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Presidency blasts UK lawmaker over warning to investors about risk in Nigeria

The presidency has criticised Priti Patel, former UK secretary of state for international development, for advising investors to be cautious about doing business in Nigeria.

Patel, a member of UK parliament, had made her position known in an op-ed for London business newspaper, City A.M.

She accused President Muhammadu Buhari of cancelling a “compensation settlement” after the Nigerian government reneged on a natural gas development refinery contract with Irish firm, Process and Industrial Development (P&ID).

The lawmaker also said the Nigerian government flouts international law, refuses to respect court decisions, adding that “there has been no reduction in corruption since Buhari took office”.

Reacting in a statement on Tuesday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, described Patel’s claims as a “wicked proposition” which is “lacking in substance and devoid of merit in empirical evidence established by facts”.

The statement read in part: “Her claim to the effect that despite the President’s public anti-corruption platform, Nigeria has not seen any reduction in corruption since Buhari took office, trumpeting a so-called Transparency International report is a false fabrication that cannot be supported by the facts on the ground.

“By the time President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in and took office, the only amount in the anti-corruption recovery account over 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was only two billion Naira (N2bn).

“This account has succeeded in netting over four hundred billion Naira (N400 bn) as of today, translating to 1,360 percent increase. This cannot amount to nothing in terms of progress.

“When it comes to policy decisions, this government has put in place instruments that have extraordinarily and unprecedentedly reduced corruption and corrupt practices.

“The issue raised about the lack of security of investment is equally false and untenable. Nigerian has recognized the right of the investor, both local and foreign, as enshrined in our constitution which states clearly that no investment can be taken from its owners without recourse to the law. Given the constitution, you don’t even need international protection for assets held in this country.

“In addition to the constitution, there exist several laws allowing protection for investments. Beyond this, this administration has moved forward by recognizing arbitration processes. The judiciary in the country has a Practice Code to give legitimacy to awards and arbitration clauses in agreements.

“Cumulatively, we have established a proper climate of investment on account of which, the nation has gained 24 points of excellence in the global ease of doing business index.

“As for the specific case of the agreement in 2010, between the NNPC and the P&ID for a 20-year contract to create a new natural gas development refinery, which appears to be her main issue, a project that fell through after a past Nigerian government reneged on its contractual commitments, we do not wish to plead the government’s case in the press.

“Suffice it to say that the government of Nigeria, in recognition of the sanctity of the judiciary, has submitted to the jurisdiction of a court in the United States to determine the issues in dispute.

“What we can only say at this point is that Nigerians need to pity their own country for the way things were done in the past.

Before the coming of the Buhari administration, there existed in the country a racket encompassing elements in the three arms of government, the executive, legislature and the judiciary through the activities of which artificial, engineered and factored breaches of contract are made, judgments are obtained, appeals are delayed and the penalty imposed is paid and shared.”

Otedola testifies in court, says Farouk Lawan demanded $500,000 bribe from him

Femi Otedola, founder of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, says Farouk Lawan, a former lawmaker, demanded $500,000 bribe from him.

Lawan is a former chairman of a house of representatives committee probing the multi-billion naira fuel subsidy fraud.

He chaired the probe committee in the seventh assembly.

The former lawmaker is accused of receiving money from Otedola to remove Zenon from the list of oil companies allegedly involved in the fuel subsidy fraud.

He was charged by the office of the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) for allegedly receiving bribe.

During the hearing of the case at a federal capital territory (FCT) high court in Abuja on Wednesday, Adegboyega Awomolo, counsel to the federal government, played the tape showing Lawan receiving the said sum.

While giving his testimony, Otedola said Lawan removed Zenon from the list of indicted oil companies after he collected the money.

He said $2.5 million was the balance he was expected to pay the ex-lawmaker.

“I could not have put him under pressure because Zenon Oil was not involved in the theft of subsidy funds,” he told the court.

“If he did not demand (for money), why will he collect the $500,000 and was expecting $2.5 million. He did mention to me that the $3 million was going to be shared by himself and other officers of the house.

“I did not offer any $3 million. I was one of the biggest players in the business and I reported the matter when I found out about the scam.

“He did mention to me that several companies involved in the scam were paying and I reported to the DSS.”

After Awomolo finished quizzing Otedola, L Azuka, a lawyer from the chambers of Mike Ozekhome, counsel to Lawan, asked the court for an adjournment.

Azuka told the court that Ozekhome, the lead counsel, was “unavoidably absent.”

“The witness has given lengthy evidence. We will need time to study the evidence that he presented today viz-a-viz the statement he gave to the police,” he said.

