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Daily Archives: August 18, 2019

Buhari queries Fowler over variances in tax remittances by FIRS

President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a letter to Babatunde Fowler, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, asking him to respond to discrepancies in tax collected by the agency.

Fowler, whose tenure expired on Saturday, was asked to explain why there exist obvious differences between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

The letter to Fowler signed by Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, reads, “Your attached letter (FIRS/EC/CWP/0249/19/027 dated 26 July 2019) on the above subject matter, refers.

“We observed significant variances between the budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

“Accordingly, you are kindly invited to submit a comprehensive variance analysis explaining the reasons for the variances between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for each of the years 2015 to 2018.

“Furthermore, we observed that the actual collections for the period 2015 to 2017 were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014.

“Accordingly, you are kindly to explain the reasons for the poor collections.

“You are invited to respond by 19 August 2019.

“Please accept the assurances of my highest regards.”

Fowler was asked to handover to the next most senior person in FIRS as he was given up till August 19 to respond to the query.

See the letter below

Nigerian govt not fiscally transparent, says U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Invictus Obi, Nigerian entrepreneur, fades off social media amid ‘$11m FBI fraud probe’

Obinwanne Okeke, Invictus Group CEO who is popularly known as Invictus Obi, has erased all traces of his social media existence.

Save for his personal blog, (http://www.obinwanne.com) and bios on his company’s platforms, Okeke’s social media pages have been deleted since he found himself in troubled waters.

But how did it all start?

On Friday, many Nigerians took to social media to express their views on reports that the 31-year-old entrepreneur was linked to an $11 million internet scam in the US.

In June 2018, Unatrac Holding Limited, a company which deals in sales of heavy industrial and farm equipment, was said to have approached the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) over a breach in the email account of its chief financial officer where a fraudulent transfer of funds was done.

The intruder was said to have sent phishing emails containing a web link, purportedly to the login page of the CFO’s online email account hosted by Microsoft Office 365.

Believing the link to be genuine, the CFO was said to have imputed his username and password from where the intruder got full access to the account and sent a fraudulent wire transfer request to the company’s internal financial team.

Acting under the impression that the email emanated from the CFO, the finance staff processed approximately 15 payments between April 11 to 19, 2018, totalling $11 million.

After months of a forensic investigation into the phoney transaction and activities of the intruder, the FBI followed the suspect’s online trail which led them to social media accounts with username @invictusobi allegedly owned by Okeke.

The federal agents were able to merge the intruder’s identity with the owner of the social media accounts.

When TheCable checked the accounts on Twitter and Instagram, they were no longer available, although there were mentions of the username on social media feeds.

On August 2, the FBI reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Okeke, who was said to be in the US at the time.

According to details of the arrest warrant, the FBI was alleged to have also connected Okeke to a series of other internet frauds.

WHO IS OBINWANNE OKEKE?

A Forbes magazine cover

Obinwanne came to the limelight at the age of 28 when Forbes magazine, an international publication, featured him in its June 2016 cover as one of Africa’s 30 entrepreneurs under 30.

“This is the most important list of the year for Forbes Africa. If one young African reads it and is inspired enough to start a business, it has done its job. Entrepreneurs like Obinwanne are proof that there is hope for Africa,” Chris Bishop, managing editor of Forbes Africa, was quoted to have said in the publication.

Findings show that he was nominated for Africa’s most innovative investment company award at the African Brand Leadership Merit Awards and has spoken in international economic panels, including the London School of Economics (LSE) African summit.

According to Okeke’s profile, he was born on November 9, 1987, and started his company, Invictus Group, in 2009.

The firm’s website says it deals in construction, investments, oil and gas and agricultural development. It also runs the Invictus Foundation which engages in charity.

Okeke was said to have obtained a bachelor’s degree in forensic criminology and a master’s degree in international relations and counter-terrorism, both from Monash University, Australia.

