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Tag Archives: Yemi Osinbajo

No attempt to ‘whittle down’ Osinbajo’s influence – APC

The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has debunked reports of an attempt to “whittle down” the roles of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The reports, mostly on social media, claimed that a cabal in the presidency was trying to render the office of the vice president ineffective and subject the incumbent’s person to humiliation.

President Buhari in his independence anniversary address to Nigerians on Tuesday announced plans to move the National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIPs) to the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The programmes had been domiciled under the office of the vice president since they were created in 2016.

The programmes under the N-SIPs to be moved from the vice president’s office to the new ministry include N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes (GEEP).

However, in a statement by its spokesperson, Lanre Issa-Onilu, on Wednesday, APC dismissed the reports attributing the movement to a ‘rift’ between President Buhari and Mr Osinbajo as “one of the many fake news flying around in recent days.”

The party said the “fake news” began after the “setting up of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) comprising some of Nigeria’s most independent-minded economists (some vocally critical of government’s fiscal policies) to advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues, working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.”

The vice president statutorily heads the National Economic Council with members including state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

“Constitutionally, while the power of the Vice President is derived from the President, the conspirators deliberately choose to ignore Section 141 of the Constitution, which spells out the Vice President’s statute membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council,” the APC said in the statement.

The party said President Buhari’s decision to move the N-SIPs to the new ministry does not portend crisis at the presidency.

“The conspirators are desperately trying to link government decisions on the N-SIPs, which have been under the office of the Vice President since it started in 2016 to support the conspiracies, however mundane.

“In the same October 1 address, the President announced the recent redeployment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF). Was this also to ‘whittle down’ the powers of the OSGF?”

Osinbajo’s ‘frontline role’

The party said the N-SIPs since 2016 has impacted “over 12 million direct beneficiaries and over 30 million indirect beneficiaries.

“The Vice President played a frontline role in the conceptualisation of these policies and programmes and the President, in demonstration of his trust for him, charged him with the responsibility of nurturing the programmes to the current stage.

“Tremendous successes have been recorded under the guardianship of the Vice President. In demonstrating the administration’s commitment to the cause of the poor, these interventionist programmes have been elevated to the Next Level with the creation of the new ministry.”

“The purveyors of the conspiracy theory about the imagined rift in the Presidency have missed the opportunity to see the commendable efforts of this government. Perhaps, if these policies were about the elites, they would have focussed on the positive imports rather than fishing for a crisis that only exists in their fatuous imagination,” he concluded.

“The SIPs are already gaining global and local acclaims across the globe on account of its nationwide social impact, particularly from endorsement by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), World Bank, World Economic Forum, Action Aid (Nigeria), Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ) the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) among others.

“A question we should ask the conspirators and their partisan sponsors is how did they miss the import of the President’s decision to create a whole ministry to superintend the social investment programmes and humanitarian issues?

“How did they not realise that the President’s action is an indication of the importance he attaches to policies that are targeted at the poor?

“Why does it appear that the so-called analysts always do not see things from the point of view of the poor?”

The APC accused the opposition of not being critical enough in assessing government policies. It implored the media and critics of the government to be noble when reviewing public policies.

Efforts to speak with the PDP’s spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, for his party’s reaction were unsuccessful.

His known telephone lines were unreachable after several attempts. He also did not respond to text messages at the time of this report.

CAN defends Osinbajo on N90bn allegation

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) says the church will defend for Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo in the N90 billion allegation levelled against him.

Supo Ayokunle, CAN national president, made this known on Friday when he led a delegate of the association to visit Osinbajo.

Timi Frank, a former deputy spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had alleged that Osinbajo mismanaged N90 billion allegedly made available by the FIRS for 2019 election campaign purposes.

The FIRS had denied the claim, saying it doesn’t have such funds.

Speaking at the Christian Ecumenical Centre in Abuja, Ayokunle told journalists that the N90billion corruption allegation is not true.

He said proponents of the claim should tender evidence or desist from tarnishing the image of the vice president.

“He has cleared the air that the allegation is baseless and there is no truth in it and that some people are plotting against him and he was ready to provide himself to be cleared,” he said.

“If there is an allegation there must be evidence and that it can never happen and will never happen. The church and the entire country will fight for him.”

Meanwhile, Osinbajo had said he would waive his constitutional immunity to be investigated.

He also said he has commenced legal action against two individuals, “one Timi Frank and another Katch Ononuju, who have put their names to these odious falsehoods.”

I will waive my immunity to be investigated, says Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says he will waive his constitutional immunity to be investigated.

Osinbajo made this known on Wednesday in a tweet.

“In the past few days, a spate of reckless and malicious falsehoods have been peddled in the media against me by a group of malicious individuals,” he tweeted.

“The defamatory and misleading assertions invented by this clique have been making the social media rounds anonymously.

“I have today instructed the commencement of legal action against two individuals, one Timi Frank and another Katch Ononuju, who have put their names to these odious falsehoods.

“I will waive my constitutional immunity to enable the most robust adjudication of these claims of libel and malicious falsehood.”

Prof Yemi Osinbajo

@ProfOsinbajo

I have today instructed the commencement of legal action against two individuals, one Timi Frank and another Katch Ononuju, who have put their names to these odious falsehoods.

Prof Yemi Osinbajo

@ProfOsinbajo

I will waive my constitutional immunity to enable the most robust adjudication of these claims of libel and malicious falsehood.
~YO

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Timi Frank, a former deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), had alleged that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) made N90 billion available to the vice president for election campaign, an allegation that the tax agency has denied.

Frank has since responded urging the FIRS to stop deceiving Nigerians.

Frank said he cannot be intimidated by the agency’s threat to sue him, describing the agency’s statements as a “puerile attempt to sweep the main issues in his public statement under the carpet”.

He said the FIRS cannot continue to deceive Nigerians by claiming “unfounded budgetary fidelity”.

Timi Frank to FIRS: Instead of suing me, apologise to Nigerians on N90bn ‘slush fund’

Timi Frank, former deputy national publicity secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to stop its attempt to fool Nigerians.

Frank had alleged that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s trouble with the presidency started when it was discovered that he mismanaged N90 billion made available by the FIRS for 2019 election campaign purposes.

But in a statement on Monday, Wahab Gbadamosi, FIRS director of information, dismissed the claim, saying the service’s annual allocation is not up to that amount.

Reacting in a statement, Frank said he cannot be intimidated by the agency’s threat to sue him, describing the agency’s statements as a “puerile attempt to sweep the main issues in his public statement under the carpet”.

He said the FIRS cannot continue to deceive Nigerians by claiming “unfounded budgetary fidelity”.

He urged the agency to come clean and tell Nigerians the reason for the discrepancies which exist in their records of tax collection.

“I read the statement by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and I am rather disappointed at their intellectual laziness,” he said

“Who is the FIRS trying to fool by claiming that their annual subvention is not up to a N100 billion? That is an unintelligent attempt to fool the public.

“The FIRS, like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission are revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government that do not depend on budgetary subventions.

“These agencies are able to appropriate huge funds from the monies they generate for their use.

“For example, on January 7, 2019, the Federal Inland Revenue Service announced that it had broken Nigeria’s all-time revenue generation record, by generating N5.3trillion in 2018,” he said.

“However, on 18th August, 2019, the FIRS’ boss was queried for poor performance and under remittances to the Federation Account by the Chief of Staff to General Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Abba Kyari.

“The query, which was widely published in all newspapers and online media channels, was as a result of the N90billion that the FIRS illegally funneled to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo for the 2019 elections which led to the shortfall.

