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Daily Archives: November 2, 2018

EFCC files fresh charges against ex NIMASA DG, Akpobolokemi

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed fresh fraud charges against Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi,  the former Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and six others at an Ikeja High Court.

Akpobolokemi is facing a 13 count charge trial alongside Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company — Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd. The charge borders on stealing, fraud, and of N754.8million belonging to NIMASA. In the old 13- count charge, the defendants were alleged to have between Oct. 30, 2014 and May 6, 2015, converted N754.8 million belonging to NIMASA to their personal use.

The funds were allegedly released to the defendants for the implementation of Voluntary International Maritime Organisation Member State Audit Scheme (VIMSAS). The EFCC also allege that the defendants knowingly forged a document titled “Re: Request For Payment as consultant for VIMSAS Administration Services,” dated May 25, 2015 purported to have been issued by Arrow World Consulting Ltd.

The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 285 and 409 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State, 2011
During Friday’s proceedings, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the lead prosecuting counsel of the EFCC informed the court that the anti-graft agency had filed fresh charges against the defendants noting that they should be re-arraigned and their plea taken.

EFCC however did not reveal details of the fresh charges.

Objecting, Mr E. D Onyeke,  Agaba’s defence counsel requested for more time to examine the new charges and to advice the defendants accordingly.
“The prosecution has not afforded us the the opportunity to view the list of new prosecution witnesses who somewhere along the line will come here to give evidence,  I need to be well informed. I request that we be given time to look at the amended charge so that I will advice my client and the defendants will take their plea,” Onyeke said.

Agreeing with Onyeke’s submission,  Oyedepo said “My Lord he should be given time, it is in the interest of justice. The application of the defence is meritorious. When we come on Monday (Nov. 5) the defendants will be arraigned,  their plea taken and we will proceed with trial.”

Acceding to the requests of the prosecuting and defence counsel,  Justice Raliatu Adebiyi adjourned the case until Nov. 5 for re-arraignment and continuation of trial.

BREAKING: El-Rufai picks woman as running mate

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir  el-Rufai, has announced his running mate for the 2019 governorship election.

She is Dr. Hadiza Balarabe.

They are running on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress.

The news was relayed via the Twitter handle of APC Kaduna @OfficialAPCKD.

 

Late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and I wrote WASCE in 1961 –Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he and the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua were classmates at both the primary and secondary schools, noting that they both joined the Army after the completion of their West African School Certificate Examination.

Buhari said that he and the late Gen. Yar’Adua wrote the WASCE in 1961.

The President said this as he defended the presentation of his WAEC certificate to him by the West African Examinations Council on Friday.

WAEC Registrar, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae, made the presentation at the President’s mini conference hall at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.

Uwadiae, who was accompanied by senior staff of the council, performed the ceremony during a courtesy visit to the State House.

Taking to his verified Twitter handle @MBuhari after the presentation, Buhari tweeted:

“Today I received the attestation and confirmation of my 1961 West African School Certificate (WASC) Examination result from the Registrar of the West African Examinations Council.

“It was also an opportunity for me to thank WAEC for upholding its integrity over the years.

“As a Nigerian military officer, it would have been impossible for me to have attended the Defence Services Staff College in India in 1973, and, after that — in 1979 — the United States Army War College, had I not sat for the WASC examinations, which I did in 1961.

“The late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was my classmate. We spent close to nine years in boarding school, at primary and secondary levels.

“And from there, after our WASC, we moved to join the Army, where we had to take a military examination as one of the requirements.”

The President, however, referred to the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) as ‘WASC’ throughout his post.

 

Despite FG travel ban, Orji Kalu travels to Germany

Despite being listed among the 50 high-profile Nigerians barred by the Federal Government from travelling out of the country, a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has gone to Germany for surgery.

Kalu’s media aide, Kunle Oyewunmi, who disclosed this, said his principal left the country on Monday aboard a Lufthansa aircraft.

Kalu, who is now a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, according to Oyewunmi, left for Wiesbaden, Germany, alongside his wife, Ifunanya.

The former governor was said to have gone for “a major surgery” to address “an undisclosed and life-threatening ailment.”

