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Atiku: An omen worse than defeat, by Azu Isheikwene


As the final results of last week’s presidential poll were released, three broad groups emerged: Those genuinely surprised that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Atiku Abubakar, lost; those in pretentious denial of his defeat; and those in a quandary because they hoped to profit from a stalemate.

The first group comprise those who expected that the electoral math would be significantly affected by the farmer-herdsmen clashes in the Middle Belt; the fragile economic recovery and job losses; the widespread feeling of a captive government; and, finally, the shambolic party primaries.

Atiku in Adamawa. Credit: Facebook

The opposition, actively supported by a few vocal religious leaders and a section of the business elite, hammered the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on these points throughout the campaign that it seemed February 23 would deliver the final nail in President Muhammadu Buhari’s political coffin.

If the leadership of the APC was sufficiently threatened by the potential pitfalls ahead, it didn’t show it. On the contrary, the public faces of the party’s three most dangerous politicians – Nasir El-Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi and Adams Oshiomhole – kept stoking the fires.

In what must have come as a rude shock to those genuinely surprised by Buhari’s reelection, however, he lost only marginally to Atiku in Benue with 7,587 votes and, for the first time, won in Nasarawa, a traditional stronghold of the opposition. He lost in the North Central by 104,239 votes (less than one per cent of the votes he scored in 2015), but it was his second-best performance in five races so far, defying the Armageddon predicted.

Why? In a contest in which the two leading candidates were Hausa-Fulani, the whispering campaign in many religious circles that the Hausa-Fulani is the worst evil that has befallen the region since Satan, didn’t seem to make much sense. Voters probably decided that Buhari was the lesser of two evils, ignoring clerics who had begged them, on their knees, to vote otherwise.

Also, the demographic changes in the region may have strengthened the Hausa-Fulani population and significantly improved its voting power. In Kwara, Abuja took the three-and-a-half-year-old war with Senate President Bukola Saraki to his doorstep in Ilorin, stoking a catastrophic “Otoge” rebellion against the Saraki dynasty; while in Makurdi, voters didn’t seem sufficiently impressed with Governor Samuel Ortom’s identity politics to give Buhari the resounding rejection the governor campaigned for.

Those in pretentious denial of Atiku’s defeat have a different problem. They built a castle of myths and could not bear to see their fancies crumble. One of such myths was that the perception of Atiku as a corrupt politician and the PDP as a crooked party would not stick.

It’s not their fault. In some respects, the poor choices of Buhari’s government in the last four years created a situation where some said they would rather have a corrupt government than an incompetent one.

But this moral equivalence is superficial. As I said in a piece entitled, “Buhari v. Atiku: The inconvenient truth,” published on February 15, trust was at stake and on that score, Atiku did not lose on Saturday: “He already lost in 2006 when he fell out spectacularly with Obasanjo and suffered a Humpty Dumpty’s fall. The sum of the ongoing feverish endorsements and lobbying, the extravagant claims of momentum and the fantasy electoral maps would be insufficient to stitch his candidacy together forever again. He’s done.”

And there, hopefully, goes the myth that Nigerians care less about corruption than they do about competence.

Yet the deniers will not stop there. Given how poorly Buhari is perceived in the South East, it was expected that he would probably perform worse than he did in 2015, when he got 198,248 votes in the five South Eastern states. Atiku was expected to bury Buhari in a tsunami of Igbo vote.

I had warned in an article on January 1, entitled, “2019: Facts, fiction, myths, and what matters”, that the myth of a Buhari electoral disaster in the South East was exaggerated. But deniers turned a deaf ear especially after Atiku picked former Governor Peter Obi as running mate. It was comfort medicine for the elite to ignore the facts, but ordinary Igbo people know that even their own kith and kin in Abuja have not served them better in the last 20 years.

Governors control the purse strings of the parties and have significant influence on where and how the votes go. It’s true that Buhari has not overcome the perception of Igbo prejudice. But in the last four years, he has managed to deepen his alliances with a number of governors and influencers in the South East. The result is an improvement in his performance from 198,248 in 2015 to 403,242 this year, when a spectacular defeat was widely predicted.

