Tuesday , 22 October 2019
Latest
Home » News » Latest (page 30)

Latest

Oyo-Ita returns to work as Buhari rejects early retirement

Winifred Oyo-Ita, the head of service of the federation, returned to her desk on Thursday following the rejection of her offer of early retirement by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Oyo-Ita had last weekend sent in her letter directly to the president following pressure mounted on her to quit the job by her sons.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently questioned Oyo-Ita over allegations that she used front companies to get contracts when she was a permanent secretary before her appointment as head of service by Buhari in 2015.

She vehemently denied involvement in any scam.

Oyo-Ita had been absent from public functions after the EFCC grilling, but she was present on Wednesday at the swearing-in of ministers after meeting with the chief of staff to the president, Abba Kyari.

Insinuations that she was being victimised did not sit well with Buhari, who eventually turned down her offer to retire.

N537m debt: Court orders takeover of Donald Duke’s Ikoyi property

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria and United Bank for Africa to take over an Ikoyi, Lagos property of a former governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke, over an alleged debt of N537,334,360.77.

The court made the takeover order in an August 8, 2019 ruling by Justice Chuka Obiozor.

The order was pursuant to an ex parte application, marked, FHC/L/CS/1373/2019, taken before the judge by AMCON and UBA.

Listed as first to third defendants were Stonehedge Investment Limited, Mr Donald Duke and Mrs Owanari Bob-Manuel Duke, respectively.

The applicants had prayed the court for “an order of interim attachment, possession, and custody of the property being No. 3, Temple Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.”

They told the court that the property was mortgaged by Duke “as collateral in securing the 1st respondent’s indebtedness to the applicants.”

They urged the court to grant them possession of the property “pending the institution and disposal of proceedings for recovery of debt against the respondent, pursuant to Section 49 of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria Act 2010 (as amended).”

They also prayed the court for an interim Mareva injunction to take possession of funds in the accounts of Duke and others in any bank “pending the institutional and disposal of proceedings for the recovery of a debt of N537,334,360.77 made up of the principal debt and interest against the respondents pursuant to Section 50 of AMCON Act 2010.”

The judge granted the prayers, in addition to an order restraining the respondents from “transacting, transferring, changing or howsoever dealing in any manner or interfering with the applicants’ possession” of the Ikoyi property.

The judge ordered AMCON and UBA to ensure service of substantive originating processes on the respondents within 20 days of the making of the order.

Buhari unbundles ministries, merges, creates others

President Muhammadu Buhari has unbundled the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, which was one until Wednesday when he separated Power from the trio, leaving the Works and Housing Ministry as an entity.

Fashola has been appointed as Works and Housing Minister; while Saleh Mamman,an Engineer, is Minister of Power.

Buhari also merged the ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning; with Zainab Ahmed, who formerly headed the Finance Ministry, as the minister.

The Special Duties/International Affairs ministry was also created, with ex-Benue Governor-turned-Senator, George Akume, as the minister.

The President also created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs/ Disaster Management & Social Development; as well as Ministry of Police Affairs, which was hitherto the Police Service Commission.

Sadiya Umar-Farouk is the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs/ Disaster Management & Social Development; while the Ministry of Police Affairs has Maigarai Dingyadi as the Minister.

Tribunal reserves judgment on PDP, Atiku’s petition against Buhari’s election

The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, on Wednesday, reserved its judgment on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the February 23, 2019 poll.

The five-man tribunal led by Justice Mohammed Garba announced this after listening to the final arguments of the parties to the case.

Justice Garba said the date for judgment would be communicated to the parties through their lawyers.

“‎Judgment in this petition is hereby reserved and will be delivered on the date to be sent to counsel for the parties,” Justice Garba said.

At the Wednesday’s hearing the petitioners, through their lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), urged the court to uphold their case by either declaring them the winner of the election or order a fresh one.

But the respondents – the Independent National Electoral Commission, represented by Yunus Usman (SAN), Buhari, whose legal team was led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), and the All Progressives Congress represented by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) – urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lacking in merit.

The petitioners had called 62 witnesses to prove its case.

While the INEC and the APC called none, Buhari called seven in defence.

The tribunal, on August 1, directed parties to file and exchange their final addresses and fixed Wednesday for the adoption of the addresses.

FULL LIST: New ministers and portfolios

The Presidency has released a list of ministers and their respective portfolios.

Below is the full list:

 

1) Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah – Abia, Mines and Steel Development, State

2) Muhammed Musa Bello – Adamawa, FCT

3) Sen. Godswill Obot Akpabio – Akwa Ibom, Niger Delta

4) Chris Ngige – Anambra, Labour & Employment

5) Sharon Ikeazor – Anambra, Environment, State

6) Adamu Adamu – Bauchi, Education

7) Amb Maryam Katagum – Bauchi, Industry, Trade and Investment, State

8) Timipre Silva – Bayelsa, Petroleum, State

9) Sen. George Akume – Benue, Special Duties

10) Mustapha Baba Shehuri – Borno, Agriculture, State

11) Godwin Jedi-Agba – Cross River, Power, State

12) Festus Keyamo – Delta, Niger Delta, State

13) Ogbonnaya Onu – Ebonyi, Science and Technology

14) Dr. Osagie Ehanire – Edo, Health

15) Clement Ikanade Agba – Edo, Budget and National Planning, State

16) Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo – Ekiti, Industry, Trade and Investment

