and 2007.

But it is the same Buhari who had always vowed to recover all the funds looted since 1999. “We want to have everything back – all that they took by force in 16 years,” he swore in November 2015.

And yet, in the three years during which he has borrowed externally by the billions, he has not set about recovering any part of that $16bn.  Or any major accounts and scandals of real magnitude.

In other words, Obasanjo symbolises the duplicity and emptiness of Buhari’s mythical onslaught on corruption.  Obasanjo is proof that Buhari’s war is not blind; to investigate Obasanjo would open Pandora’s Box.

But now there may also be another reason why Buhari appears to be playing with parallel agendas: his own record.  In “Petroleum Trust Fraud,” last week, Ray Ekpu, one of Nigeria’s most accomplished journalists, explored Buhari’s sordid tenure as Executive Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund under Abacha.  It is not an insult to say it diminishes Buhari considerably.

The irony of the power-play between Obasanjo and Buhari is that, in the end, a man without a conscience wants to be the conscience of a people. Had Obasanjo Nigeria at heart, he had eight full years to serve Nigerians with distinction.

He didn’t grasp the opportunity: the same test Buhari is failing as we speak.

(Akahi News)

http://www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Advertisements
Image

2015 Slush Funds Nightmare For PDP Chieftains As EFCC Comes After Them

By FELIX NWANERI

 

It is not the best of time for some chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of receiving various sums of money from the N23 billion allegedly shared by former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, for them to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election. FELIX NWANERI reports

 

Many Nigerians were shocked when pictures of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, were published by an online medium in November 2015. The charming lady, who called the shots in the nation’s oil and gas sector, when his kinsman and immediate past president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, held sway, looked her old self in the pictures. She was said to have been diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy in a British hospital.

Before then, the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, which succeeded Jonathan had accused Alison-Madueke of an illegal withdrawal of $6.9 million from the account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to fund a “bogus purchase of three stages for Jonathan’s public appearances” when she superintended over the affairs of the Petroleum ministry. Despite her pitiable state, there were divided opinions among Nigerians over the pictures.

While many described the images as a sympathy stunt, others opined that the new look of the former Petroleum minister was saddening. Amidst the doubts, the Madueke family opened up on the former minister’s health and money laundering allegations against her.

The family described reports on the latter as a “smear campaign.” Confirming that the former minister is down with cancer, it urged Nigerians to pray for her recovery. Perhaps, the recovery prayers for the minister were answered, but shocking revelations about her activities, when she presided over the nation’s cash cow – the oil and gas sector paints a picture of one who conducted public affairs for private advantage.

For instance, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said its investigations revealed that the former minister purchased a sky-scrapper on the highbrow Banana Island of Lagos State sometime in 2013 at a cost of $37.5 million for which she paid in cash. Shortly after that was another shocker.

This time, the EFCC revealed that it has so far traced N47.2 billion and $487.5 million in cash and property to the former minister. The anti-graft agency further revealed that a search of one of Alison-Madueke’s palatial residences in Abuja also turned up boxes of gold, silver and diamond jewellery, worth several million pounds. The most numbing record-shattering acquisitions of Alison-Madueke, the EFCC added, were also found in the ritzy Banana Island, Lagos.

It said they consist of two apartments at the Bella Vista Court. The apartments, which have penthouses, are located on Block C-5, Flat 21, Plot 1, Zone N. For them, the commission said a $350 million hole was dug in the Nigerian treasury on November 22, 2011, by Alison-Madueke. Also in Lagos, the former minister was alleged to have bought a block of six units’ serviced apartments at number 135, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi.

The apartment has a standby power generating set, sporting facilities, playground and a water treatment plant and was bought at the rate of N800 million on January 6, 2012. Other properties, the commission said it discovered are located at number 7, Thurnburn Street and 5, Raymond Street. Both properties, worth N1 billion were paid for on May 30, 2012, the same day Alison-Madueke also allegedly splashed N900 million for an estate in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The EFCC further said it traced to the former minister in Lagos is a twin four-bedroom duplex on Plot 33, Block 112, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme Phase 1, with an estimated value of over N200 million; a large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, bought on February 16, 2012, for N135 million; plot 8, Gerard Road Ikoyi; a penthouse on the 11th Floor in the Block B Wing of the building bought for N12 Million on December 20, 2011.

