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Author Archives: Editor

Ikeja Electric commences electronic tagging of poles to enhance operations

To further optimize operations through adequate maintenance of installations and reduction of downtime, Ikeja Electric Plc, has commenced the electronic tagging of electricity poles across its network.

The exercise known as E-Pole Tagging Project entails labelling of all 11KV and 33KV High Tension (HT) poles with electronic Quick Response (QR) Code stickers. It will accelerate fault clearing, ensure proper record keeping for poles and feeders that need urgent maintenance to bring about stable power distribution to customers.

Speaking on the initiative, Head, Corporate Communication, Ikeja Electric, Mr. Felix Ofulue, said:

“At Ikeja Electric, we are consistent and committed to improving our operations in line with best practice in order to give the desirable services to our customers. We are engaging in activities that will provide significant outcome and impact positively on the sector.

“This consistency shows that we are driven by commitment and passion to add value to the lives of our customers through exploring ways of improving the network”.

The project, according to the company, kicked off two weeks ago and is expected to end by December 31st, 2018.  It will cover 274 units of 11KV overhead Feeders and 64 units of 33KV overhead feeders. The electronic stickers are designed in QR Code (Quick Response Code) format. Information about the feeders and poles are embedded into the fiber metallic stickers that are attached to the poles.

These information can be read by scanning the QR Code on the stickers pasted on the poles with any smartphone devices. The scanned information will show the Index Number, Feeder Name, Pole Material Type (Wooden or Concrete), Pole ID, Longitude/Latitude and Pole Structure (Single or Dual Poles).

The initiative will enable the technical team to track work and maintenance history, reducing human error in the upkeep of regular maintenance and speeding up tracking times for new work orders. The project is a continuation of the CETAAM Project contracted to KEPCO.

Part of the recent improvement done by the DisCo include upgrading of the PTC Undertaking at Ikeja GRA to offer a highly effective Point-of-Sales self-service, fully automated Electronic Queue Management System (EQMS) and well-trained Executives Sales Representative.

Other projects executed to scale up supply across our network also include commissioning of the Mushin 1x15MVA Injection Substation and the New Oworo 15 MVA Injection Sub-Station.

Towards the end of last year, IE carried out a thorough rehabilitation of the Agege Injection Substation with the replacement of two obsolete high voltage switchgears, while it has also set up a Preventive Maintenance Team to check failure of equipment and guarantee stable power supply.

BREAKING: Appeal Court bars CCT from hearing Onnoghen’s case

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has barred the Code of Conduct Tribunal from proceeding with hearing in the false assets declaration filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.

The three-man panel granted the interim order pending ruling on the CJN’s application for stay of proceedings.

Details later…

Galadima’s allegations are baseless, says Ezekwesili

Obiageli Ezekwesili, the Presidential Candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria has described allegation by the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdul-Ganiyu Galadima that she was never really serious about her presidential ambition as baseless.

In an interview with News Agency of Nigeria, her media aide, Mr Uzoma Ubabukoh, in Lagos State, on Thursday,  said Galadima’s claim that she was contesting to negotiate to be Minister of Finance was a figment of his imagination.

Galadima was Ezekwesili’s running-mate until she announced her withdrawal from the race early on Thursday.

She claimed she withdrew from the race after due consultations with Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.

Ezekwesili added that her decision to quit the race was informed by the need to help and build a coalition to stop the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party from winning.

She said neither APC nor PDP could provide the kind of governance needed to reposition the country .

Few hours after Ezekwesili’s withdrawal from the race, Galadima called a news conference, saying Ezekwesili had not shown the commitment to be President from the beginning.

He alleged that the former minister was just in the race to negotiate to be Minister of Finance and that she had kept the party in the dark about her real intention.

Galadima added that the candidate had used the platform of the party to get funds from donors, which she had not spent to show commitment to her ambition.

The ACPN chairman said having realised that Ezekwesili did not represent the interest of the party, the party was endorsing President Muhammadu Buhari for re-election.

“All these allegations are figment of his imagination. They are baseless. The decision to withdraw from the race is in the interest of the nation. It should be the nation first before anything,” Ubabukoh said.

