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Black Nursing Home worker grabs $6m payout after her boss told her: ‘I don’t want a black person walking here in a suit’

A nursing home executive, who was fired because she is black, has been awarded a $6 million payout in a New Jersey discrimination suit.

Rebecca McCarthy in a lawsuit against Care One claimed she was discriminated against when a senior vice president of the facility Alison Fitzpatrick-Durski told her: “I don’t want a black person walking around here in a suit as VP. I want you in scrubs, flats, and a lab coat.”

McCarthy who was promoted to a vice president position in 2016 by the company to stop her leaving for another job said in her complaints that after few months in her role Fitzpatrick-Durski took over as administrator of the Bound Brook facility.

Fitzpatrick-Durski asked her to go back to her old position, McCarthy said in her lawsuit in the Superior Court in Bergen County. The next day she was fired and replaced by a white woman.

“A black person just like any other hardworking qualified person deserves to hold a VP title and wear a suit without discrimination,” McCarthy said. “Ms. Fitzpatrick-Durski made it clear to me on her first day on the job that she didn’t want to see a black person in the VP position.”

Fitzpatrick-Durski, however, denied referring to race when speaking to McCarthy during the trial in Bergen County Superior Court, arguing that she only encouraged her to engage in hands-on patient care when the nursing staff needed help and to change into scrubs when necessary.

Lawyers for Care One claimed that McCarthy was fired because of her performance, insisting Fitzpatrick-Durski was not a racist, reports Daily Mail.

The lawyers also stated that Fitzpatrick-Durski was previously married to an African American man and “is the mother of three children who partake of African American heritage”.

However, McCarthy’s lawyers pushed back insisting race was the sole reason behind her firing, describing a previous incident in which Fitzpatrick-Durski referred to another black employee as a slave.

A jury ruled in McCarthy’s favor on November 1, awarding the plaintiff $4.1 million in punitive damages, $1.8 million for past and future lost wages and $5,000 for mental anguish, according to court documents.

The defense filed a motion to dismiss th

e verdict. A judge is expected to rule on the motion November 22.

Speaking on the Jury’s verdict, McCarthy said: “I am very happy that justice was served.”

“It is a shame that CareOne continues to defend such disgusting behavior,” McCarthy told Atlanta Black Star. “I hope that this never happens to anyone else.”

Nigerian-born professor resigns after spending $243k research grant on strip clubs, iTunes in US

Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, a professor of Nigerian origin, has resigned after it was discovered that he spent $242,390 research funds in strip clubs and iTunes purchases.

According to a statement released by the eastern district of Pennsylvania attorney’s office, Nwankpa repaid $53,328 and resigned in place of termination after he was discovered.

The professor was also said to have paid for goods and services offered by Cheerleaders, Club Risque, and Tacony Club.

Nwankpa, who was head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Drexel University, made the purchases between 2007 and 2017.

He has also been debarred from federal government contracting for a period of six months.

Nwankpa

William M. McSwain, a US attorney, announced that the university has agreed to pay the United States $189,062 to resolve potential liability under the False Claims act.

“This is an example of flagrant and audacious fraud and a shameful misuse of public funds,” McSwain said.

“The agencies providing these grant funds expect them to be used towards advancements in energy and naval technology for public benefit, not for personal entertainment.

“We appreciate Drexel’s self-disclosure and cooperation in this matter. At the same time, we are disappointed that Dr Nwankpa’s conduct went unnoticed for so long, but Drexel’s strengthening of its charge approval process is certainly a step in the right direction.”

Am investigation into Nwankpa’s activities began in 2017 after the university voluntarily disclosed improper charges to eight federal grants for energy and naval technology-related research that it received from the Navy, the department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.

 

US drops 40 tonnes of bombs to ‘wipe out’ ISIS-infested island

An island “infested” with ISIS fighters was annihilated by almost 40 tonnes of bombs dropped from US warplanes.

Dramatic aerial footage shows explosions as bombs hit Qanus Island followed by huge mushroom clouds billowing into the air over the Tigris River in Iraq.

The island had become a “safe haven” and “major transit hub” for the terrorists, who hid within thick vegetation, as they moved into Iraq from neighbouring Syria, the US-led coalition said.

But the hideout was obliterated and an unknown number of jihadists were killed as US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle and F-35A Lightning II aircraft, alongside Iraqi warplanes, launched airstrikes this week.

Bombs were dropped on Qanus – located near the US military base in Qayyarah – amid a series of ground attacks by Iraqi troops.

The US-led coalition said the island, north of Baghdad, was a hideout for terrorists moving from Syria and the Jazeera desert into Mosul, Makhmour, and the Kirkuk region of Iraq.

Major General Eric T Hill, a commander with Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led anti-ISIS campaign, said: “We’re denying Daesh the ability to hide on Qanus Island.

“We’re setting the conditions for our partner forces to continue bringing stability to the region.”

A spokesperson for the coalition added: “Coalition Forces used 80,000 pounds of munitions on the island to disrupt Daesh the ability to hide in the thick vegetation.