17) Geoffrey Onyeama – Enugu, Foreign Affairs

18)Dr. Ali Isa Pantami – Gombe, Communication

19) Emeka Nwajuba – Imo, Education, State

20) Suleiman Adamu – Jigawa, Water Resources

21) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed – Kaduna, Finance, Budget and National Planning

22) Dr. Mohammad Mahmoud – Kaduna, Environment

23) Mohammed Sabo Nanono – Kano, Agriculture

24) Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd) – Kano, Defence

25) Hadi Sirika – Katsina, Aviation

26) Abubakar Malami – Kebbi, HAGF and Minister of Justice

27) Ramatu Tijani Aliyu – Kogi, FCT, State

28) Lai Mohammed – Kwara, Information and Culture

29) Gbemisola Saraki – Kwara, Transportation, State

30) Babatunde Raji Fashola – Lagos, Works and Housing

31) Adeleke Mamora – Lagos, Health, State

32) Mohammed A. Abdullahi – Nasarawa, Science & Tech, State

33) Amb. Zubairu Dada – Niger, Foreign Affairs, State

34) Olamilekan Adegbite – Ogun, Mines & Steel Devpt

35) Sen. Omotayo Alasuadura – Ondo, Labour, State

36) Rauf Aregbesola – Osun, Interior

37) Sunday Dare – Oyo, Youth and Sports

38) Dame Pauline Tallen – Plateau, Women Affairs

39) Rotimi Amaechi – Rivers, Transportation

40) Mohammed Maigari Dangyadi – Sokoto, Police Affairs

41) Engr. Sale Mamman – Taraba, Power

42) Abubakar D. Aliyu – Yobe, Works and Housing, State

43) Sadiya Umar Faruk – Zamfara, Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development

EFCC: Our operatives were attacked by Ambode’s hoodlums

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says its operatives were attacked by hoodlums loyal to Akinwunmi Ambode, former governor of Lagos, on Tuesday.

The anti-graft agency had gone to execute a search warrant on Ambode’s residence in his hometown, Epe.

Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC’s head of media and publicity, said in a statement on Tuesday evening that the commission “had obtained valid warrant to conduct search on Ambode’s residences in Park View, Ikoyi and country home in Epe, as part of ongoing investigation of alleged malfeasance”.

He said the operatives were attacked and prevented from executing the search warrant in Epe by “irate youths” who injured three officers and damaged the EFCC official vehicle.

“The attack was totally unprovoked as the Commission’s operatives were civic and did not molest anybody. The Commission therefore frowns at the attempt to manipulate the video of the search to create the wrong impression that officers of the agency molested residents at the Epe home of the governor. It is also not true that the search was an attempt to plant foreign currencies in the home of the former governor,” he said.

The agency had earlier denied carrying out a raid on Ambode’s residence, insisting that its operatives were on a legitimate duty.

A group of lawyers had also alleged that the EFCC wanted to planted incriminating evidence at Ambode’s house in Epe.

EFCC: Our operatives were attacked by Ambode’s hoodlums

Four killed as gunmen open fire on Deputy Gov’s convoy

Suspected armed robbers on Tuesday night attacked the convoy of Nasarawa State Deputy Governor, Dr Emmanuel Akabe, killing three policemen and a civilian.

Akabe was on his way to Abuja on an official engagement when the convoy ran into the robbers who were operating few kilometres away from Akwanga

Police Public Relations Officer of the state Police Command, ASP Usman Samaila, confirmed the incident to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lafia.

Samaila, however, did not give details, saying the Commissioner of Police, Bola Longe, had led a team of officers to the scene to assess the situation.

“As I speak with you now, the Commissioner of Police, the Deputy Commissioner Operations and other high ranking officers of the command have gone to the scene of the incident,” Samaila said.

Meanwhile, one of those in the convoy said the armed men opened fire on the convoy before fleeing.

According to him, three policemen and a driver were shot and killed by the armed robbers and their corpses have been deposited at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital Lafia.

The deputy governor, who was unhurt but looking shaky, was at the hospital but did not speak to journalists on the incident.

DSS: Sowore, Nnamdi Kanu conspired to overthrow Buhari

The Department of State Services (DSS) has alleged that Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement, conspired with Nnamdi Kanu to overthrow the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a counter-affidavit filed at the federal high court, Abuja, in response to an application by Sowore, the DSS said Sowore held a series of meetings with Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to “mobilise strong forces” to realise his agenda.

In July, the duo had met in New York to discuss “how to fight Nigerian oppressors”.

A few weeks later, the secret police arrested Sowore just two days to the kick off of the #RevolutionNow protest.

In the application filed by Godwin Agbadua, an official of the DSS, the agency said its investigations had shown that the protest was a smokescreen for Sowore and his allies “to topple the government”.

The security agency said it would approach the court to extend the 45 days order to detain Sowore to 90 days it initially requested for.

“The respondent/applicant (Sowore) planned to violently change the government through the hashtag RevolutionNow, ” the agency said.

“The respondent/applicant hid under the cover of call for mass protest with the hashtag RevolutionNow to mislead unsuspecting and innocent members of the public into joining him to topple the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“In his plot to topple the government the respondent/applicant held series of meetings with members at a prescribed terrorist organisation, Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) with a view to mobilising strong forces to realise his agenda at changing the government.