He said it was curious that Galadima, less than three hours after Ezekwesili’s withdrawal, endorsed Buhari and added that the action showed the ACPN Chairman had long had a personal agenda and never believed in the idea to disrupt the status quo in the country.

Ubabukoh said Ezekwesili would soon address a news conference where she would provide details about her withdrawal from the presidential race.

(NAN)

Imo APC expels Hope Uzodinma

The Imo State chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress on Thursday announced the immediate expulsion of its governorship candidate, Senator Hope Uzodinma.

The state chairman of the party, Daniel Nwafor, announced the expulsion during a press conference at the party’s secretariat in Owerri, the state capital.

Nwafor said that the expulsion became necessary in order to save the party from disintegration and electoral misfortunes.

The party chairman accused the APC governorship candidate of sponsoring opposition candidates against the party’s candidates in the state.

He said, “Senator Hope Uzodinma has been sponsoring the All Progressives Grand Alliance Senatorial candidate, Senator Osita Izunaso instead of  the APC Senatorial candidate in Imo West, Governor Rochas Okorocha .”

He has also been running parallel exco in his Omuma ward and issuing party cards without recourse to party excos.”

A statement jointly signed by Nwafor, and the Secretary, Obioma Ireagwu, read, “this is to inform you that the All Progressives Congress, Omuma Ward of Oru East Local Government Area in Imo State has expelled Senator Hope Uzodinma from the party due to certain inordinate and anti-party activities perpetrated by him and his cohorts.”

“The Imo State Working Committee of our great party has examined the processes and procedures of the sanction on Senator Hope Uzodinma by his Ward as affirmed by the Local Government organ of the party in Oru East.

“Conclusively, the State Working Committee satisfied with the procedures and decision of Omuma Ward, hereby affirm the expulsion order as well”.

Court convicts ex-INEC official over Diezani bribe

The Federal High Court in Lagos has convicted Christian Nwosu, an ex-administrative secretary with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), of bribery.

He was convicted on Thursday by Mohammed Idris, the presiding judge.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Nwosu, alongside two other INEC officials, for allegedly taking a bribe of N264.88 million from Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources.

He was found guilty of benefiting from the money Alison-Madueke allegedly doled out to compromise the 2015 elections.

The EFCC said Nwosu collected N30 million from the funds.

During the trial in 2017, Nwosu had admitted to receiving N30m out of the N264.8m, saying he did not benefit from the money but spent it on logistics.

“I did not personally benefit from the N30m,” Nwosu had said.

“The ad hoc staff benefitted because the election went smoothly with the assistance of the logistics support. My commission was aware of the money and the evidence was that the election went smoothly.”

Nwosu said he was forced by the EFCC into admitting that he collected the bribe from Alison-Madueke, adding that the three confessional statements he made to the commission in December 2016 and March 2017 were not given voluntarily.

He also said he was not given the opportunity to consult his lawyer before making the confessional statements.

Ezekwesili only wanted to be finance minister, says ACPN … endorses Buhari

The Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) says it will support President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election bid.

The development is coming hours after Oby Ezekwesili, presidential candidate of the party, withdrew from the race.

On Thursday, Ozioma Ubabukoh, spokesperson of the Obiageli Ezekwesili Presidential Campaign Organisation, said the former education minister will now devote her time in building a coalition that would the defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Speaking with journalists, Gani Galadima, national chairman of the party, said Ezekwesili only wanted to use the ACPN platform to negotiate to be finance minister.

Galadima said the former minister did not show seriousness in her campaign.

“The reason for calling this press conference is to let the world know about the presidential aspiration of Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, which in actual fact, is not the truth. I have been put into confidence by one of her aide named Iyinoluwa Aboyeji that she only wanted to use the platform of the ACPN to negotiate to be Nigeria’s finance minister,” he said.

“This she does not deem fit to inform the party whose mandate she is holding. If you observe, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili is the only presidential candidate who was so militant in her campaign without any tangible thing on ground to indicate any seriousness in the prosecution of her campaign.

