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Buhari, Obasanjo’s Verbal Fight, Good For Nigeria, Says Gen. Ikponmwen |RN

By Onwuka Nzeshi
Obasanjo-Buhari

Buhari and Obasanjo

The raging war of words between President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo has been described as a healthy development for Nigeria. A former Provost Marshal of the Nigeria Army, Brig. Gen. Idada Ikponmwen (rtd), made this view yesterday in a chat with Saturday Telegraph in Abuja. Ikponmwen said the cross-fire between the two retired military leaders would enable Nigerians to know the truth about certain issues affecting the country.

There has been apprehension in some quarters that the scathing criticisms launched by Obasanjo against the current administration and the reaction it had triggered from Buhari could hit up the polity ahead of the 2019 general elections. Ikopnmwen, who denied knowledge of any attempt by the fellow retired military top brass to mediate in the altercation between Obasanjo and Buhari, said even such a mediation was not necessary as it could abridge the unfolding revelations from the drama.

He said: “If there is an altercation, let it be. The more there is altercation the better for us to know who is who. Let there be altercations. In fact, President Buhari should not just let the matter lie low. We expect that he should pursue the issues to a logical end.

“The issue of $16 billion invested in the power sector has come up. President Buhari said $16billion was committed to power during the regime of one former President. He didn’t mention names but then Chief Olusegun responded that it was directed at him and said Buhari is ignorant of the issues. He said nothing was traceable to him from past investigations on the matter. An investigation by who?”  (New Telegraph)

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US Says Impunity, Massive Corruption Still Rife In Nigeria Under Buhari|RN

                                   President Buhari

• Shiite, IPOB extrajudicial killings, Dasuki’s detention cited as rights abuses, violation of rule of law

Tobi Soniyi in Lagos

The United States Department of State has again issued a damning assessment of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in its 2017 Country Report on Human Rights released last Friday in Washington D.C.

In the 48-page report posted on the website of the State Department, the U.S. government said impunity remained widespread at all levels of government in Nigeria, further noting that the Buhari-led administration lacked transparency.

A copy of the report obtained by THISDAY added that government officials engaged in massive corruption.
Corruption, the report said, was not limited to government officials but very rampant among the security agencies.

The report stated: “Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.
“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services.”

On the anti-corruption agencies, the report noted that although the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) efforts remained largely focused on low – and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential election both organisations started investigations into and brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials.

It, however, observed that the EFCC often did not observe all due process safeguards and refused to obey court orders granting bail to the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Sambo Dasuki.
“Many of these cases were pending in court. According to both ICPC and EFCC, the delays were the result of a lack of judges and the widespread practice of filing for and granting multiple adjournments.

“EFCC’s arrests and indictments of politicians continued throughout the year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivations on the part of the EFCC.

“In a case brought by the EFCC, in November a federal court convicted four firms allegedly used by a former aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan of laundering 1.67 billion naira ($$55.3 million) in stolen funds.

“In its pursuit of corruption, the EFCC often did not observe all pertinent due process safeguards. In November, the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice declared unlawful the arrest and detention in 2015 of former national security adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

“A court ordered him released on bail in a case brought by the EFCC for the alleged diversion of 13.6 billion naira ($$443.2 million) intended to purchase military material during the Jonathan administration. Despite the court order, he remained in detention,” said the report.

In support of the claim that impunity remains the order of the day in Nigeria, the report further noted that government did not often take steps to prosecute officials who perpetuated impunity whether in the security forces or elsewhere in government.
It, however, acknowledged that government did take steps to investigate such impunity but failed to bring to book those who violated the law.

The report cited various instances including the atrocities allegedly committed in the North-east by members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) and the refusal to bring to justice military men who killed members of the Shia group Islamic Movement of Nigeria in 2015 in circumstances adjudged to be extrajudicial.

“As of November, the government had not adequately investigated or held police or military personnel accountable for extrajudicial killings of supporters of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra,” the report added.

Excerpts from the report added: “Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody.

“State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths generally did not make their findings public.
“In August, the acting president (Yemi Osinbajo) convened a civilian-led presidential investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement. As of November, the panel had not issued a report.”

