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Oshiomhole salutes Obaseki’s accomplishments, commissions 75 new intra-city buses

The former Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, on Friday saluted the laudable achievements of his successor, Governor Godwin Obaseki, despite the country’s economic challenges.

Oshiomhole gave the commendation while commissioning 75 new intra-city buses purchased by the Obaseki-led administration, to boost the fleet of the Comrade Bus scheme, an initiative of the former governor.

“I am humbled by your accomplishments and I am proud that you are fulfilling all the promises that we made during the 2016 electioneering campaign. You are working tirelessly to industrialise the state and make life easy for the people,” Oshiomhole said. 

He noted that Obaseki was building on his legacy and delivering the dividends of democracy at a time “many governors are complaining that there is no money and they are unable to pay salaries.”

The former governor said: “You have developed your own creativity to attract resources to the state and this reflects your competence and ability to develop the economy of the state.

Governor Obaseki explained that public transportation is a core and strategic sector to focus on, as it impacts directly on the lives of the masses. He said the buses will improve the quality of intra-city transport service in the state.

He added that the revamp of the Edo State Traffic Management Agency(EDSTMA), rehabilitation of feeder roads across the state, the on-going construction of an ultra-modern bus terminal and prohibition of street trading, show the commitment of the present administration towards changing the face of the sector.

He said his administration was working on phasing out rickety commercial buses in the state and refurbish 70 of the old Daewoo buses. 

On the absence of a regulatory body in the transport sector, Obaseki assured that his administration was working on a bill for the establishment of a regulatory agency for the sector.

Managing Director of Edo City Transport Service Ltd. (ECTS), Mrs Edugie Agbonlahor, said the introduction of the new buses would revitalise the Edo Comrade Bus Scheme and put smiles on the faces of passengers.

Commissioner for Infrastructure, Engr. Osahon Amiolemen, said his ministry would build a befitting head office for the ECTS and bus terminals across the state.

 

EFCC launches probe as $500m Abacha loot is ‘re-looted’

Where is $500 million recovered from the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s family?

This is the question the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is battling to answer.

The cash was recovered from the family of the late Head of State during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

It was repatriated from slush accounts in foreign jurisdictions.

The foreign governments,  which released the loot to the Federal Government after hard negotiations,  demanded that the cash be used for concrete developments, including infrastructure, such as roads, water, healthcare and education.

EFCC detectives tracking the $500million have discovered that it was diverted.

Of the $500million, about $250million was released to the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA)during the tenure of Col. Sambo Dasuki without appropriation. The balance of $250million cannot be traced yet.

The Nation learnt that detectives discovered that the $250million was illegally withdrawn barely two months to the end of Jonathan’s administration.

Investigators are said to be working on clues that part of the cash was spent on “extraneous matters, including media services, opinion polls and personal matters”.

According to a fact-sheet on the investigation, the $250million was withdrawn between March 2, 2015 and April 21, 2015.

About $36,155,000 (N13,015,800billion) of the $250million was also withdrawn in cash “without any purpose” on March 2nd, 9th, 16th and 18th of 2015.

Detectives have retrieved documents relating to the alleged “re-looting” of the Abacha loot.

In the fact-sheet, the ONSA in a memo of January 12, 2015, asked the former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to transfer $300million .

The memo said: “Please refer to our meeting on recovered funds.  You are pleased requested to remit the sum of $300m and £5.5m to the following account being ONSA share as agreed. Account name: CBN (NSA Foreign Operation; Account number: -100367-USD-CABANK30

Bank;  Address: 28, Finsbury Circus, London. Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”

Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala, in a memo to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, requested for $300m from the Abacha loot.

Only $250million was released to the ex-NSA.

The January 20, 2015 memo said: “Attached,  please find a request by the NSA for the transfer of $300m and British pounds (£5.5m) of the recovered Abacha funds to ONSA operations account. The NSA has explained that this is to enable purchase of ammunition, security and other intelligence equipment for the security agencies in order to enable them confront the ongoing Boko Haram threat.