“No campaign secretariat, billboard or great commitment on ground to indicate any seriousness. It is on this ground that the ACPN is withdrawing support for her presidential aspiration and endorsing the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari to take Nigeria to the next level.”

Galadima said she did not inform the party of her decision to withdraw from the race.

He asked her to return to the party all the donations “from all over the world” because the party would have to account to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“We may take her to court. She was just using us to play,” he said.

According to the chairman, the party’s fee for expression of interest and nomination form is N10.5 million but she only offered N100,000.

Gana loses as appeal court declares Duke SDP presidential candidate

The Court of Appeal, Abuja division  has declared Donald Duke, former governor of Cross River, as the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The appellate court set aside the judgement of an Abuja high court which declared Jerry Gana, former information minister, as the party’s presidential flagbearer.

Duke had challenged the decision of the lower court.

In its ruling on Thursday, the appeal court declared that Duke is the authentic presidential candidate of the party.

More to follow…

INEC rejects Ezekwesili’s withdrawal from race for president

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is too late for any candidate to withdraw from contesting any position in the upcoming elections.

“It is impossible for any presidential candidate to withdraw from the race now. According to the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the 2019 General Elections, the last day for withdrawal by candidates or replacement of withdrawn candidates by political parties was 17th November 2018 for Presidential and National Assembly Elections, said Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman in a statement

He said November 17 was the last date for withdrawal.

“The deadline for Ezekwesili or any candidate in that category to withdraw or be replaced has passed,” the statement read.

FG files charges against NBC DG over alleged N2.5bn fraud

The Federal Government has charged Modibbo Kawu, Director-General of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC), to an Abuja federal high court over an alleged N2.5 billion fraud.

Pinnacle Communications Limited; its founder, Lucky Omonuwa, and Dipo Onifade, its managing director, were also included in the suit.

The charges were filed following an investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

According to PUNCH, 12 charges were preferred against the accused persons by Henry Emore and Adenekan Shogunle, on behalf of the attorney-general of the federation.

The federal government, had in 2016, released N10 billion to the ministry of information and culture for the digital switchover programme, aimed at the migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms.

A White Paper was issued directing that the process is explicitly handled by government-affiliated companies.

The amount of N1.7 billion was subsequently as seed grant for the commencement of the switchover.

During its investigation, the ICPC said it discovered that the process was fraught with corrupt practices.

It alleged that Kawu fraudulently recommended Pinnacle Communications Limited, a private company, to the ministry for the release of N2.5 billion against the guidelines contained in the White Paper.

According to the charges filed before the court, Kawu’s action contravenes Section 26(1)(c) and is punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.

Kawu was accused of “recommending to the Minister of Information to approve payment of the sum of N2.5bn to Pinnacle Communications Ltd, a private company owned by Sir Lucky Omonuwa as a ‘seed grant’ under the DigitalSwitch-Over programme of the Federal Government when you knew that the company was not entitled to receive such a grant and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 26(1)(c) and punishable under Section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

Omonuwa was accused of transferring N167m out of the N2.5bn to one Daura Mamman, a bureau de change operator, and thereafter taking the dollar equivalent of the sum in cash to his residence in Kaduna.

Kawu and Pinnacle Communications have both denied the allegations.

Kawu had said there was nothing fraudulent in the transaction between the commission and Pinnacles Communications, adding that the firm was paid for services rendered just the way the 1st signal distributor (ITS), an affiliate of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), was paid.

Female lawyer confessed to killing husband, says witness

Female lawyer Udeme Otike-Odibi, has confessed to the killing of her husband Symphorosa Otike-Odibi last year, according to a prosecution witness.

The prosecution witness on Wednesday gave graphic details of the gruesome killing, before an Igbosere High Court, Lagos, News Agency of Nigeria reports.

The witness, Olusegun Bamidele, an assistant superintendent of police in the Homicide Section, State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti, told the court that Udeme, in her statement, confessed to killing her husband and cutting his manhood.

Udeme was arraigned on June 13, 2018 on a two-count charge of murder and misconduct with regard to a corpse by Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Titilayo Shitta-Bey.