Okeke’s favourite quote

One of Okeke’s favourite quotes obtained online reads: “Mindset is everything, be it in entrepreneurship or daily life. It is what sets you apart from others. If your mindset is not in the right place, you won’t succeed. So, you must have the right mindset.”

SOCIAL MEDIA REACTIONS


After the report of alleged fraud hit social media, there have been diverse comments from Nigerians following the incident.

In a series of tweets, one Chike Nyelum who claims to know Okeke, detailed how he had allegedly engaged in shady deals over the years.

šßé@chikenyelum

Understanding Obinwanne Okeke AKA “Invictus Obi”.

A thread.

šßé@chikenyelum

Obinwanne Okeke is founder of Invictus Group & according to the company website, he has been extensively involved in sourcing, structuring, implementing & monitoring various private equity investments in African & Australian markets & has over 10 years of investment experience.

110 people are talking about this

Tolu Ogunlesi, a presidential aide, condemned internet fraud, saying the long arms of the law would definitely catch fraudsters in the long run.

“If you’re a practicing(sic) or aspiring Yahoo Boy, please read this affidavit well. If EFCC doesn’t get you, FBI will. They’ve both ramped up their clampdown on computer and wire fraud,” he said.

tolu ogunlesi

@toluogunlesi

Final Page.

View image on Twitter

tolu ogunlesi

@toluogunlesi

If you’re a practicing or aspiring Yahoo Boy, please read this affidavit well. If EFCC doesn’t get you, FBI will. They’ve both ramped up their clampdown on computer and wire fraud.

(If you want to insult me on top this tweet, kindly copy @officialEFCC, @FBI and @TheJusticeDept)

432 people are talking about this

Muyiwa Babarinde@Muyielnino

Samson Siasia and Invictus Obi’s debacle.

In life and in your career, have a long term view.

Don’t because of quick gains take short cuts that will ruin your life and legacy.

What fraud has cost this nation is unquantifiable

58 people are talking about this

Ada Nwoke@okemzuruoke

Not only was this Invictus Obi guy on Forbes 30 Under 30, he’s also been on BBC, given a TED Talk, spoke at London School of Economics Africa Summit, was nominated for “Young African Business Leader” at The AABLA Awards, & was a contributor for Forbes.

Yahoo boy with portfolio.

2,570 people are talking about this

Oke Umurhohwo@OkeStalyf

The detailed analysis of the FBI investigation into Invictus Obi should be a textbook manual for EFCC and other investigating bodies in Nigeria.

The investigator took his time, no rush, no media trial and got everything he needed to ask for an arrest. No EFCC-kind of gragra.

138 people are talking about this

Promise Ozioma Otika👸🇳🇬@Preetyslim_

This Invictus Obi story has shown that a lot of young successful Nigerians we look up to don’t make thier money legitimately.
Na who dem catch be thief

See Promise Ozioma Otika👸🇳🇬‘s other Tweets

Senate President condemns attack on Ekweremadu in German

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has unreservedly condemned the shameful assault on former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on Saturday in Nuremberg, Germany.

Senator Ekweremadu was to give a keynote address at the Second Igbo Annual Cultural Festival and Convention organised by Ndi-Igbo Germany in that city when a mob, which identified itself as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), invaded the venue to attack an illustrious son of Ndigbo who in his political career has consistently identified with and defended the cause of his people.

According to a statement by Ola Awoniyi, Lawan’s Special Adviser on Media, the attack was barbaric and contrary to civilised norms.

 

“It is incredibly absurd for anybody to blame the distinguished Senator for the violent criminal activities in his home base, the purported reason cited by the mob for the bewildering attack.

“Senator Ekweremadu, like all his distinguished colleagues in the Ninth Assembly of the Senate, is concerned about the insecurity and other challenges in that area and other parts of Nigeria. Senator Ekweremadu has also been at the forefront of the patriotic efforts to find lasting solutions to the challenges.

“The barbaric attack on Senator Ekweremadu at a forum to which he was invited to contribute to charting a course for the progress and happiness of Ndigbo debase our values as civilised people. It is most reprehensible and should be condemned by all right-thinking Nigerians,” Lawan said.