“We don’t have copies, we need to obtain copies and prepare for the cross-examination.”

The counsel added that he was sick and would not be able to cross-examine the witness.

The federal government’s lawyer protested, urging the court not to grant the request of Azuka.

“We will ask our lordship to utilise the day,” he said.

However, Angela Otaluka, the judge, granted the prayer of the defence counsel and adjourned the matter till January 28, 2019.

JUST IN: Prime suspect in Offa bank robbery dies in custody

Five out of the six Offa bank robbery suspects appeared before an Ilorin high court on Wednesday without the prime suspect, Michael Adikwu.

The lead prosecuting counsel who is also the Kwara state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Kamaldeen Ajibade told the court that the police headquarters informed his office on phone that the prime suspect, Michael Adikwu is dead.

Ajibade said his Director of Public Prosecution spoke with Deputy Commissioner of Police, Police Headquarters, Abba Kyari who said on phone that Adikwu is dead.

The AG requested for adjournment of the case for proper amendment to the charge sheet since the prime suspect is said to be dead

The five suspects brought to the court said they were served on Monday and there was a public holiday in Tuesday, hence they have not been in contact with any lawyer to defend them.

Michael Adikwu

The trial judge, Halima Salman, who promised an accelerated hearing, adjourned the case to Friday, November the 30th.

The suspects are standing trial over Offa bank robbery in April this year where more than 30 persons including policemen were killed.

Trump signals US won’t punish Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi killing

Trump signals US won’t punish Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi killing

By Nicole Gaouette and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

Updated at 2129 GMT (0529 HKT) November 20, 2018

Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that he will not take strong action against Saudi Arabia or its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the death and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The White House has been struggling to square a widespread sense that the crown prince directed the killing with its desire for Saudi support for its foreign policy priorities and a need to manage close relationships between bin Salman, the Trump administration and members of Trump’s family.
In an exclamation-mark laden statement subtitled “America First!” Trump said that “our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

Trump signals US won’t punish Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi killing

By Nicole Gaouette and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

Updated at 2129 GMT (0529 HKT) November 20, 2018

Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that he will not take strong action against Saudi Arabia or its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the death and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The White House has been struggling to square a widespread sense that the crown prince directed the killing with its desire for Saudi support for its foreign policy priorities and a need to manage close relationships between bin Salman, the Trump administration and members of Trump’s family.

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In an exclamation-mark laden statement subtitled “America First!” Trump said that “our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
Speaking to the press later in the day, Trump cited the Kingdom’s influence over oil prices and said, “if we abandon Saudi it would be a terrible mistake.” He also said he was “not going to destroy the economy of our country” over Khashoggi by giving up arms deals to Saudi Arabia.
“It’s a very simple equation for me. I’m about make America great again and I’m about America first,” Trump said.
In his statement, the President said, “we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump continued in his statement. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”
Less than an hour after releasing the statement, Trump appeared in the White House Rose Garden to pardon two turkeys for Thanksgiving. He did not mention the journalist’s murder.
The President’s statement sets up a clash with lawmakers from both parties who have called for harsh measures against Saudi Arabia and have expressed deep reservations about US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. It once again pits Trump against his intelligence agencies and bolsters a regime that has admitted to killing a vocal critic and member of the press.

Washington Post response

“President Trump’s response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships,” Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan said in a statement.
“He is placing personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests in his desire to continue to do business as usual with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Ryan continued.
“The Central Intelligence Agency has thoroughly investigated the murder of this innocent journalist and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the Crown Prince,” Ryan said. “If there is reason to doubt the findings of the CIA, President Trump should immediately make that evidence public.”
Trump, who broadly justified his response on the grounds that the US needs the Kingdom to counter Iran, was expected to receive a CIA assessment on Khashoggi’s murder on Tuesday.

High confidence

A senior administration official told CNN that the report, delivered in physical form, is an assessment of all the intelligence gathered so far, but will not present a final conclusion. That’s in keeping with intelligence community practice: agencies assign a confidence level to their findings because intelligence isn’t conclusive.
And though sources tell CNN that the CIA has assessed with high confidence that the prince, known by his initials MBS, directed Khashoggi’s murder, which was conducted by members of the prince’s inner circle, the fact that they don’t make a final conclusion gives the White House an out.
Indeed, Trump told reporters as he left for Thanksgiving that the CIA “didn’t make a determination … they have nothing definitive and the fact is maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.”
The Trump administration is relying on Saudi Arabia to help it achieve its goals in the Middle East on an Israeli-Palestinian deal, fighting extremism, rebuilding Syria and countering Iran, which the President mentioned in the second sentence of his statement to bolster the claim in his first sentence that “The world is a very dangerous place!”
Saudi Arabia’s ability to sell more oil is especially crucial to the US campaign against Iran, as the Kingdom helps ensure that US sanctions against Iranian oil, which take an estimated 1 million barrels a day off the market, don’t roil international energy markets.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted that “Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of.”
He then ridiculed Trump’s recent claim about fires that have devastated California, where Zarif attended prep school and university. “Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests — just like the Finns do?”