Kalu, alongside his company, Slok Nigeria Limited, and a former Director of Accounts and Finance at the Abia State Government House, Ude Udeogu, are facing N7.65bn fraud charges before the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The 11-year-old case was in September adjourned sine die (indefinitely) by Justice Mohammed Idris, who had been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

The fate of the case remains unclear.

In a statement made available to our correspondent on Friday, Oyewunmi said Kalu was rushed in an ambulance to Helios Klinik, Wiesbaden, Germany on Tuesday and was immediately wheeled into the surgical theatre.

Oyewunmi quoted Kalu’s wife, Ifunanya, as saying that the surgery was successful, adding that the ex-governor had regained consciousness.

According to the media aide, Ifunanya, in a quavering voice, over the telephone on Friday, “lamented her husband’s health status”.

“Although the surgery was successful, my husband will still have to be monitored closely by a medical team for at least four months in order to prevent complications.

“His condition is improving gradually.

“He will be fine, if he is able to keep to his doctor’s advice.

“We appreciate the prayers and kind words from friends, associates, well-wishers and Nigerians in general,” Oyewunmi quoted Ifunanya to have said.

Minimum wage: Court stops labour from embarking on strike

The National industrial court has ordered the organised labour not to go ahead with the nationwide strike scheduled for November 6.

At its sitting on Friday, Sanusi Kado, a judge, ruled that the planned strike by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) will cause huge economic loss to the nation.

Kado ruled on an ex parte application filed by the ministry of justice, urging the court to halt the industrial action.

The unions had threatened the strike action, following disagreement with the federal government over the minimum wage for workers.

The unions went on strike in September but suspended the industrial action after talks with government.

While labour demanded an upward review of the minimum wage from N18,000, the federal government proposed N24,000 while the state governments suggested N22,500.

Labour rejected the proposals and, just  recently, pegged its demand at N66,500.

It also accused the government of not showing any sign of seriousness to resolve the workers’ concerns.

Ruling on the motion filed by Dayo Apata, permanent secretary, ministry of justice, the judge said the intended strike could also endanger the health of many Nigerians by the time hospitals are closed.

The judge subsequently adjourned sitting till November 8.

BREAKING: WAEC confirms President Buhari’s certificate

The West African Examination Council (WAEC) has issued an attestation and confirmation of result to President Muhammadu Buhari.

WAEC Registrar, Iyi Uwadiae, presented the document to the President on Friday at the State House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Reacting to the development, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, took to Twitter to fault those who have criticised his principal over his certificate.

Femi Adesina

@FemAdesina

WAEC presents attestation certificate and confirmation of school cert result to President Buhari. What will the naysayers say next?

President Buhari’s school result has been a subject of controversy lately after he submitted his nomination forms to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) without a copy of his certificate.

Earlier, the Presidency engaged the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a war of words following a suit challenging President Buhari’s eligibility to contest the election in 2019 over his certificate.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, had later accused the opposition party of sowing division among the people.

He described the suit challenging the President’s certificate as a waste of time, arguing that there were records of higher qualifications obtained by hard work and truly merited by his principal.

On the other hand, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, purported that the Presidency was always fretting whenever the issue of President Buhari’s academic certificate was mentioned.

He said this confirmed assertion that the President was hiding something from Nigerians and called on the President’s handlers to do the needful by placing the certificate in the public domain.

US, UK say MTN’s troubles could scare away potential investors

John Bray, US consul general, and Laura Beaufils, British deputy high commissioner to Nigeria, say the issues faced by MTN in recent times sent bad signals to foreign investors.

The US and UK envoys made the assertion on Thursday on the sidelines of a conference organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) during the 2018 Lagos International Trade Fair.

PUNCH quoted the envoys as saying some foreign investors took their investments to neighbouring countries.

In August, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) sent a letter to the telecommunications company, ordering it to refund an alleged $8.1 billion in shareholders’ dividends illegally repatriated to South Africa between 2007 and 2015.

Four banks were also ordered to pay a total sum of N5.87 billion for their alleged roles in the “illegal dividend repatriation”.

A N330 billion fine levied on MTN by Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) in October 2015 had adversely affected the telco’s share price at the time, sending red flags to investors.

On his part, Bray said although US business owners had continued to invest in Nigeria with last year’s investment hitting $13.5 billion, the MTN-CBN issue had discouraged other investors.