“His request is sequel to the meeting you chaired with the committee on use of recovered funds where decision was made that recovered Abacha funds would be split 50-50 between urgent security needs to confront Boko Haram and development needs (including a portion for the Future Generations window of Sovereign Wealth Fund).

“This letter is to seek your approval to borrow these funds, for now, to disburse to the NSA. These funds form part of projected FG Independent Revenue to be appropriated.

“In light of this and for accountability, given the peculiar nature of security and intelligence transactions, we would expect the NSA to account to your Excellency for the utilisation of the funds.”

On January 29, 2015, the ex-President responded to the ex-Minister as follows: “CME/HMF, approved.”

To back his approval, Dr. Jonathan through his Senior Special Assistant  (Admin) Matt Aikhionbare,  in a memo of January 30, 2015 said: “RE: Request by NSA for transfer of funds.” I am directed to forward Ref A to you and convey to you Mr. President’s approval. Humbly submitted for your further action, Ma’am.”

Detectives have discovered that only $250million out of the $300million requested was paid to ONSA.

16/2/15

In a letter of February 16, 2015, the then Director of Funds of the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. M.K. Dikwa, in a memo to the CBN Governor, conveyed the mandate to transfer the $250million.

The memo said: “. You are hereby requested to immediately effect fund transfer as below($250m) being amount disbursed to enable for the purchase of ammunition, security and other intelligence equipment for the security agencies in order to enable them fully confront the ongoing Boko Haram threat.

“As per Mr. President’s approval  on CME-HMF/FMF/2015/18 dated 20th January 2015 conveyed via State Houses letter No PRES/87/MF /-2/520 dated 30th January 2015. NSA’s letter Ref. No. NSA/362/5 dated 5th March 2015 also refers.”

A source said: “The $250million was duly approved by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan; the ex-NSA did not commit any infractions. He acted in the interest of the country.

It is incorrect for EFCC to assume that the $250million was diverted because it was used to purchase vital equipment.”

A table of how the $250million was spent was obtained by our correspondent last night.

An EFCC source, who spoke in confidence, said: “We will need to interact with the former Minister of Finance, Okonjo-Iweala, to guide us on the contents of her letter,  especially on the legality of the withdrawal of the $250million.

“We will find out  what she meant by to ‘borrow these funds’ and these ‘funds form part of projected FG Independent Revenue to be appropriated.’ She should assist investigators on whether or not the ex-NSA accounted to Jonathan for the ‘utilization of the funds.’

A former Chairman of the EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, had claimed that Abacha “took over $6 billion from Nigeria”. He also said $2 billion was recovered when he was in charge of the anti-graft agency.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project(SERAP) had through its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, on 21 September 2015 sent an access to information request to the President, World Bank Group, asking him to “exercise the bank’s prerogative to release documents relating to spending of recovered assets stolen by late Gen. Sani Abacha”.

SERAP asked the World Bank President to “disclose information about the Bank’s role in the implementation of any projects funded by the recovered assets and any other on-going repatriation initiatives on Nigeria with which the bank is engaged.”

It said: “The request is pursuant to the World Bank’s Access to Information Policy (The Policy), approved by the Board on June 30 2015. SERAP notes that one of the policy’s guiding principles is to maximise access to information. There is also clear public interest in Nigerians knowing about the Bank’s supervisory role and specifically its involvement in the implementation of projects on which repatriated funds were spent.”

But Okonjo-Iweala in 2015 insisted that she had no case to answer.

She said: “Former President Jonathan set up a Committee comprising the former Minister of Justice, former NSA and the former Minister of Finance to determine how best to use both the returned  and expected funds for development.

“The NSA made a case for using the returned funds for urgent security operations since, he noted, there cannot be any development without peace and security. Based on this, a decision was taken to deploy about $322m for the military operations, while the expected $700m would be applied for development programmes as originally conceived.

“Following the discussions and based on the urgency of the NSA’s memo, Dr Okonjo-Iweala requested the President to approve the transfer of the requested amount to the NSA’s Office for the specified purposes.