Javad Zarif

@JZarif

Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of. Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests— just like the Finns do?

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Khashoggi’s killing has drawn attention to Trump’s business ties to Saudi Arabia and the relationship between the crown prince and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who has assiduously courted the crown prince and arranged Trump’s first overseas trip to the kingdom.
Daniel Drezner, an international politics professor at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, told CNN that it’s hard to understand why Trump isn’t leaning harder on Saudi Arabia, saying that the US can exert more leverage than it is choosing to. “The fact that they’re so reticent to do it shows a real misunderstanding of the” balance of power, he said.
Trump “seems remarkably wimpish” with respect to Saudi Arabia, Drezner said, adding that Trump might feel a kinship to the Saudi royal family. “There’s otherwise no real explanation for why he’s not applying more pressure,” Drezner said.
Some lawmakers are proposing investigations into the Trump family’s financial ties to the Kingdom. Trump, who has boasted of selling $40 million and $50 million apartments to Saudis and has seen Saudi money pour into his hotels since he was elected, claimed Tuesday that he has no financial interests with the Kingdom.
“I have no business with Saudi Arabia, couldn’t care less,” Trump said Tuesday.
As outrage has grown on Capitol Hill and overseas, the President, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have stressed the need for patience and the importance of US ties with the Kingdom.
Pompeo briefed reporters at the State Department, mentioning Khashoggi’s “case” as an aside in the last of five items he ran through. He defended the decision not to take strong action against Saudi Arabia for the US resident’s death saying “there are important American interests to keep the American people safe.”

‘Pretending to do something’

Saudi Arabia announced last week that 11 men had been indicted for the “rogue operation” and that five would face the death penalty. In what appeared to be a coordinated move, the Treasury Department the same day announced sanctions against 17 Saudis over their alleged roles in the killing, a move that Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said amounted to “pretending to do something” as Saudi Arabia had already sentenced some of the men to death.
Asked if Trump’s statement indicated the US was putting business interests above human rights, Pompeo referred to the Treasury sanctions as “a very strong response.”
Trump, who derided the Saudi explanations as “the worst cover-up ever” in late October, made clear in his Tuesday statement that he views the killing in transactional terms.
Citing promised Saudi investment in the US that could generate jobs and military contracts worth billions, even as he wildly inflated their worth, Trump said that “if we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business.”
He will likely run into headwinds from Capitol Hill, as lawmakers of both parties issued excoriating responses to Trump’s decision.

Soldiers killed, missing as Boko Haram overruns army battalion in Borno

The Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) faction of Boko Haram reportedly attacked 157 task force battalion of the Nigerian army in Maitile, Borno.

More than 10 soldiers were killed while the insurgents carted away ammunition and other military equipment.

A military source explained that the insurgents forcefully gained access into the military base around 5pm on Sunday. The source said some soldiers who stood to fight the insurgents were killed and others have gone missing.

“The soldiers were outnumbered and outpowered,” the source said.

Another officer said they heard of the attack on Monday evening.

“We are presently in Mubi, but we heard of the Abadam attack. There is no network at the moment in Abadam and it’s been difficult reaching the troops there,” he said.

There were also reports that the commanding officer of the battalion was killed in the attack.

“We heard that a senior officer was killed, I can’t confirm yet if it is the commanding officer,” the source added.

The attack is coming barely three weeks after soldiers went missing in a similar attack at the military base in Kukawa.

Texas Chukwu, army spokesman, did not answer calls placed to his phone, and he’s yet to respond to the message seeking clarification on the attack.

Fashola to South-West voters: Re-elect Buhari in 2019, get presidency in 2023

Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), says the South-West has more to gain by re-electing President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.

Fashola, who was in Lagos on Tuesday for the inauguration of 5,000 foot soldiers for the campaign of Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said that the South-West already had high stakes/appointments in the current administration.

He said that the promise of the Secretary to the Federal Government (SGF) slot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not enough for the South-West to lose the positions it is currently occupying.

Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the Director-General of the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, said that the position of the SGF would be given to the South-West, if Atiku emerged as president in 2019.
“As a South-West indigene, I will vote for the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket because my people stand to gain more from it,” fashola said.

He said that the re-election of Buhari would guarantee that power would come to the South-West in 2023.
“ The South-West is presently occupying the position of the vice president. We have three sitting ministers and many federal appointments from the present administration which we cannot afford to lose,” he said.

The Minister explained that although the APC promised change in 2014, the party did not promise to do it in four years.
“The APC has done more in three years than 16 years of PDP administration, yet they say President Buhari is too slow.
“President Buhari is taking Nigeria to the next level. We are going to the Next Level.

“The 2019 presidential election is a choice between going back and moving forward to the next level and also a choice of whom Nigerians can trust with their money,” he said.

He noted that the APC-Buhari led administration has done more in three years with less money than the PDP with all the monies that accrued to the nation in 16 years.

“Buhari has inaugurated a structural infrastructure fund for road construction. N15 billion has been released for the continued construction of Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
“There is need for the progress to continue. Dubai was built with oil-money, Nigeria can be built with it too. The past administration squandered oil revenue.

“Federal Government is constructing at least one road in every state in Nigeria. We are also constructing houses in 34 States in Nigeria.

“We have collected 690 containers for the construction of 90 transmission stations and through our policy of mini grids, our markets now have uninterrupted power supply.

“In the last 3 years we have constructed 40 kilometres of roads per year. In 2015, the total number of roads completed nationwide was 80 kilometres. In 2016 after we took over, we completed , 274 kilometres of road, 478 kilometres in 2017 and 474 kilometers in 2018.

“Electric generation has moved from 4000 Megawatts that we met to 7000MW. That’s an increase of 3000MW, an average of 1000MW a year. We have started an IPP in nine universities in Nigeria. We have accelerated the distribution of meters by outsourcing it to distributors,” he added.

At the event were Senator Gbenga Ashafa, (Lagos East), former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Adejoke Adefulire and Mr Obafemi Hamzat, running mate to Lagos APC governorship candidate, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, among others.

Buhari: Jonathan is a true democrat… he will rise again

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday hailed his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, for voluntarily conceding defeat at the 2015 general election, describing him as a true democrat.

Buhari made the comment at the launch of Jonathan’s book titled ‘My Transition Hours’ in Abuja.

Represented by Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, the president said Jonathan’s act of courage had made him a patriotic leader and earned popularity among Africans and other leaders.

“You are a leader of the past, of now and of the future; you will rise again; I wish you the best you wish yourself,” Buhari said.

He called on Nigerians to see elections as contests and should be done in a free, fair and peaceful environment.

He said Nigerians should eschew bitterness, bigotry, hate speech and “promote Nigeria for us and generation yet unborn”.

The event was attended by hundreds of prominent Nigerians, including former heads of state Abdulsalami Abubakar, Yakubu Gowon, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, and Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate.

Adams Oshiomhole, national chairman of the APC, former Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, ex-PDP governors and many members of the political class, traditional rulers and members of the diplomatic corps also graced the event.

Data, documents lost in EFFC office fire

Data and equipment were lost in a fire that broke out at the data centre of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Wuse 2, Abuja, on Monday night.

In a statement released on its Facebook page, the commission said the inferno “almost razed down” the building.

“The fire started at the former newsroom which now serves as storage for ICT equipment that were retrieved from the Commission former offices scattered across the Capital City,” the statement read.

“The former newsroom is domiciled in the two Storey Costa Hall which was commissioned by Dr. Antonio Maria Costa on 13th November 2007. The building currently houses the Data Centre and the Combined Inter-Agency Task Force.”

Men of the Federal Fire Service led by Melone Onyekachi, sector commander, were able to successfully curtail the extent of the fire after receiving a call from Kayode Oyetunde, incident duty officer of the commission, at 7:10pm.

Speaking on the cause of the fire, Onyekachi said, “Our duty is to put off the fire; that we have successfully done. There is another department that will come and ascertain the cause of the fire.”

According to the statement, two officers attached to the Combined Inter-Agency Task Force were rescued from the fire and the extent of damage will be ascertained after stock taking.

“The Commission’s Chief Security Officer, CSO, Nasir Abdullahi, DSP immediately after the fire was curtailed, went to the Maitama Police Station to incident the fire outbreak. Policemen from the Station who followed him to the Commission, however, promised to return for further enquiry.”

While receiving members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) on Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari had said that he has asked the commission to account for all the money it has recovered.

The data centre, which is where the fire started from, is where the EFCC is likely to have records of all its arrests and recoveries.