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Army Court Martials General over missing N400m

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Army Court Martials General over missing N400m

The Nigerian Army Tuesday arraigned a former General Officer Commanding, GOC 8 Division, Sokoto, Major General Hakeem Otiki, before a General Court Martial (GCM) sitting in Abuja, over alleged diversion of N400million.

The GCM, which is sitting at the Nigerian Army Officers’ Mess, Asokoro, is headed by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Lt-Gen. Lamidi Adeosun.

New Telegraph recalls that five soldiers on escort duty from Sokoto to Kaduna were alleged to have absconded with the huge cash, leading to the arrest and detention of the embattled GOC.

It was learnt that the convening order for the constitution of the GCM, may have been issued by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai.

Details later…

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Buhari arrives Sochi for Russia-Africa Economic Forum

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Buhari arrives Sochi for Russia-Africa Economic Forum

President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived the Russian city of Sochi ahead of the Russia-Africa Economic Forum taking place today.

Buhari had left Abuja on Monday afternoon and arrived the city, which hosted the last Winter Olympics, in the night after an almost eight-hour fight.

The Nigerian President along with a number of other African heads of state will be meeting their Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin in effort to strengthen economic ties between the two continents.

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BBC: Prince William worried about Harry after TV interview

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BBC: Prince William worried about Harry after TV interview

Britain’s Prince William is worried about his brother after Prince Harry and wife Meghan spoke out about their struggle to live under a global spotlight, the BBC reported.

The Corporation quoted a palace source as saying there was a view that the couple were “in a fragile place”. William was worried about his younger brother and hoping that they “are all right”, the source said.

Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, has issued a number of emotional statements in recent months condemning the behavior of the tabloid press and launching legal action in response to what he has called “bullying” by some sections of the media, reports Reuters.

On Sunday the ITV television channel broadcast a documentary that was filmed during the couple’s recent tour of Africa. In it Harry said he would not be bullied into “playing the game” with the media that he believes killed his mother Diana, and revealed a rift had developed with William.

Princess Diana became one of the most photographed women on the planet after she married heir to the throne Prince Charles. She died in a car crash in 1997 after being followed through the streets of Paris by photographers.

In the same documentary Meghan Markle, a former American actress, said the last year had been hard and friends had warned her not to marry Harry because of the conduct of the British tabloid press.

“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair, and that is the part that is really hard to reconcile,” Markle said in the program that aired on Sunday.

“When people are saying things that are just untrue and they have been told they are untrue, but they are allowed to still say them, I don’t know anybody in the world that would feel like that is OK, and that is different from just scrutiny.”

Both Harry and Meghan have launched legal proceedings against Britain’s biggest tabloids. Harry has said he believes the treatment of Markle was reminiscent of the press’ approach to his mother, and said what happened to her remains incredibly raw.

A spokeswoman for Prince William’s Kensington Palace office declined to comment.

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BBC: Prince William worried about Harry after TV interview

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BBC: Prince William worried about Harry after TV interview

Britain’s Prince William is worried about his brother after Prince Harry and wife Meghan spoke out about their struggle to live under a global spotlight, the BBC reported.

The Corporation quoted a palace source as saying there was a view that the couple were “in a fragile place”. William was worried about his younger brother and hoping that they “are all right”, the source said.

Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson, has issued a number of emotional statements in recent months condemning the behavior of the tabloid press and launching legal action in response to what he has called “bullying” by some sections of the media, reports Reuters.

On Sunday the ITV television channel broadcast a documentary that was filmed during the couple’s recent tour of Africa. In it Harry said he would not be bullied into “playing the game” with the media that he believes killed his mother Diana, and revealed a rift had developed with William.

Princess Diana became one of the most photographed women on the planet after she married heir to the throne Prince Charles. She died in a car crash in 1997 after being followed through the streets of Paris by photographers.

In the same documentary Meghan Markle, a former American actress, said the last year had been hard and friends had warned her not to marry Harry because of the conduct of the British tabloid press.

“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair, and that is the part that is really hard to reconcile,” Markle said in the program that aired on Sunday.