“The respondent formed an alliance with a fugitive, Nnamdi Kanu, a self-acclaimed leader of the proscribed terrorists group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to launch series of attacks on Nigeria with a view to violently removing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“After series of closed-door meetings between the duo in the United States of America, they addressed a press conference wherein they both stated their resolve to form alliance against the Nigerian government. The duo stated that they have a well-planned out strategy to realize their objective, which is toppling the government.”

The DSS said Sowore was arrested on reasonable suspicion of having committed a capital offence, upon his alleged involvement in terrorists’ activities.

“The applicant/respondent is investigating the activities of the respondent /applicant as it relates to a terrorist organisation, IPOB. The facts show a conjecture between the respondent/applicant and IPOB activities,” the application read.

“There is the need for the applicant/respondent to investigate such reasonable suspicion of the relationship between the respondent/applicant and IPOB.

“The respondent held series of meetings with some foreign collaborators outside Nigeria including Dubai where millions of dollars were given to him to sponsor a widespread attack on Nigeria with a view to violently removing the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and freeing Ibrahim El-Zakzaky (Sheikh).

“In furtherance to the plans to violently free El-Zakzaky from lawful custody. the respondent held several meetings with a proscribed terrorists organisation. Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) where they strategized on how to carry out attacks to force the government to free Elzakzaky.

“The investigation is still ongoing. Upon the completion of investigation, the case file will be forwarded to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for advice and possible prosecution.”

 

FULL LIST: Sanwo-Olu’s commissioners and Special Advisers

COMMISSIONERS: 

Mr. Rabiu Olowo Onaolapo (Finance)

Mr. Tunji Bello (Water Resources and Environment)

Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo (Education)

Prof. Akin Abayomi (Health)

Dr. Idris Salako (Physical Planning and Urban Development)

Mr. Gbenga Omotoso (Information and Strategy)

Mrs. Bolaji Dada (Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation)

Mr. Lere Odusote (Energy and Natural Resources)

Dr. Frederic Oladeinde (Transportation)

Mr. Gbolahan Lawal (Agriculture)

Moruf Akinderu Fatai (Housing)

Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo (SAN) (Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice)

Mr. Hakeem Fahm (Science and Technology)

Mrs. Ajibola Ponnle (Establishment, Training and Pension)

Engr. Aramide Adeyoye (Works and Infrastructure)

Mr. Segun Dawodu (Youth and Social Development)

Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf (Home Affairs)

Mrs. Yetunde Arobieke (Local Government and Community Affairs)

Mrs. Lola Akande (Commerce and Industry)

Mrs. Olufunke Adebolu (Tourism Arts and Culture)

Mr. Sam Egube (Economy Planning and Budget)

SPECIAL ADVISERS:

Dr. Wale Ahmed on Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Relations

Ms Ruth Bisola Olusanya  (Special Adviser on Agriculture)

Princess Aderemi Adebowale (Special Adviser on Civic Engagement)

Mr. Afolabi Ayantayo (Special Adviser on Political and Legislative Affairs)

Mrs. Toke Benson-Awoyinka (Special Adviser on Housing)

Joe Igbokwe (Special Adviser for Drainage and Water Resources)

Olatunbosun Alake (Special Adviser for Innovation and Technology)

Arc. Kabiru Ahmed Abdullahi (Special Adviser on Urban Development)

Anofi Olanrewaju Elegushi (Special Adviser on Central Business Districts)

Bonu Solomon Saanu (Special Adviser on Arts and Culture)

Oluwatoyin Fayinka (Special Adviser on Transportation)

Oladele Ajayi (Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry)

Tokunbo Wahab (Special Adviser on Education)

Solape Hammond (Special Adviser on Sustainable Development Goals)

Customs blame shipping lines, port operators, clearing agents for delay in cargo release

The Nigeria Customs Service has said that it was wrong for stakeholders to blame the Customs officers for every delay encountered in the cargo clearance processes, saying that cargo clearance is a chain process and everybody has a role to play.

Uche Ejesieme, spokesperson of the Tin Can Island Command of customs, said the command had identified certain delays in cargo clearance caused by terminal operators, shipping companies, government agencies and the licensed customs agent.

He said as a way of correcting the lapses, the Customs Area Controllers, Musa Baba Abdullahi, recently called a ‘no holds barred” meeting where the critical stakeholders were represented to discuss on restoring supply chain integrity.

Part of the resolutions at the meeting, according to him, is that Customs officers must henceforth resume work at 8am, while terminal operators must have positioned all containers for examination of cargoes to commence by 10am.

Ejesieme said “Sometimes if the agents don’t mention Customs, they find it difficult even to communicate with their principals, the importers, so we are used to leaking our wounds in Customs,meanwhile we are only limited to just two roles; examination and release of cargo”

“Most importers and agents are not ready to declare what they have, by the time we go for physical examination, you would see contradiction, this is why alerts will continue to come, if you don’t want alerts to come, and then you must be ready to be compliant”

“We are happy that over time, people are beginning to align and comply with fiscal policies of government in terms of trade”

“We have actually tried to bring all the critical stakeholders together on one platform to be in sync with the expectations and directives of Ease of Doing Business”

“We started mobilising the stakeholders because we reviewed and saw that there was need for us to improve on our supply chain integrity and management, we discovered that there were gaps which are not peculiar or synonymous with customs”

“We discovered there were gaps with the shipping companies and terminal operators, gaps with some of our operatives in the field, gaps among other sister security agencies, regulatory agencies, importers and their agents,” he said.