He urged the German authorities to identify those involved in the despicable act so that the law can take its course against them.

Lawan urged Nigerians to always reflect deeply and broadly before embarking on a course of action and advises the youth to ventilate whatever grievances they have along lines prescribed by the law and recommended by reason and democratic ethos.

The Senate President also urged Senator Ekweremadu not to be deterred by the incident from his path of service to his people and Nigerians in general, but to take it as part of the sacrifice of leadership.

 

UK, DSS petitioned to probe Buhari’s Cambridge documents

The Department of State Services and the London Metropolitan Police Service have received petitions to investigate the documents said to have been obtained from Cambridge University and tendered by President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential election petition tribunal.

TheCable reports that it obtained copies of the separate petitions dated August 14, 2019, and which were forwarded by Kalu Kalu Agu, a Nigerian lawyer.

Abba Kyari, the president’s chief of staff, had told the tribunal that he obtained the President’s ‘assessment’ documents from Cambridge University.

He was quoted as saying he personally signed for and collected the documents on behalf of the President.

The UK-based examination body oversaw the conduct of final year secondary school examination in Nigeria and placement into foreign universities in the 1960s.

In the two petitions forwarded by Agu, the lawyer questioned the authenticity of the ‘certifying statement’ said to have been obtained from the Cambridge Assessment International Education.

He asked the UK police and the DSS to launch an investigation into the circumstances leading to the procurement.

IPOB: Attack on Ekweremadu should serve as warning to Igbo leaders

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) says the attack on Ike Ekweremadu, ex-deputy senate president, should serve as a warning to other Igbo leaders that they will be humiliated if found in a public event abroad.

Ekweremadu was attacked by some members of the IPOB on Saturday in Nuremberg, Germany during the annual cultural festival of the Ndigbo, apex social-cultural group in the south-east.

A statement by Emma Powerful, IPOB’s spokesperson, said the attack on Ekweremadu was in obedience to the directive given by Nnamdi Kanu, its leader.

The group said Ekweremadu is a “traitor”, who worked with “Igbo governors to proscribe and tag IPOB a terror organisation”.

Some Igbo leaders marked for similar attacks include David Umahi, governor of Ebonyi state; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, governor of Enugu state; Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia state; and Willie Obiano, governor of Anambra state.

Nnia Nwodo, president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, is also included in the list.

“Yesterday, being the 17th day of August 2019 the Nuremberg IPOB family in Germany in keeping with the long-standing directive from our leader to hound all instigators of Operation Python Dance, IPOB is glad to report that Ike Ekweremadu was confronted and duly hounded out of a so-called New Yam Festival event in Germany,” the statement read.

“Despite repeated warnings to the organisers of these jamborees that Enugu, Ebonyi and other parts of Biafraland is under siege by Fulani caliphate and their collaborators within, they went ahead to invite a known traitor, co-conspirator and one of those that worked with Igbo governors to proscribe and tag IPOB a terror organisation while they never raised any voice against murderous Fulani herdsmen.

“This should serve as a warning to Nnia Nwodo, Dave Umahi, Okezie Ikpeazu, Willie Obiano and co that any day we find them in a public event abroad, they will be humiliated.

“IPOB is strategically located in over 100 countries around the world. Anywhere we find them, they will be dealt with.”

A federal high court in Abuja had declared the IPOB as a terrorist organisation in September 2017, after the federal government had approved the legal process for the proscription of the group. South-east governors also followed suit, proscribing the group.

 

FG to appeal British court order on $9bn judgment

The Federal government says it has instructed its lawyers to appeal against Friday’s judgment by an English court which gave Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID) the go-ahead to seize Nigerian assets worth $9bn.

In a statement released on Friday evening, Dayo Apata, the solicitor general of the federation and permanent secretary, federal ministry of justice, said Nigeria will seek for a stay of execution.

