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US to start mass deportation next week

US President Donald Trump said in a tweet that US immigration agents are planning to make mass arrests starting “next week,” an apparent reference to a plan in preparation for months that aims to round up thousands of migrant parents and children in a blitz operation across major US cities.

“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump wrote, referring to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “They will be removed as fast as they come in.”

Large-scale ICE enforcement operations are typically kept secret to avoid tipping off targets. In 2018, Trump and other senior officials threatened the mayor of Oakland, California, with criminal prosecution for alerting city residents that immigration raids were in the works.

Trump and his senior immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, have been prodding Homeland Security officials to arrest and remove thousands of family members whose deportation orders were expedited by the Justice Department this year as part of a plan known as the “rocket docket.”

US embassy denies banning student visa for Nigerians

The US Mission in Nigeria has denied a report which alleged that it had banned student visa for Nigerians.

The report titled “USA place a ban on study visa for Nigerians until further notice” has been spreading on social media.

The unconfirmed report said the US aimed at countries with citizens who are fond of overstaying their visit.

In a tweet on Monday, the US Mission in Nigeria denied the report, describing it as “fake news”.

“#FakeNews Alert! Be advised, reports of Student Visa ban for Nigerians is false. If you have seen such manufactured item on Facebook and Twitter or received it via WhatsApp, please communicate that it is false,” it said.

U.S. Mission Nigeria

@USEmbassyAbuja

Alert! Be advised, reports of Student Visa ban for Nigerians is false. If you have seen such manufactured item on Facebook and Twitter or received it via WhatsApp, please communicate that it is false.

3,505 people are talking about this

In March, Nigeria was listed among the countries which President Donald Trump mulled to impose travel restrictions on.

The US embassy in Nigeria in May announced the suspension of its drop box service or interview waiver for those renewing visas in the country.

The service, before its suspension, enabled Nigerians who were renewing their existing or expired visa to apply for a renewal online, via the visa drop box service.

US asks parties not to claim victory before final results by INEC

Stuart Symington, US ambassador to Nigeria, has warned against the release of results which are not from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Symington also asked key candidates not to claim victory before the final announcement by INEC.

He also appealed to politicians to honour the peace accord signed to ensure successful polls.

The US envoy said the elections were “predominantly peaceful” except for violence recorded in a few places.

“I congratulate the tens of millions of Nigerians who stood patiently in long lines to vote this week and the hundreds of thousands who worked together with INEC to conduct the elections,” Symington said in a statement.

“As noted by many observer groups in their preliminary reports, this election was predominantly peaceful, and it was proof of the Nigerian people’s resolute commitment to choose their leaders.

“The peaceful achievement of millions was shadowed by the violence of a few. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives, and we urge all candidates to honor the Peace Accord they signed.

“No one should break the law by announcing results before INEC does, or break the peace by claiming victory before the results are final.

“Everyone has a common interest in showing patience as INEC collates and announces the election results.”

US imposes visa restrictions on Ghana

The United States, on Thursday, said it has imposed visa restrictions on Ghana.

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said the West African country has not been co-operating in accepting Ghanian citizens to be deported from the US.

“As a result, Secretary of State Pompeo has ordered consular officers in Ghana to implement visa restrictions on certain categories of visa applicants. Without an appropriate response from Ghana, the scope of these sanctions may be expanded to a wider population,” the department of homeland security said in a statement.

“The sanctions will remain in place until the Secretary of Homeland Security notifies Secretary Pompeo that cooperation on removals has improved to an acceptable level.”

Commenting on the development, Kirstjen Nielsen, DHS secretary said: “The United States routinely cooperates with foreign governments in documenting and accepting U.S. citizens when asked, as appropriate, as do the majority of countries in the world, but Ghana has failed to do so in this case.

“We hope the Ghanaian government will work with us to reconcile these deficiencies quickly.”

Onnoghen: Again, Presidency tackles UK, US, EU

The Presidency has once again criticised the US, UK and EU over their statements on the suspension of Walter Onnoghen, chief justice of Nigeria (CJN).

President Muhammadu Buhari suspended Onnoghen  on Friday over the false declaration of assets charges filed against him.

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) had filed six-count charge against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) following a petition written against the CJN.

Although he failed to appear before the CCT which summoned him, the tribunal ordered that he be replaced with Ibrahim Muhammad.

The implementation of the order triggered fierce criticisms, with the UK, US and EU, calling on the Buhari administration not to heat up the polity.

In separate statements, they said the action could affect the credibility of the general election.

Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, had said Nigeria would not accept foreign interference.

However, in another statement on Sunday, Shehu said the statements of the foreign countries were based on unfounded assumptions.