According to the prosecutor, Udeme stabbed Symphorosa, also a lawyer, to death and mutilated his corpse by cutting off his genitals on May 3, 2018, at their Diamond Estate, Sangotedo, Lekki, Lagos home.

The prosecutor said the offences contravened Sections 165 (b) and 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

Udeme pleaded not guilty and was remanded in prison custody.

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the prosecutor called Bamidele, a police veteran, as the state’s final witness.

Bamidele told the court that as the head of a team that investigated the killing, he personally recorded the defendant’s statement.

He said that Udeme wrote a detailed confessional statement during an interactive session with her in protective custody in the police hospital.

According to him, the defendant was recuperating from what doctors described as “superficial and self-inflicted wounds,” when she made her statement.

He said the defendant spoke freely after identifying herself as a lawyer.

Bamidele said:

“While she (Udeme) was writing her statement, it was an interactive session. I put questions to her, she would explain it to me and put it down in writing.

“She stated in her statement that she was married to the late Symphorosa and that they were having marital issues.

“She stated that the deceased was having extra-marital affairs and whenever she raised the issue with him, his responses were not satisfactory, he appeared nonchalant.

“She said that on May 2, 2018, she was preparing to travel to United Kingdom when she checked the bedside locker for her marriage certificate. When she could not find it, she went to the deceased where he lay on the bed and asked him about it but there was no response, the response given was not okay.

“She had a discussion with him and there was hot exchange of words, which made her to go to the kitchen and get a frying pan and knife.

“When she returned to where the deceased lay, she hit him on the head with the frying pan and said ‘Tell me, what is in your mind that you are withholding.

“She stated that the deceased called his mother to report her conduct. She continued to hit the deceased on the head again and again. Finally, she confirmed that she used the knife to stab the deceased in his abdomen.

“She also said while the deceased was lying on his back, she was still angry. She sat beside him, looking at his intestines coming out of the deceased and said: ‘If this your joystick is the one that is giving you license to have the feeling of another person, it’s better we cut it off,’ she proceeded to do so with the same knife she used in stabbing him and hanged a piece of the joystick in his right hand”.

Bamidele explained that later that night, Udeme sent her “close friend” Maureen Offor, a WhatsApp message which read: “I have done something terrible.”

NAN further reports that the witness said further investigation showed that she sent two other WhatsApp messages, firstly to the husband of the deceased’s younger sister, Charles Akpoguma, which read: “Just pray for us. May God forgive.”

He said the last message was to her mother in Calabar the same night. It read:

“Sorry mum, we engaged in a fight.”

However, things took a more graphic turn when the prosecution played pictures of the defendant on a hospital bed after the incident and her bloodied deceased husband on his deathbed.

Shitta-Bey also tendered, through Bamidele, several exhibits recovered from the defendant.

They included a big, shiny frying pan allegedly used by the defendant on the deceased, a blood covered kitchen knife Udeme allegedly used in killing Symphorosa, a blood stained pen, four phones, two of which were blood stained, Udeme’s Nigerian and British passports.

But when the prosecutor sought to tender the two statements which Udeme allegedly made to the police, her counsel, Mr Olusegun Banjoko, opposed the admissibility of the statements.

Banjoko prayed the court not to admit the statements as evidence, adding that they were not made in the presence of the defendant’s lawyer as required by law.

Justice Adedayo Akintoye adjourned until February 25 to consider the admissibility of the statements in a trial within trial

Ex-TETFund boss: Why I was sacked

Abdullahi Baffa, former executive secretary of Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETFund), has accused Adamu Adamu, minister of education, of being behind his sack.

He said Adamu accused him of corruption and speaking to the press without permission.

President Muhammadu Buhari fired Baffa on Tuesday and immediately replaced him with Suleiman Bogoro, the agency’s former executive secretary.

In an interview with BBC Hausa Service, Baffa said it was not the first time the minister asked the president to relive him of his duty.

“On Friday night, I was informed at the Presidential Villa that the minister of education came with a letter reporting me to the president,” he was quoted as saying.

He said he had learnt of his removal as well as of the “unfounded” allegations levelled against him from presidency sources.