There, is also, of course, the myth of the influential retired army generals. Following former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku, it was taken for granted that from then on, Atiku was president-in-waiting; which was, in fact, how Obasanjo addressed him, and he was not laughing.

The political graveyard is littered with the remains of former top political officers that Obasanjo has fallen out with, former President Goodluck Jonathan being the most recent casualty. So, when Obasanjo and Buhari fell out, with General T.Y. Danjuma, former military president Ibrahim Babangida and Aliyu Gusau all lining up behind the Otta chicken farmer, it seemed Buhari’s fate was sealed.

Deniers who indulged themselves in this expired tale refused to see the writing on the wall. Obasanjo has had his moment, but he obviously didn’t know when it ended. Nigeria is sick and tired of a self-appointed oracle who thinks it’s his business to tell us who should lead us and when.

Not only that, Obasanjo also thinks it’s his prerogative to decide how long every president must stay in office, and then goes on to judge the next man by a measure of success which he did not achieve in his 11 years of being in charge.

Deniers may continue to worship at Obasanjo’s shrine, but voters who have seen through his decades of hypocrisy and opportunism decided it was time to send the world’s most restless busybody former president on forced retirement.

Obasanjo also belongs to the third group – those who hoped to profit from a stalemate in Saturday’s election. Whatever he may have said about Atiku publicly or told him privately, it’s doubtful if Obasanjo loves Atiku more than he loves Buhari. How could he seriously believe that Atiku would win after damaging his former deputy consistently for 13 years only to seduce him with endorsement three months to a major election?

In any case, how will an Atiku presidency benefit an Obasanjo who puts himself first, centre and last? The profiteer from and mastermind of many stalemates was probably hoping for another stalemate over which he could have become the arbiter in deciding who takes over next on his own terms. But that was not to be.

Whatever Obasanjo could not get from Buhari who he once described as “smart, educated and experienced”, Atiku would have had to sell Nigeria to provide it, a transaction that voters right down to Obasanjo’s polling unit, rejected outright.

Atiku has fought a good fight. No challenger has come so close in the last five election cycles in Nigeria. He should have called it a day before the final results were announced, instead of indulging the judicial wing of the stalemate army, a wing that is currently in fortuitous disarray.

One lesson Jonathan taught Nigeria is that you don’t have to win to be victorious. And it was just like yesterday when one unexpected phone call from him to Buhari put the critics, the deniers and the stalemate army out of business.

Atiku missed that chance. And it could prove worse than his defeat.

Ishiekwene is Publisher/Editor-in-chief of The Interview magazine

Six killed in attempt to kidnap Kaduna millionaire farmer

Six people have been killed by unknown gunmen while eight others sustained gunshot injuries at Sabon Sara,  near Kidandan Village, Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

The hoodlums attacked the village about 1:30 a.m. of Saturday morning in an attempt to kidnap one Alhaji Nasidi, a millionaire farmer in the area.

An eye witness, who pleaded for anonymity, said the gunmen, who stormed the village in large numbers, were unable to kidnap the farmer instead, they whisked away  his wife.

The source added that the villagers mobilised themselves and chased the gunmen and eventually retrieved the woman from captivity.

“In an attempt to rescue the woman, the bandits opened fire on us killing six persons while eight other people among us escaped with gunshot wounds.

“The deceased have been buried according to Islamic rites in the presence of Giwa Local Govt Chairman, Abubakar Shehu Lawal Giwa and the Council Secretary, Alhaji Usman Ismail.

“The eight injured persons were rushed to Kauran Wali Clinic in Zaria for medical attention,” the source said.

At the  Kauran Wali Clinic located on Gaskiya Junction, some of the victims were on drip, however, it seemed that the necessary urgent medical attention was not actually given to their case.

One of the victims was discharged on the grounds that his multiple injuries needed to be taken care of in a traditional manner.

The deceased included Ibrahim Bakanike, Lawal S/pawa, Lawal Belo, Tukur Bilyaminu Kafinta and Ummaru Abdullahi Mai Rake while one Fatima Ahmad died as a result of high blood pressure.

Those with gunshot injuries are Malam Abdullahi Umar, Aminu Ya’u, Rabilu Isa, Salisu Usman, Sabi’u Ya’u, Muhammad Musa, Ibrahim Sani and Malam Sani Ahmad Buzu while another victim, Yahuza Tukur, was hospitalised because of high blood pressure.

