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N3bn scam: Oyo-Ita begs to retire honourably

As the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) steps up investigation into a N3 billion contract scam, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita, has pleaded that the case against her be stepped down.

The number one civil servant is begging that she should be allowed to “retire honourably.”

Although she admitted introducing some people to some Permanent Secretaries for assistance, she said she was doing so “without realizing the implication.”

She said she does not own proxy companies under any guise and has no many upscale assets in Abuja.

She said although she collected Duty Tour Allowance (DTA) without traveling, the indulgence was not a regular occurrence.

She also alleged that the EFCC had planned to arraign her on August 19 but she had to remain in a hospital to take care of her health.

Her plea came against the filling of witness forms by some Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Finance and Administration in order to testify against some contracts when the formal trial of some suspects begins.

Detectives have also discovered that the Project Accountant, in whose account N600 million was found, is on Grade Level 12.

Oyo-Ita, however, said the Accountant in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) was not her aide but he reports to a Director of Finance and Administration who also reports to a Permanent Secretary before the Head of Service comes into the picture.

The foregoing snippets are contained in Oyo-Ita’s plea to those she is begging to intercede on her behalf before President Muhammadu Buhari.

A part of the snippets saw her saying: “Please, please, please, have mercy on me. I am begging for mercy that this case against me should be stepped down and I should be allowed to retire honourably.

“I do not own proxy companies. Several people came to me to introduce them to Permanent Secretaries. I have been doing this without realising the implication.”

On DTA, two top shots who are mediating on her behalf said she confessed to have collected these estacodes without traveling only “a few times.”

One of the sources, a former bureaucrat, quoted her as saying: “Due to work pressure, I am not able to travel after collecting DTA or estacodes.”

The source added: “She wants soft-landing from the Presidency because some of the contracts under investigation predated her appointment as the Head of Service. They were awarded between 2013 and 2014. “Her greatest fears border on alleged moves by the EFCC to put her on trial alongside a former minister. “She said there was an initial plan to arraign her in court on August 19 but for providence that she was in the hospital for medical treatment.”

A second source, who is one of the strong supporters of the President, said: “She evoked much emotion when she was begging for mercy. “Apart from reliving the past, especially PTF days with President Muhammadu Buhari, she said she has been ‘absolutely loyal’ to this administration.

“She also said the Project Accountant is not her aide at all despite the fact that he is a staff in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

“Her argument is that the Project Accountant with N600 million in his account reports to a Director of Finance and Administration who also reports to a Permanent Secretary before the Head of Service is in the picture.

“We have done our best to lay all the cards on the table before the powers that be. It is left for the President to determine her fate in the light of the investigation report of the anti-graft commission and her defence.”

No record of her resignation, says Presidency

On the circumstances surrounding her resumption yesterday, there were rumours that the Presidency might have rejected her plans to either resign or retire. It was learnt that the Head of Service confided in the staff in her office that the Presidency directed her to go ahead with her work pending the conclusion of investigation.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said last night: “We are not aware of any letter of resignation. There is no record of it in the registry. So, questions pertaining to it ought not to arise.”

At press time, there were indications that the anti-graft agency had uncovered that the OHCSF officer with N600 million in his account is on Grade Level 12.

A reliable source said: “So far, we have discovered that he is a GL 12 officer. He is answering questions on how he came about such a huge amount in his account.

“Officially, the amount allowed in any project account at any time is between N10 million and N15 million. The ongoing investigation might reveal the real purpose for keeping such a huge cash.

“We have various bends to the investigation and some Permanent Secretaries and Directors of Finance and Administration have filled the witness form to testify on some contracts when a formal trial of suspects begins.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “We may still invite Oyo-Ita for interrogation. The amount involved is huge.”

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.

Magodo residents commend Ikeja over improved power supply

Residents of Magodo Estate have applauded Ikeja Electric Plc (IE) for providing stable electricity to customers within the Estate following the signing of the Premium Power Agreement.

The Premium Power initiative is a power purchase agreement under the Willing Buyer, Willing Seller initiative issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). It entails a commitment to specific service level standards while the customer agrees to pay a tariff that is above the current MYTO tariff.

Speaking on the improved power supply, a resident of the Estate, Mr. Innocent Nwankwo, expressed satisfaction at the level of supply they are currently getting from Ikeja Electric.

He said: “We currently enjoy 24 hours supply and we believe this initiative is giving us value. We have a mixed development in Magodo estate. There are those who operate business and there are residential. We all need adequate supply. And we were able to agree on this. In my opinion, if other communities shows interest I think Ikeja Electric can replicate this initiative.”

Another resident, Adewale Anthony also pointed out that initiatives such as Premium Power will enhance growth and economic development within the community.