“Apparently things are being resolved, but once you make an announcement like that , there are probably guys sitting back there and waiting to get on the plane and fly back to the JFK and say, I am not investing again,” he said.

“So, we just want to get more investors here and part of that is improving the regulatory environment, improving infrastructure and dampening their fears about insecurity.”

Expressing similar concerns, Beaufils said: “Of course, investors are interested in regulations, policies and strategies, but ultimately, they look at signals like that and I think that was damaging. I think most people in Nigeria recognise that that was very damaging.

“There is a lot that is being done to address that and we are aware of that but sadly, investors also go beyond the headlines of such stories and my key point today is that we have to avoid such rash decisions at all cost in the interest of further investments that are absolutely essential to the economic development of the country, to job creation and to the vision that we all have of an incredibly rich and vibrant Nigeria.”

The UK envoy said although there are plans to increase investment in Nigeria, the British government will be watching closely to see positive developments, particularly within the regulatory sphere.

PDP hires Trump’s lobbyist for $90k per month

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has hired the firm of Brian Ballard, a top US lobbyist, ahead of the 2019 elections.

The influential lobbyist has President Donald Trump as one of his clients. Politico Magazine, a top publication in the US, says Ballard is closer to the US president than perhaps any other lobbyist in town.

“He’s parlayed that relationship into a booming business helping clients get their way with the Trump administration — and his clients and even some of his rivals say his firm has a better grasp of what’s going on in the West Wing than almost anyone else,” the magazine said in a report.

“Ballard was one of the top fundraisers in the country for Trump’s campaign and continues to raise millions for his reelection campaign. Wiles, one of his top lieutenants, ran Trump’s campaign in Florida and delivered the nation’s biggest swing state to the president.”

Documents seen by TheCable showed that Nigeria’s main opposition party has agreed to pay $90,000 (N31.5m) to Ballard Partners Inc. on a monthly basis throughout the duration of the contract.

TheCable understands that the contract which was signed on September 21, 2018 is for a year, meaning Ballard would rake in close to N400 million from the deal.

Ballard with Trump at a fundraising ceremony

“This contract is entered into between the Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria (“the Client”), Plot l970 Michael Okpara Street, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, and Ballard Partners, Inc. (“the F irm”), 601 13th Street NW, Suite 450N, Washington, D. C. 20005,” the agreement read.

“This agreement shall automatically renew for successive one-year periods on the anniversary of the effective date of the agreement unless either party terminates the agreement. Upon renewal this agreement may be terminated within thirty (30) days written notice by either party.

“Duties of the firm. It shall be the Firm’s duty to consult with the Client and advocate on its behalf those issues the client deems necessary and appropriate before the US Federal government. Issues and objectives may include, but not be limited to, enhancement of US Nigerian relations; strengthening and advancing democratic values and the rule of law in Nigeria, with a special focus in the coming months on maintaining political and security conditions free of intimidation and interference in order to ensure the success and fairness of Nigeria’s national election for president in 2019. It shall further be the Firm’s duty to inform the Client of developments in legislation and policy relevant to the Client’s issues and objectives.

Ballard the master strategist

“It shall be the Client’s duty to provide the Firm the information necessary to best represent the Client. It shall also be the Client’s duty to timely compensate the Firm for its services.

“Compensation. The Firm shall receive from the Client $90,000 a month, payable in quarterly installments for this agreement, plus the reasonable costs associated with the representation, including but not limited to, necessary registration fees; and travel expenses.”

Osita Chidoka, a former minister of aviation, signed the contract on behalf of the PDP.

This report comes two weeks after Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the party, led PDP stalwarts to Dubai for a strategy meeting.

In 2014, APC engaged AKPD Media and Messages, as top US firm, as political strategists.

The political consulting firm was co-founded by David Axelrod, a President Barack Obama confidant. He was a chief campaign adviser to Obama during the campaign for the presidency in 2008 and was later appointed as senior presidential advisor.

Another US firm Levick, led by former US President Bill Clinton’s confidant Lanny Davis, was hired by the Jonathan administration in a consultancy deal with the News Agency of Nigeria, also in 2014.