He said linking the suspension to the elections is illogical, advising them to  refrain from “being too hastily attracted by the arguments of those who have partisan agenda at odds with the government’s positions”.

Below is his statement:

The Presidency notes with interest the coordinated statements of the US, UK and EU linking the suspension of CJN Onnoghen to the conduct of the upcoming elections. We appreciate the concerns voiced by the three statements and accept that the authors of the statements believe they were acting in friendship toward Nigeria with regard to making the statements.

However, we also note that friends, when not properly informed or acting in haste, can indeed make serious mistakes even with the best of intentions. Such is the case here.

The statements by the three seem more driven by unfounded assumptions and to be honest, a certain condescension to this African democracy. This is unfortunate. But this gives us an opportunity to clarify some points in the hope that these three friends reach a deeper understanding of the situation.

The statements by the US, UK and EU speak of their respect for constitutional practice and fair elections. However, the positions they stake tend to contravene rather than strengthen these laudable objectives.

CJN Onnoghen’s situation is one of his own making and, to a large degree, his own choosing.

The CJN was brought before the CCT because of a serious breach of law regarding his assets declaration. This is not a mere technicality like innocently placing a document in a wrong file or mistakenly placing yesterday’s date on a document.

All credible evidence indicates the CJN owned and operated several secret bank accounts. Unexplained large sums of money, exceeding several million dollars have passed through these accounts. Several thousand dollars are currently parked in the accounts. Multiple deposits of equal sums of money were deposited in some of those accounts during the same day. Such rapid and equal deposits are indicative of a person attempting to evade banking reporting laws and regulations.

Thus far, CJN Onnoghen has given no plausible explanation for the funds or for failing to report the subject accounts in his assets declaration despite having ample time and opportunity to explain the omission. Given the amount of money involved and the CJN’s inability to explain the source of the funds, the most plausible explanation at this point is also the most unfortunate explanation. No one did this to CJN Onnoghen. He and he alone is to blame for this turn of events.

Over the years and with great frequency, the authors of the three statements have advised and even chided Nigeria about official corruption. Now we are presented with the sad and unwanted situation where the CJN is discovered to have a vast, unexplained amount of money in his pocket.

Because of this he has been thoroughly discredited. It is untenable that a person in such compromised circumstances would be allowed to preside over the entire judicial system of a great nation. That would travesty the nation and what it stands for.

Had the situation been reversed and the US, UK or any EU member government found that its chief judicial official is the recipient of large sums of money of questionable origin and Nigeria suggested that you retain the person in that position, you would question Nigeria’s bona fides. You also would swiftly move to suspend the official pending final determination of the causes against him.

Not one of your nations would allow a person enmeshed in legal uncertainty to preside over your legal systems until the cloud has been cleared from him. That would incentivize corruption and assault the rule of law.

Thus, the CJN should have and could have helped the process in this regard by recusing himself from the bench until this matter is settled.

Instead, he indefinitely postponed a NJC meeting for no plausible reason except to avoid any consideration of this matter by the NJC.

Again, this calls into question his motives while undermining the normal operations of the judiciary. The CJN cannot be allowed to use his office to shield himself from the normal operation of the law as applied to any other jurist or any other Nigerian for that matter. Such a ruse is effectively an abuse of office. His position is one of utmost public trust; it is not a shield to protect him from the fair consequence of his own actions.

Despite these errors and omissions by the CJN, let us make this very clear, he has not been removed from office. Nor has he been permanently replaced. Those who claim that he has been permanently removed, do so out of imprecision of thought or mischief.

CJN Onnoghen has been suspended pending the final determination of the substantive issues in his matter. The suspension is only temporary. This is only as it should be. He cannot sit as both defendant and umpire in his own matter. No legal system allows for such self-interested adjudication; the US, UK and EU should not now ask us to embrace such an anomaly.

While the three friends seem to give much credence to those who question the constitutionality of the suspension, they seem to give less to those who believe what we did is constitutional and protective of the integrity of the judiciary. Only the three can answer why they have assumed this bias.

Last, the three make a curious direct linkage between the CJN suspension and the elections. However, in Nigerian law there is no such linkage. The CJN does not run the election. Nor is he the first arbiter of any electoral complaints. He and the Supreme Court will only get involved as the final arbiter at the end of the appellate process.

For the authors to link the CJN to the elections in this way is illogical unless they assume that election complaints will be filed and will go all the way to the Supreme Court. Here perhaps they know something about the intentions of certain political actors to which we are not privy.

Yet, even with that, the US , UK and EU should want any such matters to be heard by a Supreme Court led by a CJN without an obvious and outstanding ethical and legal blemish on his ledger. To have such a person preside over any case, would call into question the impartiality of any decision rendered and undermine the rule of law.