In Abuja are a duplex on plot 10, Frederick Chiluba Close, Asokoro District acquired in December 2009 at the cost of N400 million; a mini estate located on Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi Gardens Estate, purchased on April 2, 2012 at N650 million; a 6-bedroom en-suite apartment in Aso Drive, Maitama bought on July 20, 2011, for N80 million, while in her native Bayelsa State, was an apartment with two blocks of flats on Goodluck Jonathan Road, Yenagoa.

The anti-graft commission added that Alison-Madueke has N23.4 billion and $5 million (about N1.5 billion) in various Nigerian banks. While the former minister, who is still recuperating in London, has persistently claimed that she is a victim of EFCC’s persecution, the claim that she received $115.01million (N23 billion) from three oil marketers ahead of the 2015 general elections and distributed the money to some chieftains of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for them to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election, has perhaps, dwarfed other allegations against her. Among those presently being tried for allegedly benefiting from the slush fund are former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide; former senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Ayo Adeseun; a PDP leader in Oyo State, Chief Olarenwaju Otiti.

Others are former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau; a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali; former deputy governor of Sokoto State, Mukhtar Shagari; former governorship candidate of the party in Edo State, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and chairman of the party in the state, Dan Orbih.

Akinjide, Adeseun and Otiti alleged to have received N650m

An EFCC investigator, Usman Zakari, who testified before a Federal High Court in Lagos, presided by Justice Muslim Hassan, in the trial of former Minister of the FCT, Jumoke Akinjide, charged alongside Senator Adeseun and Chief Otiti, said the accused allegedly received N650 million cash in March 2015 at the Dugbe branch of a bank in Ibadan on Alison-Madueke’s instructions, and that the money was part of N23 billion which the former oil minister kept in the bank.

Led in evidence by prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Zakari said the commission received a “Category A intelligence” about a meeting at Alison-Madueke’s house in December 2014 with the bank’s Managing Director and some oil marketers. According to him, the former minister told the bank chief that the oil marketers would bring hard currencies to the bank and that he should keep the money until further directives.

Giving a breakdown of how the money was raised, Zakari said Autus Integrated Ltd took $17.8 million to the bank, Northern Belt Oil and Gas lodged $60 million, while Mid-Western Oil Services Ltd paid $9.5 million. “An individual, Lano Adesanya, brought the sum of $1.8 million.

Our findings further revealed that the three oil marketers made payment of the sum of $89 million and some fractions. Investigations further revealed that the then petroleum minister’s aides made available $25 million and some fractions in suitcases,” the witness said, adding that Alison-Madueke later directed the bank to convert the dollars to naira, which was complied with, after which she allegedly directed that the defendants be paid.

They accused had pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail. At the commencement of trial, the defence counsel had objected to the admissibility of the statement of the first accused on the grounds that same was not voluntarily obtained. Consequently, the court ordered a trial within- trial to test the voluntariness of the statement obtained by the EFCC.

Shekarau, Wali and Ahmad accused of collecting N950m

Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, a former governor of Kano State and ex-minister of Education was last week Tuesday quizzed by the EFCC alongside former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali and Engr Mansur Ahmad for laundering N950 million, funds earmarked for 2015 general elections logistics.

The anti-graft agency had invited the trio in preparation for their arraignment last Thursday. Counsel to Shekarau, Abdul Fage, who briefed newsmen shortly after the arrival of the former minister at the EFCC’s office, said: “Shekarau is being accused of collecting N25 million as a person from the total sum N950 million.

We are here to honour their invitation after we received their letter about a week ago demanding that our clients should be available today for further questioning in preparation for Thursday arraignment.”

The former governor in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Sule Ya’u Sule, said: “the EFCC despite lack of evidence is insisting on prosecuting the former Minister of Education Mal Ibrahim Shekarau over the N25 million 2015 election logistics fund allegedly given to him.

Since 2016, when the issue of election fund came up, Shekarau was invited by the EFCC to explain the amount given to him along with other stakeholders of the party in Kano to prosecute the election, but he denied ever receiving such amount and challenged EFCC to produce anyone who has given him the money or any evidence to prove that he actually collected the money.

“Based on this, the former minister was asked to go, however, surprisingly, for reason best known to EFCC, we received communication from the agency that the former minister is to be arraigned before a Federal High Court in Kano on Thursday this week over the same alleged N25 million election fund.”