All efforts to get reactions of the police proved abortive as the  Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna State Police Command, DSP Yakubu Sabo, refused to respond to several phone calls.

He, however, in a text message, promised to get back later.
The Council Secretary, Usman Ismail, confirmed the incident and appealed to members of the community to remain calm.

While urging them to pray to Almighty Allah to forgive those who lost their lives and seek quick recovery of the injured, the secretary assured that the council was doing everything possible to ensure security of lives and property of residents.

EFCC has arrested my son-in-law – Atiku

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party,  Atiku Abubakar, on Saturday raised the alarm that no fewer than 24 operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had arrested his son-in-law, Alhaji Babalele Abdullahi.

He added that Abdullahi, who is also the finance director of Atiku’s group of companies, was arrested after the EFCC officials in two regular vehicles, an 18-seater Toyota bus with registration Abuja CS 522 RSH and a Hilux had invaded the Maitama residence of Abdullahi about 8.30am on Saturday.

According to a statement by Atiku’s media adviser, Mr.  Paul Ibe,  the EFCC officials were, however, not given access into the house until Abdullahi’s lawyers arrived.

He said, “In a desperate move to have Atiku Abubakar concede and congratulate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, officials of EFCC at about 8.30am today (Saturday) invaded the Maitama residence of Babalele. They were, however, not given access into the house until his lawyers arrived.

“The EFCC agents numbering about two dozens came in two regular vehicles, an 18-seater Toyota bus (registration Abuja CS 522 RSH) and a Hilux van.

They came with a search warrant to search the house and office of Babalele and found nothing incriminating.

“They then proceeded to his office at Oakland Centre in Maitama and found nothing incriminating there. However, they took away some documents of landed property.

Not done, the EFCC officials stormed his Wuse residence where they again found nothing incriminating after the search.

“Afterwards, Babalele was taken away to the EFCC office in Wuse to make a statement alongside Mr. Lawan Ayuba. It was gathered that the petition relied upon to invade the residence and office of Babalele was authored by a brother of the wife of President Buhari.

Ibe stated that as a law-abiding citizen, Atiku recognised the constitutional role of the EFCC and indeed any other agency of the government to carry out investigations, but will not be cowed by any attempt to blackmail him into mortgaging his mandate.

According to the statement, Atiku assured Nigerians that under no circumstance will he mortgage what he called the mandate of Nigerians which was freely expressed on February 23, according to him.

Atiku didn’t make any demands from Buhari, says PDP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says Atiku Abubakar, its presidential candidate in the recently concluded poll, is not making any demands from President Muhammadu Buhari.

Abubakar had rejected the outcome of the election, saying he would challenge it in court.

Subsequently, the National Peace Committee chaired by Abdulsalami Abubakar, after meeting with him, said he made some demands from the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government.

He was reported to have demanded: unfreezing of bank accounts belonging to opposition politicians; demilitarisation of subsequent elections; accreditation of voters before voting in subsequent elections; access to the backend server of INEC by all parties who partook in the election.

However, the PDP, in a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan, its spokesman, said Abubakar never made such demands, nor will he accept any conditions over the election “he clearly won”.

“The PDP states categorically, without mincing words, that Atiku Abubakar had not, and will never, make or accept any condition from President Buhari regarding the rigged February 23, 2019 Presidential election, which he (Atiku) clearly won,” the opposition party said.

“The Buhari Presidency and the APC know that their electoral robbery cannot stand before any noble justices and are now attempting to use all sorts of blackmail and shenanigans to derail the quest by Nigerians to reclaim the stolen mandate at the tribunal.

“However, let it be known to President Buhari and the APC that Atiku Abubakar and the PDP are standing shoulder to shoulder with Nigerians in this collective determination to take back the stolen mandate and we are not ready for any form of negotiation with anybody on this matter.

“Our party and candidate remain committed to the huge sacrifices made by Nigerians in ensuring our collective victory as delivered at the polling units across the country; we are mindful of the pains that Nigerians are passing through since the subversion of their will at the polls; we are sensitive to the expectations that millions of compatriots place on our shoulders in this struggle and we will never let Nigerians down.”