This cannot be what these three friends of Nigeria intended. Thus, they should do a bit more research on this matter and refrain from being too hastily attracted by the arguments of those who have partisan agenda at odds with the government’s positions on most matters and who thus hope to use this issue as a new arrow in their quiver of partisan contestation.

US, UK threaten visa ban on those who interfere with Nigeria’s elections

The United States and the United Kingdom have announced repercussions, including visa restrictions, for election interference and election-related violence in Nigeria.

This was announced in a statement issued on Thursday.

Both countries described the elections as very important to not just Nigeria but Africa, demanding that the process be fair and transparent.

“The conduct of the upcoming elections in Nigeria is important not only for Nigeria, but for the African continent,” the US mission in Nigeria said in a statement.

“The United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Nigeria’s upcoming elections. The United States supports the Nigerian democratic process itself. We support a genuinely free, fair, transparent, and peaceful electoral process.

“We, and other democratic nations, will be paying close attention to actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections.

“We will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process. Under U.S. immigration law, certain violations may also lead to restrictions on family members.”

In its statement, the UK said it remains committed to free and fair elections in Nigeria.

It promised to support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in order to make the exercise credible.

“Twenty-three days to the Presidential and National Assembly elections and 37 days to the Gubernatorial and State Assembly elections, the British High Commission in Abuja would like to reaffirm our strong support for free, fair and peaceful elections in Nigeria,” the statement read.

“We and our international partners remain committed supporters of Nigeria’s democracy. We do not support any party or individual and believe that the Nigerian people should be able to choose their leaders in an environment free from hate speech and insecurity.

“We continue to provide significant support to Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission and to Nigerian civil society to help them deliver credible elections. We also regularly engage with actors across the political spectrum to encourage them to respect electoral rules and maintain an atmosphere of peace and calm. We will be deploying an extensive observation mission for the forthcoming elections, including coordinating with the EU’s Election Observation Mission.

“Our monitors will in particular be looking out for any attempts to encourage or use violence to influence the elections, including on social media. We would like to remind all Nigerians that where the UK is aware of such attempts, this may have consequences for individuals. These could include their eligibility to travel to the UK, their ability to access UK based funds or lead to prosecution under international law.”

Boko Haram plans to disrupt Nigeria’s elections, US warns

The US has warned that the Boko Haram insurgent group is planning to carry out attacks during Nigeria’s forthcoming general election.

A security alert was issued to this effect by the US embassy in Nigeria.

According to the alert posted on its website on Friday, the insurgent group plans to attack security and infrastructure, as well as markets, hotels, and malls.

“There is an increase in ISIS propaganda videos specifically directed to Nigeria and the ongoing civil unrest in Borno state and the Northeast,” the alert read.

“ISIS West Africa (ISWA) and Boko Haram have both stated they plan to disrupt the upcoming 2019 presidential elections by conducting attacks on Nigerian Security and infrastructure, as well as places of gathering such as markets, hotels, and malls.

“While we have no specific threat information to the U.S. Embassy or within Nigeria during the election season, U.S. citizens in Nigeria should remember to follow personal security precautions on a regular basis.”

The embassy urged its citizens to “carry proper identification, including a US passport with a current Nigerian visa, if needed” and to
“exercise caution when walking or driving at night”.

It also advised US citizens avoid crowds and demonstrations, keep a low profile and to “stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations, and transportation hubs”.

The presidential and national assembly elections will take place February 16 while the governorship and state assemblies polls will be held March 2.

Atiku hasn’t travelled to US – Aide

Former Vice President and the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has not travelled to the United States of America (USA), his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Paul Ibe, has said.

Ibe told our correspondent via a telephone chat Thursday afternoon that online reports which stated that Atiku had travelled to the US were a figment of the imagination of the authors.

“You know what the social media can do. You know the social media for what they are now. It is not true. His Excellency hasn’t gone anywhere,” he said.

The clarification came following an online tweet from the Publisher of Ovation magazine, Mr. Dele Momodu, who shared the web link of the online report. See his tweet below

BREAKING: Atiku arrives in the US

Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar,  has arrived in Washington DC, United States ahead of meeting with senior political and business  figures.

Abubakar had previously been banned from entering the US.

The former vice-president is reportedly scheduled to speak at the Chamber of Commerce on Friday, from 2:30pm to 4pm local time, although no confirmation of his schedule has been made available.

The private roundtable, to be hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce and the US Africa Business Centre, is reportedly going to hold at 1615 H street, NW 20062.

Atiku secretly flew out from Lagos on Wednesday night with most of his aides and associates taken unawares.

He was scheduled to be in Ogun state on Thursday morning but the event was cancelled.

US asks FG to investigate killing of Shi’ites

The United States has called for a thorough investigation into the recent clashes between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and security forces.