“CTS Forces continue to conduct ground clearance operations to destroy any remaining Fallul Daesh on the island.”

US-backed forces have driven ISIS out of its strongholds in Iraq and Syria following months-long offensives.

The terror group has become so desperate to kill its enemies or innocent civilians that it has been strapping suicide vests to cows.

Many of its fighters have ended up dead or captured, and thousands of jihadi brides and children – including some who left Britain to join the terror group in the Middle East – are stuck in refugee camps.

But US and Iraqi officials told the New York Timeslast month that ISIS was gathering new strength, carrying out guerrilla attacks and trying to recruit people at the notorious Al Hol camp in north-east Syria.

The camp was home to British ISIS bride Shamima Begum – who has been stripped of her UK citizenship – before she was moved to a different one, reports mirror.co.uk.

The report said ISIS still had as many as 18,000 remaining fighters in Iraq and Syria, and a hidden war chest of as much as $400million (£325million).

Donald Trump has announced plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria despite concerns that it would mean less support for local troops or militia fighting terrorism.

General Mazloum Kobani Abdi, commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US ally, in the fight against ISIS, warned that the terror group was resurging in Syria after the US president’s announcement.

In an interview with CNN he asked for increased US support for his troops to stop ISIS from re-establishing itself.

On Tuesday – the eve of the September 11 terror attacks – the US announced sanctions on “terrorists and their supporters”, including the Islamic State.

Nigerian doctor appointed surgeon-in-chief of top US hospital

Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, the United States, has appointed Oluyinka Olutoye, a Nigerian medical doctor, as its surgeon-in-chief.

The hospital is named among the top 10 best children’s hospitals according to the U.S. News & World Report of 2019-20.

Olutoye, a general pediatric surgeon with a medical degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, will also be appointed professor and the E. Thomas Boles chair of pediatric surgery at The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Medicine.

Richard Brilli, managing director and chief medical officer at the hospital, expressed joy at the appointment of Olutoye.

He said the experience of the Nigerian doctor will further advance surgical operations in the hospital.

“We are tremendously delighted to welcome Dr. Olutoye to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to further elevate the visibility and reputation of one of the best overall children’s surgical programs in the country that, through its clinical care and research, is forging the future of children’s surgery,” he said.

“Having a world-renowned fetal and pediatric surgeon join our leadership team will further advance Nationwide Children’s commitment to establishing a preeminent fetal surgery program.”

Olutoye served as co-director of the Fetal Center and the immediate past president of the medical staff at Texas Children’s Hospital.

He also served as a tenured professor of surgery, obstetrics & gynecology, and pediatrics, and chair of the faculty senate at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Taxas.

In his remark, the Nigerian medical doctor said joining the hospital is an opportunity to further help children across the world.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is respected nationally for building outstanding integrated research and clinical programs, its seminal work in healthcare quality and patient safety, and as a leader in improving pediatric health outcomes,” he said.

“This is a very opportune time to be joining the organization as we build upon the already impressive success of our surgical services to help children around the country and increasingly around the world. I look forward to the privilege of leading and collaborating with this team in the next phase of our journey.”

Olutoye is certified by the American Board of Surgery in Surgery and Pediatric Surgery.

He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the West African College of Surgeons.

He is also a member of the American Surgical Association, the American Pediatric Surgical Association and past president of the International Fetal Medicine and Surgery Society.

The appointment of Olutoye was effective August 1st.

BREAKING: US raises cost of visa applications for Nigerians

The United States Embassy in Nigeria has increased fees for Nigerians applying for tourism, student and business visas.

The embassy in a statement on Tuesday said effective from August 29 Nigerians applying for the aforementioned visas which used to cost N59, 200, would do so with an extra $110 (N40, 700).

This would bring the total amount to N99, 900.

According to the statement, applicants who are denied visas would not need to pay the extra N40, 700.

Applicants seeking the L1 Visa (work permit) will pay an extra N112, 100 if given visas while those applying for H4 Visa (dependency/spousal) will pay an extra N66, 600.

The US embassy said it raised the fees because Americans were paying too much to get Nigerian visas.

“Effective worldwide on August 29, Nigerian citizens will be required to pay a visa issuance fee, or reciprocity fee, for all approved applications for non-immigrant visas in B, F, H1B, I, L, and R visa classifications,” the statement said.

“The reciprocity fee will be charged in addition to the non-immigrant visa application fee, also known as the MRV fee, which all applicants pay at the time of application.  Nigerian citizens whose applications for a non-immigrant visa are denied will not be charged the new reciprocity fee. Both reciprocity and MRV fees are non-refundable, and their amounts vary based on visa classification.

“US law requires US visa fees and validity periods to be based on the treatment afforded to US citizens by foreign governments, insofar as possible.  Visa issuance fees are implemented under the principle of reciprocity: when a foreign government imposes additional visa fees on US citizens, the United States will impose reciprocal fees on citizens of that country for similar types of visas.

“Nationals of a number of countries worldwide are currently required to pay this type of fee after their non-immigrant visa application is approved.