“But, as captured in the memo, she insisted on three conditions: a. only a part, not the entire Abacha funds would be spent on the arms; the rest would be invested in developmental projects as originally conceived b. the money was to be treated as borrowed funds which would be paid back as soon as possible c. the NSA’s office was to account for the spending to the President who was the Commander in Chief, given the fact that the Minister of Finance is not part of the security architecture and does not participate in the Security Council.

“The attempt to link the former Minister’s name to any misuse of these funds for any purpose other than security as far as she understood it is totally false and cannot stand.”

The Nation

MPC meeting ‘stalled’ over senate’s refusal to confirm CBN nominees

The refusal of the senate to confirm presidential nominees for vacant positions in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has affected the first monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting of 2018, according to Channels TV.

The meeting was initially scheduled for January 22 and January 23.

But quoting sources, the television station said the apex bank would issue a statement on Monday to announce the new dates that the meeting will hold.

At present, there are five members available — whereas the quorum is six out of 12 members, as defined by the second schedule of the CBN Act.

On July 4, the senate said it would suspend all executive confirmation requests until Ibrahim Magu is removed as the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The senate had refused to confirm Magu over allegations of corruption. He has remained in an acting position for the past two years.

The MPC committee comprises of CBN governor, the four deputy governors of the apex bank; two members of the board of directors of the CBN; three members appointed by the president; and two members appointed by the governor of the bank.

In October 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Aisha Ahmad as a deputy governor of the CBN to replace Sarah Alade, who retired from the bank in June.

Adeola Adenikinju, Aliyu Sanusi, Robert Asogwa and Asheikh Maidugu were also nominated as members to fill the positions of four others whose tenure were to expire at the end of 2017.

But the presidential nominees have not been considered at all.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Godwin Emefiele, governor of the apex bank, expressed optimism that the nominees would be confirmed.

Pope officiates historic wedding 36,000 feet in the air

Pope Francis conducted an impromptu wedding of flight attendants on his way to Iquique from Santiago during a three-day visit to Chile.

The ceremony which happened some 36,000 feet over Chile, will be the first of its kind, Vatican officials say.

During his flight to Iquique January 18, 2017, the Pope was approached by LatAm flight steward Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and asked for a blessing for him and his wife, stewardess Paula Podest Ruiz.

Paula Podest, 39, and Carlos Ciufardi, 41, have been civilly married for years and were both working as flight attendants on the Catholic leader’s plane.

Ciuffardi told the Pope how he was supposed to have been married in their home parish in Santiago, February 27, 2010. However, tragedy struck when an earthquake destroyed the church. Eight years later, they remained only civilly married.

According to Catholic News Service, the Pope asked the couple if they were willing to get married on the plane and they answered yes.

At that moment, the pope surprised the couple by offering to marry them right there on the plane.

Ciuffardi said the pope asked the couple, “Well, do you want to get married?”

“I said, ‘Well, yes.  Then the pope said, “Are YOU sure?’ I told him, ‘Yes! Let’s get married,”

The groom hurriedly asked his boss and president of LatAm airline, Ignacio Cueto, to be his best man and one of the Vatican prelates drew up a handwritten marriage certificate.

“The pope said it was historic! Never has a pope performed a wedding on a plane!” Ciuffardi said.

The pope was on his way from Santiago, Chile, to Iquique before heading to Peru later in the day.

JUST IN: Court nullifies installation of 21 kings by Gov Ajimobi

An Oyo State High Court presided over by Justice Olajumoke Aiki on Friday declared the review of the 1957 Olubadan Chieftaincy Declaration and other Related Chieftaincies in Ibadan land by the Justice Akintunde Boade Review Commission, which was set up by the Oyo State Government, as unconstitutional, illegal, null, void and of no effect.

The commission had recommended, among others, the creation of several monarchs in Ibadan which led to the installation of 21 kings by the state Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

But the Osi Olubadan of Ibadan land, Rashidi Ladoja, challenged the composition and recommendations of the commission in court, joining Ajimobi as co-defendant.