Huawei founder explains ‘battle mode’ plan to beat U.S. crisis

China’s Huawei will spend more on production equipment this year to ensure supply continuity, cut redundant roles and demote inefficient managers as its grapples with a “live-or-die moment” in the wake of U.S. export curbs, founder Ren Zhengfei said.

His remarks come as the United States said this week it will extend by 90 days a reprieve that permits Huawei Technologies to buy components from U.S. companies to supply existing customers, but it also moved to add more than 40 of Huawei’s units to its economic blacklist.

In a memo sent to employees on Monday loaded with military metaphors, 74-year-old Ren asked staff to work aggressively towards sales targets as the firm goes into “battle mode” to survive the crisis.

“The company is facing a live-or-die moment,” Ren, a former Chinese army officer, said in the memo, which was seen by Reuters. Huawei confirmed the contents of the memo.

“If you cannot do the job, then make way for our tank to roll; And if you want to come on the battlefield, you can tie a rope around the ‘tank’ to pull it along, everyone needs this sort of determination!”

Huawei is a key theme in a broader, year-long U.S.-China trade war, with Washington slapping it with the trade ban in May citing national security risks. Huawei, however, posted a 23% revenue jump in the first half, helped by strong smartphone sales in its home market.

Ren said in the memo, “In the first half, our results looked good, it is likely because our Chinese clients were sympathetic and made payments in time, the big volume made cash flow look good, this doesn’t represent the real situation.”

Ex-INEC boss, Maurice Iwu narrates EFCC ordeal

Professor Maurice Iwu, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, has finally spoken about his recent ordeal in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.

According to Iwu, “The journey I have found myself on began brewing on February 23rd, 2019 when I was deprived of my civic duty of voting in the Presidential Election as a result of EFCC “investigations”. From the seizure of my international passport that February till this recent ordeal with actual charges and detention, God’s goodness has remained manifest as I recite “Te Deum” in Thanksgiving.”

The Former INEC chairman thanked “Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora for their enormous show of concern, support and the spiritual discipline (for not crucifying me before my day in the court of law). My gratitude to Ndi Igbo, umu Imo, Okigwe indigenes (both at home and abroad), clergy from various denominations, especially of the Catholic faith, which I belong to. The support were not just in words of encouragement, but more in actions of prayers, for in it all the glory of God was made manifest. Though I ask the same question Ps. 4:2a stated “How long, Oh men will you turn my glory into shame?”

“Whenever persecution comes my way, I become more aware that God does not forsake His own indeed, and I’m encouraged by Ps. 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.”

He said “Despite the challenges, I bow in honour and humility the Grace God has offered and continues to afford me and my family.

“Even with a spirit charged by the timeless words of Rudyard Kipling in his timeless poem “If” (1943).

“More than ever before, with what I have passed through within the last months, I embrace the ever reassuring grace and presence of the Holy spirit, which affords my soul to appreciate the professionalism and dignity of many of the staff and persons at the EFCC detention centre, Judiciary and the Ikoyi prisons. It could only be God.

“With a humble spirit, I plead for well meaning Nigerians to await the court trial and due process in this matter that would allow me to share my side of the story and equally bring to light the testimonies of this journey of immense grace and revelation.

“It is noteworthy, that none of the charges against me has to do with my tenure as Chairman of INEC. And to the scientific community, please be assured that this would not negatively affect the several ongoing work by Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION) in contributing to the discovery and development of phytomedicines for tropical and emergent diseases, and the use of our world-class research facility for the standardization of African Medicinal Plants.

“I would like to acknowledge my beloved family, friends and my legal team for their support, hard work, solidarity and prayers. God heard all of you and never left me. The darkness that has enveloped the day is not yet over, please remain steadfast.

Iwu was released from Ikoyi Prisons after meeting the stringent N1bn bail granted him by the Federal High Court, Lagos, last week.

The court granted him bail after he was docked last week Thursday before Justice Chuka Obiozor by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering although Realnews found out that there are other reasons for his trial which may be inherently politically motivated.

Realnews suggested in a report that prosecution of Iwu was because of the ongoing case at the Presidential Election Tribunal where Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is challenging the victory of President Muhammad Buhari at the presidential election in February 23. His traducers believed that he is the one advising Atiku on how to wage his case on the transmission of results of the February 23, presidential election through the INEC server. Although INEC has denied the existence of such server, it is believed that it was installed during the time Iwu presided over the commission as its chairman. It is alleged that he employed and trained all the staff manning the department who may have provided him information which he passed on to the Atiku Campaign Organisation.

Another grudge his traducers have against him is the alleged role he played in influencing the Ohaneze to support Peter Obi as the vice presidential candidate of PDP.

Also, Realnews gathered that the money Iwu was alleged to have laundered was the fund the federal government gave for research on prevention of Ebola during the outbreak of the disease in the country in 2014. Sources told Realnews that the disease was quickly contained in Nigeria because the fund was deployed to achieve the objective of the federal government to contain the spread of the disease in the country. As at the time of his arrest, there was no money relating to the fund found in Iwu’s account or that of his company, Bioresources, the source said.