According to him “What we really want is now possible – and that is constant power that enables us to use it when we need it. By giving us the opportunity to enter into this agreement, we were able to make a choice of what we want in terms of supply availability. Since the signing of the contract, we have been enjoying the supply.”

Since the implementation of the Agreement on August 15, 2019, residents of the Estate have been on 24 hour supply and under the agreement, there will also be access to dedicated Customer Care and Technical teams for prompt resolution of queries or technical issues within the Estate.

At the contract signing ceremony, two weeks ago, the Chief Operating Officer of Ikeja Electric, Mrs. Folake Soetan, expressed confidence in the success of the trend-setting agreement which she noted was in line with the Federal Government’s “willing seller, willing buyer” policy.

“We are confident that this agreement will serve as a model for other power agreements in the power sector because, while it is in line with the Federal Government policy, it also reflects our unwavering commitment to our customers. This has also been made possible by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s directive to DisCos to provide an enabling environment with exceptional service delivery,” she said.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Magodo Residents Association, Chief S.A. Owojori, also commended the technical teams from both sides for a job well done. He described the signing ceremony as a significant achievement in the community’s efforts at enjoying uninterrupted power supply, noting that the agreement, if judiciously implemented, will strengthen the relationship between the community and Ikeja Electric.

Zenith Bank appoints two new directors

Henry Oroh has been named as Executive Director, ED, of Zenith Bank Plc.

The appointment of Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, FCA, as an Independent Non-Executive Director was also  approved by the Board of Directors of Zenith Bank.

According to a  a statement issued on Friday by the bank, the appointments are consistent with the bank’s tradition and succession strategy of grooming leaders from within.

Both appointments are effective September 1, 2019,  and have been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN

Henry Oroh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Benin, Edo State and an MBA from the Lagos State University as well as an LLB Degree from the University of Lagos.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN), Nigeria.

He has over two decades of banking experience.

“He began his banking career in 1992 at Citibank where he served for seven (7) years in Operations, Treasury and Marketing.

He joined Zenith Bank in February 1999 and has worked in various Groups and Departments within the Zenith Group Office.

His expertise spans Operations, Information Technology, Treasury, Marketing, including the Manufacturing, Food and Beverages, Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, Public Sector, Consumer, as well as Corporate Banking and Business Development.

In April 2012, he was seconded to Zenith Bank Ghana Limited as an Executive Director and became the Managing Director/Chief Executive in February 2016, where he successfully spearheaded the phenomenal growth of the Zenith Brand both within the Ghana market and the West African sub-region.

Henry has attended several Leadership Programmes and Executive Management Courses at the Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, New York, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, HEC Paris, JP Morgan Chase, UK and the Lagos Business School.

He comes to the Board of Zenith Bank Plc with strong competencies in Credit & Marketing, Operations, Information Technology, Treasury and impressive Leadership skills.

Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar is currently the Managing Director of Apt Pensions Funds Managers Limited.

He is a graduate of the Leeds Polytechnic, UK. He is a renowned Chartered Accountant and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

Dr. Abubakar has extensive and tremendous experience in the financial services industry, audit and consulting.

He worked with the firm of Akintola Williams Deloitte between January 2000 and November 2008, and rose to become the Partner and Board Member of West Africa sub-region.

Prior to this, he had served on the Board of several financial institutions in Nigeria.

He has attended several management and leadership training programmes and conferences both within and outside the country.

He brings to the Board of the bank tremendous track record in Risk Management, Credit & Marketing, Auditing and very outstanding leadership skills, the statement said.

JUST IN: Tribunal sacks Dino as Kogi West senator

The Kogi State National Assembly/State Assembly Election Petition Tribunal has quashed the victory of Senator Dino Melaye representing Kogi West Senatorial district.

Melaye (PDP) was declared winner in the February election by INEC, but Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC) approached the tribunal, challenging INEC’s declaration citing, irregularities, over voting and non compliance with the electoral acts.

The three man panel led by Justice A. O. Chijioke in a unanimous judgment on Friday accepted Adeyemi’s ground and order for reelection into the senatorial axis.

Details shortly…

Certificate fraud: UNICAL Law Professor demoted to graduate assistant

A Professor of Law at the University of Calabar, Cross River State, Rev Prof. Emeka Uhuka has been demoted from the rank of a professor to the position of graduate assistant.

Uhuka’s demotion followed the recommendation of a committee set up by the school; Academic Fraud Investigation Committee (AFIC) which recommended that the law lecturer be demoted with immediate effect.

Also another lecturer of the university that has come under the school’s swinging Sword of Damocles is Prof. Israel Worugji, a Professor of Law whose job is on the line over the questionable certificates he parades.

According to sources within the university, Worugji, faced with the imminent unpalatable recommendation of the AFIC, is lobbying members of the committee to give him a soft landing and save him from the humiliation which may follow their recommendation.