According to him, “I asked what was my offence? They alleged that the offences were inaccessibility, insubordination and speaking to the press without the minister’s permission.

“Allegation of inaccessibility is unfounded as the minister knows that I spend more time in the ministry as his technical aide than in my TETfund office.”

Baffa also denied that he had ever received a contract or kickbacks from tertiary institutions in the country.

He said the termination of his appointment did not surprise him because of the misunderstandings he has had with minister.

 

BREAKING: Oby Ezekwesili withdraws from presidential race, gives reasons

 Obiageli Ezekwesili, on Thursday stepped aside from the presidential race to help build a coalition to defeat the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party in the February 16, 2019 election.

In a statement issued by the spokesperson for the Obiageli Ezekwesili Presidential Campaign Organisation, Ozioma Ubabukoh, Ezekwesili was quoted as saying that her decision to withdraw from the race followed extensive discussions with Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.

According to her, the action was also prompted by an examination of the country’s electoral environment sequel to the 2019 presidential debate on Saturday, January 19, 2019.

“This decision followed extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days. I deem it necessary for me to focus on helping to build a veritable coalition to ensure a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the forthcoming elections,” the statement read.

She said, “It is my ardent belief that this broad coalition for a viable alternative has now become more than ever before, an urgent mission for and on behalf of Nigerian citizens. I have therefore chosen to lead the way in demonstrating the much needed patriotic sacrifice for our national revival and redirection.

“I wish to state that over the past three months, I have been in private, but extended talks with other candidates to birth a coalition that would allow Nigerians to exercise their choice without feeling helplessly encumbered by the evil twins of #APCPDP.

“While the deliberations continued, In ever hesitated for a moment in my willingness and determination to sacrifice my candidacy in order to facilitate the emergence of the envisaged strong and viable alternative that Nigerians could identify with in our collective search for a new
beginning.

“My commitment to this promising political recalibration has been consistent and in consonance with my agreement, at the request of candidates under the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together, PACT, arrangement in 2018, when I consented to supervise the internal selection process as an outside observer passionate about building an alternative force.”

Ezekwesili also said, “despite resistance from the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria on these and other issues, I have decided that it is now necessary to show by action and example my determination on this issue by stepping down my candidacy so as to focus squarely on building the coalition to a logical conclusion.

“We have no right to allow citizens give in to despair. We will #Fight4Naija together and prove to all that the mess, which the political class has now become, should not be allowed to destroy our spirits and nation. We are also determined to ensure that the message keeps resonating that our beloved country deserves better, and that we will get the best that we deserve.”

She added, “From last year, when I joined the presidential race, I made it clear to Nigerians that the country has always had a 20-year cycle of change – 1958, 1979, and 1999. As such, 2019 begins another 20-year cycle, and together with all Nigerians of good will, I stand ready to play my part to ensure that we do not miss this golden opportunity to sing a new song.

“There is no more time to waste. Let’s get to work!”

Meanwhile, Ubabukoh thanked Nigerians, including campaign donors and volunteers, who supported Ezekwesili, saying that “every money donated to the campaign and funds spent will be accounted for in the coming days.”

Alleged N7.2bn fraud: Court awaits fresh directive for continuation of Kalu’s trial

Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday said that the court would await further directives to proceed with the trial of a former Governor of Abia, Orji Kalu, facing charges of N7.2 billion fraud.

Kalu, a chieftain of the ruling APC, was alleged to have committed the offence between August 2001 and October 2005.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Kalu together with his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo and a company, Slok Nigeria Ltd., for the alleged offences.

On Oct. 31, 2016, the EFCC preferred a 34-count charge, bordering on N3.2 billion fraud against the accused.

The charges were however, amended and the charges increased to 39 counts.

Kalu and the others had each pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Justice Idris, who has been sitting as trial judge over the criminal charge against Kalu, has been elevated to the Court of Appeal.

He had, however, been conducting trial in the case, following a fiat, authorising him to continue with the trial.

At the last adjourned date on Nov. 12, 2018, Kalu was absent from trial, after being absent on a previous adjourned date of Nov. 5, 2018.