“The FIRS should bury their head in the mud and apologise to Nigerians for aiding and abetting corruption.”

He also called for the immediate arrest of the leadership of the FIRS.

“The big question is: what is responsible for the discrepancy? These are questions that the FIRS should be explaining to Nigerians rather than trying to be clever by half in claiming that they do not get up to N100 billion per annum, when in fact they expend 50 times that amount.

“I, therefore, call for the immediate arrest and prosecution of the leadership of the FIRS for fraud and money laundering.

“I stand by my statement and am not going to tender any apology to FIRS. They are the ones to apologize to Nigerians for illegally spending taxpayers’ money on elections.

“I cannot be intimidated by threats. I am prepared to meet them in court. Why did they decide to respond on behalf of the Vice President, who is the main issue here? Is the FIRS now Osinbajo’s mouthpiece?”

Cabal targets Osinbajo over actions taken as Ag President

Fresh facts have emerged on some decisions taken by President Muhammadu Buhari on the functions of his deputy, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.

A source in the Presidential Villa confided in The PUNCH that members of the cabal in the Presidency were bitter about the roles played by the Vice-President, when he stood in for Buhari, when the latter went on medical leave.

The source cited the emergence of Walter Onnoghen as the substantive Chief Justice of the Federation and the removal of Lawal Daura as the Director-General of the Department of State Services on August 7, 2018 as two of their grievances against Osinbajo.

Buhari had on November 10, 2016 sworn in Onnoghen in acting capacity despite the recommendation of the National Judicial Council, which stated that he should be appointed as Chief Justice of Nigeria being the most senior justice of the Supreme Court.

The President did not forward Onnoghen’s name to the Senate for consideration despite public outcry.

Recall that it was Osinbajo, who acted as President, during Buhari’s absence from the country, that forwarded Onnoghen’s name to the Senate on February 7, 2017 and swore him in on March 7, 2017

Also, the Federal Government had on January 15, 2019 arraigned the ex-CJN before the Code of Conduct Tribunal .

But Osinbajo had during a conference of the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria, claimed Buhari was not aware of Oongohen’s trial until Saturday, January 12.

The Vice-President, who at the event, expressed misgiving about the trial of Onnoghen and other judges, had said, “It has consequences such as we have today, such that people say how can such an important person be subjected to trial without the Federal Government.”

He had also said Buhari believed that there should not be interference by the executive in other organs of government.

But the President did not wait for Onnoghen’s trial at the CCT to be concluded before suspending him on January 25.

Justifying his action, Buhari had said, “Although the allegations in the petition are grievous enough in themselves, the security agencies have since then traced other suspicious transactions running into millions of dollars to the CJN’s personal accounts, all undeclared or improperly declared as required by law.”

Also, Osinbajo, when he was acting President, removed Daura, as the director-general of the DSS on August 7, 2018 and appointed Matthew Seiyefa, who was kicked out by Buhari in September of the same year.

The source, who confided in one of our correspondents, attributed Osinbajo’s travails to the roles he played in Onnoghen’s issue and Daura’s removal.

The source said, “The VP underestimated the level of vindictiveness some of these people have towards him.

“They accused Osinbajo of sidelining them when he took critical decisions during Buhari’s medical leave. If you remember, there was a lot of drama surrounding the confirmation hearing of (Walter) Onoghen and the removal of Daura.

“They were also not happy about the issue of the presidential panel on recovery of public assets. Obono-Obla developed a life of his own in handling the assignment given to him. They thought the VP was supposed to have checked him.

But a top member of the All Progressives Congress, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the situation as “sad” and “beyond mere words.”

The source said, “Those of us within the party are onlookers in this matter. They are turning this 2023 game dirty because how can you explain what is happening to the Vice- President who brought in class and finesse into government?

“It’s possible some persons around the President made some discoveries about the VP’s handling of certain issues and were able to convince him (Buhari) to whittle down his powers.

“Whatever is happening cannot be hidden for too long. Without doubt certain individuals within and outside the villa are taking advantage of the situation.”

Another party stalwart, however, said nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

The party stalwart, who also wished to remain anonymous because “the issue is purely within the purview of the President,” said, “It’s just a storm in a tea cup; there is nothing unusual happening.”

In response to a question on the replacement of the Osibajo-led Economic Management Team with the Prof Doyin Salami-led Economic Advisory Council, he said, “There is a new energy to refocus government to revamp the economy.

“Whether it is the Vice-President that is the driver of the economic management team or not, all of them are still reporting to the President.

“The Vice President has a constitutional role to play and he is playing it. I don’t know why some people want to create a rift between the Vice-President and his principal.

“If the President is saying this (economic) route that we’ve taken in the last four years has not yielded the desired results, let us go another route is there anything wrong with that?

“I don’t think what is happening is meant to slight the Vice-President. It is not a sign that the President has lost or is losing confidence in the VP.”

EMT scrapping won’t affect governance – VP’s office

When contacted, the Office of the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, insisted on Wednesday that governance was not affected in any way by Monday’s scrapping of the Economic Management Team by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Osinbajo hitherto chaired the EMT, which superintended over the economic programmes of the present administration.

In place of the EMT, Buhari named an Economic Advisory Council with Prof Doyin Salami as the chairman.

Other members are Dr Mohammed Sagagi (vice-chairman); Prof Ode Ojowu; Dr Shehu Yahaya; Dr Iyabo Masha; Prof Chukwuma Soludo; Mr Bismark Rewane; and Dr Mohammed Adaya Salisu (secretary).

Buhari further directed that the new EAC would report directly to him.

“The Economic Advisory Council will advise the President on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.

“The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the President. The Chairman may, however, request for unscheduled meetings if the need arises”, the Presidency had stated.

The scrapping of the EMT had fuelled speculation that it appeared the VP’s powers were being reduced.

But, his office said on Wednesday that the business of governance would continue, in spite of the dissolution of the EMT.

His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, while responding to enquiries by The PUNCH, following the speculation, stated, “Governance continues. The business of governance is not affected by the EMT dissolution in any way.”

Akande also maintained that there was only one Presidency, adding that the speculations were entirely unnecessary. “There is only one Presidency,” he said.

Aside from the scrapped EMT, Osinbajo oversees some agencies: the National Emergency Management Agency; the National Boundary Commission; and the Border Communities Development Agency.

The VP chairs the boards of NEMA and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company.

Amid speculation on Tuesday that a Monday memo from Buhari allegedly directed Osinbajo to seek his approval before taking decisions on any agencies under his watch, the VP’s office vehemently denied it.

One source informed the paper on Wednesday that in government, it was the normal practice for memos to pass between top officials of government.

“A lot of memos are exchanged every day.

“But, at this level of government, you would not say a memo was written specifically raising due process issues over the VP,” the source added.

In its response on Tuesday, the VP’s office had described the alleged memo as “false.”

“This is obviously misleading and aims only to plant seeds of discord in the Presidency, while attempting to create unnecessary national hysteria”, it stated.

Osinbajo’s office further noted, “The agencies in question are established by law and the Vice-President has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations.

“Depending on the particular scope of activity in question, agencies may require management approval only, at the level of the Director-General or Chief Executive Officer. In this category falls the great majority of their day-to-day activities.

“However, other activities, or procurements, with value exceeding a certain threshold, require board approval. These may get to the agency board chaired by the Vice-President. In a few cases where Presidential approval is required, the Director-General must seek such approval from the President, through the Vice-President.

“These rules have always guided the activities of statutory agencies and the ones under the Vice-President’s supervision have always been so guided.”

Osinbajo’s economic team dissolved for good reasons – Adesina

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the economic management team led by the Vice-President was dissolved for good reason and better management.