Education Tell reported that some of the “sins” of Rev. Prof Uhuka which nailed his demotion coffin was that the committee found among others that;

The lecturer did not have a first degree from the University of Abuja as he claimed, but from the British America University; he was not called to the Nigerian Bar or any other Bar around the globe; holds a questionable Masters of Law (LL.M) degree as the LL.M degree was obtained barely two weeks after obtaining his first degree and that Uhuka has no Ph.D degree but records show that he is a doctoral candidate.

Other indictments include that Rev. Prof Uhuka has zero University teaching experience; has no evidence of Publication amongst others hence the recommendation for his demotion from the rank of a Professor of Law to the rank of a Graduate Assistant.

The professor was said to have claimed from his CV that he obtained a diploma in 1980 and WAEC in 1989, an obvious mix up.

The sources claimed that Rev. Uhuka has since absconded the university community due to fears of being handed over to the Police or ICPC for further investigation.

Similarly, Professor Worugji whose case has not been concluded by the committee is said to have refused to submit the original of his certificates including his Ph.D degree in Law certificate to the committee.

He is also said to have written to the University of Ibadan for correction of his Ph.D certificate which was obtained in May 2010. It is gathered that as at 2010 when Prof Worugji obtained his Ph.D certificate which reads “Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts”, he was informed by the then Registrar of the University of Calabar that he was not eligible for promotion to the rank of a Professor of Law because he had not “obtained a Ph.D in Law degree”.

Members of the Ivory Tower are still in bewilderment on how he wangled his way and got his promotion to the rank of an Associate Professor in 2006 without a Ph.D degree.

It was further learnt that Nine years after being told that he had not obtained a Ph.D degree in Law, Prof. Worugji has started the process of having his Ph.D certificate corrected to read his area of specialization “African Law”.

It is instructive to note that African Law is not a program of study, but an area of Specialization in the academic program of Core African Studies, while a postgraduate programme in law (LLM, MPhil & Ph.D) under the NUC minimum standard for PG programme in Nigerian universities is required to be domiciled in the Faculty of Law.

Prof. Worugji clearly holds a Ph.D from the institute of African studies in the Faculty of Art, University of Ibadan as African Law is just one of the areas of specialization but has no Law degree from any university in Nigeria or outside the country.

It is alleged that Worugji’s West African School Certificate (WASC) result is not his own, but belongs to a relative, which is said to explain his numerous change of name.

Meanwhile, the authorities of University of Calabar have issued a stringent warning to the professor to cooperate with the committee or face severe disciplinary actions.

The warning was contained in a letter signed by the school’s Registrar, Mr. Moses Abang. Both professors Uhuka and Worugji were on February 27, notified that they would face the university panel on the 13th and 14th March respectively. The panel’s finding resulted in the demotion of Uhuka.

Governors kick as FG demands N614bn bailout refund

The Federal Government has demanded the repayment of N614bn it offered to 35 states under the National Budget Support Loan Facility.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this on Thursday, said each of the states would return N17.5bn.

Ahmed spoke with State House Correspondents after a meeting of the National Economic Council in Abuja.

It was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa and attended by state governors.

She explained that upon receiving a briefing on the matter, NEC agreed to set up a team comprising the Governors’ Forum and her ministry to meet with the Central Bank of Nigeria to work out the repayment modalities.

Ahmed said, “The Honourable Minister of Finance briefed NEC on the progress of how the FG had made a total of over N614bn available to 35 states, being N17.5bn each.

“Council agreed to constitute a team from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to meet with the CBN and the Ministry of Finance to finalise modalities for commencement of repayment.”

The minister, who also gave an update on the 2020 budget, stated that the last week of September was set for the presentation of estimates to the National Assembly.

She said that the council was briefed on preparations for the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework/Fiscal Strategy Paper and the revenue generation challenges being faced by the government at the moment.

It was gathered that some of the governors were jolted by the government’s move on the refund, coming at a time many states had yet to comfortably pay the new National Minimum Wage of N30, 000.

The minister also gave an update on the balance in the Stabilisation Account and Natural Resources Development Fund, which she said stood at $95.3m as of August 20.

The NEC Committee on Export also gave a briefing to the meeting. The committee is headed by the Governor of Jiagawa State, Mr Mohammed Badaru-Abubakar.

However, it was the Governor of Nasarawa State, Mr Abdullahi Sule, who spoke with reporters on the presentation made to council by committee.

He explained that its work was to look into the ‘zero oil plan’ envisioned in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the government.