While delivering judgment, Aiki held that wearing of beaded crowns is beyond the purview of sections 10, 12 and 25 of the Oyo State Chiefs Law, stating that Section 25 of the Chiefs Law could not be treated in isolation to the provisions of Parts Two and Three of the Chiefs Laws.

The court also said provisions of Parts Two and Three of the Chiefs Laws, particularly sections 10, 12 and 25, did not give power to the governor to review the Olubadan chieftaincy declaration, while also restraining the government from accepting and implementing the reports of the commission.

Airtel pulls out of bid for 9Mobile

Airtel Nigeria did not submit a final bid for 9mobile despite being on the shortlist of five.

Also, although Globacom and Helios Investment Partners LLP submitted bids, they did not make any financial offer for the troubled telco, according to a report by The Cable.

TheCable understands that Teleology Holdings Limited submitted a bid in excess of $500 million while Smile Telecoms Holdings quoted close to $300 million.

Effectively, only two companies made financial offers by the January 16 deadline.

Airtel’s U-turn came as a surprise to industry experts who had expected the company to push all the way through in order to become the largest operator in the country.

It would automatically have grown from being number three to number one by increasing its numbers to 52 million for voice and 33.5 million for internet if it emerged the preferred bidder.

‘HIDDEN THINGS’

It was learnt that Airtel decided to pull out because “many things are not too plain with the entire process”.

“Airtel believes too many things are hidden about the health of 9mobile, and that it is too risky for anyone to buy the company. Things became compounded with the court case by Spectrum Wireless. Remember  the Strive Masiyiwa case over the ownership of Econet which hurt the company for a long time,” an insider in the deal told TheCable.

Spectrum Wireless, a shareholder of Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service (EMTS) — which owns the 9mobile licence — went to court against United Capital Trustees Limited — representatives of the debtors — in order to stop the constitution of an interim board for 9mobile after the take-over in July 2017.

Although it lost the case then, the federal high court later nullified the ex parte order, and United Securities has now gone on appeal.

Airtel, which started out as Econet Wireless in 2001, went through a litany of boardroom crises as a result of litigation by Masiyiwa.

DEBT OVERHANG

In July 2017, 9mobile, then known as Etisalat Nigeria, was taken over by banks following a N541 billion debt overhang.

Mubadala Group, the major investor from the United Arab Emirates, pulled out of Nigeria’s fourth largest mobile operator as a result of the debt owed to a consortium of 13 banks.

The telco was then put on sale, with Barclays Africa acting as transaction advisers.

The shortlisted companies are: Teleology Holdings Limited, promoted by Adrian Wood, the pioneer CEO of MTN Nigeria; Smile Telecoms Holdings, a telco operating in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo DR and South Africa; and Helios Investment Partners LLP, an investment company.

Others are Bharti Airtel, an Indian telco that owns Airtel Nigeria, and Globacom, the Nigerian company owned by Mike Adenuga Jnr.

The telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), is expected to play a key role in the final decision of the interim board.

PPMC: We don’t need to consult national assembly over fuel subsidy

The managing director of the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Umar Ajiya has said that the act establishing the NNPC covers for any extra cost incurred on importation.

Ajiya was speaking on Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels TV, on Friday.

PPMC, a subsidiary of NNPC, handles the distribution of petroleum products.

Senators had described the extra payments on petrol as illegal because the oil firm did not seek approval from parliament.

But Ajiya disagreed with their position.

“The act establishing us, and the national assembly knows clearly that in that same act, there is a provision that we can run our operations and recover our cost fully,” he said.

“There is a difference between the landing cost and the price we are selling clearly but that is part of our core structure.

“The NNPC act is a law in itself and the national assembly is the one responsible for enacting laws so if there is any remedy or solution as one of the senators said, the issue is to look into the act establishing these entities NNPC, CBN etc.”