“When people are saying things that are just untrue and they have been told they are untrue, but they are allowed to still say them, I don’t know anybody in the world that would feel like that is OK, and that is different from just scrutiny.”

Both Harry and Meghan have launched legal proceedings against Britain’s biggest tabloids. Harry has said he believes the treatment of Markle was reminiscent of the press’ approach to his mother, and said what happened to her remains incredibly raw.

A spokeswoman for Prince William’s Kensington Palace office declined to comment.

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Canada’s Trudeau clings to power, loses some of his luster

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held on to his job in Monday’s election, securing his spot as one of the world’s few high-profile progressive leaders, but tarnished by scandal and with his power diminished.

The man former U.S. President Barack Obama privately anointed as a successor in global diplomacy survived a blackface scandal and the disclosure that he sought to interfere with a federal corruption prosecution, but just barely.

Trudeau’s Liberals, who won power four years ago with a strong parliamentary majority, were projected by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp to form a minority government after a tight election battle with the Conservative Party led by Andrew Scheer. That would leave Trudeau needing the support of smaller opposition parties to govern, reports Reuters.

“The hype was so great when he ran before, it would be hard to match that,” said Jonathan Rose, a political science professor at Queen’s University. “The burden of governing both wore him down and wore voters down.”

Alternately charming and awkward, the former teacher and snowboard instructor swept to power in 2015 at the age of 43. Born on Christmas Day in 1971 to a sitting Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau, the younger Trudeau grew up in the spotlight.

On taking over as prime minister, Trudeau said he would tackle climate change, overhaul the electoral system, legalize marijuana and have Canada take in 25,000 Syrian refugees. He proclaimed himself a feminist, and unveiled a gender-balanced Cabinet. Mobbed for selfies, Trudeau brought style to an office that is usually dour, and broadcast much of it on social media.

But before long, key allies turned hard to the right – the UK voted to leave the European Union, and the United States elected Republican Donald Trump as president.

In time, Trudeau concentrated power in the prime minister’s office and abandoned electoral reform. His government bought the troubled Trans Mountain oil pipeline, infuriating environmentalists, even as it moved to put a price on carbon, alienating the energy industry.

The run-up to the campaign was marked by high-profile Cabinet defections, and a watchdog report that found Trudeau and his team tried to undermine a federal prosecutor’s decision to put construction firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc on trial for corruption.

Then, as the campaign began, a 2001 photograph emerged that showed Trudeau, then 29, at a party, his face covered in dark makeup. More photographs of him in blackface quickly followed, as Trudeau apologized. The images, which briefly dented the Liberals’ popularity, ran counter to a carefully managed public persona.

Trudeau also promised “reconciliation” with Canada’s indigenous peoples, who make up about 5% of the country.

Ahead of Monday’s election, the indigenous political group Assembly of First Nations (AFN) said there had been “concrete action and investments” but “we have considerable ground to make up to ensure First Nations and Canadians share an equal quality of life.”

‘VOICE TO BE NEEDED MORE’

On the eve of the election, the race looked close. Trudeau had a shot at a dispiriting honor: the first prime minister since 1935 to lose power in the next election after winning a first-term majority.

“It was inevitable that some of that shine was going to come off, and I think we’ve seen that,” said Andrew MacDougall, who was spokesman for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative government was ousted by Trudeau’s Liberals in 2015. “But he’s not that far away from where he was when he was elected.”

The friendship Trudeau forged with Obama in another era seems to endure. The two were spotted dining together in Ottawa earlier this year, and the former president tweeted his endorsement last Wednesday of Trudeau’s re-election.

In a recent book, former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes described a 2016 meeting between the two leaders.

“Justin, your voice is going to be needed more,” Obama said, according to Rhodes. “You’re going to have to speak out when certain values are threatened.”

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FG: How we’re using Abacha’s $322.5m loot

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FG: How we’re using Abacha’s $322.5m loot

 

 

The Federal Government has declared that the money recovered from the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, is being used in elevating poor Nigerians through the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) and the International Development Association, IDA/World Bank Credit programmes.