Although, defence counsel had informed the court that he was away for medical treatment in Germany, the court had revoked his bail and ordered that at the point of his entry into the country, he must submit relevant travelling documents and himself to the EFCC, failing which he would be arrested.

The court had then adjourned the case until Jan. 23, for continuation of trial.

On Wednesday, the Prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), appearing for the prosecution, informed the court that in spite of its order, the accused had refused to submit himself or his travelling documents to the EFCC.

He argued that such attitude constituted a clear disregard for the court, adding that in the circumstance, he would urge the court to give effect to the provisions of Section 352(4) of the ACJA, and continue with the trial of the accused even in his absence.

According to Jacobs, the court should order defence to call its witnesses, failing which the court is allowed by the provisions of the law, to close their case.

Responding, Counsel to the accused, Mr Awa Kalu (SAN), expressed his displeasure with the submissions of the prosecution, noting that such arguments as canvassed by Jacobs should be put in an affidavit for the defence to reply.

The court, however, in its reaction, informed parties that although the case had been adjourned for continuation of trial, the fiat issued by the presiding judge of the appellate court expired at the end of November 2018.

He said that on Jan. 10, he had received fresh fiat in respect of some other matters before him, adding that the instant case was not mentioned.

Idris said that for this reason, he had strong doubt if he should continue with proceedings, adding that it was important he acted with abundant caution.

“I should not proceed further, otherwise, I will be acting without authority. So, in the circumstance, I am of the view that further proceedings shouldn’t go on, until I receive further instructions,” he said.

The court added that as soon as such notice was received, hearing notices would be served on counsel.

Kalu was alleged to have utilised his company to retain in the account of a First Inland Bank, now FCMB, the sum of N200 million.

The sum is alleged to have formed part of funds illegally derived from the coffers of the Abia State Government.

In one of the counts, his company (Slok Nig. Ltd.) and one Emeka Abone, who is said to be at large, were also alleged to have retained in the company’s account the sum of N200 million on behalf of the first accused.

In counts one to 10, the accused were alleged to have retained about N2.5 billion in different accounts, which funds were said to belong to the Abia State Government.

Cumulatively, in all the counts, the accused were alleged to have diverted over N7.2 billion from the Abia State government’s treasury, during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 15(6), 16, and 21 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2005.

It also contravenes the provisions of the Money Laundering Act of 1995 as amended by the Amendment Act No.9 of 2002 and Section 477 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation, 1990.

-NAN

Cocaine found in Chris Brown’s hotel room ‘was not his’ —Lawyer

French police probing rape claims against American R&B star Chris Brown found cocaine and cannabis in his Paris hotel suite, his lawyer said Wednesday while denying that the cocaine belonged to the singer.

Brown’s French lawyer, Raphael Chiche, confirmed that the 29-year-old was found in possession of cannabis during his arrest at the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel on Monday night over claims that he assaulted a woman a week earlier.

But the Grammy Award-winning singer had a note from his American doctor covering his use of the drug for medicinal purposes, Chiche said.

The cocaine found “was not his” and “belonged to those who had come to party in his suite on the night of January 20-21,” the lawyer added.

Brown, his bodyguard and a friend were arrested after a 25-year-old woman accused them of raping her in the Mandarin Oriental, where he was staying while attending shows during men’s fashion week in the French capital.

After being held for 24 hours the three were released without charge on Tuesday night.

Chiche said his client wanted to bring a defamation lawsuit.

“He says he had no sexual relations of any sort with the complainant,” Chiche said.

The singer, who denies the allegations, posted a picture on his Instagram account after his release that read “This B!tch Lyin’”.

“I WANNA MAKE IT PERFECTLY CLEAR…… THIS IS FALSE AND A WHOLE LOT OF CAP! (sic),” he posted next to the picture.

– Still under investigation –
The prosecutor’s office said the three men were still under investigation on suspicion of aggravated rape and a drugs offence.

The alleged victim told police she met Brown in a nightclub near the Champs-Elysees avenue with a group of other women on the night of January 15.

She then agreed to go back to the singer’s hotel, on the glitzy boutique-lined Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore.