Adesina said this during an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Wednesday.

When asked if the dissolution of Osinbajo’s economic team signalled friction between the President and his deputy, Addesina said, “Nothing out of the ordinary is going on. Governance continues and the Presidency remains one. And this Presidency just wants to do what’s best for Nigeria.

“But unfortunately our country is one in which even if a 100-year-old man dies, people will still want to find out what killed him.

“In Nigeria there are too many inferences from things that are just normal and natural; things that are designed to accelerate governance and make sure there is probity and accountability. They will find all sorts of inferences. All that President Buhari has done particularly this week is just to tweak governance and get the best for Nigerians.”

The President’s spokesman said he was not aware of alleged plans by the Presidency to remove the Social Investment Programme from Osinbajo’s control.

He said the new economic advisory council which would report directly to the President, could sometimes defer to the Vice-President when the need arose.

Adesina added, “You seem to forget that the Vice-President is the number two man in the country. If the President is away, the Vice-President acts because it is a joint ticket. Therefore, the new economic advisory body can also relate with the Vice-President when necessary.

“It is just some Nigerians who want to drive a wedge between the President and the Vice-President that read meaning to everything. They insinuate about everything. It is still one Presidency and decisions taken are best for the country.”

When asked when the new economic council led by Prof. Doyin Salami would be inaugurated, Adesina said he had no idea but promised that it would be communicated to Nigerians in due course.

APC debunks crack in Presidency

When contacted for his reaction, the APC National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, debunked insinuations of a crack in the presidency.

He said, “It is irrelevant and a non-issue. It is just an attempt to create an issue where there is none.”

We are watching – Afenifere

The Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, says from the look of things, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s office has been rendered useless, impotent and irrelevant.

It, however, said it would be too early to speculate if Osinbajo’s ordeal was caused by any misdemeanour on his part or if it was based on permutations ahead of the general election in 2023.

The Spokesman for Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said this during an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday.

He said, “We are watching as events unfold. We are studying the situation but we must also not muddle up issues. For now we will not jump into any premature conclusion that this is about 2023 alone. We will need to know if we will need more information to know whether it is political or whether there was abuse of office or process.

“But the barrage of the last 48 hours shows that there is something wrong. We will wait to have all the facts because we don’t want to say a Yoruba man is being attacked.

“They may have had a justifiable reason to do so. But we are taking note of every development and at the appropriate time, we will make our position known. But clearly, what has happened is that the VP’s office has been rendered impotent, useless and irrelevant.

The Economic Management Team led by Osinbajo was suddenly dissolved on Monday and replaced with an advisory council that would report directly to President Muhammadu Buhari.

It was learnt that some of the agencies like NEMA, would rather deal directly with the President than Osinbajo.

There are also reports that some of Osinbajo’s aides had been transferred out of the Presidential Villa and seconded to some Ministries Departments and Agencies.

The Presidency, it was reported, was planning stripping the Vice-President of his brainchild known as the Social Investment Programme which comprises the Trader Moni initiative, N-Power, school feeding programme and others.

The welfare programme is expected to be placed under the newly created Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development headed by Sadiya Umar.

Osinbajo did not send EFCC after Adoke – Magu

Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has denied that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo used him to victimise Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation.

In his memoirs, “Burden of Service: The Reminiscences of Nigeria’s Former Attorney-General”, published by Clink Street Publishers in London and New York and now on sale in Nigeria, Adoke alleged that Osinbajo, Senator Ali Ndume and Mohammed Abacha used the EFCC chairman to hoodwink him and implicate him in the OPL 245 bribery scandal.

Adoke said he had helped Magu back to reckoning in the EFCC after he was allegedly signed after the removal of Nuhu Ribadu and that if he was a indeed corrupt person as being portrayed by the commission, he would have asked Magu for favours.

In a strong-worded response issued on his behalf by Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC head of media and publicity, Magu said he is alarmed at the “brazen attempt” by Adoke to “rewrite history and portray himself as victim of persecution”.

The statement read: “Specifically, he claimed in Chapter 8 of the book, that Magu was recruited by Prof. Osinbajo to hound and persecute him despite, as he claimed, his role in reinstating Magu to the EFCC from the police ‘where he had been vegetating.’ Adoke attributes his source of information on the alleged Osinbajo instruction to Magu against him to an unnamed governor from the North West, who according to him, claimed Magu told him that he had the instruction of Osinbajo to ‘deal with Adoke.’

“Adoke equally claims that an unnamed senator also confided in him that Magu nursed a personal grouse against him because he believed that he (Adoke) owned half of the Centinary City in Abuja.That Adoke neither named the North West governor nor the Senator that provided the weighty intelligence on which he took Magu to the guillotine in his book, could only mean one thing: the claims are tissues of lies, contrived to entertain and attract underserved attention to himself. The acting Chairman of EFCC Ibrahim Magu categorically states that at no time did the Vice President discuss, counsel, or direct him in any way on any issue concerning Mr. Adoke. It is wicked and evil to make such a false allegation against anybody especially where it is based on hearsay.

“[It] is obvious that what Adoke is offering the reading public in the account of his sojourn in governance is nothing but a bouquet of half truths and plain lies.The accounts in Chapters 8 and 9 as it relates to the EFCC and its Chairman, Ibrahim Magu are not only inaccurate but self serving. For the records and emphasis, Magu never received any instructions from the Vice President, neither had he communicated verbally or in writing to any governor from the North-West or senator about such a patently false purported instruction from Osinbajo to ‘deal with Adoke.’

“The EFCC is not the battle axe of political figures and could not have been called out to deal with anyone. Adoke’s ploy is simple. He wants to create a false narrative that the offenses for which he has been charged are not genuine but are the product of some high level conspiracy against him. But, first of all, there is no discernible reason for such a conspiracy. Secondly, it is an entirely false premise. It is clear that this is symptomatic of a drowning man clutching at straws.

“Adoke ran well outside the track when he said he was instrumental to reinstating Magu, to the EFCC from the police ‘where he had been vegetating.’ The Commission is unaware of Adoke’s role in Magu’s return to the Commission in 2012 after being away for a few years. It is well known that the EFCC Acting Chairman is a pioneer staff of the Commission, with many stripes to his sleeves by way of accomplishments that have no link to Adoke.

“Magu and the EFCC have no interest in any public spat with Adoke who remains a suspect under investigation for criminal offences and against whom a competent court had issued a subsisting warrant for his arrest. The said warrant has already been executed by the International Police Organisation which placed him on its wanted list.”

The anti-graft agency said Adoke should now make himself available for prosecution.

VP Osinbajo flags off National Livestock Transformation Plan

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve in Mayo-Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa.

Inaugurating the project on Tuesday, Osinbajo said the plan is designed to run from 2019-2028 as part of Federal Government’s initiative in collaboration with States under the auspices of the National Economic Council (NEC).

He said the plan, targeted at supporting the development of Nigeria’s livestock sector, is to be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.

According to the vice president, the plan will be implemented as a collaboration project between the Federal and State governments, farmers, pastoralists and private investors.

“In this plan the State Government or private investors provide the land, the federal government does not and will not take any land from a State or local government.

“Any participating state will provide the land and its own contribution to the project. The federal government merely supports.

“It is a plan that hopes to birth tailor made ranches where cattle are bred, and meat and dairy products are produced using modern livestock breeding and dairy methods.

“This solves the problem of cattle grazing into and destroying farmlands. It ensures a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change,” Osinbajo said.

He noted that the plan was designed to provide modern meat and dairy industry and in some cases integrated crop farming.