The state department report stated that respect for human rights generally remained appalling in Nigeria.
The report identified the following as the most significant human rights abuses: extrajudicial and arbitrary killings; disappearances and arbitrary detentions; torture, particularly in detention facilities, including sexual exploitation and abuse; use of children by some security elements, looting, and destruction of property; civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on flimsy evidence; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement; official corruption; lack of accountability in cases involving violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting and sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; early and forced marriages; criminalisation of status and same-sex sexual conduct based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and forced and bonded labour.

Speaking during the official release of the report, the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour of the US Department of State, Mr Michael Kozak, said the 2017 report marked the 42nd year that the U.S. has published the country-specific annual Human Rights Reports.

He said the law requires the U.S. executive to produce the report every year.
According to him, “This goes back to the 1970s when Congress said to the Executive Branch, ‘When we’re making decisions about foreign assistance and security assistance and trade agreements and all of that, we’d really like to know: what is the human rights situation in the countries that we’re dealing with’.”

He said the U.S. did not produce the report to pass judgment “on other countries or to name and shame”.
“It’s to fulfil a statutory responsibility to our Congress to try to produce the most accurate description of what we find is going on in other countries so that they can use that in making decisions,” he explained.
Efforts to get the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, to react to the report proved abortive as his phone was switched off.  (THISDAY)

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Exposed! Nigeria’s Deputy House Speaker In N1.1bn Water Contract Scam (II) |RN

By MOJEED ALABI

 

 

In conclusion of this two-part story, MOJEED ALABI reports the details of the contract scandal involving the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Lasun Yusuff, who secures contract award from the same government he serves

 

Whereabouts of Nur & Company Nigeria Limited unknown
                                                       
Unlike the Sabbyn Nigeria Limited, it was easier for the camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for our reporter locating the whereabouts of Nur and Company Nigeria Limited. For a company that handled two out of the three projects at combined sum of N1.1 billion, it has neither website nor social media account. At the projects’ sites, the company fails to put up any signpost indicating details of the contracts, the contractors, among other necessary information, as required by law.
                                                       
New Telegraph reporters arrested
On Thursday, February 1, 2018, when our correspondent visited Plot 8, Impressive Close, off Dosumu Street, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, which Nur and Company Limited quoted as its office in its documents with the contract awarding agency, the guards on duty at the house said there was no company with such name within the compound.
While our reporter, accompanied by his colleague, Mr. Stanley Ihedigbo, was attempting to gain graphic evidence, the security men accused him of taking photographs of the house without authorisation and got him arrested by policemen.
The owner of the building, who was later identified as Mrs. Dupe Dare, and from whose company – Impressive Chemicals – the street’s name was derived, immediately ordered that the reporters be taken to the Alausa Police Station, where they were subjected to embarrassing scrutiny.
The visibly angry Dare had told the police that she suspected the reporters were members of an unnamed syndicate, which she claimed, had fraudulently used her property to secure a loan from two banks without her consent.
In her narrative at the station, Dare said sometimes in 2015, agents of Skye Bank Plc., security men and court bailiffs, had besieged the property, chasing out all her tenants and employees on the allegation that the house was used to obtain a N660 million loan in 2012 without repayment.
“I was shocked to my marrow because I never banked with Skye Bank, and had never taken any loan. For more than six months, we were in court, with my lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, in charge of the matter,” she said.
Amid sobs, she further narrated her ordeal to both the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the station, Superintendent of Police Bakfur Kyes, and the Divisional Crime Officer, Deputy Superintendent of Police Johnson Domchak.
“I was told the fraudster had taken contracts from the government in 2012 and needed money to execute them. So, that year, the bank claimed the individual had approached it, using a fake version of my property document to secure the loan. The pressure was so much on my family that my mum could not bear it as she died same year.”
She said after about seven months of court processes, and following the presentation of the property’s original documents, the court ruled in her favour, and the premises were reopened to her in 2016.
                                                           
Another bank lays claim to the property
The embattled property owner, who refused to reveal the identity of the individual or company illegally using her property to secure the loan, added that in 2017, another financial institution, again emerged with another court judgement to gain possession of the property.
The troubled Dare said: “And this time it was Heritage Bank Plc. The bank claimed that before it acquired the defunct Enterprise Bank Plc., the suspect had taken a loan of about N70 million from the defunct bank, which he or she failed to service.
“Up till this moment, I cannot fathom why my property should remain the target of such fraudsters, and the way these people came to take photographs of my house, I learnt, was also how those fraudsters kept using the pictures of my property to secure the loan. In fact, we are still in court over this.”
Based on this narration, Dare urged the police to charge the reporters to court to unravel the “real reason” for visiting her property.
However, after many hours of interrogations and cross-examinations, the police granted the reporters bail with the newspaper’s Crime Editor, Mrs Juliana Francis, standing as surety, with the instruction that they must return to the station on Monday, February 5, for further interactions, which they surely did.
 