Chiche said that his client was now free to return to the United States but would continue to cooperate with investigators and “will come back if he has to”.

Brown has been in the news more for his legal troubles than his hit releases in recent years.

In 2009 he was convicted of beating fellow singer Rihanna, his girlfriend at the time, who was forced to miss the Grammy Awards because of her injuries.

Brown was sentenced to five years’ probation and six months of community service for the assault.

In 2014 he pleaded guilty to assaulting a fan in Washington and two years later he was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon following a standoff with Los Angeles police officers.

He is best known for his hits in the mid-2000s such as “Kiss, Kiss” and “Run It”.

(AFP)

 

CCT Trial: FG applies for Onnoghen to step aside

The Federal Government has applied for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, to step aside to enable him defend himself over allegations of non-declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

Counsel to the Federal Government in the case, Aliu Umar, made the submission at the resumed sitting of the Tribunal on Tuesday.

Mr Umar, however, added that the government is not seeking for the removal of the CJN.

Atiku didn’t travel to US as my aide —Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki says the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, did not travel to the United States as an aide to the Senate President.

The All Progressives Congress had said Atiku was finally allowed to travel to the US because he posed as an aide to Saraki.

Speaking on AIT’s Kakaaki programme on Wednesday, Saraki, who is the Director-General, Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, described the allegation as nonsensical.

He said, “These are desperate claims. When you are campaigning and you see that you have suffered a setback, just move on and don’t make a fool of yourself. To say the candidate travelled on my merit is not true.

“He applied for his visa, was given the visa and he was invited to attend functions. How do you do that? How do you travel as an aide? That is ridiculous! They know it. It is very difficult for them to respond because they have sold a lot of propaganda and lies to Nigerians.

“I remember when we sat a lot of young people down when we started and introduced him (Atiku) as our candidate and they said they would support him because he has a good agenda for the youth and knows how to create jobs but the concern was that the government said Atiku could not travel to America and how can we have a President that cannot travel to America?

“And he (Atiku) always said it was not a problem but it was important for us to address the problem and put it behind us and because the other party was using it as propaganda, we decided to go to America and instead of them to keep quiet and move on, they say he went as my aide.”

Saraki also lambasted the Buhari-led government for operating an opaque fuel subsidy regime.

The Senate President, who exposed subsidy fraud at the National Assembly in 2011, said the corruption was still taking place.

He admitted that corruption thrived under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s subsidy regime but argued that Buhari’s own was worse because his government was give money to marketers  with funds that were not approved by the National Assembly.

TUC condemns N70,000 passport fee as exploitative

The Trade Union Congress has condemned the N70,000 fee imposed by the Nigerian Immigration Service for the new 10-year passport saying the figure was insensitive and exploitative.

In a statement issued on Wednesday,  TUC said the amount meant that the least paid civil servant would have to save his salary for three months to obtain the new passport.

Below is the full statement:

We have received with shock the move by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to raise the price of new International passport to N70,000 effective for March 4th 2019. This is condemnable and insensitive on the part of the agency.

Sometimes, one wonders where our privileged Nigerians think from. For over two years now, we have been fighting for a new wage of N30,000 without any meaningful breakthrough. Only yesterday we read that the Council of State, which was never a part of the tripartite committee set up by the Federal Government, pegged the new wage at N27,000. By implication if this anti-masses conspiracy is allowed to scale through, it then means a civil servant would have to save his salary for three months to be able to pay for a passport. What about feeding, rent, school fees and other utilities bills? This will not work.

Come to think of it, we have not even received the new wage, yet government and its agencies are already devising numerous avenues to get the money back. Who knows what Customs, FRSC, FIRS, etc have in the offing? Most Nigerians who cannot get National Identify Card prefer to use the International Passport for transactions. Unfortunately, that opportunity is about to be scuttled because of greed and avarice.

If the concern of government is to stop Nigerians from traveling, that may not work as they have failed to make the country habitable by creating jobs, infrastructure, good schools, healthcare, etc. Is it not despicable that Ghana is now doing far better in FDIs? Telling us whenever we ask for a wage increase that the price of crude has dropped is unfair. Crude is not our only source of revenue.