According to Osinbajo, the unique feature of the plan is that any participating state will determine its own model.

“I wish to emphasise that this is not RUGA. Because the idea of RUGA settlements launched by the Ministry of Agriculture created a problem when it was perceived as a plan to seize lands to create settlements for herders.

“RUGA was not the plan designed and approved by the governors and the President rightly suspended the implementation,” Osinbajo said.

He said that the NLTP was endorsed by all governors and could only be implemented with the full participation and consent of the governors and the people of the state.

He said no state could be forced to participate, adding that Adamawa had chosen to begin the implementation of the plan.

He noted Adamawa state experienced several crises on account of clashes between herders and farmers resulting in the destruction of lives and property.

He also observed that the introduction of the livestock transformation plan was a win-win for the state and its people, and would provide a basis for peaceful coexistence, jobs for many and a mechanism for resolving disputes.

Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa said that the flag-off of the plan was a robust all encompassing life-changing transformation programme in the livestock sub-sector.

Fintiri said the introduction of the plan was the solution desired for peaceful coexistence among diverse people of the state.

“The Plan will create job opportunities and solve lingering conflict between farmers and herders,” Fintiri said.

Your actions can break up the country, Afenifere warns FG

Afenifere, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, says the federal government is “doing all kinds of things that can divide the country”.

Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere spokesman, said this while responding to a comment Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo made on the unity of the country.

Osinbajo had asked those seeking the dissolution of Nigeria to look at the case of Sudan which broke up yet the problems still linger.

In a statement on Wednesday, Yinka Odumakin, Afenifere spokesman, said the actions taken by the federal government “make the break-up inevitable.”

Odumakin wondered why the government declared the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) a terrorist group.

“The president said yesterday that Abiola would have solved ethnic and religious problems in Nigeria, why are they not solving it. Why are they doing all kinds of things that can divide the country?,” he said.

“So if a break-up is not the solution but all the actions they are taking make the break-up inevitable. The Fulani people are doing so many things in the country, they are not doing anything against them. You are doing many things that can break up the country and yet you are saying break-up is not the solution.

“What kind of sermon are they preaching? If they are declaring Shites group as terrorists, what act of terrorism have they done, whereas those who are perpetrating terror in Nigeria you are giving them money.

“The Afenifere has never set out to ask for the break up of Nigeria, as a matter of fact, we don’t like it . It is those who are pursuing the policy of not making Nigerians good neighbors to themselves, those who regard some Nigerians as masters and some as slaves, those who discriminate and pursuing policy of discrimination, those who don’t provide employment for the millions of able-bodied Nigerians, even though, there are opportunities to do so, that could break up the country

“Some Nigerians who have the opportunity to utilise the resource to develop Nigeria and fail to do so. It is these people directly or indirectly, who are breaking this country up.”

Osinbajo visits family of slain Channels reporter in Kaduna

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo paid a condolence visit to the family of Precious Owolabi, slain reporter of Channels Television.

Owolabi was killed during a clash between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and the police on Monday.

Until his death, he was a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

According to NAN, Osinbajo visited Owolabi’s family in Zaria, Kaduna state, urging them to “take heart”, adding that the loss of the corps member would never be forgotten.

Speaking with journalists, Shu’aibu Ibrahim, NYSC director-general, said the visit of Osinbajo is an indication that the government cares.

“Actually, last Monday was a very sad day for the NYSC family and for the vice-president to come on behalf of the president on condolence with the family is an indication that the federal government really cares for the NYSC,” he said.

“And the welfare of the NYSC is paramount to the federal government, we appreciate it and I can assure you that we have learnt a lesson from what had happened.

“As you can see, the corps members are very proud of the Federal Government for the President to come to this house, this indicated that Precious Owolabi is a hero, he died in the service of our country.”

Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, accompanied Osinbajo during the visit.

 

SimmonCoopers debunks Punch’s allegation of involvement in tax fraud

SimmonsCoopers Partners, the law firm  alleged by Punch Newspapers to have been linked to a N100 billion tax evasion scandal involving Alpha Beta Consulting Limited, has refuted the allegations and given the newspaper 72 hours to retract the publication.

The law firm, which had Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as partner until he assumed office, threatened to take legal action for defamation and malicious falsehood, if the said retraction was not made.

On July 13, 2019, the Saturday edition of the Punch Newspapers has published a headline story titled “Osinbajo’s firm linked to company fingered in alleged N100bn Alpha Beta scam”,where it alleged that SimmonsCoopers Partners, the law partnership firm formerly headed by Prof Yemi Osinbajo SAN, before he was elected the Vice President of Nigeria, served as Company Secretary to Alpha Beta Consulting Ltd.

However, in a press released signed by the Managing Partner of SimmonsCoopers Partners, Mr. Dapo Akinosun, on Thursday, the law firm refuted the story of Punch newspapers, stating that it is not involved, in any shape or form, neither does it have a link with, the alleged tax evasion, money laundering, nor corruption claims alleged against any of the corporations identified in the Publication.

He further stated that the firm has never been retained by Ocean Trust Limited to offer secretarial services as alleged by Punch Newspapers. “As is custom with filings as Company Secretary, there is no acceptance letter by the firm consenting to the purported appointment, or any other filing undertaken by the firm as Company Secretary at the registry of the Corporate Affairs Commission”, he said.

Akinosun acknowledged Prof. Osinbajo (GCON) as a “one time senior partner” of the law firm who resigned from the firm upon his election as Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, in line with international best practices. “SimmonsCooper Partners is a product of the combination of her members’ intellectual capital, industry and integrity garnered for several years. We are proud that Professor Osinbajo continues to epitomize these values even in public service”.

Below is the full text of the release:

“SimmonsCooper Partners’ (“the Firm”) attention has been drawn to certain allegations, assertions and other false accusations made against her in the front page of the Punch Newspapers of July 13th 2019, titled “Osinbajo’s firm linked to company fingered in alleged N100bn Alpha Beta scam” (“the Publication”);

For the record, SimmonsCooper Partners refutes all the false allegations imputed against the firm, her members and persons currently or previously associated with the firm. The Publication singled out, not only SimmonsCooper Partners, but also Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) (GCON), a onetime senior partner and member of the firm, for public opprobrium;

The Publication contains untrue and highly defamatory statements towards the firm, some of which contain malicious falsehood.  In doing so, defamatory statements are being communicated to millions of people throughout the world, diminishing the firm’s reputation and that of various individuals who have worked at, and continue to work, at SimmonsCooper Partners;

SimmonsCooper Partners states that it is not involved, in any shape or form, neither does it have a link with, the alleged tax evasion, money laundering, nor corruption claims alleged against any of the corporations identified in the Publication. For the avoidance of doubt, SimmonsCooper Partners has never retained a physical or correspondent address at “B5 Falomo Shopping Complex, South West Ikoyi, Victoria Island”. This address is copiously portrayed in the published CAC Form 2.1, purportedly, as proof of the linkage between the firm and the subject matter of the allegations, whereas, a cursory inquiry by Punch could have shown that this address is neither the firm’s registered address nor its principal office. The firm categorically states that it has never been retained by Ocean Trust Limited to offer secretarial services as alleged by Punch Newspapers or at all. As is custom with filings as Company Secretary, there is no acceptance letter by the firm consenting to the purported appointment, or any other filing undertaken by the firm as Company Secretary at the registry of the Corporate Affairs Commission;