In a statement on Thursday, the US embassy in Nigeria urged the federal government to hold everyone responsible for the violence to account.

The IMN members better known as Shi’ites have been clashing with policemen and soldiers in various parts of Abuja since Saturday.

They are protesting the continued detention of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, their leader.

While the army said three persons were killed during one of the protests, the Shi’ites have declared over 1000 of their members missing.

The US embassy urged the two parties to exercise restraint.

The statement read: “The United States Embassy is concerned by the deaths resulting from clashes between Nigerian security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in areas surrounding Abuja.

“We urge government of Nigeria authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law. We urge restraint on all sides.”

On Friday, the police arraigned over 100 Shi’ites before different magistrate’s court in Abuja.

US threatens to arrest ICC judges who probe war crimes

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.”

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said.

He said the US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans.

“We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the US financial system, and we will prosecute them in the US criminal system,” he said.

“We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans,” he said.

Bolton made the comments in a speech in Washington to the Federalist Society, a powerful association of legal conservatives.

– Investigation into detainee abuse –

Bolton pointed to an ICC prosecutor’s request in November 2017 to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan, especially over the abuse of detainees.

Neither Afghanistan nor any other government party to the ICC’s Rome Statute has requested an investigation, Bolton said.

He said the ICC could formally open the investigation “any day now.”

He also cited a recent move by Palestinian leaders to have Israeli officials prosecuted at the ICC for human rights violations.

“The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton said.

“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We certainly will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own.”

– ‘Threat’ to US sovereignty –

The condemnation of the ICC added to the White House’s rejection of many supranational institutions and treaties the president does not believe benefit the United States.

Bolton also condemned the record of the court since it formally started up in 2002, and argued that most major nations had not joined.

He said it had attained just eight convictions despite spending more than $1.5 billion, and said that had not stemmed atrocities around the world.

“In fact, despite ongoing ICC investigations, atrocities continue to occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Libya, Syria, and many other nations.” he added.

But Bolton said the main objection of the administration of President Donald Trump is to the idea that the ICC could have higher authority than the US Constitution and US sovereignty.

“In secular terms we don’t recognize any higher authority than the US constitution,” he said.

“This president will not allow American citizens to be prosecuted by foreign bureaucrats, and he will not allow other nations to dictate our means of self defense.”

(AFP)

U.S. deports 34 Nigerians over various offences

At least 34 Nigerians were on Wednesday deported from the United States of America for allegedly committing offences in the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the deportees arrived at the cargo wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMlA), Lagos at about 2.30 p.m.

The deportees, comprising 32 males and two females, were brought back in a chartered Omni Air International aircraft with Registration Number W342AX.

The spokesman of the Lagos Airport Police Command, Joseph Alabi, confirmed the development to NAN.

Mr Alabi said, “at about 14.30 hours (2.30 p.m.), we received 34 Nigerians who were brought back from the United States. They were made up of 32 males and two females.”

He said the 25 of the deportees were alleged to have committed criminal offences, with one involved in narcotics while others were alleged to have committed immigration-related offences.

Mr Alabi said the deportees were received by officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and the Police.

Also on ground to receive them were officials of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

He said that the deportees were profiled by the relevant authorities and allowed to depart to their various destinations. (NAN)

2026 World Cup: How Nigeria, other countries voted – FIFA

More details have emerged about how countries voted for the host of the 2026 football World Cup.

Morocco on Wednesday at the Expocentre in Moscow lost out 65-134 to the joint bid of the United States of America, Canada, and Mexico.

In a bid process that lasted 15 seconds, FIFA revealed that Nigeria, through the Nigeria Football Federation president, Amaju Pinnick, voted for Morocco.

There were insinuations that after President Donald Trump sort of threatened to withhold or stop aid and help to countries they currently support, there were fears that a lot of countries, including Nigeria, would be forced to vote for the United bid.

However, Nigeria’s relationship with Morocco has improved over the years leading to a first presidential visit by a Nigerian leader to the North African country. During President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit, several agreements were signed between Nigeria and Morocco.

Out of the 53 CAF-affiliated countries; nine voted for the joint bid – Benin Republic, Botswana, Cape Verde, Guinea, Liberia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Ghana was unavoidably absent because of recent developments that saw the federation president resign.

Of the superpowers, China, France, and Italy voted for Morocco while Russia, Germany, and Japan voted the joint bid.

JUST IN: Trump pulls U.S. from Iran nuclear deal, to revive sanctions

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was reimposing economic sanctions on Iran and pulling the United States out of an international agreement aimed at stopping Tehran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

The decision is likely to raise the risk of conflict in the Middle East, upset America’s European allies and disrupt global oil supplies.