“The implementation of the plan is expected to yield results in three key areas; add an extra UDS150bn (minimum) to Nigeria’s foreign reserves accumulatively from non-oil exports over the next 10 years; create 500, 000 jobs annually; and lift 20 million Nigerians out of poverty…”

The governor stated that so far, some achievements had been recorded, including an &increase in non-oil exports (excluding natural gas) from U$1.17bn in 2016 to US$3.16bn in 2018, “meaning that strategic sectors identified in the zero oil plan have seen growth.”

He added, “For instance, cocoa exports have risen by $79.4m since 2017, while sesame exports have also increased by $153m since 2016, an increase of more than 100 per cent.”

 

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

NERC: We made consultations before increasing electricity tariff

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) says the decision to increase tariff was taken after consulting Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) and stakeholders in the sector.

James Momoh, chairman of NERC, said this while addressing reporters when Sale Mamman, minister of power, assumed office on Thursday.

In a statement on its website, NERC had announced that from January 1, 2020, it shall make necessary adjustments on the tariffs.

The commission said the step is geared towards addressing the tariff deficits pursuant to the objective of “resolving the impairment of the financial records of DisCos”.

Momoh said the planned increase in tariff was through careful thinking, consultation with the DiScos and other stakeholders

“We have discussed fully what we are about to do and it is the right time to do it because we have metres out there that are going to reduce the estimated bill,” he said.

“So that everybody knows that you can control how much power you use and how much you pay which is part of the order.

“So, I think we are in the right direction. But mind you we also divide the payment into different classes; if you read it carefully and of course enforce it as a rule; if you have any questions send it in writing.”

He said NERC had looked at all the resistance that could come up, adding that it was open to discussion.

”It is not that we are doing it as a law but this is an order and you read it; if you are concerned contact us,” he said.

Momoh said that there would be penalty for not producing quality service.

“If your metre doesn’t read then you won’t be paying. If you have no metres, there is going to be a capping on how much you should pay,” he said.

“So the issue is under consultation and in few days we will conclude the discussion; we spent Tuesday on franchising and having discussion on capping.

“We have collected enough data we have all over the country and we are listening to consumers, manufacturers and whoever wants to talk about pricing issue.

“Based on the input, we sat down and analysed and got a common ground – which project makes sense which we think it is fair to everybody, which you and I can live with.

“At the end of the discussion we will determine the final target for those who don’t have metres. But more importantly I should talk as a regulator, a customer and also as an innovator.

“If you put in a very wrong fluorescent light or different appliances in the room, you are going to lose more energy.’’

FG to prosecute those who caused UK court’s $9bn asset seizure order against Nigeria

The Attorney General of the Federation,  Abubakar Malami has vowed that the Federal Government would bring to book former and current government officials who caused the August 19, 2019 award of $9bn by a British court against Nigeria.

A United Kingdom court presided over by Justice Butcher had on August 16, 2019, awarded $9bn in favour a foreign firm, Process and Industrial Developments Limited.

The court did this by granting an enforcement application which converted the arbitration award secured by the Process and Industrial Development Limited into a domestic UK judgment against Nigeria.

The Federal Government had insisted that the money was awarded in favour of the Process and Industrial Development Limited despite that the 20 years old project of accelerated gas development, in Nigeria’s OMLs 67 and 123, for which it was meant for was never executed.

It said it would take steps to stop the enforcement of the judgment.

On Thursday, Malami described the award by the UK court as sad, and dubbed it as part of the “consequences of the underhand dealings of the past administrations.”

He said, “Sadly, in spite of the spirited and concerted efforts of the current administration to combat corrupt practices and rent seeking in all its forms, Nigerians woke up on Friday, August 16, 2019 to the rudest consequences of the underhand dealings of the past administration that has resulted in the award of $9bn against the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by a British court which ruled that Process and Industrial Development Limited had the right to seize $9bn in Nigerian assets.”

He noted that the dispute that led to the “arbitration between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Process and Industrial Development Limited which consequently resulted in the said court ruling arose from a 20-year Gas Supply Processing Agreement purportedly entered with Process and Industrial Development Limited by the past administration in 2010 which contract   P&ID by the past administration in 2010 which contracted   P&ID never performed as agreed.”

He said steps would be taken to bring everyone involved to book.

The minister said, “That being said, it must be placed on record that the Federal Government strongly views with serious concerns the underhand manners by which the negotiation, signing and formation of the contract was carried out by some vested interests in the past administration in connivance with their local and international conspirators all in a bid to inflict grave economic adversity on the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the good people of Nigeria.

“As a government that has the mandate of the people, and their interests at heart, we shall not fold our arms and allow this injustice to go unpunished as all efforts, actions and steps shall be taken to bring to book all private individuals, corporate entities and government officials — home or abroad and past or present — that played direct and indirect roles in the conception, negotiation, signing, formation as well as prosecution of the purported agreement.”