The party maintained its stance to seek redress in court.

It added that it remains undaunted in its resolve to pursue its mandate till Abubakar is declared president.

“We have all the authentic results from all the polling units as well as forensic evidence of manipulations by the APC and INEC. We will bare them all at the tribunal and the court will give justice to Nigerians,” it said.

“On that note, the PDP states unequivocally that nothing will change its resolve to pursue this despicable electoral fraud, unknown in our political history, to its end.

“We shall devote every energy necessary to reclaim our mandate and have Atiku Abubakar declared President, in line with the will of the people as delivered at the polling units on February 23, 2019.

“Anything short of this is not acceptable and no amount of false reports, connivance, contrivance, intimidation, harassment and fresh attacks on our leaders, including the Director General of our Presidential Campaign, Senate President Bukola Saraki, whose residence was besieged by security agents last night, can alter this resolve.”

JUST IN: EFCC arrests Atiku’s finance director

The Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested Babalele Abdullahi, finance director of group of companies owned by Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Atiku, who disclosed this in a statement issued on his behalf by Paul Ibe, his media aide, said it is part of the plot to make him concede the election and congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari.

The presidential candidate vowed not to be blackmailed into “mortgaging the mandate” Nigerians gave to him.

“In a desperate move to have Atiku Abubakar concede and congratulate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at about 8.30am today (Saturday) invaded the Maitama residence of Babalele. They were however not given access into the house until his lawyers arrived,” he said in a statement.

“The EFCC agents numbering about two dozen came in 2 regular vehicles, an 18-seater Toyota bus (registration Abuja CS 522 RSH) and a hilux van. They came with a search warrant to search the house and office of Babalele and found nothing incriminating.

“They then proceeded to his office at Oakland Centre in Maitama and found nothing incriminating there. However, they took away some documents of landed property.

“Not done, the EFCC officials stormed his Wuse residence where they again found nothing incriminating after the search.

“Afterwards, Babalele was taken away to the EFCC office in Wuse to make a statement alongside Mr. Lawan Ayuba.”

He said he learnt that the anti-graft agency acted based on a petition written by an in-law of the president.

“As a law abiding citizen, Atiku Abubakar recognizes the constitutional role of the EFCC and indeed any other agency of the government to carry out investigations, but will not be cowed by any attempt to blackmail him into mortgaging his mandate,” he said.

IBB congratulates Buhari, asks Atiku to work with him

Former Military President Ibrahim Babangida has congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory at the polls, appealing to Atiku Abubakar to work with him for the development of the country.

In a congratulatory message to Buhari on Saturday, IBB asked Buhari and Atiku to “close ranks and move the country forward”.

“I call on the former Vice–President Atiku Abubakar to close ranks and work with the winner of the election in an objective and constructive manner so that democracy will continue to thrive in our country at this crucial period of renaissance,” he said.

“I urge him also to endeavour and prevail on his admirers to eschew bitterness and violence. They must be prevailed upon to understand that politics is a game in which there must be only one winner.”

The former military president charged Buhari to “heal the wounds of the heated campaign exchanges by embracing those who contested alongside with him.

“The President must resist the temptation to see them as enemies; not even opponents, but fellow compatriots who merely disagreed with him on how best to move our country forward,” he said.

“Now that the President has won his reelection bid, he should confront with renewed vigour the most urgent problem confronting Nigeria.

“The Boko Haram insurgency remains a threat to many Nigerians particularly in the North East sub region, while the twin evils of kidnapping and armed robbery/armed banditry also remains a major national menace.

“The president must pay priority attention to these security issues.”

Babangida congratulated Nigerians for their peaceful conduct during the election and asked that same should be replicated in state elections next Saturday.

How a Nigerian artist’s tweet caught the eye of Kevin Hart

That is what happened to 26-year-old Eli Waduba Yusuf, who told the BBC it was it was like a “dream” when US comedian and actor Kevin Hart directly contacted him about the portrait he’d created.

Yusuf, a hyper-realism artist from Nigeria, had spent two weeks drawing a detailed pencil image of Hart that looks like a black and white photo.Twitter post by @EWaduba: My name is Eli Waduba YusufAm a Nigerian, based in kaduna. Am a hyperrealism PENCIL Artist, I hope to become like @Harinzeyart. Please Retweet, let @KevinHart4real see it, thank you

Yusuf tweeted out his masterpiece, tagging Hart in the hope that the actor might see the finished product.