In December 2014, a Swiss judge gave a Forfeiture Order to the effect that $322.5 million recovered from Abacha family would be returned to Nigeria.

Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, said with the recovery of the looted funds, the Federal Government designed and implemented policies to address the plight of poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

Uwais noted that the funds are being specifically disbursed to beneficiaries of the National Cash Transfer Programme (a component of the National Social Investment Programme, N-SIP), stressing that the programme has been changing the fortunes of many Nigerians below the poverty line.

Disclosing this yesterday in Port Harcourt while delivering the keynote address at an Experts’ Training and Advocacy on Tracing and Recovery of Illicit Funds and Assets organised by the Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Uwais said that from August/September 2018 to the September /October payment cycle, the total cumulative value so far disbursed from the Abacha loot is $76,538,530 and $27,099,028 from the IDA credit.

She said the decision to distribute the Abacha loot and the IDA funds to poor and vulnerable citizens was to prevent the funds from being diverted to private pockets.

Uwais said: “From the August/September 2018 to the September/October 2019 payment cycle, the total cumulative value so far disbursed from the Abacha loot is $76,538,530 and $27,099,028 from the International Development Association (IDA) credit.

“The funds are specifically being disbursed to beneficiaries of the National Cash Transfer Programme (a component of the National Social Investment Programme N-SIP).

“The gesture is positively changing the fortunes of many Nigerians who find themselves below the poverty line, based on the data collated in the communities and hosted on the National Social Register.

“The decision to distribute the Abacha loot and IDA funds to poor and vulnerable citizens was reached by the Swiss Government, the World Bank and the Federal Government.

“This was to ensure that the funds are well utilised and not diverted to private pockets, as was the case in the past.”

The presidential aide listed the key achievements of the Cash Transfer Programme funded with the Abacha loot and IDA loan facility to include enrolment and payment of 620,947 beneficiaries across 29 states; N567,429,471.30 saved by beneficiaries in 17 states from their monthly N5,000 stipends and 3,695 trained to support beneficiaries.

She said: “In December 2014, a Swiss judge gave a Forfeiture Order to the effect that monies ($322.5 million) recovered from the family of late General Abacha would be returned to Nigeria. One of the conditions being that the World Bank would be involved in monitoring disbursements therefrom. Presumably, this was as a consequence to the opaqueness that surrounded the application of recovered funds.

“It is common knowledge that the funds from the Abacha loot (as is often termed) and the World Bank/IDA credit are being utilised to effect N10,000 bi-monthly transfers to our cash transfer beneficiaries, through the operations of the National Social Investment Office, originally under the auspices and supervision of the vice president and now operating from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.”

She added that the country would have made more progress in service delivery if the huge amounts of money looted by a few privileged Nigerians had been judiciously utilised.

Uwais also said that to tackle poverty in Nigeria, consideration must be given to the basic and peculiar needs of the people, who should be carried along in the formulation and implementation of poverty alleviation policies and programmes.

The presidential aide regretted that there are millions of Nigerians who have never felt the presence of government in their lives, saying many of them continue to struggle, to eat even one meal a day.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be a disconnect between many of us who live in the urban areas, with people whose daily living is a constant struggle. This is why we hear questions like how can a N5,000 monthly stipend make a positive difference in a citizen’s life? What is N10,000 to the petty trader? Surely, we should be looking at larger amounts? Indeed, it is only infrastructure that can help our people. It does not occur to some that this infrastructure is out of reach of the very poor. 

“By all means, provide the tangible structures, but having schools in their communities make no sense to the family whose priority is to find something to eat, even once a day. Unless we can address the challenges that these citizens face, these children would continue to farm, hawk and remain as statistics of our out-of-school numbers,” she said.

Also speaking at the event, the chairman of HEDA Resource Centre, organisers of the training, Suraju Olanrewaju, lamented the negative impact, which acts of corruption have had on Nigerians, particularly the poor.