According to the source, who craved anonymity, the prosecutors are also urging Iwu to implicate former President Goodluck Jonathan in order for him to be set free. The insistence of the prosecutors on this line of action led to an angry altercation between the EFCC official and Iwu during his interrogation. Iwu was said to have asked the EFCC official how he expected him at his age and background to implicate somebody who committed no offence and for what gain.

Realnews reports that Iwu’s travails with the EFCC started early this year during the elections when he was invited for questioning but was released to go on self recognition and directed to report regularly to the commission until his current arrest and prosecution. It was then rumoured that his arrest was to prevent him from influencing the outcome of elections in Imo, his home state, where the indigenes were battling to ensure that Rochas Okorocha, former governor, did not return his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu as the governor of the state.

Buhari appoints heads of federal agencies

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved replacements for heads of Federal Government agencies that were recently appointed as ministers.

A statement by the president’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Tuesday, said Sen. Basheer Garba Mohammed was appointed Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons.

Mohammed replaces Sadiya Umar Farouk, a minister-designate from Zamfara.

According to the statement, Dr Chioma Ejikeme has been appointed Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate, replacing Sharon O. Ikeazor, while Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi is now Director General/CEO, National Information Technology Development Agency.

“For Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), President Buhari has forwarded Adeleke Moronfolu Adewolu’s name to the Senate for confirmation as replacement for Sunday Akin Dare.

“The appointments take immediate effect,’’ the statement added.(NAN)

How soldiers killed police officers, set me free — Taraba kidnap kingpin

Hamisu Wadume, a suspected kidnap kingpin in Taraba State, has implicated Nigerian soldiers in his deadly escape two weeks ago.

Mr Wadume was re-arrested on Monday night and taken to the Force Headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, where he had been making statements to the police.

The suspect was first arrested on August 6 by a team of anti-crime police officers in Taraba. He was being taken to Jalingo, the state capital, when soldiers manning a checkpoint opened fire on the police team, killing three officers and a civilian.

An expansive investigation has been launched to unravel the culprits behind the violence, amidst claims that soldiers of 93 Batallion and top local police officers had connived to thwart Mr Wadume’s arrest.

At a short appearance before police camera on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Wadume corroborated police’s suspicion that Nigerian Army personnel were involved in the conspiracy that led to the killing of four persons and wounding of others.

He said he was arrested in Ibi, Taraba State, but “on our way out of Ibi, some soldiers open fire on the vehicle I was being transported in and killed some police officers, “ he said.

“The soldiers then took me to their headquarters and cut off the handcuff from my hands and set me free.

Advertisement

SGF Campaign AD

“I have been hiding since then until now that the police arrested me again,” he said.

Mr Wadume was arrested in Kano State, police said.

Inspector-General Muhammad Adamu said the arrest would potentially lead to the smashing of other kidnap rings across Nigeria.

The police confirmation came after Thenewsmatrics reported that Wadume had been arrested and taken to the Force Headquarters for interrogation, citing other media sources.

A spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Sagir Musa, is yet to comment about Wadume’s implication of soldiers.

Although the Nigerian Army confirmed soldiers were responsible for the attack on the police team, it denied that it was deliberate, blaming it on a communication gap that was largely avoidable.

Report: How UK govt makes millions weekly from cutthroat visa outsourcing services

*Nigerians spend N4.4bn yearly on UK visa applications

The Home Office has increased its profit on UK visas by millions of pounds a week since outsourcing visa operations to a Dubai-based firm that has been deluged with complaints and accused of exploiting vulnerable applicants for profit, The Independent has reported

VFS, which has its headquarters in the UAE but is owned through holding companies in Jersey, the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, faces claims of “gross maladministration” and “aggressive” selling of optional services since taking the UK government contract in 2014.

During that time, the Home Office has made £1.6bn from applicants looking to visit, study or be reunited with their families – a nine-fold increase on the five years prior to the start of the contract.

Nigerian UK visa applicants appear top of the list of such vulnerable groups being a first choice travels, study and tourism destination given the country’s  long lasting colonial ties with Britain.

A joint investigation by The Independent and Finance Uncovered found the amount the department makes on average per visa application has increased from £28.73 to £122.56 or N55,000 for Nigerians.

Despite the cutthroat charges, Nigerian applicants, many desperate to relocate to the UK to access better quality of life, are often confronted with rude and haughty security personnel some of whom accept “tips” to ‘facilitate’ skipping long queues even though an online appointment andcall up system has been emplaced.

Thenewsmatrics reports that the UK High Commission to Nigeria said recently that it received about 80,000 visa applications yearly with 80 being successful. Of this figure 90 per cent are for student visas.

This implies that Nigerians spend N4.4bn each year on UK visa applications.

VFS, which is contracted to process visas from all countries outside Europe and Africa, handles applications to work, study and live in the UK, as well as visit.

People applying through VFS – the majority of whom are from lower-income countries, with a quarter from south Asia – have said they missed flights and were wrongly denied visas due to delays and administrative errors, including apparent failure to scan vital documents.

Others said they had faced a barrage of “optional” services on the VFS website, ranging from document checking for around £5, to a “super priority” visa service costing as much as £1,000, which some said failed to deliver on the fast-tracked service promised. Lawyers said these additional services could exploit vulnerable migrants who may feel pressured to spend more to secure visas.