He also promised to pursue, during his second term, “judicial reforms”, targeted at including, contribution of the ministry to “improving security, fighting corruption and fixing the economy for the greater benefit of all Nigerians.”

He promised to ensure the collaboration with the judiciary and the legislature with a view to “designing and proposing a workable constitutional amendment towards ensuring better efficiency of the Nigerian judiciary.

Malami said, “This will certainly involve a reconsideration of the subject-matter/cause of action jurisdiction of our courts in which such an innovative manner that will limit the nature of disputes and appeals that get to the Supreme Court which is currently battling with backlog of cases.”

The minister, however, said the reform he would seek would be “mindful of not recklessly disrupting the existing structure, but as systematic, pragmatic, cost-efficient and objective as much as practicable.”

EFCC, ICPC to beam searchlight on fraudulent banks —Malami

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), on Thursday, said the anti-corruption agencies would beam their searchlight on banks that had been aiding corrupt practices in the country.

He said the Federal Government, through his ministry, would work closely with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission to ensure that banks involved in corrupt practices are sanctioned.

Speaking during his first full day in office in Abuja after his Wednesday’s re-appointment as the AGF, Malami also promised to pursue judicial reforms, including proposing an amendment to the Constitution, that would provide an innovative way to tackle congestion of cases at the Supreme Court.

On financial institutions’ involvement in corruption, he said, “As bad news to the rogues within our financial system, in the next four years, the Federal Ministry of Justice, in collaboration with anti-corruption agencies, will beam searchlight on the financial institutions and non-designated financial institutions in order to make them pay dearly for the dastardly roles they played and are still playing in encouraging and deepening corruption in Nigeria.

“From arms procurement fraud, INEC bribery case to Diezani case and several others, quantitative data available to the Federal Government abundantly shows that financial institutions are directly involved in most of the major corruption cases investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission from 2015 till date.

 

 

Ambode: CACOL cautions EFCC against selective investigation

 

The Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL), Mr. Debo Adeniran, has faulted the action of the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to allow themselves be used by some perceived political enemies to raid the country home of former Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode in Epe.

Adeniran spoke on Thursday during an interview on Arise TV’s Morning Show, where he picked holes in the selective method of the investigation by the anti-corruption agency.

Recall that on Tuesday, EFCC raided the residence of Ambode in Ikoyi and Epe over allegations of corruption allegations leveled against him, but could not find anything incriminating.

“That account we were told is the account of the Lagos State government. It is not a functional account for the former governor or anybody in that government and that because it has to be operated. Nobody is above the law actually and we are not saying that if any corruption issues are developed against the former governor, Akinwunmi Ambode that he should not be investigated or brought before justice.

“The reason why we have to believe that you have to connect with it is that, that is the only corruption allegation that has been leveled against the former governor. And we don’t have anything against that if on reasonable ground that have reasons to believe that maybe the cash is starched in that house just like that found in Osborne’s house, Falomo, Ikoyi or shopping complex. They could raid the place and they can break it down if they refuse to open the place. But then you have to have reasonable reasons to do that. Unfortunately, Epe youths might be too zealous to protect one of their own, that might be the reason.

“But we were told that they actually penetrated the premises and did the search and even going by the account of the young lawyers they said that they insisted that they needed to witness the search. And they actually search the searchers before they started the operation. At the end of the day, they never found anything incriminating in that house except for a stark of files. And those stark of files we wouldn’t know if they suspected that it contains documents, but they could have checked it to find out the contents of those files so that if the files contain secret documents they could have easily tell the world what they have found in the house.

But since there is no incident, it means it’s only normal that people would think it was maliciously done. We believe that EFCC as an anti-corruption agency shouldn’t have allowed itself to be used. Of course, they need to investigate all petitions that have been sent to them,” Adeniran explained.

 

FG moves to recover N614bn budget support given to states

The federal government is making moves to recover N614 billion given to 35 states as budget support facility.

Zainab Ahmed, finance minister, disclosed this at the end of the national economic council (NEC) meeting on Thursday.

The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the council chambers of the presidential villa in Abuja.

Ahmed said the council agreed to constitute a team that would help to finalise modalities to commence repayment of these facility to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“As at today, the budget support facility advanced by the Federal Government to the states, is a total sum of N614 billion and this is to 35 states,” she said.

“This means an equivalent is N17.5 billion per state. Council agreed to constitute a team of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to finalize modalities to commence repayment of these facility to the Central Bank.”

The minister also disclosed the balances on two special accounts — the stabilisation fund and natural resource development fund.

“The Stabilization Fund Account which has a balance of N21,729 billion and Natural Resource Development Fund which has N95,896 billion,” she said.

Osinbajo had previously spoken on how the current administration had in the last three years gave out close to N1.1trillion to states through loans, bailouts and Paris Club refunds.