Read the full statement below:

Please recall the dispute that led to Arbitration between Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and Process and Industrial Development Ltd which arose from a 20 year Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) entered in 2010 between FGN (through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources) and P & ID in respect of an accelerated gas development project in Nigeria’s OMLs 67 and 123. P&ID never began the construction of the project facility although it alleges it incurred about $40 Million in preliminary expenses.

P & ID’s claim in the arbitration proceedings was mainly for loss of profit for the entire twenty-year term of the GSPA, initially claiming the sum of US$1.9 Billion and later increasing its claim to US$5.9 Billion.

The Arbitral Tribunal on 31st January 2017 rendered its Final Award against the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in the sum of US$6.597 Billion together with pre-award interest at the rate of 7% per annum effective from 20th March 2013 and post-award interest at the same rate till date of payment.

In granting the huge arbitration award against Nigeria the tribunal decided the following:

  • that the project would operate at 93% uptime during the twenty-year of the GSPA despite the well-known risks of operating such a project in the Niger-Delta.
  • that the average price of Natural Gas Liquids (the main revenue earner for P&ID assuming the GSPA had been implemented), should be based on an average oil price in excess of $100 per barrel over the twenty-year life of the project;
  • to apply a discount rate to P&ID’s supposed lost profits of 2.65 %, the same interest rate paid on United States treasury notes thereby adjudging P&ID, a start-up company that never commenced any physical work on the project but planned to operate in the midst of the Niger-Delta crisis, using a novel and unproven technology, a virtually “risk free” investment.

Upon the Award, P & ID commenced recognition and enforcement proceedings of the arbitration award against FGN in March 2018 in both the United Kingdom (“UK”) and the United States of America (the “United States”).

The FGN is duly represented in the proceedings in the United States by the Law Firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP which also represented it in the UK proceedings of which judgement was given on 16th August 2019 in favour of the P&ID to commence enforcement proceeding against the FGN assets in the UK.

Recall further that this matter was inherited from the previous Administration by the present one. Upon inheriting this matter, this Government engaged the renowned US Law Firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP to defend the interest of the FGN. The Law Firm has taken a step to defend the proceedings in the United Stated by urging the District Court to dismiss the P&ID application for enforcement of the award on the ground that Nigeria as a sovereign state has an absolute right to obtain an authoritative determination of its sovereign immunity. The FGN, therefore, demanded that the jurisdictional issue must be conclusively resolved before Nigeria may be required to litigate the merits of P&ID’s petition.

P&ID has variously challenged Nigeria’s position urging the District Court to direct Nigeria to file both its jurisdiction and merit defenses as a consolidated defense so that the proceedings may be disposed of by the District Court summarily.

The FGN has however pursued the validity of its jurisdictional defense as a preliminary matter which must be conclusively resolved prior to any consideration of the merit argument up to the Court of Appeal.

In a ruling on 9th October 2018, the District Court granted a stay of proceedings pending a determination of the appeal.

P&ID has also subsequently filed motions to have Nigeria’s appeal certified as frivolous and to have proceedings in the District Court continue pending determination of the appeal at the Court of Appeal.

On 1st November 2018, the US District Court issued a decision in favour of FGN denying P & ID’s further attempt to certify Nigeria’s appeal as frivolous and denied P&ID’s attempt to lift the stay of proceedings.

On 15 February 2019, the Court of Appeal issued a decision in favour of FGN by dismissing P&ID’s motion requesting the court to dismiss Nigeria’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction or to summarily affirm the scheduling order of the District Court.

The proceedings, therefore, are currently on-going in the United States and the FGN will ensure that its interest and that of the people of Nigeria are vigorously defended.

As regards the recent Judgment of the English Court of 16 August 2019, the Federal Government’s Counsel has been instructed to pursue an appeal on the judgment of the English Court dated 16 August 2019 and at the same time seek for a Stay of Execution of the said judgment.

In view of the above, please be informed that the Federal Government of Nigeria is making vigorous efforts to defend its interest in this matter and would not relent in exploring every viable option in doing so.

Dayo Apata, Esq.
Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.