Meanwhile, VFS has increased its average revenue per applicant by 38 per cent between 2016 and 2018 by selling more premium services, according to an analysis of group accounts filed in Luxembourg.

‘WHAT YOU GET FOR YOUR EXTRA MONEY’
Email service (per query): £5.48

Telephone helpline (per minute): £1.37

Form filling assistance via phone £61.72

Round trip courier service: £115.20

On demand mobile visa: £1,641

Gold premium package (includes super priority visa, walk-in without appointment, form filling assistance and health concierge): £1,564

Settlement premium package (includes priority visa for settlement or migration service, form filling assistance, application and document checks, courier service): £1,645

* All figures for US residents travelling to the UK

Prior to the contract, the majority of UK visa applicants could submit their applications in British embassies or consulates, where their documents would be processed and decisions would be made, and where there was no system of offering priority or “added value” services.

But when the service was outsourced in 2014, decision-making was concentrated in larger hubs run by VFS, which the Home Office said at the time would “improve the efficiency and consistency” of decision-making.

Fees have increased since then, with the cost of applying for a standard visit visa – the most popular type – rising by 14 per cent, from £83 in 2014 to £95 in 2019. Applications for settlement have increased from £885 to £1,523, a rise of 72 per cent.

However, analysis of Home Office annual accounts shows that the department’s surplus from visa applications has increased at an even higher rate. The figure stood at £178.6m for the five years before 2014, but over the past five years, the department has made £1.6bn, (N720bn) £438.1m last year alone – equating to £8.4m (N3.7bn) each week.

The contract handed to VFS made it mandatory for contractors to provide certain “premium services”, including premium lounges and priority visa services, some costing in excess of £1,500. The Home Office said that when the contract was renewed in 2018, premium lounges were removed as a mandated service.

Fees were also introduced for applicants wishing to make a query about their application, at £5.48 per query for the email service and £1.37 per minute for the phone helpline.

Contract documents released under freedom of information laws to Finance Uncovered show the Home Office takes a cut of the revenues these premium services, but the department refused to state how much it has received.

The Home Office insisted it did not make a profit from visa applications and said income generated from visa fees funded the wider immigration system – an apparatus which includes the controversial immigration detention estate, on which the department spent £523.5m between April 2013 and March 2017.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the scale of the charges was “truly shocking”, adding: “These are people who we have welcomed here, for work, for business, for study. The Home Office should not be ripping people off, and profiteering by private companies has no place in public services.”

Nicole Francis, chief executive of Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, said the organisation was concerned about the “poor level of service” provided by VFS and the Home Office benefiting from the offer of premium services. She added: “The information collected as part of this article suggests that we were right to be worried.”

She expressed concern that the premium services being offered “may exploit vulnerable and less well-informed migrants,who may feel pressured to purchase an expensive service which will not provide them with any benefit”.

John Vassiliou, partner at McGill and Co solicitors, said VFS had “been allowed to flourish despite this lack of competence” and claimed the Home Office did not exert enough control over outsourced visa services.

“It’s gross maladministration,” he said. “Our clients have had to endure stress, hassle, disruption to their lives, and significant legal expenses in order to resolve what ultimately was a very simple yet significant failure on the part of VFS: scanning essential documents.”

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration is investigating the outsourced visa system, with a report due later this year looking at customer experience and whether the contract had delivered on the promised benefits.

The figures come following widespread concern over the privatisation of the Home Office’s in-country visa system, which was outsourced to French firm Sopra Steria in November and has since, according to lawyers, offered a “substandard” service for “inflated” prices. A Sopra Steria spokesperson said at the time that its service was experiencing “higher than anticipated demand” and that it would be increasing the availability of free appointments at its core centres.

A Home Office spokesperson said it demanded the highest standards from service providers. A VFS spokesperson said optional services were “developed in response to specific demands from applicants for greater accessibility, personalisation and convenience in visa services – they are determined in consultation with, and agreed by, the respective governments”. They added that the services were clearly labelled as optional, while visa decisions were “the sole prerogative of the concerned embassy/consulate”.

Pass all requests for meetings with me through Abba Kyari, Buhari tells ministers

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told incoming ministers that all requests for meetings with him should pass through his chief of staff, Abba Kyari.

Buhari said this in his closing remark at a presidential retreat for minister’s designate in Abuja.

“In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channelled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,” Buhari said,

Kyari has been criticised by some Nigerians including members of the ruling party, APC, for his influence over the president.

The First Lady, Aisha Buhari, is one of those who have complained about the powers Mr Kyari wields in the presidency.

After Mr Buhari’s re-election in February, some APC members protested against the re-appointment of Mr Kyari, a longtime ally of the president.

The president, however, reappointed him to the position.

 

Read Buhari’s full speech to the ministers-designate below:

Protocols

After two days, we have come to the end of a successful retreat. However, you will agree that our work is just beginning.

2. These last two days have been very instructive for me personally, because I have had the opportunity to know many of you new Ministers-Designate better. I was also pleased to see that you have all equally enjoyed debating and deliberating on the various challenges before us over the next 4 years.

3. Ladies & Gentlemen, majority of our people are poor and are anxiously hoping for a better life. A Nigeria in which they do not have to worry about what they will eat, where they will live or if they can afford to pay for their children’s education or healthcare.