But the EFCC was not swayed by political meanings read about its invitation to the former governor given that he has declared an intention to contest the 2019 presidential election as it went ahead to arraign him alongside Wali and Ahmad as scheduled on a six-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N950 million.

Counsel to the EFCC, Johnson Ojoghame, told the court that the defendants had between March 26 and 27, 2015 in Kano, conspired between themselves and received various sums of money without going through financial institutions.

He told the court that the money was issued out to the defendants by the PDP and Alison- Madueke. The prosecutor said that the offences contravened sections 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011 as amended and punishable under section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act and Section 15(1) of money laundering Act.

The trio pleaded not guilty to the charges and their counsel, Mr Ologunolisa Sam (SAN), made a written bail application in respect of the defendants under Section 163 of the Criminal Justice Act 2015. He said: “The defendants were, early in May 2016, invited by the EFCC and at no time were they found wanting when they were granted bail. If granted bail, the defendants would not jump bail, nor commit any offence and would not tamper with a police investigation.”

The Judge, Justice Zainab Abubakar- Bage granted the defendants bail in the sum of N100 million each with two reliable sureties in like sum. She said that the first surety should have landed property within the jurisdiction of the court while the second surety should not be below the rank of a director.

The judge ordered the defendants to surrender their international passports and two recent passport size photographs to the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court while adjourning to June 26, for trial.

Ize-Iyamu, Orbih, three orders remanded over alleged complicity in N700m

In Edo State, the PDP’s candidate in the 2016 governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the state chairman of the party, Chief Dan Orbih; former Deputy Governor of the state, who is now a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Lucky Imasuen; a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tony Azegbemi and one Efe Anthony, were also last Thursday arraigned before Federal High Court sitting in Benin over their alleged complicity in N700 million campaign funds.

The accused had been in the custody of EFCC for 11 days before their arraignment before Justice P. I. Adjokwu on an eight-count charge of money laundering. According to the EFCC charge sheet, Ize-Iyamu and others were accused of taking possession and control of the sum of N700 million without any contract award, which they ought to have known to form part of proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit; fraud and corruption; and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 as amended in 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

However, they pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them by counsel to the EFCC, Larry Peters Aso. Justice Adjokwu later granted them bail in the sum of N10 million each and a surety in like sum, who must be Grade Level 16 public servants or above, and should deposit the Certificate of Occupancy of their building with the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court.

Earlier in their arguments for bail applications, counsels to the accused, Charles Edosomwan (for Ize-Iyamu); Dr O.G Izevbuwa (Mr Imasuen); Kehinde Ogunsumi (Azegbemi); Ferdinand Orbih (for Chief Dan Orbih) and Prof. Jim Akhere Akhere, pleaded that their clients be granted bail on self-recognizance. On his part, counsel to the EFCC, Aso, noted that the bio-data of the suspects had not been captured and requested the court to order stringent bail conditions and money to ensure the defendants are in court.

But, Justice Adjokwu, in her ruling, said she only exercised her discretion in granting the accused person bail. The judge, however, ordered that they should be remanded in prison custody pending when they would have met the bail conditions, while adjourning sitting on the matter to July 4, 2018.

Shagari, four others were tried for N500m

Mukhtar Shagari, a deputy governor of Sokoto State and ex-Minister of Water Resources, was arraigned last week Tuesday before Justice Idrissa Kolo of the Federal High Court Sokoto on a five-count charge of conspiracy and money laundering to the tune of N500 million. Charged alongside the former minister was Senator Abdallah Wali, a PDP governorship candidate in 2015; Alhaji Ibrahim Gidado, a former commissioner of information; Alhaji Ibrahim Milgoma, PDP State Chairman and Treasurer of the party, Alhaji Nasiru Dalhatu Bafarawa. According to the anti-graft agency, the defendants allegedly benefited from the slush cash to senior members of the PDP to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election, which was not distributed through any financial institution in flagrant violation of provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.

One of the charges preferred against Shagari read:“You Mukhtar Shehu Shagari, Ibrahim Gidado and Ibrahim Milgoma sometime in March 2015, within the justification of this honourable court did conspire among yourselves to receive cash payment of the sum of N500 million from one Abdulrahaman Ibrahim without transacting through a financial institution and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 16(2) of the same Act.”