He had appealed to the governors to improve their states Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) so as to meet the demands of the N30,000 new minimum wage among others.

INEC office burnt, houses destroyed as Boko Haram strikes in Borno town

Thousands of people have been displaced in Gubio, a town in Borno state, following an attack by suspected Boko Haram insurgents.

Sources said the insurgents invaded the town around 5pm on Wednesday. They were said to have shot sporadically and set many houses on fire.

A soldier from the army’s 5 brigade stationed in Damasak told TheCable that the insurgents have been around Gubio communities for at least three months as a result of the relocation of the brigade headquarters from the town.

“There is no soldier in Gubio, and that is why those guys moved in. They burnt the INEC office and some other houses,” he said.

“As I am speaking, troops have been reinforced from the brigade and now in face-off with the insurgents.”

Jack Vince, a journalist resident in Maiduguri, corroborated the account of the soldier.

He said that the area had been without military presence and that was why it made easy for the insurgents to storm without any resistance.

“For about two weeks now no military post from Damasak on the border with Niger Republic to my community in Maiduguri, Magumeri, Kareto, Gubio and so on,” he said.

“Gubio was dislodged, soldiers ran to Damasak and Maiduguri leaving that wide expanse of land unguarded.”

A source claimed  that soldiers pulled out because the locals were not cooperating with them in fighting the insurgents.

“Thousands of people dislodged from Gubio have ran to the bush, trying to find their way to Maiduguri,” he said.

In May, the insurgents shot 11 villagers during an attack on Gundi village in Gubio.

Col Sagir Musa, army’s spokesman, did not immediately respond to a message seeking development on the attack.

 

German police identify four of Ekweremadu’s attackers

Four of the people that attacked Ike Ekweremadu, former deputy senate president, in Nuremberg, Germany, have been identified by the Bavaria police, according to a report by The Cable.

Ekweremadu, a serving senator from Enugu state, was beaten up by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in Nuremberg on Saturday at an event organised by “Ndigbo Germany”.

Nuremberg is second largest city after Munich in the state of Bavaria.

The Nigerian embassy has mounted enormous pressure on the German federal authorities to bring the attackers to justice following the initial reluctance of the state police to investigate the assault which was captured on video.

The Cable reported that Yusuf Maitama Tuggar, Nigeria’s ambassador to Germany, reminded the federal authorities on their responsibility to foreign government dignitaries visiting the country.

Under section 102 (1), chapter 3, of the German criminal code, attacks against organs and representatives of foreign states are punishable with fines and imprisonment.

It states: “(1)Whosoever commits an attack against the life or limb of a foreign head of state, member of a foreign government, the head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in the Federal territory while the victim is in Germany in his official capacity shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine, in especially serious cases to imprisonment of not less than one year. (2) In addition to a sentence of imprisonment of at least six months, the court may order the loss of the ability to hold public office to vote and be elected in public elections (section 45(2) and (5)).

This is aside the civil case that can be instituted by the victim.

An official of the foreign affairs ministry in Abuja said that the Bavaria state police have analysed the attack videos and identified four of the suspected attackers.

“I cannot reveal their identities for now because the German authorities are now co-operating with us and investigating the attack,” the official said.

A’Ibom PDP members at war with chairman over N2.6bn contract

Members of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Akwa Ibom have drawn the battle line with the state chairman, Obong Paul Ekpo, over his failure to deliver N2.6 billion contract to ward chapters of the party.

It was gathered that Governor Udom Emmanuel had during his electioneering campaigns promised to award contracts to members at the ward levels.

Piqued by the failure of the party to implement the Governor’s promise, members of the party across the wards on Wednesday booed Ekpo during a stakeholders meeting of the party.

It was gathered that the party had promised “ward contract” to the people of the party before the re-election of the Governor.

Sources in the party disclosed that each of the 329 wards was to be awarded the contract of N8 million, making a total of 2.6b for all the wards.

The sources also revealed that some of the wards were given N2 million before the general elections while others received nothing.

Emmanuel has vowed to speedily implement all the earlier decisions the party had with wards in the state.

Emmanuel said it was not wrong for the people to speak up as that has helped him to know that all is not well with the people.

He said: “If I don’t do this, do not believe whatever I will say again.”

Last “Will” of oil billionaire, Lulu-Briggs out, cuts out three sons

Seven months after his death, the Will and last Testament of late Kalabari Chief and businessman, High Chief (Dr) O.B. Lulu-Briggs was read on July 26, 2019, despite opposition from three senior sons of the deceased, Dumo, Senibo and Sofiri Lulu-Briggs.