“Since early 2018, the US government has engaged the Nigerian government to request that the Nigerian government change the fees charged to US citizens for certain visa categories.  After 18 months of review and consultations, the government of Nigeria has not changed its fee structure for U.S. citizen visa applicants, requiring the US Department of State to enact new reciprocity fees in accordance with our visa laws.

“The reciprocity fee will be required for all Nigerian citizens worldwide, regardless of where they are applying for a non-immigrant visa to the United States.

Nigerian scam: US Dept of Justice Full Statement

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Central District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Massive International Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracy Detailed in Federal Grand Jury Indictment that Charges 80 Defendants

Indictment
LOS ANGELES – A 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerian nationals, with participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network.
The indictment was unsealed after law enforcement authorities this morning arrested 14 defendants across the United States, with 11 of those arrests taking place in the Los Angeles region. Two defendants were already in federal custody on other charges, and one was arrested earlier this week. The remaining defendants are believed to be abroad, with most them located in Nigeria.
The indictment alleges that the 80 defendants and others used various online fraud schemes – including business email compromise (BEC) frauds, romance scams, and schemes targeting the elderly – to defraud victims out of millions of dollars. According to a criminal complaint also unsealed today, co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the United States and other countries contacted the lead defendants in the indictment – Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizens – for bank and money-service accounts that could receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims. Once members of the conspiracy convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the receipt of funds and oversaw an extensive money-laundering network, according to the 145-page indictment.
The indictment and criminal complaint allege that Iro and Igbokwe, who were among those arrested this morning, were involved in schemes resulting in the fraudulent transfer of at least $6 million in fraudulently-obtained funds – and the overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.
The fraudsters targeted victims in the United States and across the globe, including individuals, small and large businesses, and law firms. Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly.
“This case is part of our ongoing efforts to protect Americans from fraudulent online schemes and to bring to justice those who prey upon American citizens and businesses,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use BEC schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims. This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators – no matter where they reside – and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains.”
“Today’s announcement highlights the extensive efforts that organized criminal groups will engage in to perpetrate BEC schemes that target American citizens and their hard-earned assets,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims. The FBI is committed to working with our partner agencies worldwide to continue to identify these cyber criminals and to dismantle their networks.”
Iro and Igbokwe essentially were brokers of fraudulent bank accounts. According to the indictment, Iro and Igbokwe collected bank accounts, fielded requests for bank account information, provided that information to co-conspirators around the world, and laundered the money obtained from victims – all of this in exchange for a cut of the money stolen from victims of the various fraud schemes.
If a bank account with a specific business name was required to trick a business-victim into making a payment, Iro and Igbokwe often coordinated with “money mules” to open accounts that could receive funds obtained, according to court documents. In addition to making the fake business name mirror the name of a legitimate company, members of the conspiracy routinely filed fictitious business name statements with the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder’s Office that were presented to banks when the fraudulent accounts were opened.
Once a victim deposited funds into a bank account or a money services account, Iro and Igbokwe allegedly coordinated with others to further launder the funds. Members of the conspiracy sometimes wired funds to other bank accounts under their control; in other cases, they simply withdrew funds as cash or negotiable instruments such as cashier’s checks.
When stolen funds were withdrawn as cash, the defendants frequently used illicit money exchangers to move funds overseas, generally avoiding transferring the funds directly through banking institutions, the indictment alleges. To do this, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the transfer of a victim’s funds from a fraudulent bank account they controlled to U.S. bank accounts belonging to illicit money exchangers. Those money exchangers, in turn, used a Nigerian banking application to transfer other funds in naira (₦), the currency of Nigeria, from Nigerian bank accounts they controlled to the Nigerian bank accounts specified by Iro and Igbokwe. This method was used to transfer millions of dollars to Nigerian co-conspirators without directly transferring funds overseas. The indictment alleges that Jerry Ikogho, 50, of Carson (who was taken into custody on Sunday), and Adegoke Moses Ogungbe, 34, of Fontana, were among those who served as illicit money exchangers for the conspiracy.
Each of the 80 defendants named in the indictment is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft. A number of the defendants also face substantive fraud and money laundering charges.
Additionally, Iro, Igbokwe, Ikogho, Ogungbe and three other defendants –Izuchukwu Kingsley Umejesi, 30, of Los Angeles, Tityaye Marina Mansbangura, 33, of Palmdale, and Obi Madekwe, 31, of Nigeria – are charged with operating illegal money transmitting businesses. Ogungbe and Mansbangura were also among those arrested this morning, and Umejesi is a fugitive currently being sought by authorities.
Iro, Igbokwe and Chuks Eroha, 39, face additional charges for attempting to destroy their phones when the FBI executed a search warrant in July 2017. Iro also is charged with lying to the FBI in an interview conducted during the search. The complaint alleges that, when the FBI arrived to conduct the court-authorized search at Iro’s apartment in Carson, Iro broke his phone in half, while Igbokwe and Eroha threw phones from a bedroom window of the apartment. While Iro claimed he previously had broken the phone during an argument with his wife, the complaint details how the FBI was able to determine that the phone was operational until seconds after the FBI knocked on Iro’s apartment door to execute the search warrant. Eroha is believed to have fled to Nigeria shortly after the FBI executed the warrant.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint and indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.
This investigation is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the United States Department of State provided substantial assistance during the investigation.
Several agencies provided support during today’s takedown or during the investigation, including the United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and the California Franchise Tax Board.
Many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés provided assistance throughout this investigation, as did the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and foreign authorities around the world. In particular, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office thank the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Osnabrück, Germany for their contributions.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Joseph B. Woodring of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section

FG says Nigerians indicted US scam could be extradited

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has asked citizens indicted in the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) probe to voluntarily turn themselves in or risk being extradited to the US.