Banks respond to enquiries
When contacted, the concerned financial institutions, which confirmed the development, however, failed to disclose the details of the transactions, claiming it was a confidential matter between the banks and the customers.
In a text message to our correspondent, the spokesperson for the Heritage Bank, Mr. Fela Ibidapo, had written: “Many thanks for your earlier text. Unfortunately, you would agree with me that the information sought is confidential between the bank and the customer, particularly as per pre-signed contract.
“Thus I ask that you permit me to decline any comment in this regard. Nonetheless, please let me know if I can assist in any other way.”
However, when our correspondent reached out to the Head of Information Unit of Skye Bank Plc, Mr. Nduneche Ezurike, he was directed to meet his colleague, Mr. Rasheed Bolarinwa, who, many weeks after messages had been exchanged, could not give a definite response.
                                                                   
Nur & Company Nigeria Limited Officer declines comment
Sometimes in February, the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority made available to New Telegraph mobile telephone number of a representative of the company, who the newspaper later identified as Mr Ebenezer Famgbebe, an engineer.
When called on the phone, the engineer, upon the introduction of our correspondent by name, had mistaken him for another member of the House of Representatives from Osun State, Prof. Mojeed Alabi. He immediately showed courtesies but was astonished to learn that the caller was another person entirely.
He confirmed his relationship with the company but declined to make further comments on all the questions asked including the location of his company’s office.
To all these enquiries, he responded: “Please, I cannot say anything about our projects. Ogun-Osun River Basin is our client and I don’t have any mandate to talk to you. I cannot also tell you our office. Go to Ogun-Osun, you will get whatever you want there. Thank you!”
That was how Famgbebe ended the call.   
 
Corporate Affairs Commission spills the beans
This rather unusual development compelled New Telegraph to apply to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) through a lawyer, request for the company’s details as part of efforts towards ascertaining its authenticity.
On February 12, the CAC released the result of the search conducted listing the company’s shareholders as Mr. Yusuff Sulaimon Lasun of 3, Sarumi Street, Orelope Bus Stop, Egbeda, Lagos; Yusuff Olamide Ayomide, Yusuff Gbemisola Feyisara and Yusuff Omowunmi Rasheeda, all of the same address, as above who New Telegraph found out are the deputy speaker’s wife and children.
It further listed the four individuals as the company’s directors with the addition of Oladimeji Ayodeji Yusuff, with the same address, as the fifth director.
Meanwhile, in another document supplied by the CAC, Mr. Yusuff Rafiu Olalekan, who New Telegraph found out to be the deputy speaker’s immediate younger brother, was listed as a director of the company. His quoted address was Investment House, 2nd Floor, 21/25, Broad Street, Lagos State.
However, in a message addressed to the CAC in 2011, the company conveyed the decision of Mr. Yusuff Rafiu Olalekan to resign as one of its directors, and the appointment of Olamide Ayomide Yusuff, Gbemisola Feyisara Yusuff, Oladimeji Ayodeji Yusuff and Omowunmi Rasheeda Yusuff, all as directors.
A copy of Mr. Rafiu Olalekan Yusuff’s resignation letter, which was attached, was dated April 12, 2011, with the company’s address quoted as Investment House, 2nd Floor, 21/25, Broad Street, Lagos State.
                                                                