The High Chief left most of his assets in a Trust to be managed on behalf of his children and their offspring, with former governor of Cross Rivers, Donald Duke as one of the four trustees. The deceased also left substantial wealth to his widow Dr (Mrs) Seinye O.B. Lulu Briggs.

Interestingly High Chief Lulu-Briggs did not accommodate any of his three elder sons in the will, although he stipulated that their children should be taken care of.

This suggests all has not really been well in the family since the three attempted to fraudulently snatch his company from him in the early 2000s. The matter ended with him settling them with substantial sums of money.

The Will was supposed to be read in April because the High Chief’s lawyers were aware that it contained his funeral wishes. However, Dumo Lulu-Briggs approached a High Court in Umoku, Rivers State where he secured an Exparte Order barring the reading. He also filed another Will which he claims his father gave to him in 2003 at another High Court in Rivers State.

However, High Chief Lulu Briggs’s Will was eventually read after another court overturned the Order of the Umoku High Court. In the Will, the late statesman expressed a wish to be given a Christian burial and specified that his wife be involved in his burial. He also warned that anyone that contested the Will should be cut off immediately.

There are indications that the publication of the Will might not resolve the disagreement between members of the family that has delayed the burial of the High Chief.

High Chief Lulu-Briggs passed away on December 27, 2018 in Ghana, aged 88. He had lived with and managed increasingly debilitating Parkinson’s disease for close to two decades. His death, rather than reinforce the family unity he had spent his life promoting, blew open the internal frictions and latent hostilities among family members.

Things spiraled into an open war of attrition involving the Police and other security agencies – and the law courts, as accusations of murder, harassment, extortion and fraud fly about.

The battle line pitches a faction of the family led by the second son of the deceased, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, a politician and oil mogul chairman of Platform Petroleum, and two other sons Senibo and Sofiri, against the rest of the family led by their mother and widow of the deceased, Dr (Mrs) Seinye O.B. Lulu- Briggs.

While calls to the phone number of Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs went unanswered, Mrs O.B. Lulu-Briggs declined to comment on the matter of the Will.

Although the Amanayabo of Kalabari, King (Professor) J.T. Princewill Amachree, has waded into the internal crisis by setting up a committee to find out why High Chief has not been buried, he recently wrote a letter which appears to have truncated his committees work by stating that in Kalabari widows have no role to play in the burial arrangements of their husbands.

The committee has held public meetings in which Dumo had stated his side’s case and Mrs O.B. Lulu-Briggs has not completed her statement. However, the King recently wrote a letter which appears to have truncated his committee’s work by stating that in Kalabari ,widows have no role to play in the burial arrangements of their husbands.

The Nigeria Police however continues its investigation into a petition by Dumo Lulu-Briggs that the late Lulu-Briggs was murdered, allegedly by his wife. The murder allegation is another twist in an intense internal battle over the control of the wealth left behind by the late Ijaw billionaire. Efforts to get the police to speak on the investigation have been unsuccessful.

Although Chief Lulu-Brigss died in Accra, Investigations into his death was not carried out by the Ghanaian police. Rather, a team of Nigerian police led by ACP Adaku Uche-Anya from Force CID shut down his company, Moni Pulo Limited, Port Harcourt. on June 3, 2019. The police was without a proper court order. They broke doors in an attempt to interrogate staff and gain access to company documents. They left after about 8 hours.

High Chief Lulu-Briggs’ death was initially announced by Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs on his Facebook page on January 1, 2019 and he used the same platform to announce the postponement of the burial of the late Lulu-Briggs on March 24, 2019.
But signs that all was not well after all, first came to light when the same Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, filed a lawsuit and secured an injunction to stop the opening and reading of the Will of the patriarch of the family.

This was followed a few weeks later by a surprising advertorial by seven chiefs from Oruwari Briggs House of Abonnema, Rivers State, of which the High Chief was Paramount Head until his death, in ThisDay of May 23, 2019. The write-up claimed that the late High Chief O.B. Lulu-Briggs was missing, even though the same body of chiefs had published an announcement of his death on January 1, 2019 in the Punch. This signaled that the divisions in the immediate family had spilled over into the larger family and that they are on Dumo’s side.

Although the result of the autopsy eventually carried out on the body of the High Chief at the Military Hospital, Accra, Ghana on July 19, 2019 is not yet out, Dumo and his brothers objected to the procedure and requested another autopsy be carried out. However, following a meeting between the team that carried out the autopsy and both parties, Ghanaian authorities rejected the request and mandated that the military hospital team continue with the coroner’s assignment.

Both Mrs Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs and Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs, in media interviews, have expressed a wish to give the family patriarch a befitting burial. But the two parties are divergent on the mechanics of how this will be achieved.