 

 

 

 

Ganduje fails to appear before Kano assembly, denies taking bribe

Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano governor, on Friday failed to appear before the state house of assembly committee investigating the videos of him allegedly receiving kickbacks from contractors.

The governor sent Muhammadu Garba, commissioner for information, and Ibrahim Mukhtar, justice commissioner, to represent him.

Ganduje was said to be busy attending to pressing engagements at the government house.

According to the justice commissioner, the letter of invitation gave Ganduje the option of sending a representative or a written document as provided by the country’s constitution.

The information commissioner, lawyer to the governor, submitted his position on the alleged bribery videos.

The governor denied collecting bribe from contractors, saying the video clips were aimed at tarnishing his image politically.

He said: “Such untruth publications was done to the Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi the II and also to the former Governor, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau.”

Baffa Danagundi, chairman of the committee, commended the commissioners for standing in for the governor.

He said the committee will scrutinise the video on Tuesday in the presence of the representatives of both parties to the matter.

Daily Nigerian has so far published no less than three videos showing Ganduje allegedly receiving kickbacks in dollars.

The justice commissioner, who is also the state’s attorney general, praised the state assembly committee for its fairness in the handling of the issue.

Radio Nigeria staff jumps to death off Third Mainland Bridge

A staff of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Radio Nigeria) jumped into the Lagoon from Third Mainland Bridge this Friday morning, according to reports from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command.

Although his name is yet to be disclosed, he was alleged to have alighted from a commercial bus carrying him and his colleagues on the pretext that he wanted to pee. Immediately he alighted, he plunged into the Lagoon before the shocked colleagues could do anything to help.

The Polce Rapud Response Squad, RRS, reported that on patrol riders and vehicles got to the scene almost immediately and radioed for assistance from the Marine Police and LASEMA. He was however dead before he could be rescued.

Marine Police with the assistance of local divers have recovered the body.

His body has been taken to Ebute Ero Police Division.

JUST IN: Police arrest Togolese cook that killed Credit Switch boss in Ondo

The Togolese cook who allegedly murdered Ondo Chief, and Chief Executive Officer, Credit Switch Limited, Ope Bademosi, have been arrested by the men of the Ondo State Police Command in Ondo town this Friday.

The cook whose name is given as Sunday allegedly stabbed Chief Bademosi to death at his home, Onikoyi Lane, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos last Wednesday, October 31, 2018, four days after he was brought to work as a cook in the house.

The police subsequently declared him wanted on Thursday. He was arrested at Ondo Town this morning.

A source in the neighborhood confirmed the incident, saying the wife of the deceased raised the alarm.

“I heard a scream from the wife and I immediately ran into their flat and saw her crying bitterly with people holding her. We went inside and noticed that the music playing on the stero was at its highest volume. Then, we discovered him in his pool of blood and we called the Police.

“However, we heard that the new cook stabbed him to death. From what I heard, after the cook killed him with a knife, he entered the bathroom, where he wash his hands and dropped the white apron he put on which was stained with blood and ran away,@ the source said.

“He even ransacked the rooms and carted away valuables that he could lay his hands on, which included some jewelries and the chief’s mobile phone.”

Narrating the incident to neighbours, Mrs. Bademosi said she had gone to the bank for a transaction and had been trying to reach her husband to no avail.

A neighbour added: “On her way back, she called her husband and couldn’t hear what he was saying, as his words were not really clear before the call dropped. She attempted to call him back, but he wasn’t picking up his phone. On getting to the gate, the security man was asleep and didn’t respond to the sound of the car horn till she got down from her car to bang on the security man’s window.

“The security man woke up and he eventually opened the gate for her, but on entering the room she met her husband lying in a pool of blood. She also couldn’t find the new cook, and that was when she screamed for help. Probably out of fear, the security man, who was just employed on Sunday as well, also took to his own heels upon the news that his boss had been murdered.”

A team of investigators at the Nigeria Police Force Homicide section confirmed that Bademosi was killed with a knife.

“He was stabbed in multiple places with a sharp knife, which could have been authorised for military personnel,” one of the investigators said.

The Divisional Police Officer in Charge of the Ikoyi Division, Lagos, Mustapha Tijani, also confirmed the incident and said the Police would soon issue an official statement.