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge when it was read to them. Prosecution counsel Johnson Ojogbane requested a date for trial in view of the plea of the defendants and also asked that the defendants be remanded in prison custody. Counsel representing the 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants, Ibrahim Abdulaziz, as well as counsel for the 2nd and 5th defendants Ibrahim Idris, and L.A Abdulkadir, respectively applied for bail of their clients pending the determination of the case.

Responding, Ojogbane confirmed that he was served with the various bail applications by the applicants but also reminded the court that he was only served on May 21 and therefore needed time to respond. Justice Idrissa after listening to the arguments of both parties remanded the defendants in police custody till Thursday, May 24 for the hearing and determination of bail, which they were granted in the tune of N25 million each. In his ruling on the bail applications, Justice Idrissa Sale Kogo said they should equally provide two sureties who must be civil servants of grade level 13 and residing within the jurisdiction of the court.

The judge further directed that the five defendants deposit their international passports in the court, while their sureties must have properties worth the amount of bail and must depose to an affidavit before the court.   (New Telegraph)

http://www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

Court Grants Jang Bail With N100m Surety |The Republican News

By Musa Pam

 

  • I hold no grudge against my oppressors, says ex-gov

A High Court sitting in Jos, the Plateau State capital, yesterday granted bail to the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Jonah Jang and a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to Plateau State Government, Mr. Yusuf Pam, with two sureties each in the sum of N100 million and N50 million respectively. Jang is facing a 12-count charge bordering on alleged corruption and misappropriation.

The former governor is alleged to have misappropriated over N6 billion, two months to the end of his tenure as governor of Plateau in 2015. According to the charges, the former governor also embezzled over N4 billion from the state coffers through Pam Yusuf, who was a cashier in the office of the Secretary to the State Government.

Yusuf, who is a co-defendant in the suit against Jang, is also facing another case of allegedly enriching himself to the tune of N11 million. Counsel to the accused persons, Robert Clarke (SAN) had, on May 16, in a written application during their arraignment, prayed the court to grant his clients bail based on self-recognition, after both accused persons, Jang and Pam, pleaded not guilty to the crime. This was as the former governor yesterday said he was not holding any grudge against his oppressors.

While responding to the prosecuting counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), prayed the court not to grant the accused person bail, stating that section 341 (2) of the 1999 Constitution said an offence which attracts an imprisonment of more than three years, was not bailable. The presiding judge, Justice Daniel Longji, while ruling on the bail application by the lead accused counsel, Clarke, said the first accused and former governor was to provide two sureties with the sum of N100 million only, among which one must be a first class traditional ruler within the jurisdiction of the court.

On the second accused, Mr Yusuf Pam, a former cashier in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Justice Longji also granted him bail to provide two sureties in which one must be a permanent secretary in the civil service or anybody of that rank.

Justice Longji also directed the first and the second accused to submit their international passports to the chief registrar of the court. The judge had, however, adjourned the case to 17th, 18th and 19th of July, 2018 for definite hearing. Meanwhile, Jang yesterday said in a statement that the burden he was carrying in his heart was not of grudges against those against him. He said: “The burden I carry in my heart is not of grudges against those against me, but of gratitude for those who have endured difficult conditions to stand with me through this ordeal.

“I am convinced beyond doubts that your labour of love shall not be in vain. May God bless you for remembering me in my hour of distress.” Jang, who was the former governor of Plateau State from 2007 to 2015, said: “For over a week, I was kept in detention by the EFCC, deprived of the inalienable right to personal freedom and association.

” The senator said his lawyers had instituted a case at the FCT High Court and that he would pursue the matter to its logical conclusion. According to him, “If the laws of our country are still potent under the current circumstances, my detention constitutes a gross abuse of the fundamental rights guaranteed me as a law-abiding citizen as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

“Where the constitution provides for an accused person to be charged to court within one day, I was held by the EFCC for over a week in flagrant disregard to the letters and spirit of the supreme document which legitimises the very existence of our country.”  (New Telegraph)

http://www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1
Continue reading

Image

Looters’ List: Raymond Dokpesi Visa Revoked By US Government |RN

Raymond-Dokpesi1

Chairman DAAR Communications, Chief Raymond Dokpesi

Raymond Dokpesi, chairman of DAAR communications, says the US has revoked his visa after he was accused of looting Nigeria’s treasury.