The FBI listed at least 77 Nigerians in what it described as one of the largest fraud cases in US history.

Nick Hanna, a US attorney, had said investigations which began since 2016 showed that the suspects colluded with federal and state agents to dupe unsuspecting victims of their money.

In a statement issued on Friday, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, chairman of the commission, said while those fingered are still innocent until proven guilty, they should voluntarily turn themselves in to the US authorities to clear their names.

“We acknowledge the fact that accusation does not mean guilt, and we hope that all the accused will be given fair and speedy trial,” it said.

“We also ask those accused in Nigeria to voluntarily turn themselves in to American authorities to clear their names without which the Nigerian government should extradite them if relevant international treaties between the two governments are invoked.

“While such actions ultimately have negative effect on the image of the country, the commission, however, reiterates as it has always done, that the actions of a few Nigerians involved in criminal activities is not and can never be what the majority of Nigerians represent.”

The commission added that it would continue to monitor the developments closely.

US names Nigerians involved in $46m internet fraud and money laundering scam

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced tgee names of suspects apprehended in massive bust of online fraudsters who are mostly Nigerians.

At a press conference, Nick Hanna, US attorney, said federal authorities apprehended a total of 80 suspects for cyber crime and money laundering, with 57 more being hunted globally.

He had said investigations which began since 2016 showed that the suspects “many of who are from Nigeria” colluded with federal and state agents to dupe unsuspecting victims of their money.

He said the suspects were involved in schemes resulting in the fraudulent transfer of at least $6 million in fraudulently-obtained funds – and the overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.

The US attorney added the fraud scheme is believed to be “one of the largest cases of its kind in U.S. history” and that a total of 252 count charges ranging from “conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, aggravated identity theft” had been filed against the suspects.

TheCable sighted a copy of the charge sheet filed before the US district court in California in June 2019.

The sheet, which was signed by Hanna alongside other attorneys, had the nicknames such as “Thank You Jesus”, “Son of God”, American Man”, God is God”, “He is Risen”, alongside the full names of the suspects.

Below are the Nigerians on the list:

S/N SUSPECTS
1 Valentine Iro
2 Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe
3 Jerry Elo Ikogho
4 Izuchukwu Kingsley Umejesi
5 Adegoke Moses Ogungbe
6 Chukwudi Collins Ajaeze (better known as Thank You Jesus)
7 Ekene Augustine Ekechukwu
8 Chuks Eroha
9 Collins Nnaemeka Ojima
10  Uchenna Ochiagha
11 Nnamdi Theojoseph Duru
12  Ericson Uche Oforka
13 Mark Ifeanyi Chukwuocha
14 Augustine Nnamdi
15 Chiemezie Christopher Chilaka
16 Charles Ohajimkpo
17 Stanley Ugochukwu Uche
18 Chika Augustine Odionyenma
19 Paschal Chima Ogbonna
20 Samuel Nnamdi Onwuasoanya
21 Macwilliam Chinonso Chukwuocha
22 Emmanuel Onyeka Uzoka
23 Joshua Aniefiok Awak
24 George Ugochukwu Egwumba
25 Uchechukwu Solomon Ezirim
26 Augustine Ifeanyi Okafor
27 Okay Sam Mal
28 Leslie N. Mba
29 Ogohukwu Innocent Ikewesi
30 Emmanuel Uzoma Ogandu (better known as Son of God’
31 Amarachukwu Harley Anywanu
32 Bright Ifeanyi Azubuike
33 Emeka Moses Nwachukwu
34 Donatus Izunwanne
35 Chinwendu Kenneth Osuji
36 Eusebius Ugochukwu Onyeka
37 Chidi Anunobi
38 Anthony Nwabunwanne Okolo
39 Obinna Christian Onuwa
40 Chijioke Chukwuma Isamade
41 Linus Nnamdi Madufor
42 Chrysaugonus Nnebedum
43 Ugochukwu Okereke
44 Fidel Leon Odimara
45 Kingsley Chinedu Onudorogu
46 Dessi Nzenwah
47 Chimaroke Obasi
48 James Chigozie Agube
49 Chimaobi Uzozie Okorie
50 Ogochukwu Ohiri
51 Kennedy Chibueze Ugwu
52 Ifeanyichukwu Oluwadamilare Agwuegbo
53 Victor Ifeanyi Chukwu
54 Chidi Emmanuel Megwa
55 Princewill Arinze Duru
56 Desmond Iwu
57 Onyeka Vincent Chika
58 Ifeanyi Kingsley Mezienwa
59 Victor Uchenna  Aguh
60 Kevin Amarachi Eshimnu
61 Vitalis Kelechi Anozie
62 Williams Obiora Agunwa
63 George Chimezie Dike
64 Munachiso Kyrian Ukachukwu
65 Nwannebuike Osmund
66 Chidiebere Franklin Nwangwu
67 Damian Uchechukwu Ajah
68 Emeka P. Ejiofor
69 Lawrence Chukwuma Ubasineke
70 Chinedu Bright Ibeto
71 Valentine Amarachi Nwanegwo
72 Emmanuel Chidiebere Dike
73 Jeremiah Utieyin Eki
74 Chinaka Davidson Iwuoha
75 Chima Darlington Duru
76 Ikenna Christian Ihejiureme
77 Obi Onyedika Madekwe