However, Ajiya refused to use the term subsidy, saying: “For us, it is not a question of subsidy, we don’t know what subsidy is because it was not budgeted for. ”

During the height of petrol scarcity in December, Maikanti Baru, NNPC group managing director, said the landing cost of petrol had increased to N171.

Marketers had complained that they could not be selling the products at N145 when the landing had reached N171.

But Ajiya agreed that the corporation had been paying N26 to make up for the gap between the landing cost and approved pump price.

He said being the sole importer has put a burden on the finances of NNPC.

“It’s not totally in favour of NNPC. Let me clarify one fact, NNPC is not desirous of being the sole importer of products because for one, it puts a severe burden on our financial position as a corporation,” he said.

“It is a welcome idea if there are opportunities for private marketers to import, it is a highly welcome idea.”

Court bars Anglican church from conducting man’s burial

An Abia State High Court sitting at Aba, has barred the St.Michaels Anglican Church ,Aba, from conducting the burial of one Mr. Davidsonson Chukwuemeka Chigbo over a suit filed by his children against a woman who claims to be his wife.

Represented by their counsel, Chidozie Ogunji; Children of the late Chigbo , Chukwueweta, Ebelechukwu, Ikenna and Chukwunonyelum, who are the applicants in the matter stated that they have buried their father on 9th December, 2017, at Eziowelle, Anamra state, and wondered why the defendant, Mrs Ihuoma Florence Ekomaru, who they claimed was not lawfully married to their father, has engaged the Anglican church, Aba, to conduct another burial on Friday, 19th January.

In his argument, Ogunji insisted that if the burial was allowed to hold on Friday, it will cause a breach of peace and urged the court to grant an injunction stopping the defendant from conducting the burial until the determination of the motion on notice.

In his ruling, Justice L.T.C.Eruba, granted an injunction stopping the defendant from holding the burial and adjourned the matter to January 22, 2017, for motion on notice.

“That leave be and is hereby granted to the claimants /Applicants to serve the defendant with the originating court processes and all other court processes in the suit by substituted means to wit: By pasting the same at the front door of her usual or known place of abode and other court processes in this suit be delivered to te Cathedral Administrator of St.Michaels and All Angels Cathedral Diocese, Anglican Commuinion,Aba for delivery to the defendant.”

‘Herdsmen’ kill pregnant woman in Ekiti

Suspected herdsmen have killed a pregnant woman at Orin, a community in Ido/Osi local government area of Ekiti state.

The deceased said to be a Tiv from Benue state, was reportedly shot dead at a farm settlement in the area.

“The woman was eight-month pregnant. The herdsmen shot her inside her farm,” a source told TheCable.

The police have not issued a statement on the incident but Lere Olayinka, spokesman of  Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti, confirmed that a pregnant woman was killed.

Olayinka said it is suspected to be a robbery attack.

“I don’t think they are herdsmen. It appears like a robbery attack,” he told TheCable.

The tragic incident happened less than 24 hours after Fayose warned against reprisal attacks in the state.

This followed the killing of Babuga Dengi, a herdsman, based in Ekiti.

Fayose had said preliminary investigation showed that Benue indigenes in the state were responsible for the death.

Court affirms proscription of IPOB

The federal high court in Abuja has affirmed the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Governors of the south-east had proscribed the group and branded it a terrorist organisation.

Subsequently, the federal government outlawed the group and proscribed its activities in every part of the country.

Abubakar Malami, minister of justice, had filed an ex-parte motion filed motion asking the court to proscribe the the group.

Malami cited section 2 of the terrorism ‎prevention act and listed IPOB as the only respondent in the suit which was marked FHC/ABJ/CS/871/2017.

The matter was not heard in the open court but in the chambers of Abdu Kafarati, acting chief judge of the federal high court.

Kafarati, after listening to the application, granted the applicant’s prayer and consequently ordered the proscription of the group.

In protest, IPOB filed a suit to challenge the action. It asked the court to reverse the proscription order.

But in his ruling on Thursday,  Kafarati upheld the proscription order.

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB, has not be seen in public since September.