Others also saw the work and began tweeting Hart about the talented young artist.

Eventually, the artwork came to the actor’s attention and he responded to one user: “Talent out of this world… Wooooooooow”.

Kevin Hart

Hart then went further and tweeted Yusuf directly.

The actor said that he not only wanted to buy the portrait, but also commission Yusuf to draw portraits of a few of his celebrity friends.

The reaction to Hart’s reply had more than 310k likes in the first 24 hours with people tweeting their congratulations to Yusuf and wishing him well.

Yusuf said he was “thrilled” to be contacted by the actor: “I still can’t believe it; it feels like a dream. It’s been so overwhelming. Kevin Hart has just blew my mind.”

He went on to say: “A lot has changed – a few days ago I was just a local artist who loved drawing and would have loved the world to see my work, but I didn’t know it would happen so fast.

“Here I am having an interview with the BBC – please someone should wake me up!”

One Twitter user was impressed by the portrait.Twitter post by @Jimbodinhi: This is as close to a photo as you can possibly get without actually using a camera. Unreal.

Another tweeted her thanks to Hart for recognising Yusuf’s talent.Twitter post by @PetriderPaul: Your amazing thank you from believing in his work and supporting building up his talent 🌟

Another user welcomed the positive news coming from her country of NigeriTwitter post by @toria_i_o: In all this instability and mayhem plaguing our country, its gratifying to see talents fresh and pure emerge and given due cognizance. Kudos

Presentational grey line

What is hyper-realism?

Hyper-realism is a form of art that looks very realistic. The pieces can resemble photographs.

The high-resolution element takes the art beyond photorealism.

The art tends come in the form of paintings or sculptures. But other mediums such as pencil can be used to create the works.

Yusuf's portrait of his mother“My mother has been a source of encouragement to me, even though she never had a formal education and came from a poor background”
Presentational grey line

Yusuf describes how the artist Arinze Stanley inspired him to work in the hyper-realism genre.

“His work showed me the possibilities of art, so I decided that whatever I see I must replicate and do even better,” he said.

“I made sure that every new work I do is better than the previous one.”

Meanwhile, there is speculation as to who the celebrity friends are that Hart would like Yusuf to draw.

Some thought that it could be ex-wrestler turned actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. One Twitter user said: “The Rock is about to have a great drawing of himself.”

Whoever the lucky recipients of the new portraits are, Yusuf’s art has just got very real.


Elections: NBC fines NTA, AIT, Channels, TVC, others for breach of ethical codes

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has sanctioned 45 broadcast stations, including NTA, AIT, Channels and TVC News, for alleged ethical infractions in relation to the 2019 general elections.

Director-General of the commission, Malam Is’haq Modibbo, disclosed this at a news conference in Abuja on Friday.

Kawu said the erring stations, which cut across the country, violated provisions of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code, and were fined N500,000 each.

“Despite our various interventions, at the end of the Presidential election which was held on 23 February 2019, 45 stations were found culpable of infractions on the provision of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code and have been sanctioned accordingly.

“We gave them the highest level of sanction under the NBC which is to make them to pay N500,000 each and the cut across the entire country.

“NBC also sanction stations that allowed politicians to utter abusive, inciting and provocative statements during rallies.

“And this happened on several radios and television stations, particularly and unfortunately on the big nation network such as NTA, AIT, Channels, TVC News.

“There are also several radio and TV stations involved in this various infraction.

“Only recently, J FM for instance in Jos, Plateau State was sanctioned for inciting broadcast by a preacher, who moved away from religion into the arena of politics and was saying particularly inciting comments.”

Kawu warned that any of the stations that continue to broadcast hate and inflammatory comments that threaten the security of the country would be shut down.

He said that it had become necessary for NBC to issue such warning as the country move to the next elections.

He reminded all the stations that were sanctioned and those that were not to know that the next step NBC was going to take was to close down any erring station.

Kawu said that the commission had set up a National Monitoring System involving all members of the board of management of NBC to monitor stations on 24 hours basis.