The Publication seems designed to damage the reputation of SimmonsCooper Partners and its past and current members rather than have any fair comment basis. The Publication was a false statement of fact, intentionally published in print and on the Internet, to millions of people within Nigeria and around the world. The malicious intent is demonstrated by the fact that a public search at the Corporate Affairs Commission shows that Ocean Trust Limited has a subsisting company secretary that had been appointed since 2011, which fact was curiously left out by the Punch Newspapers in the Publication. We believe that the Punch Newspaper’s admission to “rush to press” with the Publication, was motivated by malice and calculated to cause harm to the firm and its past and current members;

Further, the imputation that offering professional services to a company, by itself, creates an association with alleged wrongdoing, is neither customary nor reasonable. We are certain that Punch Newspapers has external legal advisers who will not be taken to be privy to, or actors in, the defamation alleged herein, or indeed in other matters of liability that may arise in the course of running Punch’s business. Offering professional services, by itself, cannot be characterized as wrongdoing. The insinuation that the firm, its past and current members are somehow associated with alleged tax evasion, corruption, the suppression of investigation and obstruction of justice is not only unjustifiable and unreasonable, but also malicious in intent. Without more, the Publication has definitely held the firm up to scorn, ridicule, disgrace, and contempt in the minds of the readers of the Publication;

SimmonsCooper Partners, today, is a product of the combination of her members’ intellectual capital, industry and integrity garnered for several years. We are proud that Professor Osinbajo continues to epitomise these values even in public service. In line with international best practices, upon his election as Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Osinbajo resigned his membership of the firm;

 

The firm is aggrieved by the wanton, mischievous and most unprofessional manner in which the Punch Newspapers has published the defamatory statements in the Publication. SimmonsCooper Partners intends to seek redress to the fullest extent available in law and has requested the Punch Newspapers to do all of the following:

  • remove from publication in their entirety the defamatory publication and all online threads to prevent further harm to the Firm’s business;
  • produce an apology and a declaration that the allegations referred to are false and defamatory and cause such apology and declaration to be published in each of the forums which have given or could give reason for our complaint (such apology to be approved by us prior to publication);
  • provide details of the number of online posts made, together with website addresses;
  • make proposals for the payment to us of damages for the harm caused to our reputation; and
  • undertake to actively monitor and delete any newly published defamatory content relating to the Firm.

 

If the defamatory Publication and threads are not permanently removed and the above undertakings are not complied within the stipulated period, SimmonsCooper Partners reserves the right to undertake further action as appropriate”.

Osinbajo’s firm linked to company fingered in alleged N100bn Alpha Beta scam

 

A company in which Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has a stake, Simmons Coopers Partners, has been linked to another firm, Ocean Trust Limited, which was fingered in an alleged N100bn scam involving Alpha Beta Consulting Limited and Alpha Beta LP.

Ocean Trust Limited, which was accused of being a conduit for diversion and laundering of funds by Alpha Beta, listed the law firm of Simmons Coopers as its company secretary, documents exclusively obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission by Saturday Punch showed.

Simmons Coopers was listed as a company in which Prof Yemi Osinbajo (now Vice-President) had a stake in his asset declaration form in 2015, according to the statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

In a petition submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in July 2018, Dapo Apara, the erstwhile managing director of Alpha Beta, had alleged that Alpha Beta owed the Federal Government N100bn in unpaid taxes spanning over 10 years, adding that the firm usually laundered funds through another firm, Ocean Trust Limited.

He alleged that the firm was being protected by powerful politicians.

The petition by Apara’s lawyer, Adetunji Adegboyega, read in part, “Over the years, the company (Alpha Beta) has been protected and shielded by some powerful politicians and people in the society which made them to always boast of being untouchable.

“But our client, feeling the need not to keep quiet again and strengthened by his belief in the fact that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is keen on fighting corruption which has been the bane of our country, is of the firm view that it is time to expose and open the can of worms called Alpha Beta Consulting.

“Our client is of the firm belief that it is time for the commission to step in and conduct a holistic investigation into the activities of Alpha Beta Consulting Limited and Alpha Beta LLP with a view to uncovering the massive corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, etc., going on in the company.

“Kindly note that one of the companies being used to perpetrate money laundering by the company is still another company named Ocean Trust Limited.”

Osinbajo’s reaction

When contacted on the relationship between Osinbajo’s firm, Simmons Coopers and Ocean Trust, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media, Mr Laolu Akande, said he would not comment on the matter unless he was shown the document indicating Simmons Coopers was Ocean Trust’s company secretary.

But, a source close to Osinbajo claimed that “the Vice President has since 2014 left the firm. There is no interest there anymore.”

The source added, “And I think you should talk to the EFCC about its own decisions. It does not make sense that the EFCC will say it is not prosecuting or, as you say, investigating or probing (the allegations) because of what you claimed.”

However, Osinbajo in 2015 listed Simmons Coopers as one of his companies in his asset declaration form.

Where is Ocean Trust?

Saturday Punch, which investigated Ocean Trust Limited for three months, conducted a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission.

It was noted during a CAC search that the firm was registered with number 419706 on January 5, 2011, and is located at 684, Idowu Taylor Street, Victoria Island, Lagos and had Gboyega Iyiola and Kunle Akinniyi as shareholders at the inception both of whom relinquished their shares two days later on January 7, 2011.

One of documents exclusively obtained from the Corporate Affairs Commission
Incidentally, the property where Ocean Trust Limited is located shares the same address with the office of former Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State known as ‘Freedom House’.

All efforts to contact Ocean Trust Limited proved futile as investigations by Saturday Punch showed that the company might no longer be in operation.

Also, attempts to speak with its management turned out to be a wild goose chase.

When one of our correspondents visited the company’s address at the Freedom House, Plot 684, Idowu Taylor Street, a fair-complexioned lady, who said she was an employee of Ocean Trust Limited, told Saturday Punch that the company was no longer located there.

When asked if it was true that the firm was being used to launder funds for Alpha Beta, the lady, who refused to identify herself, asked our correspondent to send an email which she would forward to her boss.

Over three weeks after one of our correspondents sent her an email, a response was still being awaited as of the time of filing this report on Friday.

A visit to Ocean Trust’s second listed address at 42 Norman Williams Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos yielded no positive result as the compound looked deserted having been overtaken by weeds.

Saturday Punch met with a lady, who simply gave her name as Blessing, and confirmed that the place was being used by Ocean Trust. She, however, said she could not speak on any issue as the place was only a correspondence office.

After a brief chat, she gave one of our reporters a phone number that she claimed belonged to an accountant with Ocean Trust.

When Saturday Punch called the number, a man who picked the phone said he was not a staff member of the company.

After one of our correspondents told Blessing that the ‘accountant’ denied working for Ocean Trust, she referred him to the head office on 9 Grace Anjous Street, Lekki Phase I to make an enquiry.

When one of our correspondents got to the address, a male receptionist initially confirmed that the office belonged to Ocean Trust.

However, after an introduction as a journalist, he retracted his statement and said the premises belonged to Paragon Holdings and only delivered correspondences to Ocean Trust.

He said, “Ocean Trust is not one of our partners; they used to use here to receive correspondences, but they no longer come here.

“They are not our partners again. Here, we only deal with their files, both physical and electronic.”

While questioning the receptionist on why he had earlier admitted that the place belonged to Ocean Trust, another man emerged from one of the offices in the building and said Ocean Trust was no longer in existence.

He said, “To the best of my knowledge, Ocean Trust is not functioning. We only receive correspondences for them, but in terms of business, they stopped existing before the end of the (former Lagos State Governor Babatunde) Fashola’s administration. We don’t even know who they are. They’ve folded up since.”

EFCC yet to take action

One year after Apara’s petition, the EFCC has yet to take any action on the matter.

The EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, had said in February that the petitioner should send a reminder as the petition could not be traced.