Nigerian govt not fiscally transparent, says U.S.

The U.S. has classified the Nigerian government among those that are not fiscally transparent.

The classification, contained in a report released Thursday by the U.S Department Of State, means Nigeria’s budgeting process, including its contracting and licensing processes in the extractive industry, did not meet the standards required of the American government.

The report, called the 2019 Fiscal Transparency Report, covers January 1 to December 31, 2018.

It assessed the fiscal transparency of 141 national governments that receive U.S assistance.

Seventy-four of the 141 governments met the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency, while 13 of the 67 that fell short of the standards made “significant progress”, the report said.

Nigeria is neither among the 74 that met the minimum requirements nor among the 13 adjudged to have made significant progress.

Some of the African countries classified alongside Nigeria are Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Gambia.

Gabon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Niger, Mozambique, Mali, Lesotho, and Cameroon are also among the African countries whose governments failed the U.S transparency assessment.

China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Ukraine are among non-African countries that failed to meet the American government requirements.

“During the review period, the government made its executive budget proposal, enacted budget, and end-of-year report accessible to the general public, including online.The executive budget proposal and the enacted budget, however, were not published within a reasonable period of time,” the report said of Nigeria.

“Information on debt obligations was publicly available.Budget documents provided detailed estimates for revenue and expenditure but did not include allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation did not have fully audited financial reports that were available to the public.

“The government maintained off-budget accounts not subject to adequate oversight or audit.Due to oil price fluctuations, actual revenues and expenditures varied significantly from estimated figures making budget documents unreliable.”

The report said, for Nigeria’s fiscal transparency to improve, the government must take the following actions:

 

Publishing its executive budget proposal and enacted budget within a reasonable period of time.

  • Detailing allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises.
  • Improving the reliability of budget documents by producing and publishing a supplemental budget when actual revenues and expenditures do not correspond to those in the enacted budget.
  • Making full audit reports for significant, large state-owned enterprises publicly available.
  • Subjecting off-budget accounts to adequate audit and oversight and making information on such accounts publicly available.

The U.S. said the report did not assess corruption, but that lack of fiscal transparency could encourage corruption.

“A finding that a government ‘does not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency’ does not necessarily mean there is significant corruption in the government.Similarly, a finding that a government ‘meets the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency’ does not necessarily reflect a low level of corruption,” the report said.

The U.S said the report was done with inputs from international organisations and civil society organisations.

Tariffs: China hits back, halts purchase of U.S. produce

China has asked its companies to stop purchasing U.S. farm products in response to Washington’s latest round of tariffs on its exports.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce made this known in a statement.

The ministry added that Beijing would not rule out hiking imports duties on farm products dating back to August 3.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced he would hike tariffs on 300 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods to 10 per cent from Sept. 1.

The tariffs are to come on top of the 25-per-cent levies already imposed over the past year on 250 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese products.

When they take effect, all Chinese goods coming into the U.S. will be subject to punitive tariffs.

The Chinese ministry called the latest tariffs a “serious violation” in the ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

US ‘suspects’ Iran seized UAE based oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz

The US said it suspects Iran has seized an oil tanker that drifted into Iranian waters as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz.

Ship tracking data shows the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah, which is based in the UAE, stopped transmitting its location on Saturday.

The incident is the latest involving shipping in the region where tensions between Iran and the US have escalated in recent months. Iran has been accused of planting mines on several tankers as Washington ramps up economic and military pressure on the regime over its nuclear program and aggressive foreign policy in the region.

Iran also threatened to retaliate against shipping after British forces this month helped seize an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar as it attempted to deliver oil to Syria.

A US defense official told AP that Riah is in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it. He said the US “has suspicions” Iran seized the vessel.

“Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That’s a possibility,” the official said. “But the longer there is a period of no contact … it’s going to be a concern.”

The Riah, a 58-meter oil tanker, traveled from a port near Dubai through the Strait of Hormuz toward Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast. After 11 p.m. Saturday something happened to the vessel, according to tracking data.

Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv told AP that the tanker had not switched off its tracking in three months of trips around the UAE.

“That is a red flag,” Raja said.