“We monitored all the broadcast in every single Radio and Television and all our licences. We monitored exactly the way people performed during the elections.

The DG said that NBC was working in partnership with INEC, the EFCC, and Nigeria Financial Intelligence Units on tracking campaign financing in the country.

“It is a very vital part of deepening the democratic process and it is important for us to mention this as we move to the next elections.

We must ‘confront and tackle’ Amosun to rescue Ogun workers – NLC

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said it must rescue Ogun workers from some alleged anti-labour practices of the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun.

Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President made the position of the congress known in a statement on Friday night in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there has been a confrontation between the state governor and the leadership of NLC over non-payment of workers’ salaries and arrears and the recent sack of the NLC state chairman by the governor.

The NLC leadership also accused Amosun of non-remittance of statutory deductions from workers’ salaries and his refusal to pay gratuities of retired state and local government workers since 2013.

Wabba said NLC was prepared for a showdown with the governor if attempts were made to “disgrace the NLC” during its rescheduled March 5, protest in the state, as reportedly threatened by him.

He said the decision to ‘confront and tackle’ Amosun had already been taken by the NLC at its 12th National Delegates Conference and that there was no going back on it.

“The leadership of the NLC has taken cognisance of a statement credited to the Gov. of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, where he threatened to disgrace the leadership of the NLC if the Congress insists on embarking on a protest scheduled for Tuesday March 5, 2019 in Ogun State.

“This was reported by Premium Times on 1st March 2019 and other platforms. Our Position is that The Nigeria Labour Congress has taken note of the threat by Governor Ibikunle Amosun.

“But we want to assure him that his threats will not deter us from defending the interest of workers in Ogun State whose rights he has been trampling upon.

”This is especially on the following issues: the non-remittance of statutory deductions from workers’ salaries for pensions, cooperative, ileya, Christmas etc. over a period of one hundred and five (105) months,” he said.

He said that Amosun had refused to pay salary arrears of workers at the Tai Solarin College of Education, according to him, which has accumulated for the past ten years and now grosses to a financial liability of about N9 billion.

“To make matters worse, Governor Amosun sacked the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress from his employment for standing firm in the defence of the rights of workers in Ogun State.

“The issues we have highlighted are too grievous to be swept under the carpet, therefore, the decision of the 12th National Delegates Conference of the NLC to confront and engage Governor Amosun will be carried out to the letter on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

“We are not unmindful of the fact that even Amosun’s political party has complained of his penchant to violently disgrace other spheres of leadership outside his control and sometimes beyond him.

“We are not unmindful of the fact that Governor Amosun’s hostility to Nigerian workers is primarily a transfer of aggression

”Our confidence stems from the protection and guarantees provided by Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution, which gives workers and indeed all Nigerians the freedom to peaceful assembly and protest,”he said.

While insiting on the scheduled protest, Wabba added that “”All that the law requires us to do is to inform the police and relevant security agencies.

“This we have done. We are ready to peacefully protest the grievous mistreatment by our workers in the hands of Governor Ibikunle Amosun on 5th March 2019.

“We want to warn Governor Amosun that we will hold him personally responsible for any harm that comes to any worker during our protest on March 5, 2019.

“We want to remind Governor Amosun that he has already trampled workers on the ground and those who are down need fear no fall.

“We wish to alert our security agencies to Governor Amosun’s resort to violent threats.

“We assure him that his immunity cover will soon be removed and he must be ready to answer for his crimes against workers.

“The NLC can assure Ibikunle Amosun that we will continue to engage him even after he would have been sworn in as a Senator in Abuja.

“We wish to state that we unequivocally stand with the press statement recently released by our state council on this issue.

“We urge all our state councils especially those from the contiguous states to Ogun State – Lagos, Oyo, Osun states who are already fully mobilised for the protest not to be sacred one bit by the threats by Governor Ibikunle Amosun. We had dared and won worse tyrants,” Wabba said.

UBA group launches full banking operations in the UK

Three weeks after the UBA group launched its operations in Mali, the global financial city of London hosted a high level gathering of business and public sector leaders on Thursday February 28, 2019, as the new UBA franchise, UBA UK was formally birthed in the United Kingdom amidst high expectations.