In a recent chat with Saturday Punch  on why the commission had refused to respond to media inquiries for over a month, the EFCC spokesman asked one of our correspondents to give him more time to react.

Efforts made thereafter to get a response from the EFCC did not yield result.

As of Friday when this report was being filed, Orilade had yet to respond.

Apara, who accused the firm of tax evasion to the tune of N100bn, also told Saturday Punch that the EFCC had yet to contact him a year after the petition had been submitted.

“I have still not been contacted by the EFCC,” he said in response to an inquiry.

Alpha Beta controversies

Alpha Beta Consulting was awarded a contract by the Tinubu-led government after a recommendation by a committee comprising the then attorney-general of Lagos State, Prof Osinbajo (now the Vice-President); Mr Wale Edun, the then commissioner for finance; and a former commissioner for economic planning and budget, Yemi Cardoso.

The firm was subsequently given exclusive rights to collect taxes on behalf of Lagos State and was believed to receive about 10 per cent commission from the revenue it collected for the state.

However, pro-transparency groups and opposition politicians have constantly alleged that Tinubu owns Alpha Beta.

In 2012, a Lagos-based medical doctor, Dominic Adegbola, filed a Freedom of Information request to state authorities, seeking detailed information on all Alpha Beta contracts with Lagos State since 1999.

But the state’s Attorney-General then, Ade Ipaye, (now Osinbajo’s chief of staff), rejected the request, insisting that the FoI was a federal law that did not apply to the states.

However, in November 2017, a state judge ruled that the FoI was applicable to Lagos State. The judge said the law was duly enacted by the National Assembly and did not require domestication to take effect in states.

When one of our correspondents visited the office of Alpha Beta at the Lagos Water Corporation Building, Ijora Causeway, Lagos, the company’s Head of Corporate Support Services and General Counsel, Mr Omogbemi Adelagun, said the matter was already in court and, therefore, he could not comment on the issue.

“If the matter had not been taken to court, we would have been able to react to it. So, right now, we cannot say anything until the court rules on the case,” he said.

Alpha Beta LLP had, however, said in an advertorial in response to the allegations levelled against it by its former MD that the accusations were illogical and false.

The advertorial read in part, “Alpha Beta has been visibly engaged by the Lagos State Government since 2002 as a forensic, internal control and enhancement adviser. In working with the state, Alpha Beta helped develop the state’s centralised transaction platforms, the precursor to the present-day Treasury Single Account.”

The firm said at the time it entered into the contract with Lagos State, the state was taking in the sum of N600m in internally generated revenue per month but things had since changed for the better.

Meanwhile, the Alpha Beta’s former managing director, Apara, has approached a Federal High Court, Abuja, “directing an investigation to be made by the Corporate Affairs Commission into the conduct of Alpha Beta Consulting Limited.”

Apara, who said he had been and remained a director of the firm since its incorporation, with control of 30 per cent of its shares value, also alleged that the financial records of the company filed with the CAC and tax authorities did not reflect the actual profits of the company or of its directors.

He alleged among others in the suit that he and shareholders of the company were being owed their remunerations.

Also praying for the takeover of the management of the company by an appointee of the court, the suit urged the court “to appoint a receiver or a receiver manager of the property of Alpha Beta Consulting Limited.”

The suit, couched as a “petition” and brought under the Companies Proceedings Rules and Order 5 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2009, was filed on November 9, 2018 and marked FHC/ABJ/PET/2018.

When contacted on the telephone, a former Senior Partner at Simmons Coopers, Babatunde Irukera, said he had never heard of Ocean Trust Limited and wondered how Simmons Coopers could have served as its company secretary.

Irukera, who is now the Executive Secretary, Consumer Protection Council and had served as managing partner at Simmons Coopers during the time in question, directed our correspondent to another partner, Victoria Alonge.

Alonge told Saturday PUNCH that she had never heard of Ocean Trust Limited and asked the reporter for more time.

She said Simmons Coopers had checked all its records and had not found Ocean Trust in its books, adding that it had no record with the CAC.

When one of our correspondents dictated the contents of the document linking Simmons Coopers with Ocean Trust, Alonge expressed shock and asked that the document be sent to her.

She, however, maintained that Vice-President Osinbajo was a man of honour and honesty and would never hinder the EFCC from doing its job.

Alonge said, “Simmons Coopers has never had any dealings with Ocean Trust. We are also doing our own investigations. We checked our Abuja records and Ocean Trust is not stated there. This is new to us and it cannot be insinuated that Prof Osinbajo is stopping the EFCC from doing its job.

“For us, there is nothing to hide. As a partner, I should be in a position to know. We are still checking our records and we haven’t found anything.”

The PUNCH

Some kidnapping stories are not true, Osinbajo tells Nigerians in US

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has told Nigerians in the Diaspora that the spate of kidnappings in Nigeria is exaggerated and not entirely new.

This is despite recent travel advisories issued by the United States and the United Kingdom asking its citizens not to visit some states in Nigeria due to the rising insecurity occasioned by kidnapping, banditry, militancy, terrorism and other challenges.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in New York on Sunday evening, Osinbajo said the social media “tends to be hysterical about practically everything”, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

The Vice-President spoke in response to several questions and comments on the security situation back home.

Many members of the audience had taken turns to express concern about the reported spate of killings and kidnapping back home, and wanted to know what the government is doing to address the situation.

He said, “With respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in parts of the country, again, this is not entirely new. In fact, some of the kidnapping stories you read or listen to are simply not true anywhere, some are fuelled by politics.

“There are cases of kidnapping, no question at all about that, but some of the more dramatic stories that you hear are simply not true.

“Every report of kidnapping we receive, we try to verify, and at the end of the day you find out that people just tell all sorts of stories.

Osinbajo said the Federal Government was working with the states to check kidnapping where it was actually taking place, using technology to track the perpetrators.

He said the efforts were already yielding results with several arrests made by security agencies in affected areas.

Osinbajo said the government was capable of addressing the security challenges, assuring Nigerians that the news “will be a lot better very soon”.

Turning to banditry and farmers/herders clashes in the North-west and central, the Vice President described them as “resource conflicts”.

According to him, banditry, especially in Zamfara and Katsina, was more of a fight over the control of mining sites by armed groups.

He said the government was taking several measures, including shutting down the mines, to address the problem.

The Vie-President added, “In the North Central, we have the livestock transformation plan to address the farmers/herders conflict.

“Ultimately, it is ranching that will solve the problem because you cannot have people wandering across the country with their cattle.

“It is not helpful to them, this they know, because ranching is more convenient and profitable.

“So, we are building herd dams in the northern states so that people don’t necessarily come down south in search for water and green pastures for their herds.

“We are also trying to ensure we provide grazing areas before we come to cattle routes.”

Osinbajo said in fairness to herders, the livestock sector had not enjoyed the kind of government’s funding and support accorded farmers over the years.

$900,000 still in bank account as Osinbajo submits assets form

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has submitted his assets declaration forms to the Code of Conduct Bureau ahead of the oath-taking ceremony slated for 29 May and declared ‘no significant change from the assets declared in 2015.

There are no new real properties, shareholding or bank accounts, said the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Research, Legal and Compliance Matters, Dr. Balkisu Saidu who submitted the completed forms to the Chairman of the CCB, Professor Mohammed Isa.

President Muhammadu Buhari had also submitted his asset form.

The two leaders have complied with the requirement of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), that makes assets declaration compulsory before taking the oath of office.

In 2015, Osinbajo declared bank balances of about N94 million and 900,000 United States Dollars.