Lai Mohammed, minister of information, had listed Dokpesi, among other chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as those who looted public funds.

The media mogul is currently standing trial for allegedly receiving N2.1 billion from the office of the national security adviser (ONSA).

On Monday, Dokpesi dragged Mohammed to the FCT high court over the publication, seeking payment of N5billion damages for “defamation of character”.

He had earlier written the minister, threatening the lawsuit if his name is not retracted from the list.

In the suit filed by Mike Ozekhome, Dokpesi’s counsel, the PDP chieftain said the US embassy in Nigeria notified him of the withdrawal of his visa on March 16.

He said the embassy told him it was withdrawn because the federal government included his name on a ‘looters list’ it (the government) purportedly submitted to it.

“The defendants’ defamatory publications are malicious and calculated to overreach and prejudice my fair trial and for purposes of stampeding and cowing the court to convict me at all cost by agreeing with the defendants’ skewed position,” Dokpesi said in the suit.

The PDP chieftain asked the court to compel Mohammed to publish a retraction and an apology to him in various media platforms.

He also prayed for a perpetual injunction restraining the defendants — including Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation — or their agents from further making “any defamatory publication” against him, requesting N50million as a penalty for such.

No date has been fixed for hearing on the suit.

Culled from The Cable

http://www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

Looted Funds: Nigeria, United States Agree On Repatriation Of $500m |RN

By Anule Emmanuel

President Muhammadu Buhari and President Donald Trump of the United States of America have approved for the Attorney Generals of both countries to draw out a clear roadmap on how to repatriate $500 million looted funds to Nigeria. Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, who briefed journalists in Washington on the sideline of Presidents Buhari and Trump’s meeting, said the roadmap would be drawn up at the end of yesterday’s meeting

The minister was joined by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah and his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, at the end of a business meeting between President Buhari and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Nigeria and US businesses. The AGF noted that three key remarks from President

Trump consolidated on the general overview of what transpired between the two presidents.
According to him, Trump’s acknowledgement of Buhari as a real leader, his acknowledgement that the administration has, indeed, succeeded in cutting down corruption and the payment of N135 million compensation to victims of the Apo Six killed in 2013, was an indication that the meeting was a fruitful one.

Malami also said Trump’s commitment towards assets recovery and reparation of looted funds was also demonstrated during the meeting.

According to him: “There was a clear political goodwill and commitment that has now been given by the respective governments in terms of working together towards the repatriation of the looted funds and assets.

“To that extent, there have been clear directives for both attorney generals to meet and have a roadmap for the repatriation of the assets. That meeting is now slated for tomorrow (Tuesday) 3pm to work on the repatriation of over $500 million, which is ready for repatriation, subject to clearing the bureaucratic bottlenecks.”

Speaking on whether the $500 million is the first tranche or there is the possibility of more trailing, the AGF said: “One thing I can tell you is that investigation is ongoing and the numbers keep changing with time. But as far as the immediate negotiations with the US are concerned, it is a figure between $500 million and above. That is what is on the table immediately for discussions.”

Malami, who was, however, silent on the timeline the money would be repatriated said: “I can’t state categorically what we are looking at in timeline sense, but the truth is we are looking at the shortest practicable time. The fact that there is a political commitment by the two presidents is a clear demonstration of the fact that the possibility of having the money repatriated within the shortest possible time cannot be ruled out.”

He said that another subject where Buhari’s administration got commendations was in the area of human rights record in the country.

The AGF said: “President Buhari has stated that this is the first time that Nigeria is paying compensation for victims of human rights violation.
“Recall the Apo Six incident which happened in 2013, where security agents were said to have committed human rights violations by the unjustified killings of six people.

“In April this year, the Federal Government has indeed paid N135 million to the victims of the human rights violation. That has further been consolidated by the fact that two of the police officers that were involved in the perpetration of the murder of the Apo six were sentenced to death through judiciary process.

“The payment was recommended by Human Rights Commission. So, it is a clear demonstration of the respect for the Human Rights Commission and its decision; two, respect for human rights against the background that for the first time, the Federal Government is paying compensation and that also those that perpetrated the unwholesome act were, indeed, sentenced by a judicial process.”