An Emirati official told Al Arabiya that the oil tanker is not owned or operated by the UAE and has not sent a distress call.

“We are monitoring the situation with our international partners,” the official said.

The ship’s registered owner, Dubai-based Prime Tankers LLC, told AP it had sold the ship to another company.

Iranian officials have not said anything publicly about the ship.

Peru ex-president Toledo arrested in U.S

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States under an extradition order on Tuesday, the South American country’s public ministry said in a post on its official Twitter account.

Toledo, considered a fugitive in Peru, has refused to heed orders by local judges to spend up to 18 months in pre-trial detention in connection with a massive bribery probe related to Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Toledo has denied any wrongdoing.

US wants military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen

The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks, the top US general said on Tuesday.

Under the plan, which has only been finalized in recent days, the United States would provide command ships and lead surveillance efforts for the military coalition. Allies would patrol waters near those US command ships and escort commercial vessels with their nation’s flags.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, articulated those details to reporters following meetings on Tuesday about it with acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“We’re engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab Al-Mandab,” Dunford said.

“And so I think probably over the next couple of weeks we’ll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we’ll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that’ll support that.”

Iran has long threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes, if it was unable to export its oil, something US President Donald Trump’s administration has sought as a way to pressure Tehran to renegotiate a deal on its nuclear program.

But the USproposal for an international coalition to safeguard shipping in the Strait, at the mouth of the Gulf, has been gaining momentum since attacks in May and June against oil tankers in Gulf waters. Last month, Iran shot down a US drone near the Strait, prompting President Donald Trump to order retaliatory air strikes, only to call them off.

Although US officials had publicly discussed plans to safeguard the Strait, Dunford’s disclosure that the coalition would also seek to bolster security in the Bab Al-Mandab off Yemen appeared to be a new element.

The US, as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have long fretted over attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in the narrow Bab Al-Mandab waterway, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily through the Bab Al-Mandab to Europe, the US and Asia plus commercial goods.

Dunford said the US would provide “command and control” ships but said the goal would be for other countries to provide vessels to patrol waters between those command ships.

The third part of the mission would involve coalition members escorting their countries’ commercial vessels. “The expectation is that the actual patrolling and escorts would be done by others,” he said.

Dunford said the size of the campaign could be adjusted based on the number of countries that commit to it.

“This will be scaleable, right? So with a small number of contributors, we can have a small mission. And we’ll expand that as the number of nations that are willing to participate identify themselves,” he said.

US seeks Gani Adams’ view on Nigeria’s insecurity

The United States of America has sought the views of the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Iba Gani Adams, on the security situation in the country.

A two-man team of officials from the US Embassy in Lagos, led by the Political Officer, Shashank Iyer, met with Adams on Monday in his Lagos home on the issue.

Accompanied by the Embassy’s Political Specialist, Arnold Abulime, Iyer told Adams and some members of the Aare-in-Council who joined him in receiving them, that the US was concerned about the tension in the country, especially now heightened with the introduction of Ruga.

Ruga is the policy of the Federal Government establishing settlements for herders in the States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Iyer said the concern of the US is how all ethnic groups in the country can live peacefully.

He said it has been observed that the people of the country have the capacity to pull through hard times economically, but some touchy issues such as Ruga have the tendency to make them drift apart.

He added that “It is tricky getting all to live together, so that is why there is the need to meet and share perspectives.

“We need to be able to move the needle forward together in Nigeria, deal with ethnic issues capable of destabilising the country.

“Nigerians will always find a way around economic issues, but ethnic issues have a way of destabilising the country.”

In his response, Adams said the solution to all the crises bedevilling the country lies in restructuring the polity.

He said he believes that the country’s numerous problems will be resolved within four years if the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration agrees to restructuring.

The Aare Onakakanfo said: “It is not in the world’s interest for Nigeria to go to war. The world will be affected. With a population of over 200 million, every part of the world will feel the disintegration of Nigeria.

“So what we are seeking for is for your government to prevail on Nigeria’s government to restructure. Most of our problems will be solved in four years once restructuring takes place.

“Our system is going to a state of collapse, especially with the Buhari Government in the last four years. And it can only get worse. If Buhari does not restructure, it will get worse.

“To save this country, the only way is to accept the report of the Constitutional Conference of 2014 or revert to the 1963 Constitution. As it now, no zone is peaceful anymore. Even in Katsina, the President’s state, two traditional rulers were kidnapped without trace till today.”

Aare Adams said the US had indeed helped Nigeria before now with the restoration of democratic rule in 1999, hailing the former US Ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, for the role he played.

He said without such intervention now, a revolution is imminent in Nigeria, adding: “Lessons from Ilorin and Lokoja in the past when the Fulanis came to require for land for their cattle are imperative.

“They gradually took the place over. The same happened in Plateau and Southern Kaduna. The history and antecedents of the Fulanis do not make it possible for any sane Yoruba man to accept Ruga.”

Adams also presented some documents, which he said contained part of his position, to the team from the Embassy before the closed door meeting began.