At the upscale ceremony which held at The Prestigious Shard in the city of London, UBA UK was formaly introduced to business leaders across Europe and Africa with a commitment from the UBA Group of its readiness to galvanise trade and commerce between Europe and Africa.

According to a statement from the bank, the formal launch is sequel to the authorization of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority(FCA) for UBA UK Limited to carry out full scale wholesale banking across the United Kingdom.

With this launch, UBA Group further consolidates its unique positioning as the first and only Sub-Saharan African financial institution with banking operations in both the United Kingdom and the United States, thus reinforcing its strong franchise as Africa’s Global Bank, facilitating trade and capital flows between Africa and the world.

Speaking at the event, the Group Chairman, Tony Elumelu said the Group is excited by the authorization of the relevant regulatory authorities in the United Kingdom for UBA to upgrade its operation and further fulfil its aspiration of deepening trade and investments flows between Africa and Europe.

“The enhancement of our business in the United Kingdom is very timely and mutually beneficial for African and European corporates as well as respective governments. With the British and other European governments seeking new and improved measures to grow trade relations with Africa, we are enthusiastic on our positioning and capabilities in supporting corporates and government institutions to fulfil these lofty aspirations, which we believe are pertinent for the sustainable growth of both continents.”

Elumelu expressed that he is extremely pleased as UBA is living up to its mantra of being Africa’s global bank and positioning itself to support investors in key financial centres across the world.

Also speaking at the event, The Group Managing Director/CEO, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, noted that, “UBA Group is the most efficient gateway for European corporates and institutions to access Africa, given the bank’s expansive network across most impact markets on the continent and its deep knowledge of the business terrains in Africa.

According to him, “Simultaneously, we are serving the trade and capital needs of our African customers, who are seeking exposure to the European markets. With the upgrade of UBA UK Limited, we are excited to deepen our support to existing customers whilst also providing the leverage for new customers to effectively fulfil their cross-border transactions through UBA Group’s network.”

On his part, the CEO, UBA UK, Patrick Gutmann, said; “We are now on a stronger footing, as the authorization of the PRA and FCA for an enhanced business model affords us the opportunity to swell our capital and balance sheet as well as the broader UBA Group’s network across Africa. We welcome our existing and new customers to this new world of borderless opportunities, as we creatively serve our customers in meeting their international transaction needs.”

Some of the guests In attendance at the event were the President of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; President, Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah; Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, H.E Shaukat Aziz; Member of the British House of Lords and Executive Committee Member of the All Party Africa Group, Rt. Hon Lord Anthony Tudor St. John amongst many others.

The event was not short on entertainment as one of Africa’s leading entertainer,s Dbanj performed to the admiration of guests including Star boy, Whiz Kid.

United Bank for Africa (UK) Limited, previously named UBA Capital (Europe) Limited offers a full suite of treasury services, cash management, correspondent banking, corporate lending and wholesale deposit products to professionals and eligible counterparties. In addition, UBA (UK) Limited offers all aspects of structured and trade finance; issuance, acceptance, confirmation and refinancing of Letters of Credit of different variations, including SBLCs.

Fraud volume in Nigerian banks climbs to N25bn in five years


Protem President, Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors of Nigeria (CIFIAN), Dr Victoria Enape, has said that fraud volume in Nigerian banks increased dramatically to about N25 billion in the past five years.

Enape said this in Abuja on Friday at the opening of intensive training for forensic and investigative auditors with the theme “The Use of Forensic and Investigative Auditing for Prevention of Fraud, Corruption and Cyber-crimes in Nigeria”.

She noted that the training had become necessary going by the global acknowledgment of corruption in most government and financial institution and its (corruption) rejection by the United Nation (UN), World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Government at all levels are losing billions of Naira every day and most of these criminal cases bordering on fraud, corruption and cyber-crimes are partly because there are no forensic and investigative auditors in Nigeria to prevent fraud from taking place.

“The place of training of forensic and investigative auditors cannot be overemphasised because the whole world has embraced this current trend years ago which has assisted them in the fight against fraud.

“Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigative Auditors is an anti-fraud organisation, saddled with the responsibility of providing skills to relevant professionals on the use of science and technology to prevent, detect and investigate fraud of all kinds.