On a number of beneficiaries of Apo Six compensation, Malami said, “The beneficiaries are eight and not six. The Apo Six was press coinage arising from the immediate casualties as at the time of the incident, but then number increased to eight.”
Onyeama, speaking on a possible Trump visit to Nigeria, said that with Nigeria’s upcoming elections and the busy schedules of both Presidents, it would take at least, one year for such visit to be planned.
Trump had indicated interest in visiting Nigeria, describing it as an amazing country, adding that there is no country more beautiful.

Onyeama said: “Regarding the invitation, well, if the programmes of the two presidents are very, very, intensive, it usually takes anything up to a year to prepare for an invitation at that kind of level before they actually take place. Of course, in Nigeria, you know we have elections coming up and a very, very, busy schedule as that of President Trump, maybe, sometime next year, we could envisage something like that.”

Enelamah, on the quantum of investment expected, said: “First, on Friday, the government signed an investment agreement with General Electric (GE), on the railway concessions. The agreement is going to be in two phases. The first phase is to get the job rolling that will involve over $40 million investment that will get some of the existing rail tracks working, with the right coaches and carriages to get some of the cargo and passengers going. And then, there is the big one, which is the $2 billion investment to revamp our existing rail and making sure it is used for cargo and transport. That is the narrow gauge and the existing rails we have in addition to all the new ones we have. So, that is just one investment from one company.

“Some of the companies Mr President met with were John Deere that is looking to assemble and supply tractors in Nigeria. At its full expression, it is expected to exceed 10,000 tractors. Initially, it’s going to be in hundreds, but there is no question that it fits this model of trying to invest in Nigeria, train people, employ people and help the agriculture value chain in terms of its mechanization, automation and all the good things that comes from a company like John Deere.

“Other companies like Cotava that are basically into Agric business, which is being turned into a multi-million dollar business. Another company called Continental Grains, Bongi, there is Flour Mills, who are all looking to make serious investments in Nigeria. Our own companies were there as well, including the Dangote Group.
“All these companies are committed to making a serious investment in Nigeria that runs into hundreds of millions of dollars and in aggregate, will become billions of dollars just like the GE one.”

The Industry, Trade and Investment Minister said that Buhari also met with Boeing, Procter and Gamble, Chevron and so many others.
He said: “For instance, Boeing is very interested in supporting the aviation sector. They plan to roll out something that will increase the availability of flights from Nigeria. Procter and Gamble are looking to expand its investment in Nigeria. Chevron, as you know, is the oil company. It also commended Nigeria on how they have succeeded in sorting out the historical problem with cash calls and so on.

“So, in terms of investment and commitment, there is every reason to be positive. It is certainly in the billions of dollars. We need to sharpen our pencils and take it on.”

On what Trump meant by Agric produce coming to Nigeria, Enelamah said: “What is to take away is that there is a lot of scope for collaboration between Nigeria and the US. Our view is that the major scope is that the fact you have these Agric businesses whether they are in equipment like John Deere or are in crops and seeds and enhancement like Coteva and Bongi or Continental grains, that can help improve production in Nigeria.

“So, most of them will certainly function there. Clearly, when it comes to trade between the two countries, there will always be scope for trade. But right now, when you include oil, it will mean Nigeria exporting more to the US. But when you remove oil, the US is actually exporting more to Nigeria. I think the important thing is that the balance of trade should grow on both sides and it should be win-win. And that is exactly what will happen based on what we will see today,” he added.   (New Telegraph)

http://www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

Corruption War: Risky Fighting It, Too Risky To Keep Quiet – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Being conclusion of an interview with former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Continued from  yesterday

 Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Washington DC

Supporting someone who can’t go to school or who can’t get proper healthcare, do that that is also valid. But if you cannot do any of that and you want to help from the Diaspora, my suggestion to you is perhaps select an area of interest where you can contribute something that will change the way things are being done, lend your voice and when it comes to the time to vote, go home, register and vote.

The second government you served was criticized for presiding over corruption and if you situate that against a portion of your book where governor Duke coming to meet you say, ‘serving that government gave it some credibility.’ How did you find that moral compass to serve?