He also declared 4-bedroom residence at Victoria Garden City, Lagos and a 3-bedroom flat at 2 Mosley Road, Ikoyi; 2-bedroom flat at Redemption Camp along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and a 2-bedroom mortgaged property in Bedford, England.

Others assets declared are his law firm, known as SimmonsCooper, and shareholding in six private companies based in Lagos, including Octogenerium Ltd., Windsor Grant Ltd., Tarapolsa, Vistorion Ltd., Aviva Ltd. and MTN Nigeria.

Confusion as army commander clashes with Borno deputy gov’s security aides

There was a disagreement between soldiers and policemen while Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was inaugurating some projects in Maiduguri, Borno state capital, on Tuesday.

The vice-president visited Borno to inaugurate some of the projects executed by the outgoing administration of Kashim Shettima.

Among the projects were schools, GSM Center and facilities for displaced children in the state.

However, while Osinbajo, Kashim Shettima, the governor and Usman Durkwa, the deputy governor, were inaugurating a school along Bukumkutu road in the state capital, security operatives attached to them disagreed in public.

Confusion broke out after Mike Alechenu, garrison commander, operation Lafiya Dole, prevented the vehicles attached to Durkwa to join the convoy of other dignitaries.

As the lead vehicle in the convoy of Durkwa attempted to move, Alechenu used a stick to smash its windscreen.

He also used the stick to hit the driver of the white Hilux van conveying security operatives before ordering his men to deflate the tyres of any of the deputy governor’s vehicles that attempted to “move an inch”.

Soldiers were seen attaching knives to their Ak-47 riffles in order to comply with directives of their commander.

Alechennu also threatened to handcuff the aide-de-camp of Durkwa, an assistant superintendent of police (ASP), who had appealed for calm.

“This is a matter of security, you don’t tell me what to do. I’ll bundle and handcuff you if you move an inch from this place,” he warned.

Consequently, junior police officers blocked the road in protest.

“You are here trying to intimidate us when you are running away from your responsibility of fighting Boko Haram,” an angry police officer said.

It took the intervention of some operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) for the situation to be brought under control.

Business giants face blacklisting over N5tr AMCON debts

Institutions and individuals on Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s (AMCON’s) debtors’ list are to be blacklisted. They will no longer be allowed to do business with the government henceforth, it was learnt at the weekend.

According to a plan by the Federal Government, an inter-agency collaboration framework that comprises Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and supervised by the office of the Vice President, will block the indebted entities from dealing with the government, which is the biggest player in the economy.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who doubles as the Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC), dropped the hint, when he hosted some members of the AMCON Board led by its Chairman, Muiz Banire at the State House, Abuja.

Prof Osinbajo said the debtors made it impossible for the corporation to resolve its outstanding N5 trillion debts, thereby holding the entire nation to ransom with their “bad behaviour”.

There are 105 debtors on the AMCON list. They include key players in aviation, power, real estate, oil and gas, as well as other sectors of the economy.

AMCON has recovered over N1 trillion since inception in 2011. Of the recovered funds, cash assets account for 60 per cent and non-cash assets, such as properties and equity securities, account for the balance of 40 per cent. Over the same period, AMCON’s repayment of its indebtedness to the CBN was over N1 trillion.

The vice president plans to invite the AMCON team alongside other MDAs to fine-tune how to ensure that anybody or agency that is a debtor to AMCON faces the wrath of the Federal Government as those who are indebted to the government are direct enemies of both the government and the people.

He said the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will no longer allow a few individuals who owe AMCON huge sums of money walk freely on the streets. Osinbajo said: “I think the time has come for us (Federal Government) to set some examples with some of these top debtors of AMCON, which I believe will set a good example and serve as deterrent to others.”

Osinbajo, who expressed satisfaction with the performance of the executive management of AMCON under Ahmed Kuru’s watch, promised that the government would support AMCON.

He said that the Corporation would be empowered with the tools to go after the obligors who have remained recalcitrant despite the olive branch extended to them over the years by the debt recovery agency.

Osinbajo said: “I congratulate AMCON for the work done so far having recovered over N1 trillion and counting both in cash and in assets. The work you do as a recovery agency is not something that is particularly easy or encouraging because we all know how Nigeria works. But we are committed to working more closely with your administration to ensure that these monies are recovered from AMCON obligors because it will help our economy and provide the government with more money to continue to improve on the development of infrastructure across the nation.”

Banire said AMCON’s visit was to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President on their victory at the polls. He highlighted some of the challenges faced by AMCON as a result of the attitudes of some debtors who behave as if they are above the law.

Banire said: “As at end of December, 2018, AMCON’s Assets Under Management (AUM) amounted to about N172.5 billion.

“It is noteworthy to state that out of the total real estate properties, assets available for sale are valued at N62 billion. Of this N62 billion, about 83 per cent comprises bare land and other assets, which may need considerable improvement to convert into income generating assets.

“Your Excellency may recall that in September 2018, following the takeover of Skye Bank Plc. by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), AMCON was again invited to inject a total sum of N898.45 billion as capital, thereby leading to the emergence of another bridged bank named Polaris Bank Limited.

“The intervention in Skye Bank was caused majorly by internal abuse by the operators. As a result of that development, AMCON’s total debt obligation to the CBN is currently in excess of N6 trillion.

“And it is evident that the Federal Government cannot afford to write off this debt in the short term, hence, our moral obligation to pursue obligors and recover the debts owed. But, despite the successes recorded, the corporation has been facing a number of challenges, which include obligors resorting to all manner of tactics to avoid honouring their obligations.

“Whilst some are still enjoying government patronage, others are using the judiciary and adopting legal technicalities to stall recovery, which is why we need a new strategy to enable AMCON meet its mandate before sunset.”

Kuru said he could not wait for the take-off of the inter-agency collaboration promised by Osinbajo as, according to him, such a move would compel all sister agencies to be on the same page in the interest of the country.

The AMCON boss also reminded the vice president that AMCON’s debts sits on the government’s balance sheet with CBN, and failure to recover them may result in serious consequences including recourse to tax payers’ money, which must be avoided.

“He said for an organisation like AMCON with sunset date, all hands must be on deck to provide the support required. According to him, considering the huge portfolio of debt, no obligor must be allowed to go scot free – no matter how highly placed in the society.

Angry villagers block Osinbajo’s convoy in Abuja

Aggrieved protesters blocked the convoy of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo along Umaru Musa Yar’Adua expressway in Abuja on Tuesday morning.

The vice-president was heading to the airport when his convoy ran into a barricade at the Goza village axis of the road.

Residents of Gbagyi village had converged on the spot, which is the major road connecting the airport to the city, to protest the alleged invasion of their land by the military.

The security aides of the vice-president tried to appease the protesters but failed, forcing Osinbajo to alight from his car.

Some of the protesters hailed the vice-president as he approached them.

Osinbajo sued for calm, assuring the protesters that their grievances would be addressed.

Apparently convinced by his intervention, the people allowed his convoy to pass but denied access to other vehicles.

Below are some pictures from the scene:

Osinbajo in midst of the crowd

Security aides of the vice-president taking charge of the situation

Other vehicles affected by the barricade

The vice-president’s convoy leaving the spot

Ndume meets Osinbajo, insists on senate presidency

Ali Ndume, former senate leader and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), says he is still eyeing the number one position in the senate.

Ndume, who represents Borno south senatorial district, made this known after meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa in Abuja on Monday.

He arrived at Aso Rock around 3pm before proceeding to Osinbajo’s office for the meeting.

The APC is expected to produce the next crop of national assembly leaders after emerging with the majority lawmakers in the two  the party leadership as well as President Muhammadu Buhari have endorsed Ahmad Lawan as senate president.