Suraju said that about 456 top public officials holding strategic positions are yet to declare their assets despite the regulations put in place by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

In his remarks, Nick Hildyard, an anti-corruption investigator, said though the United Kingdom (UK) has one of the most effective anti-corruption laws, but that in reality, the country does not appear to be fully prepared to stall the wave of corruption with her financial institutions providing the logistics for corrupt officials from Nigeria.

“The UK is a legally corrupt country,” Hildyard said, adding that if Western countries genuinely wish to fight corruption, they should stop the warehouse of stolen funds from Nigeria.

In her presentation, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa of the University of Lagos said though the Freedom of Information Law has opened fresh opportunities for Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable, she however regretted that the Official Secrets Act, which was introduced by colonial lords about a century ago into the Nigerian legal system, remains in force.

Nigeria, unlike many other countries and jurisdictions, lacks a policy, guideline or law on public access of court documents.

Meanwhile, foreign experts in anti-corruption has declared that the United Kingdom (UK) receives not less than £90 billion shady funds from across the world every year, most of them stolen by public officials from the third world, including but not limited to Nigeria.

The experts said 87,000 illicit assets in UK are owned by anonymous companies in tax havens, while the values of secretly owned properties in UK are between 56 and 100 billion pounds.

“Forty per cent of these properties are in the city of London,” they affirmed.

The revelation was made by world acclaimed anti-corruption advocates, Christian Erikson and Lionel Faull in a joint paper tagged “Obtaining Property Information Overseas” presented at the anti-corruption training.

Faull said: “Getting your money back is easier said than done. It takes a long time. If you do not support corruption, there is no need doing banking with Nigeria. The fight against corruption will not succeed without a very active citizenry.

“It requires international solidarity, teaming up with civil society in order to work with international organisations and make authorities accountable.”

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NDIC remits N212.7bn into consolidated revenue fund

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NDIC remits N212.7bn into consolidated revenue fund

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has remitted over N212.7 billion into Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) since inception 30 years ago.

The remittance is in conformity with Fiscal Responsibility Act, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, confirmed yesterday.

This was as President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan promised to ensure the speedy passage of the NDIC Amendment Act that has been pending with the National Assembly.

Ahmed and Lawan spoke in Abuja at the 30th anniversary celebration of the corporation with theme: “Emerging risks and corporate governance issues in banking sector.”

The minister, who spoke through Director, Homes Finance, Mr. Okon Udo, commended NDIC for its contribution to the economy as a key finance regulator.

“I stand to commend the contribution of the NDIC to enhancement of the revenue base of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Today, its accumulative remittances to the consolidated revenue fund stands at over N212.71 billion. The executive arm of government is also aware of remarkable effort of the importance of cooperation to enhance financial inclusion in the country,” she said.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo lauded NDIC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for effective regulation of banking sector.

He said the corporation, by dint of hard work, excellence service delivery, has earned enviable reputation among its peers in Africa and beyond.

“I have already heard of the various institutional achievements of the NDIC in the past three decades of its existence. The part it played in stabilizing the financial system, especially the period immediately after the early days of privatization and private ownership of banks and its role in the failed banks’ crisis that followed immediately after. Most significant challenge the financial system has experienced so far, was that bank crisis in 2009. Going by the manner of the resolution, it appears the preferred touch was the establishment of AMCON, an option that cost something in the range of N5 trillion of money at that time,” the vice president said.

Former Access Bank Managing Director and guest lecturer, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhede, who spoke on “emerging corporate governance and risk management issues in banking,” noted that the issue of weak corporate governance was responsible for banks’ failure and commended both NDIC and CBN for enthroning strict corporate governance in banking system.

In his opening remarks earlier, NDIC Managing Director, Mallam Umaru Ibrahim, outlined some reforms introduced by the corporation in its three decades of its establishment.

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Police commission appoints 6 DIGs

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Police commission appoints 6 DIGs

…promotes 14 CPs to AIG, 230 SPs to CSP

 

The Police Service Commission (PSC) yesterday said it had approved the appointment of six Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs) of Police.

It said two of the DIGs will proceed on pre-retirement leave, while the four others will replace those that had retired earlier.