“I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said at the White House. “In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions.”

The 2015 deal, worked out by the United States, five other international powers and Iran, eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program.

Trump says the agreement, the signature foreign policy achievement of Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program, its nuclear activities beyond 2025 nor its role in conflicts in Yemen and Syria.

Iran has ruled out renegotiating the agreement and threatened to retaliate, although it has not said exactly how, if Washington pulled out.

Renewing sanctions would make it much harder for Iran to sell its oil abroad or use the international banking system.

US blocks Malami’s lawyers from taking a cut on $500m Abacha Loot

The United States says it will only deal with Nigeria on a government-to-government basis for the restitution of $500 million Abacha Loot, The Cable has reported citing senior presidency sources.

Officials of the US department of justice (also known as DoJ), according to the sources, told President Muhammadu Buhari pointblank during his visit to the US that they would not deal with any third party in the restitution of the funds.

Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation, had attempted to engage private lawyers who were going to take a cut as “legal fees” — even though they did not play any role in the recovery of the stolen funds traced to the former military head of state, Sani Abacha, who ruled Nigeria from 1993 to 1998.

The recoveries were made in 2014 under President Goodluck Jonathan and domiciled with the US government — and all the lawyers involved had been paid 4% of the funds as their fees.

The funds were to be returned to Nigeria on the condition that the federal government would sign an MoU to avoid the mismanagement associated with recoveries under President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2016, however, Malami went ahead to appoint two Nigerian lawyers again — in a pattern very similar to the $321 million Abacha Loot recovered from Luxembourg also in 2014 for which the lawyers he hurriedly engaged were to be paid almost $17 million for doing nothing.

In the Switzerland case, Malami appointed Oladipo Okpeseyi, a senior advocate, and Temitope Isaac Adebayo, in 2016 apparently to replicate the job already done.

Incidentally, Okpeseyi and Adebayo were lawyers to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the APC legacy party of which Malami was the legal adviser.

He also proposed to use the same lawyers in the US case, but TheCable understands that the department of justice has consistently refused to entertain them, thereby stalling the return of the money to Nigeria.

America has now promised to return the $500 million but without the involvement of the appointed intermediaries.

The Nigerian government has also undertaken to spend the money on social protection programmes.

According to documents seen by TheCable, the DoJ initiated a legal action in November 2013 on the request of then attorney-general, Mohammed Bello Adoke, to confiscate assets worth $500 million traced to the Abacha family in France, Jersey and the UK.

Although the funds were not in the US, they fell foul of America’s money laundering laws having passed through the country in one form or the other.

Following a civil forfeiture complaint, the DoJ froze $280 million of Abacha Loot in Jersey, $140 million in France and $40 million in England.

Under US rules, any claimants to the asset were required to file a claim no later than 35 days after direct notice was sent to them or 60 days after the publication of notice.

Neither Mohammed Abacha, son of the late dictator, nor his companies filed any such complaint within the period until it expired.

Adoke had instituted a criminal case against the Abachas in Nigeria which eventually forced the family to enter into a settlement with the federal government to return the looted funds.

On June 2, 2014, the DoJ requested the US district court for the District of Columbia to enter into a default judgment against the Abachas in the suit, United States of America v. All Assets Held in Account Number 80020796 in the Name of Doraville Properties Corporation at Deutsche Bank International Limited in Jersey, Channel Islands and All Interest, Benefits of Assets Traceable Thereto.

However, some lawyers appeared on the scene claiming to have been engaged by Nigeria to handle the recovery of the funds.

They showed a letter of authority signed by Akin Olujinmi, Nigeria’s attorney-general between 2003 and 2005 — even though the Nigerian government had engaged Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer, to do the same job in 1999.

The lawyers — Jude Chukwuma Ezeala, Kenneth A. Nnaka, Godson Nnaka and Charles Lion Agwumezie — were also said not to have done anything in 10 years since Olujinmi authorised them.

Their involvement was opposed by Adoke, who wrote a letter dated May 26, 2014 to the Asset Forfeiture Money Laundering Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, to state that the lawyers were not authorised.

Thereafter, specifically on June 27, 2014, the DoJ requested that US district court for the District of Columbia to strike out the complaint filed by the four lawyers.

As a result, the DoJ got a motion in the US district court for DC on July 3, 2014 — finally allowing for the recovery of the funds.

In all, well over $1 billion was traced to Abacha in the UK, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein as at 2012 when Jonathan was president.

The $321 million recovered from Luxembourg in 2014 under President Goodluck Jonathan was domiciled with the attorney-general of Switzerland pending the signing of an MoU to avoid the mismanagement associated with previous recoveries.