But Ndume is still determined to run against Lawan who took over his position as senate leader after the Borno lawmaker fell out with Senate President Bukola Saraki.

At the end of the one-hour meeting with Osinbajo, state house correspondents asked Ndume if he had withdrawn from the race and he asked rhetorically: “Me?”

He declined to comment on the issues discussed with the nation’s number two citizen but said he was still consulting over his bid to head the ninth senate.

“This is not the time to talk now because I am still holding consultation,” he said.

Last week, the senator rolled out a nine-point agenda which he said he would implement if elected the next senate president.

The senator, in the agenda, promised to make the office of the senate president less attractive by reducing the unnecessary privileges attached to it.

Osinbajo: Buhari focused on prosperity agenda in the next four years

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the next four years will address, among other things, the deficiencies in the quality of human resources caused by poor education and healthcare, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said.

Osinbajo spoke on Monday at the University of Lagos(UNILAG) where he delivered the Convocation Lecture ahead of the university’s 50th anniversary

According to him, under Buhari’s administration, Nigeria’s prosperity means a decent existence for all.

“Second, that prosperity so defined will be attained if we are able to address the issues of extreme poverty, productivity, corruption, the rule of law and the deficiencies in the quality of human resources caused by poor education and healthcare.

“We must have a robust enough healthcare system that ensures that the average person is in good health, an educational system that guarantees education capable of preparing children for the opportunities and challenges of a knowledge economy.

“in planning the path to prosperity, we also took into account the age-old weaknesses of the Nigerian economy and the illusion of prosperity that frequently distorts our understanding of the actual fragility of our economy”.

On the way forward, the vice president said from the onset it was clear to the Federal Government that it needed to devise an economic plan that prioritised the basic issues with Nigeria’s economy.

He said that Nigeria needed to prioritise the building of infrastructure especially rail, roads, power and ports; productivity as it diversified from oil and gas.

Osinbajo said that more would be done in the fight against public sector corruption and developing a new educational curriculum that emphasises Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths.

“Others include; adopting a new approach to resourcing healthcare; putting in place a social investment programme that deals with issues of extreme poverty and unemployment. Our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan effectively addressed these issues. “

On the progress made so far, Osinbajo said the Buhari administration believed that creating an environment for productivity investment in hard and soft infrastructure was crucial.

He assured Nigerians that with the integrity of President Buhari and the commitment of his administration, Nigeria would not derail from its current path to prosperity.
Osinbajo said that if the administration stuck to its agenda in the next two years, Nigerians would see the most significant improvements, in the power sector.

“Industrial Infrastructure is a major component of our economic transformation plan. Project MINE (Made in Nigeria for Export) is the major plank of our industrial policy.

” The idea is to build Special Economic Zones which accommodate industries for local manufacture of goods for which Nigeria has a comparative advantage. These include cotton, garments, leatherware among others, ” he said.

Shortly before delivering the Convocation lecture, Osinbajo unveiled the Mascot for the 26th NUGA games and inaugurated some projects executed by the University.

Some of the projects include the newly constructed Container Building for the University Technology Hub, the Academic Publishing Centre Building, the Faculty of Engineering Lecture Theatre, and the remodelled University Medical Centre.

Osinbajo: How 50 UK police officers assisted ACN to recover 4 states from PDP in 2007

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says a team of 63 fingerprint experts, including 50 from the UK police, worked to help the then Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) reclaim some states that were allegedly rigged by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007.

He listed the states as Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Edo. Only Ondo that was not under the control of ACN then but Bola Tinubu, then the leader of ACN, had used his influence in assisting Olusegun Mimiko, a former governor of Ondo, to take the state from the PDP.

Mimiko belonged to the Labour party at the time. He later defected to the PDP.

Speaking at the 11th colloquium of Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the vice-president said Tinubu told him that they needed to prove that there was case of over voting.

“In 2007, when our party, then ACN, was rigged out of elections in Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and in Edo state. He invited me to his residence at bourdillion and he said the only way we can possibly reclaim the states that was taken away from us is going through the courts.
He said the only is by proving that there was multiple voting. Meaning that a few people singlehandedly thumb-printed ballot papers, dumped them into ballot boxes and they were counted in favour of the opposition, the PDP,” he said.

“He said the only we can do this – he said ‘I don’t know how you will do this’ – but some how proving that their is evidence that this is what happened.

“I said ‘Asiwaju, nobody has ever proven that in an electoral case’ and I said what is even more is that there are over a million ballot papers, how can we prove it? He said that was his view and I should look for a way of sorting this out.

“So I went to to the UK and met with possibly the most experienced [expert] in the entire UK. When I told the enormity of the problem, he laughed and almost fell off his chair. He said in all his experience as a finger print expert he has not done up to 4000 prints and you are now saying I should come and do 1.3 million finger prints. That was a Thursday and he called me back on Monday and he said let’s talk again about this. And we did, and somehow we found a away.

“We used a bit of technology. Most importantly we were able to get finger print experts. In the end, we hired 63 finger print experts, 50 of them were from the UK police. Asiwaju had to persuade the authorities to release them all together 63 police men – they were working for almost six months.

“We were able to put together a strong forensic case that showed that that the places that were defeated it was on account of multiple voting. To cut the long long story short, one by one, we were able to get the states taken from us.”

Yakasai: APC might field Tinubu or Osinbajo in 2023

Tanko Yakasai, elder statesman and political adviser in the second Republic, says the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) might field Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo or Bola Tinubu, a national leader of APC, in 2023.

Speaking with The Interview, Yakasai said the region played a key role in the emergence of Buhari in 2019.

On the possibility of the APC fielding a presidential candidate from the south-east in 2013, Yakasai said the region will be sidelined for the south-west.

“The current calculation is that the vice-president is from the Southwest. Clearly, there is an unwritten understanding that when Buhari finishes, the Vice President will likely be the next presidential candidate of the APC,” he said.

“The Vice President is a Yoruba man. Even if it is not Osinbajo, somebody from there, probably Tinubu, will likely emerge as the candidate of the party.

“And with the performance of the party in the southeast, I don’t see any possibility that the party will think of giving its candidacy to the southeast as against the support it earned from the southwest.

“Apart from voting, don’t forget that there were some material support which APC enjoyed from the Southwest.”

Defending his choice of Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the elections, the elder statesman  said he supported Atiku because of his experience in governance and business.

Yakasai was asked: “You supported former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the PDP at the just concluded election. Do you believe the eventual winner, Muhammadu Buhari, won fair and square?”

He replied: “No, I do not. Quite alright, I supported Atiku because I don’t believe that Buhari has the capacity and the competence to handle the Nigerian problem.”

On the issue of the leadership of the 9th senate, Yakasai said it would not favour theAll Progressives Congress (APC) to insist on Ahmed Lawan.

Lawan, senate majority leader, has been given the blessings of the APC to succeed Bukola Saraki as the leader of the red chamber.

Yakasai said he expected the ruling party to have learnt from its mistakes.

He argued that the lawmakers should be allowed to who will lead them, and not a person imposed on them.

“Well, they have been touting this idea for a long time. Remember when the current Senate was convened after the 2015 election, they wanted Ahmad Lawan to be the Senate president,” he said.

“It was the rupture in the party that led a chunk of party senators to team up with PDP senators to get Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as president and deputy president of the Senate.

“What I am surprised about, I thought what happened to them in the last dispensation would have been a lesson for them to allow legislators to decide who should be their leaders.

“I worked with National Assembly for four years. I know the mindset of members of the National Assembly. They believe that they have their own mandate separate from the mandate of the President.”