Mrs Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs stated that Chief Dumo demanded that she hands over what he considers his father’s choice assets as a condition for the burial to proceed. In Kalabari culture it is the elder son’s responsibility to lead the father’s funeral arrangements. Dumo, however, claimed that he wanted what he considered the circumstances behind the death of father cleared up before his burial.

A chief in Abonnema, who spoke on condition of anonymity, however said the content of the Will is a pointer to what lies behind the family crisis. “In the Will, Lulu-Briggs makes it clear that he considers the settlement payments made to Dumo (in 2003) and Senibo and Sofiri (in 2004) their inheritance. As such they are excluded in the Will to the extent that there is a sealed letter attached to the Will and only to be opened and read if they contest his final Will and Testament,’’ he said.

With the reading of the will, many ijaw leaders have expressed hope that the family can come together, close ranks and show respect to their greatly loved and admired patriarch- the most successful Ijaw man ever in history- by burying him with the simple dignity he has personally requested in his Will.

Doctor dies rescuing electrocuted neighbours in Lagos

A consultant physician, Dr Adeyemi Ayeni, has died while trying to rescue two electrocuted teenagers in the Surulere area of Lagos.

The incident reportedly happened on Sunday, August 11, 2018, at No. 68 Bank Olemoh Street, off Akerele Street, Surulere.

The deceased had reportedly gone to visit members of his extended family during the Eid-el-Kabir, according to Punch report.

It was gathered that Ayeni was trying to rescue two teenagers, who had suffered electric shock in the compound of the family house, when he was also electrocuted.

While the teenagers were rescued, efforts to revive the doctor proved abortive.

When our correspondent visited the family house, the wife and sister of the deceased were too distraught to talk.

However, a family source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 51-year-old Ayeni, who was resident in Nasarawa State, came visiting with his nuclear family in line with his yearly tradition.

He added that the deceased already bade neighbours farewell for his return journey when the incident happened.

The source said, “Doctor came to visit his family members, who still live here in Surulere, during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration. Though he was a Christian, he used to come around to celebrate with us yearly even after our parents had passed away.

“He was supposed to leave on Sunday and he already bade neighbours goodbye. He was just taking a nap when someone woke him up that two persons had been electrocuted.

“I guess he was not yet conscious when he grabbed them and he was also electrocuted in the process. The teenagers are now okay, but by the time the doctor was taken to hospital, he was pronounced dead. He was taken to two other hospitals, but they couldn’t revive him. Family members couldn’t accept the reality of his death dead and they tried different methods to revive him but none worked.”

When the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, was contacted, he said the incident was not reported to the police.

IITA, AfDB salute Makinde’s vision for agribusiness

At a retreat in Cotonou, Republic of Benin to chart a path for transforming agriculture, Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde set a record in governance, by spending more than 72 hours with his state officials designing an implementation plan for Oyo state agribusiness.

The governor also promised officials of the state that the administration will give agriculture the necessary ‘political will’ to play its role and transform the economic fortunes of the state.

“I want to assure all the participants that Oyo State will provide the political will needed to make the state the agribusiness hub of Nigeria,” Makinde said at the retreat that was facilitated by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Cotonou, Republic of Benin, 15-19 August.

Gov Makinde pledged to attract more private investments to agriculture by providing an enabling environment for the private sector to invest in the state. He said the state would ensure agribusiness-friendly policies that would boost investor confidence.

Since assumption of office on 29 May 2019, Gov Makinde has pledged to transform the narrative of agriculture with the view to making it the pillar of the state’s economic development. The retreat provided an opportunity for the Governor to unveil his vision for agriculture in the state.

Dr Kenton Dashiell, IITA Deputy Director-General, Partnerships for Delivery commended the governor for demonstrating an uncommon leadership style by participating in all the sessions of the three-day retreat.

“I have never seen such a commitment from a governor… and I believe the document coming out of this retreat will help the state to achieve the vision of an agribusiness hub for Nigeria,” he added.

Dr. Martin Fregene, Director for Agriculture and Agro-Allied division with the African Development Bank said the commitment of the state to agriculture was a step in the right direction.

“Let me also commend you (the governor of Oyo state) for organizing this very important meeting, and participating fully in it to have a vision and an implementation plan for agribusiness in the state,” he added via skype.

Fregene urged the state government to adopt the agri-business approach to unlock the potential of agriculture in the state.

“For Oyo state to move forward in agriculture, you must treat agriculture as a business,” he explained.

According to the AfDB director, the Bank would be willing to support the state in its quest to transform agriculture.

The retreat had four sessions comprising: Developing a vision for the state in agriculture, identifying the obstacles to the vision, developing strategic actions to deal with the obstacles to the vision, and developing an implementation plan.

Adebowale Akande, Executive Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture gave thumbs up to the retreat, adding that recommendations from the retreat would help the state to achieve its vision of becoming an agribusiness hub.