Efforts to get deputy speaker’s reaction proved abortive
Through the Special Adviser (Media) to the deputy speaker, Mrs. Lara Owoeye-Wise, New Telegraph made spirited efforts to get the reaction of the parliamentarian but all efforts yielded no fruit.
On January 10, when our correspondent visited the National Assembly, neither the deputy speaker nor his special adviser was on the ground. Mrs. Owoeye-Wise then suggested that a copy of the letter should be photographed and sent to her via WhatsApp which the correspondent did as instructed.
After waiting patiently for days without a response, our correspondent sent a text message to Owoeye-Wise on January 22, for follow-up and she replied via a text message thus; “I’ll give you a response tomorrow, unfailingly. Thank you.”
On January 25, she sent another message, saying; “The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) said he had reached out to your editor. That is what he said when I discussed with him yesterday. Thank you.”
On January 26, Owoeye-Wise advised our correspondent to recompose his message and resend to her via her WhatsApp, promising to forward same to the deputy speaker directly and provide the feedback in less than 24 hours.
Our correspondent’s message had read: “Good morning, Aunty Lara and thanks a lot for your efforts. As a follow-up to my last discussion with you concerning the FoI request letter from New Telegraph Newspapers over the mini-water schemes in Ila Orangun, Ipetu-Ijesha and Ife-Odan, I write to let you know that we are yet to get any response like you promised.
“Recall you said you would discuss with the CPS and that he would contact me after you asked me to make my request official. If you recall ma, I sent the letter to you on January 10 but by Thursday, January 11, I received a call from someone who later identified himself as Mr. Wole Oladimeji and CPS to the DSP (Deputy Speaker). He told me the DSP knows nothing about the project but I simply advised him to discuss with the DSP first. My Editor, Mr. Ayodele Ojo, told me the same person called him and that he was the one who directed him to me. Since then, neither my editor nor myself, have received any response, either in written or verbal form, until I reached out to you again and you told me the CPS had contacted my editor. Your SMS, which claimed my editor has been contacted by the CPS was not only surprising to me but also to my editor.
“However, further investigations have revealed the DSP is linked to one of the companies that handled the projects, especially those of Ife-Odan and Ila-Orangun, that is; Nur and Company Nigeria LTD. All we need is a clarification ma. The other people involved have given their own side of the story ma. Thank you very much ma as I await your intervention to get an official reaction from the DSP.”
Till date, New Telegraph is yet to receive any response from the office of the deputy speaker.         
 
Other National Assembly members kick
Two months after the inauguration of the projects, and precisely in April 2017, some members of the House of Representatives, who said they were inundated by complaints from the beneficiary communities, had embarked on a tour of the three projects to ascertain the authenticity of the people’s claims.
The House of Representatives Caucus comprising Mrs. Ayo Omidiran from Ayedaade/Irewole/Isokan Federal Constituency; Mr. Yinka Ajayi, representing Boripe/Ifelodun/Odo-Otin Federal Constituency; Mr. Gafar Amere, representing Ayedire/Iwo/Ola-Oluwa Federal constituency and Mr. Ajibola Famurewa of Atakunmosa East/Atakunmosa West/Ilesha East/Ilesa West Federal constituency, visited the locations.
According to Famurewa, officials of the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority and two representatives of the state Water Corporation were part of the inspection tour.
He told New Telegraph that prior to the inauguration, apparently frustrated by the slow pace of work at the sites, the members of the National Assembly had in 2016 petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to report suspected foul play, even after all the budgeted funds had been released to the contractors.
“But rather than inviting us, we never heard anything from the EFCC till date. The only thing we noticed was that the contractors returned to the sites in a surreptitious manner,” Famurewa added.
When New Telegraph approached the EFCC for details of the matter, its spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, demanded an acknowledged copy of the petition to locate the exact unit of the anti-graft body handling the matter. But none of the petitioners could provide a copy.
Meanwhile, Senators Babajide Omoworare and Olusola Adeyeye denied complicity in the matter, saying it was unfortunate that the projects were poorly handled.
Adeyeye said: “Personally, I had suggested that we fixed Ojutu bridge in Ilobu but eventually the governor said we should do water. And to do water, none of us could single-handedly fix the water and so we decided to have three mini-water schemes across the three Senatorial Districts.
“It was Lasun that was given the assignment to link up with the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority for the execution. You know very well that I am neither an engineer nor a contractor. So, when they claimed they had finished it, honestly I thought they had finished, it was later on that we heard that the thing was not working and that the people had done a very shoddy job. I am told that some members of the House of Representatives have written a petition to the EFCC to look into it.
“Let me tell you, the crisis on the matter, I should not intervene for now, because if I do, I will make things worse. Let them handle it because, in the end, it is the people that would be the beneficiaries. But if in the end, they sweep it under the carpet, it can be very dangerous for them. The man, who supervised it at the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority, came into my office and he was crying. But I drove him out. I told him that if he had been given a project and he didn’t do it well or he awarded it to a fraudulent contractor, he should go and fry in his own smoke.”
In a similar vein, Hon. Omidiran also distanced herself from the allegation of fraudulent practices in the execution of the projects, saying she was saddened by the development.
When contacted, the duo of Senator Mudashiru Hussein and Honourable Rotimi Makinde, who had failed to win their re-election bid, said since they are no longer in the parliament, they could hardly give any information on the matter. They directed our correspondents to the incumbent members of the parliament.
 