Pio Wennubst, assistant director-general and head, Global Cooperation Department, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, told NAN recently that the money was returned to Nigeria with a $1.5 million interest, bringing it to a total of $322.5 million.

The house of representatives has set up a probe panel to investigate the suspected sleaze.

The recovery was done by Enrico Monfrini, a Swiss lawyer, who vehemently denied syndicated media articles that he was asking for another 20% of the recovered funds for the final leg of the restitution to Nigeria.

In an email to TheCable, however, Monfrini had explained that there is no truth in the allegation.

“I never had the audacity to claim for additional fees. This figure of 20% is simply invented. I didn’t reject any proposal made by Mr. Malami since my fees were already paid a long time before Mr. Malami’s appointment as attorney general,” he said, adding that “any allegations against that would just be a lie.”

“The repatriation of the $321 million was not completed by me. It’s a matter which is normally dealt between governments and which doesn’t entail the engagement of lawyers.”

 

Trump says date, place set for North Korea summit

President Donald Trump on Friday said the date and location have been set for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, building suspense for the unprecedented talks and hinting at progress in freeing three Americans held in North Korea.

The White House has said the first meeting between sitting U.S. and North Korean leaders could take place in the coming weeks. Trump is expected to push for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

The demilitarized zone, or DMZ, between North and South Korea and Singapore are among the top choices being considered for the summit. Trump this week expressed a preference for the DMZ but also said Singapore was possible.

The Peace House at the DMZ was the venue for a meeting last month between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, met with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, at the White House on Friday, officials said.

Trump, a former reality TV star who likes to build suspense about upcoming presidential news, did not give a date or location for the talks and White House officials did not immediately provide further clarity.

He told the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Dallas that he had toned down his rhetoric in anticipation of the talks after labeling Kim “Little Rocket Man” last year and threatening him with “fire and fury.”

“I won’t use the rhetoric now,” he said. “Now I’m trying to calm it down a little bit.”

The U.S. government is looking into reports that three Americans arrested in recent years in North Korea had recently been relocated from a labor camp to a hotel near Pyongyang, as expectations grow that they will be released before the summit.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Thursday that if North Korea were to free the three Americans, “We certainly would see this as a sign of good will” ahead of the Trump-Kim summit.

Trump, speaking to reporters outside the White House, suggested activity was under way involving the captives.

“We’re having very substantive talks with North Korea and a lot of things have already happened with respect to the (U.S.) hostages. I think you’re going to see very good things,” Trump told reporters.

Trump also told reporters on Friday that he was not considering reducing the U.S. military’s presence in South Korea as part of the negotiations.

“Troops are not on the table,” he said before flying to Dallas, where he addressed the National Rifle Association. But he also said he would eventually like to bring them home.

Appeal Court okays Buruji Kashamu’s extradition to US

The Court of Appeal, Lagos on Friday dismissed a ruling by Justice Okon Abang of  the Federal High Court which restrained Nigerian security agencies, from arresting, and extraditing to the United States of America, Sen Buruji Kashamu, representing Ogun East in the Nigerian Senate to answer drug related charges against him.

The panel of three Justices led by Yargata Justice Nimpar in overturning the ruling of the lower court said that Justice Abang shouldn’t have made the restraining orders as Sen Kashamu’s application was based on mere speculations.

The Appellate court delivered two seperate judgements in Appeal No: CA/1030/2015- A.G FED V PRINCE BURUJI KASHAMU & ORS, and the second Appeal, CA/1030A/2015- A.G. FED. V KASHAMU & ORS.

The Court ruled that the preliminary objection filed by Senator Kashamu against the substantive appeals are dismissed as lacking in merits. It also upheld arguments that the appeal filed by the Attorney General of the Federation against the ruling of the lower court is not statute barred.

On the main appeals, court set aside the orders of perpetual injunction granted in favour of Sen Kashamu against the Federal Government, AGF, DSS, IGP and NDLA.

The court also ruled that the oral statements of threat of abduction and forcibly transporting Senator Kashamu to the United States is insufficient having not been backed by concrete evidence.

The appellate court further confirmed the responsibilities of the  AGF as the Chief Law Officer of the country and Chief Law officer of the Cause of Justice. “He has constitutional and legal powers to act in defense of the law”.

It further stated that the court below should not have acted on mere speculation of abduction and kidnapping of the Appellant. The act or threat must have been made by the Appellant (not speculatively).

The court therefore ruled that the appeal has merit and set aside the order of perpetual injunctions made by the lower court in favour of Kashamu, making the coast clear for his extradition.

Mr Kashamu, a serving senator representing Ogun East Senatorial District, approached Mr Abang for the enforcement of his fundamental rights, saying he had uncovered a purported plot by Nigerian security agencies to abduct and extradite him to the United States.