The spokesperson for the PSC, Mr. Ikechukwu Ani, who made the disclosure in a statement, further disclosed that 14 Commissioners of Police (CP) have also been promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police.

Also promoted, according to Ani, were 230 Superintendents of Police to Chief Superintendents, 11 Deputy Superintendents of Police to Superintendents, while 211 Assistant Superintendents were moved to the rank of Deputy Superintendent.

“The PSC has approved the appointment of six Deputy Inspectors General of Police with two to proceed on pre-retirement leave. The remaining four are to replace the four retired DIGs and also form part of the IGPs Management team made up of seven DIGs.

“The new DIGs are; Abdul Dahiru Danwawu; Lawal Shehu; Adeyemi Samuel Ogunjemilusi; Peter Babatunde Ogunyanwo, all former AIGs and Alex Okpara and Celestine Okoye, former CPs. DIG Ogunjemilusi and DIG Okpara are to proceed on pre-retirement leave.

“The Commission also approved the promotion of 14 Commissioners of Police to the next rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police. They are; Yunana Babas; Dan-Malam Mohammed; Mua’zu Zubairu Halilu; Rabiu Yusuf; Sanusi Nma Lemu; Ahmed Iliyasu; Mohammed Uba Kura; Zaki M. Ahmed; and Gwandu Haliru Abubakar.

“Others are; Zama Bala Senchi, presently CP, Jigawa State Command; Bello A. Sadiq; Austin Iwero Agbonlahor; Lawan Ado, former CP, Kwara State Command and currently Commandant Police College, Kaduna and Bashir Makama,” the PSC said.

The statement further noted: “The Commission also approved the promotion of 230 Superintendents of Police to Chief Superintendents, 11 Deputy Superintendents of Police to Superintendents and 211 Assistant Superintendents to Deputy Superintendents.

“Forty one Inspectors were also promoted to ASP1.

“The new CSPs include; Kabiru Ishaq; Sufi Salisu Abdullahi; Dattijo Abdullahi; Bisiriyu Akindele; Faloye Folusho; Ngozi Faith Nwosu; Shehudden Yusuf Baba; Ibrahim Bashir; Benjamin Nlemchukwu Ugwuegbulam; Remigius Nnaemeka Ekpe; Tope Adewunmi Oparinde; Esther Ifeoma Nwaiwu, Victoria Olayinka Mulero and Ogbonnaya Nwota.”

It noted that the appointments and promotions were the highpoints of the Commission’s 6th Plenary Meeting held in Abuja last Friday.

The statement quoted the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Musiliu Smith, as declaring the readiness to closely monitor the performance of the officers, even as enjoined them to “rededicate themselves to the service of their fatherland”.

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Govt budgets N155bn interventions in Niger Delta

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Govt budgets N155bn interventions in Niger Delta
  • Senate rejects N23bn ministry budget
  •  Several ongoing projects missing

 

 

In a bid to upscale infrastructure development and promote peace in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government has made a provision of N155 billion for some special interventions in the oil-rich region.

The projects are contained in the 2020 Appropriation Bill currently under consideration at the National Assembly. They include the N80.88 billion proposed for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the N65 billion for reintegration of transformed ex-militants under the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

In addition, N500 million has been earmarked for the construction of the Gberegolor–Ogriagbene Road, Delta State; N1.5 billion for the construction of Elele–Owerri Road linking Rivers and Imo states and the N5.67 billion for the completion works on various sections of the East-West Road.

Similarly, the sum of N1.46 billion has also been proposed for the construction of various skills acquisition centres with resident supervision, furnishing and equipping in nine states of the Niger Delta region.

A key assumption upon which the 2020 budget is predicated is oil production volume of 2.18 million barrels per day. It goes without saying that achieving this target depends largely on peace in the Niger Delta.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who gave a breakdown of the budget, explained that so far, Nigeria has been able to raise and maintain more stable oil production levels; there was every need to sustain the peace in the region.