“The Institute also has mechanism to block illicit financial flows in the country; it, therefore, becomes indispensable in Nigeria if Nigerians and the future generation must experience peace and economic development,” Enape said.

According to her, scandalous collapses, financial loses, loss of employment, investment and investors, loss of earnings and means of livelihood are some of the consequential social dislocations and risks of corruption and fraud.

She explained that fraud and corruption weakened the institutional capacity of governments and organisations as well as impedes trade and investment.

The CIFIAN boss, therefore, reiterated the urgent need for the passage of the Institute’s Bill by the House of Representatives to give concurrency after Senate passed the Bill on July 5, 2018.

The Registrar of the Institute, Valentine Ugwu, said the Bill, when passed would also assist government during elections.

“Forensic auditing can also be used to tackle and prevent electoral fraud. And President Buhari is the only Nigerian leader that has openly tackled corrupt persons since the existence of the country.

“We intend to help President Buhari in the fight against corruption by validating and enhancing members’ standing as forensic and investigative auditors with a credible, comprehensive and internationally recognised certification,” Ugwu said

Ayeni took N17.4bn cash from Skye Bank in one year – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC says a former Chairman of the defunct Skye Bank Plc (now Polaris Bank), Tunde Ayeni, took N17.4bn raw cash from the suspense account of the bank between January 1 and December 31, 2014.

The EFCC further alleged that Ayeni received N3.75bn in cash from the same account the following year.

The allegations are part of the 10 fraud charges filed against Ayeni and three others before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The suit is separate from the N4.75bn and $5m fraud charge Ayeni and a former Managing Director of the bank, Timothy Oguntayo, are facing before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of a Federal High Court.

According to a charge sheet marked FHC/Abuja/CR/37/2019, Ayeni, Oguntayo, Control Dredging Company Limited and Royaltex Paramount Ventures Limited allegedly laundered over N23bn between 2014 and 2015.

The EFCC alleged that on December 24, 2014, Ayeni, while being chairman of the board of Skye Bank, transferred N3bn from the account of the defunct Skye Bank’s Suspense Account to a First City Monument Bank account with number 0758662025, belonging to Control Dredging Company Limited, another company owned by Ayeni.

The commission alleged that the act was in contravention of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, which is punishable under Section 15 of the same Act.

The anti-graft agency further alleged that Ayeni and Oguntayo conspired with others on March 25, 2015, to transfer the sum of N1.25bn from the Suspense Account of the defunct Skye Bank to the Skye Bank account of Royaltex Paramount Ventures Limited, another company owned by Ayeni.

One of the charges read, “That you, Tunde Ayeni, whilst being the Chairman, Board of Directors of the defunct Skye Bank Plc between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014, at Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did accept cash payment of the aggregate sum N17,415,080,000.00, taken from the defunct Skye Bank suspense account and delivered to you by the employee of the defunct Skye Bank, which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit, fraud and thereby committed an offence contrary and punishable under Sections 15(2)(b) and (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).”

The EFCC listed nine witnesses against Ayeni and others. They include four employees of the bank, officials of the EFCC and representatives of the FCMB.

The exhibits, which would be tendered in court include written statements, internal bank memos, cash delivery notes and forms, various bank documents, bank instruments and incorporation documents.

Some witnesses listed are Bamidele Are, Kayode Ojo-Osagie, Azeem Abiodun and Olufemi Phillips, who are all employees of the bank.

Others listed are Dare Folarin, Akingbade Adebayo, Dr Nurudeen Mohammed, Otitoju Moses, Longe Lolade, Umar Kangiwa, and Abubakar Madaki, among others.

Ayeni, who the Peoples Democratic Party claims is one of its financiers, first came under investigation by the EFCC in 2016, when Skye Bank began to show signs of distress.

At the time, it was taken over by Central Bank of Nigeria in 2018, Skye Bank had a negative net asset of N1tn as to the opposed capital requirement of N25bn for Nigerian banks.

This implied that the bank had irredeemably lost any justification to exist as a bank and was operating as a mere drain on depositors’ funds.

It was alleged that penchant of members of the board of the defunct bank for taking loans without due process accounted for N446bn in insider-related loans drawn from Skye Bank