4. Our responsibility as leaders of this great country is to meet these basic needs for our people. As I mentioned yesterday, this Administration inherited many challenges from our predecessors to mention a few:

· A country in which 18 local governments in the Northeast were under the control of Boko Haram;

· Decayed infrastructure in which our rail lines and roads had severely deteriorated;

· A rent seeking economy that depended largely on oil revenues and imports;

· Significant unpaid pensions, subsidy debts, legacy contractor debts. I can go on and on.

5. In our first term, we laid the foundation to rebuild our country. We recaptured those 18 Local Governments previously held by Boko Haram, whose activities are now limited to sporadic attacks against soft targets. Our investments in road and rail infrastructure are without precedent, and many of you can attest to this. We also focused on diversifying the economy from oil towards agriculture and industrialization. Despite reduced revenues from oil and gas compared to past governments, we have broadly addressed many of the legacy debts they left behind.

6. Whilst we have obvious successes to celebrate, the challenges ahead are significant as you would have observed in detail over these two days. Nevertheless, from the quality of the deliberations, it is clear that solutions to our problems are well researched and have been well articulated.

7. We have discussed solutions relating to addressing Insecurity; Macroeconomic Stability; Agriculture and Food Security; Energy Security for Petroleum products and Electricity; Transportation and Critical Infrastructure; Industrialization and SME Development; Human Capital Development; Social Inclusion; Anti-Corruption; Housing Financing and Consumer Credit.

8. Public service is not easy work, and at times it can be thankless. I am therefore charging you all to see this opportunity to serve as an honour, to give your best to deliver on this mandate, for a more prosperous Nigeria, not for some, but for all Nigerians.

9. You will find that working collaboratively and purposefully will enable us to achieve quicker results, recognizing that four years is not a very long time. For the new Ministers, make sure you engage and benefit from the experience of the older Ministers and former Governors in the cabinet.

10. In terms of coordination, kindly ensure that all submissions for my attention or meeting requests be channeled through the Chief of Staff, while all Federal Executive Council matters be coordinated through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

11. I would like to thank the Office of the SGF for coordinating this successful Presidential Retreat. I would also like to thank the National Assembly leadership, the Party Chairman, Chairman of the Governors Forum, and resource firms, for the active engagements and contributions.

12. Once again, the challenges that lie ahead of us as a country are significant. But I have no doubt in your individual capacities and our collective patriotic commitment to deliver a better Nigeria for us, our children and a brighter future for all.

Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

EFCC tried to plant evidence on Ambode – Epe lawyers

 

Some young legal practitioners have claimed that officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission attempted to plant implicating evidence during a search of the Ikoyi home of former Lagos governor,  Akinwunmi Ambode earlier on Tuesday.

In a statement issued on Tuesday,  th he lawyers gave a detailed account of what transpired at Ambode’s Park View apartment.

 

Below is the full statement:

At early hours of today, we were duly briefed that some officers of the EFCC invaded the apartment of the Former Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Akinwunmi Ambode with the intention to search the premises.

We got to the scene and met with the officials of the EFCC to inquire whether they have a search warrant to search the premises of the Ex Governor.

Having confirmed the Search Warrant, the EFCC officials told us that nobody will follow them in as they will only go in alone. We resisted as young Lawyers and stated expressly that the principle of search is that the owner of the premises of his representatives must be present to observe the search.

They succumbed to our superior argument and allowed us and the people who has the key to the Ex Governor’s house into the apartment with them. Before they entered, we searched all the officials of the EFCC who intended to go in to effect the search.

There was a blue bag which they were holding with them, we requested to see the content of the bag before they could take it in. They got angry and said we cannot see the content. Having said that, we strongly resisted them to take it in since they cant allow us to see it, which they later agreed. We later got to know that the bag contained foreign currency which they brought to plant in the house of the Ex Governor to incriminate him.

It is important to inform the public that before the entered the house, we all submitted our phones to them as they requested that the only person required to go in with phone is one of them who will record the whole process.

All documents, including the State Executive Exco Meetings Vol 1 – 16 in the personal study of the Ex Governor and His Luggage room which they intended to take along with them for further investigation was resisted by us as we told them that failure to take records of all the documents from A-Z, they cannot go out with anything and they agreed with us.

Flowing from the aforesaid, they searched the nooks and crannies of the Ex Governor’s house and they couldn’t find any incriminating documents or materials. We authoritatively assert that, they did find anything in the house and they didn’t leave the house with anything.

We followed them as they entered from one place to the other, when our presence was intimidating them, they said we should sit down while they will do the search. We resisted that we must follow them to observe every of their activities in the premises.

To our greatest consternation, the officials of EFCC led by Rotimi Oyedepo, Esq held on to our phones and told us to follow them to their office in Ikoyi to get our phones. All efforts to get back our phones was abortive as the EFCC officials led by Rotimi Oyedepo, Esq rushed into their white Hiace Bus with our phones and instructed that since we have resisted their efforts to take “the said blue bag” into the main premises of the Ex Governor, they will hold on to the phone. Thus, almost six (6) phones were forcefully taken away, iPhones inclusive.