“Militancy in the Niger Delta has generally abated, although breaches of pipelines still regularly occur. This was partly responsible for the lower than projected oil production volume in the first half of the current year,” she said.

Ahmed said that though the oil production benchmark for 2020 is lower than the projected oil production volume of 2.3mbpd for 2019, the current projection is believed to be more realistic, given the dynamics of the global oil market.

“A lower benchmark oil price of $57 per barrel (against $60/b for 2019) is assumed considering the expected oil glut in 2020, as well as the need to cushion against unexpected price shock.

“There are strong indications of an oversupplied market in 2020. All three of the major forecasters – Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), International Energy Association (IEA) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) generally see non-OPEC production growing by around 2mbpd this year, and by even more next year.

“U.S. shale oil accounts for most of the total supply increase, but new projects in Norway, Brazil and Australia will also contribute to the increase in non-OPEC supply. Also, market sentiments do not support an expansion in demand. In fact, the growth in demand for OPEC oil specifically is projected to slow down next year,” she said.   

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Alleged N12bn fraud: Saraki forfeits two houses to FG

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Alleged N12bn fraud: Saraki forfeits two houses to FG

 

  • Ex-Senate President: EFCC misled court to grant order

 

 

Justice Mohammed Liman of a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of two property located at Ikoyi area of Lagos State belonging to a former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to the Federal Government.

The order was sequel to the granting of an ex-parte motion filed by the Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) through one of its lawyers, Nnaemeka Omewa.

In his arguments, Omewa said the motion was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006, Section 44 (2) (b) of the Constitution and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

He said the property was reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

Part of the reliefs sought by the EFCC include “an order of this honourable Court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria landed property with appurtenances situated, lying and known as No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State, found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.

“An interim order of this honourable court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria the landed property with its appurtenances situate, lying and known as No 17 McDonald Road, Ikoyi in Eti Osa Local Government Area, Lagos State found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.”

After listening to the lawyer’s submissions, Justice Liman granted the motion and ordered interim forfeiture of the two property to the Federal Government.

“Relying on the application before me with the affidavit and written address, all issues raised are resolved in favour of the applicant, the application is succeed and it’s hereby granted,” the judge held.

The judge also ordered the EFCC to publish the interim order in a national daily within 14 days for any interested party or parties to show cause while the two property should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

In an affidavit deposed to by an investigator with the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq, it was averred that the former Senate President acquired the two property with proceeds of unlawful activity.

The deponent further averred that trend of cash lodgements into Saraki’s account became suspicious and in order to further disguise the source and origin of the money, the respondent changed the pattern of payment and started making payments into accounts using fictitious names.

The EFCC further alleged that Saraki, while serving as the Governor of Kwara State, withdrew over N12 billion cash from the account of the Kwara State Government and paid it directly into his account domiciled in two commercial banks through one of his Personal Assistants, Abdul Adama, at different intervals.

“That investigation also revealed that on receipt of the money by the personal staff of the respondent, Abdul Adama, from the then Controller of Finance, Kwara State, Isiaka Kareem, the money will be fraudulently laundered by handing it over to the respondent, and most times to one, Mr. Dauda Bayo Abdurahman, a staff of GTB and the Group Head, South-West Division in charge of managing public sector accounts, public office holders accounts and Federal/State agency’s accounts, etc.

“That on collection of the money by the said Dauda Bayo Abdurahman from Abdul Adama, the money will be further laundered by depositing it into the respondent’s personal account No.0034967455 domiciled with a commercial bank.

“That Dauda Bayo Abdurahman normally comes to Kwara State Government House to collect the money,” the deponent further averred.

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to 7th November, 2019. 

However, Saraki has declared that the court which granted the forfeiture order on his houses in Ikoyi, Lagos was misled.

The former Senate President, who spoke through his media adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he was not aware of any application by the EFCC for the forfeiture order.