 I think people should go and read a book called ‘This Present Darkness’, it is a very dark book unfortunately and it Chronicles the history of Nigeria with corruption crime over many years. And unfortunately, almost every administration in the country has been accused of corruption, during the time they were in government, after the time they were in government. It’s been happening for years so it is nothing new that’s why the issue of how are we going to get rid of this, how are going to fight will always arise. Should we just keep having this or are some people going to put their neck on the line and say we are going to fight this. So under both presidents, this existed and they both had different styles. So it is not anything new but on the ground, some of the things we used to fight corruption are what I said after that regime and the following one were not continued and there was a need to try and come back and finish off that work.

I think when we were trying to get debt relief and we initiated the reforms during the Obasanjo administration, there were more visibility and more communication about the need to fight corruption. That was there and people at least knew that there was a signal about the fact that this was not acceptable and we were going to fight it.

One of the things you will read in the book is that I thought that the second time I went back under Jonathan’s administration, we didn’t communicate well enough. Nobody even knew that we were doing anything about it and that was a weakness. So if you can’t even talk about what we were doing, there was so many criticisms and attacks every day and we were drowning under that, we were not able to raise our voices and say by the way we are doing something about it, that is very practical to also fight against corruption. It was a weakness and I do admit that in this book. I think we should have been able to articulate more and say what was happening. And you will see that throughout the book not just in terms of the fight but in terms of the money saved.

I talked about a total of $9 billion saved, part of it was money averted when people came with a scam to get government guarantees in other to borrow. President Jonathan called me and we were able to meet with those people and after months of meeting, we were able to block that particular thing. You will read in the book that the same people went to Mozambique and they were able to persuade the minister of finance to sign and the government to take that loan and Mozambique is suffering from these loans till today. I’m talking about the Ematum tuna scandal. So I am not talking in the air, it is the same people. What if we had done that, that would have been $2 billion around our neck now. But we never talked about these things at the time.

In the fight against corruption you worked under two different presidents can you describe who among them gave you the greatest support in the reforms?

On the reforms, one of the things I am proud about is that some of the reforms that we started, the ones that really matter to me, those systems GIFSM, IPPIS, TSA are in place till today. We got them 75 percent complete, there were not 100 percent complete by the time I left still but it was now in an irreversible situation. And the IMF in fact visited and their report commended us for getting that far because the resistance was very grave. And the present government is building on it I think after an initial period when it wasn’t very clear which direction, they decided to use these systems and built on them and so that is one good signal.

On the question of superintending over corruption, yes many people asked the question, why you didn’t resign. These are very good questions and I tackled them in the book. I say this is a dilemma. I could easily have stayed, that is the easy answer. Don’t you ask yourself? Why was I going, why will I put myself through what I went through. It is so easy to do what you said, to let go. But when I talked to many people they are not willing to put themselves on the line or what happened to my family to put my family in danger. I didn’t know at the time that I was putting my family in danger obviously, I wouldn’t have consciously done that but I knew I was going to suffer some consequences.

But I went because it begins with you. If all of us say we are not going to do anything about it, I think there are times when resigning sends the correct signal or not going but there are times when it doesn’t work, you just have to go there and fight and do what you can. And then the efforts to prevent me from coming at all, the thing wasn’t meant to say anything other than just to set the context for the story when I talked about Donald Duke. He was conveying a message to me from people including people who said they were my friends telling me not to come. But when I asked why and you will see it in the book, they said so as not to give the government credibility. My feeling was that at some stage, you need to take a stand. And once I got there I actually saw that people were actively trying to get me to go and that is why I didn’t resign.

How do you see the judiciary in Nigeria supporting the efforts that people like have you made over the years? We don’t seem to believe that the judiciary is making the right contribution to fighting corruption. What else needs to be done?

We really need a strong judiciary there is absolutely no doubt about it. With strong and independent, well-resourced judiciary we are on our way. We have some independent institutions to safeguard the judiciary but are they strong enough? The answer I’m sure the members of the judiciary themselves will tell you is, no. So that is one of the tasks that we have. And like you said, there is some urgency in building institutions in our country if we are to successfully fight corruption.

We need a whole new set of actions working together but above all, we need people who are willing. If everybody runs away and stays in their nice safe corner, what happens? That is what the people who are corrupt want you to do by the way. They want you to stay away, they want you to resign, they want you run off and leave them to their devices and that was what led to all the attacks.