Others present at the meeting included a former Minister of Defence, Dupe Adelaja; Dr. Akin Sonaiya; former Political Adviser to the President, Akin Osuntokun; Publicity Secretary of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Yinka Oguntimehin; and prominent businessman and politician, Kole Omololu.

They all spoke in support of the restructuring of the country and opposed the Ruga policy of the Federal Government.

They also questioned the spending of money on the Ruga initiative when several other Nigerians running their private businesses have not benefitted in any form from the Federal Government and with many going hungry.

US to start mass deportation next week

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet that US immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major US cities.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, California, with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

Trump and his senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have been prodding Homeland Security officials to arrest and remove thousands of family members whose deportation orders were expedited by the Justice Department this year as part of a plan known as the “rocket docket.”

US embassy denies banning student visa for Nigerians

The US Mission in Nigeria has denied a report which alleged that it had banned student visa for Nigerians.

The report titled “USA place a ban on study visa for Nigerians until further notice” has been spreading on social media.

The unconfirmed report said the US aimed at countries with citizens who are fond of overstaying their visit.

In a tweet on Monday, the US Mission in Nigeria denied the report, describing it as “fake news”.

“#FakeNews Alert! Be advised, reports of Student Visa ban for Nigerians is false. If you have seen such manufactured item on Facebook and Twitter or received it via WhatsApp, please communicate that it is false,” it said.

U.S. Mission Nigeria

@USEmbassyAbuja

Alert! Be advised, reports of Student Visa ban for Nigerians is false. If you have seen such manufactured item on Facebook and Twitter or received it via WhatsApp, please communicate that it is false.

3,505 people are talking about this

In March, Nigeria was listed among the countries which President Donald Trump mulled to impose travel restrictions on.

The US embassy in Nigeria in May announced the suspension of its drop box service or interview waiver for those renewing visas in the country.

The service, before its suspension, enabled Nigerians who were renewing their existing or expired visa to apply for a renewal online, via the visa drop box service.

US asks parties not to claim victory before final results by INEC

Stuart Symington, US ambassador to Nigeria, has warned against the release of results which are not from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Symington also asked key candidates not to claim victory before the final announcement by INEC.

He also appealed to politicians to honour the peace accord signed to ensure successful polls.

The US envoy said the elections were “predominantly peaceful” except for violence recorded in a few places.

“I congratulate the tens of millions of Nigerians who stood patiently in long lines to vote this week and the hundreds of thousands who worked together with INEC to conduct the elections,” Symington said in a statement.

“As noted by many observer groups in their preliminary reports, this election was predominantly peaceful, and it was proof of the Nigerian people’s resolute commitment to choose their leaders.

“The peaceful achievement of millions was shadowed by the violence of a few. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives, and we urge all candidates to honor the Peace Accord they signed.

“No one should break the law by announcing results before INEC does, or break the peace by claiming victory before the results are final.

“Everyone has a common interest in showing patience as INEC collates and announces the election results.”

US imposes visa restrictions on Ghana

The United States, on Thursday, said it has imposed visa restrictions on Ghana.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said the West African country has not been co-operating in accepting Ghanian citizens to be deported from the US.

“As a result, Secretary of State Pompeo has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants. Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population,” the department of homeland security said in a statement.

“The sanctions will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies Secretary Pompeo that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.”

Commenting on the development, Kirstjen Nielsen, DHS secretary said: “The United States routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting U.S. citizens when asked, as appropriate, as do the majority of countries in the world, but Ghana has failed to do so in this case.

“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly.”

Onnoghen: Again, Presidency tackles UK, US, EU

The Presidency has once again criticised the US, UK and EU over their statements on the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen  on Friday over the false declaration of assets charges filed against him.

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed six-count charge against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) following a petition written against the CJN.

Although he failed to appear before the CCT which summoned him, the tribunal ordered that he be replaced with Ibrahim Muhammad.

The implementation of the order triggered fierce criticisms, with the UK, US and EU, calling on the Buhari administration not to heat up the polity.

In separate statements, they said the action could affect the credibility of the general election.

Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, had said Nigeria would not accept foreign interference.

However, in another statement on Sunday, Shehu said the statements of the foreign countries were based on unfounded assumptions.

He said linking the suspension to the elections is illogical, advising them to  refrain from “being too hastily attracted by the arguments of those who have partisan agenda at odds with the government’s positions”.

Below is his statement:

The Presidency notes with interest the coordinated statements of the US, UK and EU linking the suspension of CJN Onnoghen to the conduct of the upcoming elections. We appreciate the concerns voiced by the three statements and accept that the authors of the statements believe they were acting in friendship toward Nigeria with regard to making the statements.

However, we also note that friends, when not properly informed or acting in haste, can indeed make serious mistakes even with the best of intentions. Such is the case here.

The statements by the three seem more driven by unfounded assumptions and to be honest, a certain condescension to this African democracy. This is unfortunate. But this gives us an opportunity to clarify some points in the hope that these three friends reach a deeper understanding of the situation.