Procurement Laws bar public officers from taking government contracts
An officer of the Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), a non-governmental organisation, focused on procurement monitoring, Samuel Offia, has explained reasons government officials are banned by law from taking government contracts.
According to Offia, towards promoting transparency, fairness and accountability, and to avoid unholy interference in procurement processes, Sections 58 and 59 of the Public Procurement Act 2007, forbids public officials from participating in or awarding contracts.
Citing specific laws, Offia said: “Part 5 (VI) that is, from Section 25 down to Section 38 of the Public Procurement Act 2007 provides for the steps, conditions/due processes to be followed in the award of contracts. So contract offence(s) are clearly itemised in Section 58 of the Act. 
“One of the ways we can curb this menace of corruption rubbing our nation is to have the system open at all times, and by so doing, citizens will get to know what is being done or was left undone and then ask questions at every stage of the process.”    
 
Constituents should recall representatives –SERAP boss
The Executive Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, has described as an impeachable offence the use of companies belonging to public officials to execute government contracts.
In an interview with New Telegraph, Mumuni said the rot in the National Assembly could be stopped when the people show concern about how they are governed and they realised their power to determine the fate of elected officers.
He said: “If the allegations are found to be true, it is enough for the constituents to initiate recall process and seek for the prosecution of the concerned representative(s).”
 
•This is the concluding part of an investigative budget tracking report with the support of Macarthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)  (New Telegraph)

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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)

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PDP To Buhari: Your Defeat In 2019 Is Inescapable |The Republican News

By Onyekachi Eze, ABUJA

 

buhari-new-pix

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to be ready to accept defeat in the 2019 presidential election.

The party wants the president to also respond to issues raised by a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timi Frank in an open letter to him on Sunday.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement noted that given all indices, including those released by the presidency, have shown that Nigerians are ready to vote President Buhari out in 2019.

“Indeed, with the degenerated economic, security and social situations in our nation under his incompetent and anti-people administration, in addition to the spate and weight of direct disapprovals from Nigerians and international bodies, President Buhari knows that he is now swimming against the tide,” the PDP stated.

The party said President Buhari has betrayed the trust of the ordinary people, particularly in the north, especially with scandalous revelations that he is not indeed pro-poor and uncorrupt as they were made to believe in 2015.

It ‎accused the president of aloofness to the plight of citizens and the failure to initiate and implement any development project in any part of the country.

‎”Today, the electorate has come to terms with the fact that the promises by President Buhari and his APC are all a big scam.

“In fact, our investigations have revealed that President Buhari never intended to fulfil any of his promises. This is because, three years down the line, our president cannot even boast of any clear-cut implementation blueprint on his promises.

“Instead, our dear president and his cronies acquired a life of opulence, going on foreign tastes and swimming in an ocean of corruption, while millions of Nigerians who voted him into power are abandoned to languished in poverty and bloodletting occasioned by the APC misrule,” PDP said.

The party noted that‎ the need for President Buhari’s response to Timi Frank’s letter become imperative given the weighty issue of humongous corruption, intimidation of citizens, erosion of freedom, constitutional breaches and persecution of citizens under the guise of fighting against corruption raised by the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary.

It commended Timi Frank for his boldness and courage and urged other public-spirited persons in the APC to withdraw from the party and rally round other well-meaning Nigerians in the repositioned PDP.

“We implore them to come and join hands with other Democrats, who are daily working on the modality to rescue the soul of our nation from the stranglehold of the APC and the Buhari presidency,” the party added. (New Telegraph)

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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

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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)

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