I remember a time when the army said and is in the book, that the ministry of finance was withholding resources and therefore they were not able to fight Boko Haram and it was in the papers. People in my ministry panicked and said you have to do something because that is a really serious charge. And I had to go out to the media and give all the figures of all we had disbursed. So, other people, not just me suffered a lot. So we have to be willing. If you don’t have willing people who are ready to fight, then you can’t even have the strengthening of the institutions.

I want to thank my family, my husband, friends, colleagues, people international community who really stretch above and beyond to constantly send messages of support, saying we are here for you. And if you are going to be engaging in these kinds of work, you need that backing. So one of the things I am passionate about is trying to see if we can find a way to build a more solid support for those who are trying to fight.

What is your take on Jonathan’s decision to concede defeat in 2015 after the presidential contest?

I am giving him credit. He had already made up his mind. We were there trying to whisper to him and talk to him but the man had decided that this is what he wanted to do. So he is the only one that deserves credit and I said that very clearly in my book. When he went to go and call Buhari and tell him congratulations we were all sitting there we didn’t even know when he left. We were still trying to persuade him but he deserves the credit himself, he had decided that was the right thing to do so he deserves the credit, not me, not anyone else.

Are you not afraid that these people can come after you with all the revelations in this book?

The revelations? But I am telling the truth. I have already told the world that this book is going to lead to all kinds of attacks. The same people who were attacking me when I was in government, who attacked me after I left government, the world knows about it. That is why I said it is risky to write the book but it is also risky to keep quiet because that is all we all do. People keep quiet they never say what happens and that gives cover to all these corrupt people and they continue to do what they do and to perpetuate the same practices that are keeping Nigeria behind. So is high time we spoke up and I want people to know truly what happened to me and also I want the international community to look at the lessons for fighting corruptions, it is not that easy. It is easy for the international community to say go and fight corruption but not being aware of what it entails, the fact that vested interest is not going to give up easily. So yes, of course, I think it is risky but is out there.

You did give a reason why you went back the second and third time, will you be willing to back again if called upon to serve?

I served the country for seven years; I think I’m the longest-serving finance minister in the country. Other people now have a chance to serve, I am doing what I adore, I am having fun and my work is valued in the international community. That is what I was doing before but I went to Nigeria out of love and I want to send the signal to Nigerian young people that if they actually love the country, they can serve without being corrupt.

They are actually people who serve because they think it is a national honour and duty, I felt it is an honour for my country to ask for my service and I was duty bound to serve. And I have done that, so now I am doing other things so that other people can also serve. On the special fund for those fighting corruption, the international community needs to come together and put together resources to support people who may not be well known, who are fighting. And we heard some many examples from different countries of people who had to flee because they were been intimidated and attacked when they tried to block the diversion of the monies and the stealing of money. And if people don’t have that signal that they can go somewhere and be protected, they will be less willing to do what is right and to fight. So we need that and there is a movement and people are interested.  (The Sun)

http://www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading

Image

BREAKING: Court Orders Interim Forfeiture Of Patience Jonathan’s Abuja Houses

Patience-jonathan-house
                     Patience Jonathan

Ade Adesomoju, Abuja

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered an interim forfeiture of two properties linked to the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mrs Patience Jonathan.

The properties are at Plot No. 1960, Cadastral Zone A05, Maitama District; and Plot No. 1350, Cadastral Zone A00, both in Abuja.

The properties were said to be held in the name of Ariwabai Aruera Reachout Foundation, which Mrs Jonathan was said to be one of its “trustees.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had, in an ex parte application filed in September last year, asked for an interim forfeiture of the properties, which it claimed were subjects of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Ruling on the commission’s ex parte application on Monday, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba dismissed Mrs Jonathan’s objection to the application for lacking in merit.

The court then ordered the interim forfeiture, which he, however, ruled must only last for 45 days.

He ruled that within the 45 days, EFCC must conclude its investigations and charge the suspects being investigated in respect of the alleged crimes linked to properties.

He, however, added that the EFCC was at liberty to file an application for the extension of the lifespan of the order before the expiration of the initial 45 days.

He also ordered that if for any reason EFCC’s officials needed to access the properties within the period of interim forfeiture, they must do so with the respondents in attendance.

He ordered that the inventory of the fixtures in the properties and a report to that effect be submitted to the court. (Punch)

http://www.twitter.com/RNNetwork1

Continue reading