The statements by the US, UK and EU speak of their respect for constitutional practice and fair elections. However, the positions they stake tend to contravene rather than strengthen these laudable objectives.

CJN Onnoghen’s situation is one of his own making and, to a large degree, his own choosing.

The CJN was brought before the CCT because of a serious breach of law regarding his assets declaration. This is not a mere technicality like innocently placing a document in a wrong file or mistakenly placing yesterday’s date on a document.

All credible evidence indicates the CJN owned and operated several secret bank accounts. Unexplained large sums of money, exceeding several million dollars have passed through these accounts. Several thousand dollars are currently parked in the accounts. Multiple deposits of equal sums of money were deposited in some of those accounts during the same day. Such rapid and equal deposits are indicative of a person attempting to evade banking reporting laws and regulations.

Thus far, CJN Onnoghen has given no plausible explanation for the funds or for failing to report the subject accounts in his assets declaration despite having ample time and opportunity to explain the omission. Given the amount of money involved and the CJN’s inability to explain the source of the funds, the most plausible explanation at this point is also the most unfortunate explanation. No one did this to CJN Onnoghen. He and he alone is to blame for this turn of events.

Over the years and with great frequency, the authors of the three statements have advised and even chided Nigeria about official corruption. Now we are presented with the sad and unwanted situation where the CJN is discovered to have a vast, unexplained amount of money in his pocket.

Because of this he has been thoroughly discredited. It is untenable that a person in such compromised circumstances would be allowed to preside over the entire judicial system of a great nation. That would travesty the nation and what it stands for.

Had the situation been reversed and the US, UK or any EU member government found that its chief judicial official is the recipient of large sums of money of questionable origin and Nigeria suggested that you retain the person in that position, you would question Nigeria’s bona fides. You also would swiftly move to suspend the official pending final determination of the causes against him.

Not one of your nations would allow a person enmeshed in legal uncertainty to preside over your legal systems until the cloud has been cleared from him. That would incentivize corruption and assault the rule of law.

Thus, the CJN should have and could have helped the process in this regard by recusing himself from the bench until this matter is settled.

Instead, he indefinitely postponed a NJC meeting for no plausible reason except to avoid any consideration of this matter by the NJC.

Again, this calls into question his motives while undermining the normal operations of the judiciary. The CJN cannot be allowed to use his office to shield himself from the normal operation of the law as applied to any other jurist or any other Nigerian for that matter. Such a ruse is effectively an abuse of office. His position is one of utmost public trust; it is not a shield to protect him from the fair consequence of his own actions.

Despite these errors and omissions by the CJN, let us make this very clear, he has not been removed from office. Nor has he been permanently replaced. Those who claim that he has been permanently removed, do so out of imprecision of thought or mischief.

CJN Onnoghen has been suspended pending the final determination of the substantive issues in his matter. The suspension is only temporary. This is only as it should be. He cannot sit as both defendant and umpire in his own matter. No legal system allows for such self-interested adjudication; the US, UK and EU should not now ask us to embrace such an anomaly.

While the three friends seem to give much credence to those who question the constitutionality of the suspension, they seem to give less to those who believe what we did is constitutional and protective of the integrity of the judiciary. Only the three can answer why they have assumed this bias.

Last, the three make a curious direct linkage between the CJN suspension and the elections. However, in Nigerian law there is no such linkage. The CJN does not run the election. Nor is he the first arbiter of any electoral complaints. He and the Supreme Court will only get involved as the final arbiter at the end of the appellate process.

For the authors to link the CJN to the elections in this way is illogical unless they assume that election complaints will be filed and will go all the way to the Supreme Court. Here perhaps they know something about the intentions of certain political actors to which we are not privy.

Yet, even with that, the US , UK and EU should want any such matters to be heard by a Supreme Court led by a CJN without an obvious and outstanding ethical and legal blemish on his ledger. To have such a person preside over any case, would call into question the impartiality of any decision rendered and undermine the rule of law.

This cannot be what these three friends of Nigeria intended. Thus, they should do a bit more research on this matter and refrain from being too hastily attracted by the arguments of those who have partisan agenda at odds with the government’s positions on most matters and who thus hope to use this issue as a new arrow in their quiver of partisan contestation.

US, UK threaten visa ban on those who interfere with Nigeria’s elections

The United States and the United Kingdom have announced repercussions, including visa restrictions, for election interference and election-related violence in Nigeria.

This was announced in a statement issued on Thursday.

Both countries described the elections as very important to not just Nigeria but Africa, demanding that the process be fair and transparent.

“The conduct of the upcoming elections in Nigeria is important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent,” the US mission in Nigeria said in a statement.

“The United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections. The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.

“We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections.

“We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process. Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”

In its statement, the UK said it remains committed to free and fair elections in Nigeria.

It promised to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in order to make the exercise credible.

“Twenty-three days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections and 37 days to the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, the British High Commission in Abuja would like to reaffirm our strong support for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria,” the statement read.

“We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy. We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity.

“We continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections. We also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm. We will be deploying an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the EU’s Election Observation Mission.

“Our monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media. We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals. These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.”