His words: “We are sure the Federal High Court judge in Lagos was not aware of all these facts and has therefore been misled into giving the temporary forfeiture order. The affected property, House Number 17 A and 17B, was specifically listed in the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in which the EFCC was part of the prosecution and the case went up to the Supreme Court where the apex court in its July 6, 2018 judgement ruled in his favour.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that the source of funds for the purchase of the property was not illicit as claimed by the prosecution. On pages 12, 13 and 26 of the judgement of the highest court, this particular property on 17A McDonald Street, Ikoyi, was specifically referred to and the court upheld the no case submission of Dr. Saraki and therefore ruled in his favour.”

Saraki urged his supporters to remain calm.

“We know that any action which tends to mislead the court amounts to misrepresentation and it is a good ground for us to get the court to throw away the order it issued today (yesterday). We are sure the order will be reversed.

“We therefore call on all the friends, associates and supporters of Dr. Saraki to remain calm because we know this action will not stand when the court gets to hear the side of the former Senate President,” Olaniyonu said

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USSD: Telcos insist on new charges

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USSD: Telcos insist on new charges

…say fees sanctioned by regulator

 

Despite the outrage from Nigerians and the opposition from the Ministry of Communications and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), telecommunications operators in the country said they would go ahead with the new charges for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).

USSD is a Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication technology that is used to send text between a mobile phone and an application programme in the network.

USSD is used by customers for financial transactions.

Speaking through their umbrella body, the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the telcos said the new charges were determined by the telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

New Telegraph’s checks showed that the telecoms regulator indeed issued a new regulation titled ‘Determination of USSD Pricing’ in August this year.

However, according to the regulatory document, the mobile network operators (MNOs) are to charge not more than N4.89k for a session of USSD service.

The document states that a predefined session is started once a user dials in to facilitate the transfer of information between the application and the user. This was different from the operators’ announcement of N4.00 per 20 seconds.

Although the notification to affect the new charges was received mainly by MTN subscribers, ALTON’s position suggests that all the operators were to implement the new charges as sanctioned by the regulator.

According to ALTON’s Administrative Secretary, Mr. Gbolahan Awonuga, the determination of the USSD charges started via a study conducted by the regulator in 2017 and by May 2019, the determination was issued.

The study on USSD, he disclosed, was conducted by the NCC and industry working group (IWG), after the CBN set a committee that was made up of members from the Bankers’ Committee.

ALTON also questioned the statement credited to the Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Pantami, directing the telecom operators to discontinue the charges until he is fully and properly briefed.

ALTON stated that the issue being discussed is not policy, but regulation. “We are confusing regulation with policy. There was a determination on this USSD, even before the appointment of the minister,” Awonuga said.

He argued that the CBN is protective of the banks, but wondered why the telecom operators cannot be protected. “It is not about the good boy, but this is commercial and the normal things have been done. Operators did not come up overnight to charge N4. It was deliberated upon and a decision taken,” he explained.

The Minister of Communications, Pantami had, on Sunday, ordered the telcos to maintain status quo, even as the Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the move was against the bank’s policy.

MTN had, at the weekend, notified its subscribers through different text messages of its plan to start charging them for using the service effective from October 21, 2019.

One of the messages read: “Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you.”

Another version of the message from the telco read: “Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct. 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more information.”

Financial transactions via USSD was introduced to ensure easier access to banking services and to help drive the country’s financial inclusion target.

Hitherto, telcos charge customers per USSD session, but at varying rates with the highest being N20 per session. The charges would mean that customers will be charged N12 for every minute spent on the USSD channel.

The development had elicited reactions from customers, who took to social media to express their displeasure with the move. Some also tagged the Communications Minister, querying why the charges should be allowed.

However, reacting to the issue via a statement, Dr. Pantami said that his office was unaware of the development as his office was not officially briefed. The minister has, therefore, “directed the sector regulator, the NCC, to ensure that the operator suspends such plans until the honourable minister is fully and properly briefed,” the statement, signed by the minister’s spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman, read.

Giving the bank’s position on the matter at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington on Sunday, CBN’s Governor, Emefiele, said: “About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos. At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost. What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.

“But the telecom companies disagreed with us, they said it is an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason they needed to impose it.

“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen. The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage. I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost. And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,” he said.

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