Nigerians all over the world in their millions renew their International Passports weekly, if not daily. Where is the money? We expect that in this era of integrity, there should be accountability.

The Congress condemns in its entirety what the NIS has proposed, and may adopt any measure we consider right to ensure that the new International passport does not exceed N50,000.

Comrade (Dr.) Bobboi Bala Kaigama
President, TUC

Comrade (Barr.) Musa-Lawal Ozigi, mni
Secretary General, TUC

Hackers who stole N466m from Polaris Bank get N1m bail each

Justice Mohammed Tukur of the Kaduna State High Court has granted bail to five hackers, Bashir Abdullahi Mohammed, Oche Ogenyi, Adefila Taofile Kayode, Rabiu Aliko Lawal and Mmadu Mathew, standing trial on a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and stealing to the tune of N466 million.

They were arraigned on January 16, 2019 for allegedly hacking into Polaris Bank’s application to defraud the bank of the said sum.

They had fraudulently increased the N781,000 in one of the customer’s bank account to N466 million.

 

One of the counts reads: “That you Bashir Abdullahi Mohammed, Oche Ogenyi, Adefila Taofile Kayode, Rabiu Aliko Lawal and Mmadu Mathew Onyekachi, and others at large sometime in 2018 in Kaduna within the judicial Division of the High Court did conspire amongst yourselves to commit theft of the sum of N446m and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 58(1) of the Penal code and punishable under Section 59(1) of the Same Law”.
They had pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

The trial judge granted them bail in the sum of N1 million each and one surety in like sum, who must have a landed property within Kaduna metropolis.
The case has been adjourned to March 13, 2019 for hearing.

Nigeria’s debt fast approaching pre-2005 Paris Club level, CBN warns

The monetary policy committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned that the federal government’s debt levels could be fast approaching the pre-2005 levels.

Reading the communique of the committee’s decision at the end of its bi-monthly meeting on Tuesday, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, said: “On external borrowing, the committee noted the increase in debt level advising for caution, noting that it could fast be approaching the pre-2005 Paris Club level.”

On October 20, 2005, Nigeria reached an $18 billion debt relief agreement with Paris Club. Nigeria was required to pay $12.4 billion of its $30 billion debt stock in three tranches.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was the minister of finance at that time, led the Nigerian delegation while Xavier Muscat, chairman of the Paris Club, led the 15-member club to sign the agreement.

The deal saw Nigeria exit the club completely after the final payment was made on April 21, 2006.

According to data released by the Debt Management Office, Nigeria’s external debt stood at $21.6 billion as at September 30.

Speaking on the federal government’s plan to raise more revenue through value-added tax, Emefiele said the committee was of the view that it would help reduce pressure on government expenditure.

“The committee also noted the attempts by the government to broaden the base of the Value Added Tax and urge the authorities to expedite action in that effect, arguing that increased tax collection will reduce pressure on government expenditure and create fiscal buffers to improve macroeconomic management,” he said.

The monetary policy rate was retained at 14% while the Cash Reserves Ratio was maintained at 22.5%.

Liquidity ratio was left at 30% and the Asymmetric Window was left at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

Danjuma alleges plot to use police, soldiers to rig elections

Theophilus Danjuma, former minister of defence, says the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has plans to use police and soldiers to rig the coming elections.

The retired army general made the allegation on Tuesday at the inauguration of a medical laboratory at the Rufkatu Danjuma Maternity Hospital in Takum, his hometown in Taraba state.

Describing Nigeria’s democracy as primitive, he said there is a plan to cause unrest that would make some states ungovernable in order to manipulate the elections.

“We must work hard for peace in addition to just registering and obtaining our permanent voter cards,” he said.

“There is no need to fight one another because they will use the police and soldiers to destabilise us and rig the elections.

“It is in our best interest to ensure there is peace. Those behind this plot know that they will not win elections if there is peace. I want to call on you not to sell your votes because you will be selling your birthright if you do so.”

The US had also raised concerns over the neutrality of security agencies in the elections, starting in February.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had also questioned the impartiality and competence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a credible election.