Mr Kashamu is being sought in the U.S. on drugs charges, although he had continued to deny the allegations, saying it was, at worse, a case of mistaken identity.

In May 2015, the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) laid a siege to Mr Kashamu’s residence in Lagos in a bid to arrest and send him to the U.S. to face drugs charges. For the ensuing six days, Mr Kashamu reportedly locked himself inside a toilet and refused to submit himself to federal authorities.

His lawyers successfully prevailed on  JusticeAbang to grant an order forbidding the NDLEA from carrying out the arrest. The agency subsequently withdrew its personnel, ending the six-day siege.

The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation filed several submissions before the FHC, seeking to arrest Mr Kashamu for extradition. But the attempts were frustrated by several injunctions granted by Mr Abang, prompting the AGF to seek redress at the Court of Appeal.

Mr Kashamu had argued before the FHC that there were plots to arrest him and take him to the U.S. over a matter for which he had been cleared by judicial authorities in the United Kingdom between the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But U.S. authorities insisted that Mr Kashamu must come to the country to face drugs charges for which several of his alleged co-conspirators had been tried, convicted and jailed.

In 2016, a U.S. Court of Appeal in Chicago, Illinois, ruled that Mr Kashamu must answer his drugs allegations in U.S. courts.

Despite all the controversies surrounding Mr Kashamu’s case, the U.S. authorities have not publicly disclosed whether they sought Mr Kashamu’s extradition or not. But some legal analysts said there was no need to make such request public, adding that the NDLEA’s move to arrest him and send him to the U.S. was enough grounds to conclude that the U.S. was interested in the matter.

Senator Kashamu however in press statement said he has directed his lawyers to appeal the judgement to the Supreme Court.

Canadian officials in Nigeria work with U.S. to stem asylum seekers

Canada has officials working with U.S. visa officers in Lagos, Nigeria, as Ottawa leans on its neighbor to stop issuing so many visas to Nigerians who then make refugee claims in Canada.

The Canadian government is trying to stem the flow of asylum seekers illegally walking across the U.S. border even as their ranks grow: About 2,500 asylum seekers crossed into Canada to file refugee claims in April, according to estimates from the federal immigration and refugee department — the highest level since August and almost triple last April’s figure.

More than 26,000 people illegally crossed the Canada-U.S. border in the past 15 months to file refugee claims.

The Canadian government says many of the more recent arrivals are Nigerians who arrived bearing valid U.S. visas after having spent very little time in the United States.

“It is apparent that they obtained those visas with the express intent to actually go to Canada. … We’ve been sharing that information with the United States with the view of preventing the abuse of U.S. visas,” a Canadian immigration department spokeswoman told Reuters in an email.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers faced pointed questions this week after Reuters reported that Canada wants U.S. help turning back thousands of asylum seekers.

A Canadian official familiar with the matter told Reuters that Canada wants to amend a bilateral agreement to allow it to block border-crossing refugee claimants.

Canada has asked for this change “at least a dozen” times since September, the official said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said it is reviewing Canada’s proposal but has not made a decision.

Two Canadian officials have been sent to Lagos to work directly with their counterparts in the U.S. visa office, a spokeswoman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in an email on Wednesday.

The officials are “meeting regularly to exchange information on migration movements” with the aim of lowering the number of people who go through the United States to Canada using a U.S. visa.

Since June, Canadian police have intercepted more than 7,600 Nigerian asylum seekers, 81 percent of whom had a valid U.S. non-immigrant visa, the spokeswoman added.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department wrote that “consular officers in the field often coordinate with our close partners from other countries to discuss matters of shared concern.” She did not elaborate on the role the Canadian officials are playing.

Trudeau’s government is under pressure to appear in control of the country’s border and refugee system while obeying Canadian law and maintaining its image as compassionate and welcoming of newcomers.

Boko Haram: US urges military to change tactics

Nigerian forces battling Boko Haram jihadists need a change of mindset to overcome an evolving guerrilla threat, US military officials said this week on the sidelines of an African security summit.

Boko Haram’s tactics — from improvised explosive devices to hiding within the local population — necessitate a shift away from conventional strategies, said Lieutenant-Colonel Sean McClure, the US defence attache in Abuja.

“We haven’t necessarily seen that kind of adaptation cycle,” he told AFP. “They’re trying to figure out how to do this.

“How they think in terms of combat, in my opinion, is still thinking of things as conventional warfare.”

As the United States steps up its military presence in Africa, it hopes to share lessons learned in the Middle East with Nigeria and other countries in the Sahel fighting extremist groups.

The Sahel region is host to a string of Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali and Boko Haram in Nigeria and the wider Lake Chad area.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 180 million people, has been fighting Boko Haram since 2009 and has repeatedly claimed to have defeated the group.

Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, declared on Tuesday there was “no doubt Boko Haram terrorists have been defeated, they don’t have the capacity”.

But persistent attacks against soldiers and civilians, including a brazen new kidnapping of over 100 schoolgirls from the northeastern town of Dapchi on February 19, suggest otherwise.

Meanwhile, the emergence of an IS-allied faction of Boko Haram, whose strategy is to provide an alternative government for people living in the impoverished region, poses a new threat.

“It starts to become a very wicked problem,” McClure said.

AFP

US, UK, France bomb Syrian targets

 

In the biggest intervention by Western powers in Syria, U.S., British and French forces pounded Damascus and Homs with air strikes early on Saturday in response to a poison gas attack that killed dozens of people last week, in Ghouta.

Hit among others were a scientific research facility in Damascus and Syrian army depots in the Homs area, state media said, and a Reuters witness said the Syrian capital was rocked by explosions as smoke rose into the sky.

The Syria Times gave a different version of the impact of the dawn attacks. Quoting Syrian TV, it said the Syrian air defenses downed 13 missiles over Kisweh area before reaching their targets.

It said that Damascus International Airport was not attacked. It reported that the air strikes hit the research center in Barza area and that the Syrian air defenses intercepted a number of missiles that targeted army depots in Homs, changing their track and causing the injury of three civilians.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the military action from the White House late on Friday. As he spoke, explosions rocked Damascus. Trump said he was prepared to sustain the response until Assad’s government stopped its use of chemical weapons.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron said the UK and France had joined in the attack.

Syria’s seven-year-old civil war has pitted the United States and its allies against Russia, which itself intervened in the war in 2015 to back Assad.

Syrian state media said the attack would fail and called it a “flagrant violation of international law.” Russia’s ambassador to the United States said Moscow had warned that “such actions will not be left without consequences”.

In a televised address from the White House, Trump said he had ordered U.S. armed forces to launch “precision strikes” associated with Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities.

“The combined American, British, and French response to these atrocities will integrate all instruments of our national power — military, economic, and diplomatic. We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents,” Trump said.

Speaking of Assad and his suspected role in last week’s chemical weapons attack, Trump said, “These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster instead.”

At least six loud explosions were heard in Damascus in the early hours of Saturday and smoke was seen rising over the Syrian capital, a Reuters witness said. A second witness said the Barzah district of Damascus had been hit in the strikes. Barzah is the location of a major Syrian scientific research center.

At a Pentagon briefing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said the targets included a Syrian research facility and a chemical weapons storage facility.

The combined U.S., British and French assault appeared to be more intense than the strike Trump ordered almost exactly a year ago against a Syrian airbase in retaliation for an earlier chemical weapons attack that Washington attributed to Assad.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said twice as many weapons were used in the strikes on Saturday compared to last April’s strike.

Mattis, who U.S. officials said had earlier warned in internal debates against too large an attack that would risk confrontation with Russia, described the strikes as a “one time shot” to dissuade Assad from “doing this again.”

Asked what chemicals were used in the weekend attack, Mattis confirmed that chlorine gas had been used and did not rule out the nerve agent sarin.

Dunford said that manned U.S. aircraft were used in the military operation and that the strike was planned to minimize the risk of casualties among Russia’s military forces in Syria. A U.S. official told Reuters that Tomahawk cruise missiles also were involved.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a total of three scientific research centers had been hit in the attacks, two in Damascus and one in the Homs area, in addition to military bases in Damascus.

In his televised address, Trump said, “The purpose of our actions tonight is to establish a strong deterrent against the production, spread and use of chemical weapons.”

The U.S. president, who has tried to build good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, had sharply critical words for Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad’s government.

“To Iran and to Russia, I ask, what kind of a nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” Trump said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she had authorized British armed forces “to conduct coordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons capability.” She described it as a “limited and targeted strike” aimed at minimizing civilian casualties.

Trump made clear in his eight-minute televised address that he was wary of a deeper entanglement in Syria, where about 2,000 U.S. troops have been deployed to fight Islamic State.

Last year, the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the guided missile destroyers USS Porter and the USS Ross that struck the Shayrat air base. The targets of that strike included Syrian aircraft, aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage facilities, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radar. At the time, the Pentagon claimed that a fifth of Syria’s operational aircraft were either damaged or destroyed.

A U.S.-led attack on Syria will be seen as limited if it is now over and there is no second round of strikes, said a senior official in the regional alliance that has supported President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war.

“If it is finished, and there is no second round, it will be considered limited,” the official told Reuters.

The air strikes, however, risk dragging the United States further into Syria’s civil war, particularly if Russia, Iran and Assad opt to retaliate.

News Agency of Nigeria.