It is our happiness as Young Lawyers in Epe to be part of the process to legally and successfully resist the EFCC from incriminating the Ex Governor with the blue bag they brought with them from an unknown destination, and we also compelled them to conduct the search within the ambit of the law. Hence, the success.

We are sincerely elated that our presence really helped a long way to legally and successfully expose the intention of the EFCC to incriminate the Ex Governor. To this end, we are ready to challenge the search as they have gone beyond standard and the search warrant in this regard successfully whisking our phones away.

Thank you for listening and God bless you.

Signed.

Fatai A. Adebanjo, Esq.

Busari M. Olanrewaju, Esq.

Samson K. Okuneye, Esq.

APC reacts to EFCC raid on Ambode’s home

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has reacted to the search conducted by the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) at the Epe home of a former governor of Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode.

Ambode left office on May 29 after serving a single four-year term and is believed to be under investigation for alleged corruption.

The former governor’s residence in his hometown, Epe was searched around 9:35 a.m.

The residence of his former chief of staff was also searched in the same Epe town of Lagos State.

Two weeks earlier, multiple bank accounts holding billions of naira and linked to Ambode were frozen as part of the probe.

While Ambode has denied links to both the accounts and any allegations of corruption while in office, the EFCC said whatever it was doing with regards to the investigation “is in line with its mandate and the rule of law.”

Reacting to this development, the APC spokesperson, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said “there are no sacred cows”

He said this in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon.

“It is about time we knew that the APC government is not joking with its commitment to fight corruption in whatever form it is. This government has demonstrated that there are no sacred cows”, he said.

“The naysayer can continue to say what they like but they must be ashamed of themselves by now, knowing that on daily basis, the anti-corruption agencies are proving them wrong,” Mr Issa-Onilu said.

When asked if the party was in support of the move against Mr Ambode, he said: “We are not specific about any issue. The fight against corruption is our own policy and there are no sacred cows. We just hope that the allegation against former governor Ambode is not true. If true, this APC government will not bend the rule for any personalities.”

He maintained that corruption fight is the “cardinal principle of the APC.”

Davido, Coldstone, Obasanjo Farms… FIRS publishes 19,901 accounts owing taxes

Bank accounts belonging to Obasanjo Farms, Iyiola Omisore and Davido are some of the accounts that have been placed under lien for owing taxes.

In a list published on Monday, the Federal Inland Service (FIRS) listed 19,901 accounts that were yet to regularise their tax status.

Some of the accounts published include:

  • Citiroof Aluminium Co. Ltd
  • Coldstone Creamery Limited (Yaba)
  • Davido Music Worldwide Ltd
  • Grand Square Supermarket and Stores Ltd
  • Iyiola Omisore & Par
  • Open Heavens Bliss Enterprises
  • The Assemblies of God Nigeria
  • X3M Music Limited
  • Tiger Foods Limited
  • Slot Enterprises
  • Payporte Technology Limited
  • Visionscape Sanitation Solutions Limited
  • Erisco Foods Limited Milk Cube account
  • God is Good Motors (Vehicle sales account)
  • Hubmart Stores Limited
  • Obasanjo Farms Nig. Ltd (Feedmill)
  • United Capital Plc

29 DAYS COUNTDOWN…

In a newspaper advertorial, the FIRS said it would enforce the payment of whatever outstanding each company had.

“This is to notify all Companies, which had their Bank Accounts placed under Lien by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) pursuant to Section 31 of the FIRSE Act, but are yet to regularise their tax status with the FIRS, that if they fail, refuse or neglect to pay the tax due within 30 days of this Notice, the FIRS shall in accordance with Section 49 (2) (a- d) of the FIRSE Act proceed and enforce the payment of the said tax against all the Directors, Managers, Secretaries and every other person concerned in the management of the Companies and recover the said tax from such persons without further notice,” it said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the above Section authorises the FIRS to proceed against and punish every officer, Manager, Director, Secretary or any person concerned with the management of the Company in like manner as if he/she had committed the offence.”

Under lien gives the FIRS the power to hold on to the accounts and deduct whatever the customer owes. 

Ambode reacts to EFCC search, says no cause for alarm

 

Former governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday urged his supporters and the general public to remain calm and law-abiding as there was no cause for alarm.

Ambode, in a statement by his media aide, Mr. Habib Aruna, spoke on the backdrop of a search by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on his Epe Country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence, where the anti-graft agency conducted the exercise without any incident.

He said the Commission, till date, has not opened any direct communication with him on any issue, adding that he was ready and willing to respond if or when they do so.

The statement reads: “This morning, operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission visited the Epe Country home and Parkview Ikoyi residence of Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, former Governor of Lagos State, with warrants to conduct a search. These searches were carried out extensively and at the end of the exercise the operatives left without any incident.

“The former Governor reiterates that the EFCC has till date not had any direct communication with him on any subject matter whatsoever and if or when it occurs he is ready and willing to respond.

“The former governor wishes to assure his supporters and the generality of Lagosians to continue to remain calm and law-abiding as there is no cause for alarm.”

The former governor reiterated his belief in the rule of law and due process and remains grateful for the opportunity to have served Lagos State diligently and conscientiously.

It would be recalled that Ambode, in an earlier response to allegations by the EFCC that it had frozen certain accounts linked to him, insisted that no account of his contained N9.9bn let alone being frozen by the Commission as those accounts were opened and operated by the Lagos State Government.