Thursday, 27 December 2018


[FILES] Cross-section of traders waiting to be captured at the flag-off of TraderMoni empowerment programme at Ojuwoye market, Mushin, Lagos.<br />PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

• Atiku knocks Buhari’s anti-corruption fight
• Focus on how to win votes, APC tell ex-VP

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the alleged diversion of N4 billion of the Tradermoni and the Farmers Anchor Borrower schemes to fund President Muhammadu Buhari’s reelection campaigns.

It also urged the EFCC to open investigation into the alleged looting of the repatriated $322 million (about N115 billion) by the Buhari Presidency, under the cover of distributing the money to the poor.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Wednesday, the PDP stated that the EFCC should also commence the prosecution of all those reportedly indicted by the House of Representatives, alongside Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, for alleged diversion of N33 billion meant for food and other welfare items for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East.

The PDP said the investigation into the alleged looting, as well as the recovery of the stolen funds from the coffers of the Buhari Presidential Campaign must not be carried over into the coming year.

“It is rather despicable, after looting over N14 trillion in unremitted oil revenue, the presidency cabal and the APC leaders are also hiding under the plight of innocent Nigerians to further siphon funds for their selfish ambitions.

“Our party holds that President Buhari is being very unfair to Nigerians in asking them to get ready for more suffering in the coming year when trillions of naira meant for their wellbeing have been siphoned and stashed away in his campaign coffers, where APC leaders also fritter funds to finance their wasteful life styles.”

The opposition party asked the EFCC to note that “Nigerians are already aware that agents of the presidency and the APC are involved in N1.2 billion round-tripping of public funds under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, for which they named a non-existent Anchor Borrowers Farmers’ Association as donors, in a bid to legitimize their siphoning of funds from public coffers to fund President Buhari’s campaign.”

According to the party “Nigerians are also in the know that agents of the Presidency, under the watch of Vice President Osinbajo, are being used to divert huge part of the budgeted sum for the Tradermoni scheme while handing out paltry sums to unsuspecting beneficiaries, who are further fleeced through 10 percent kickbacks by APC agents.

“On the repatriated N115 billion, we charge the EFCC to make public, its findings on allegation that 90 percent of the estimated 300,000 households listed as beneficiaries are phony family names supplied by fraudulent government officials, as conduit to channel the repatriated money to APC leaders and the presidency cabal.

PDP said President Buhari had completely failed his integrity test and no longer has the moral standing to expect votes from the same persons stolen from to finance his re-election bid.

Also yesterday, the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, linked President Buhari’s failure to effectively fight corruption to lack of political will.

He said the President had deliberately closed his eyes to corrupt officials in his administration, while focusing on those culpable in the opposition parties.

Atiku was reacting to Buhari’s statement during a visit to the president by members of the Federal Capital Territory Community in which he blamed his inability to fight corruption on the Nigerian system.

Buhari had said his administration was slow in fighting corruption because the system was slow.

But Atiku, in a statement yesterday, argued that Buhari has corroborated Transparency International (TI), whose latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) showed that Nigeria is more corrupt than it was under the previous administration.

The country fell 12 points backwards in the CPI from 136 in 2014 to 148 this year.

His words: “Mr. President, the problem with your anti-corruption war is not the system. You are the problem. The system allows you to arrest, try and convict your former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), who was fingered in a major corruption case.

“Rather you chose to let him go scot-free and you demonstrated your tolerance for corruption by giving him a prominent role in your re-election campaign and recently welcomed him to the Presidential Villa with open arms.

“The system allows you to arrest, try and convict Abdulrasheed Maina, the biggest ever alleged thief in our civil service history, who allegedly looted the pensions of millions of aged Nigerians. Yet, you preferred to recall him, reinstate and double promote him, while giving him armed guards to move about.

“The system allows you to probe the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process, but you chose to sweep the matter under the carpet, hoping that Nigerians will forget about that grand scale alleged looting exposed by a leaked memo from a member of your cabinet.

“Finally, nothing in the system stops you from telling Nigerians who owns the billions found in an Ikoyi apartment. Based on the above facts, I will not allow you to make Nigeria the scapegoat of your failure. Your failure is personal, and not national. If you could go abroad to insult Nigerian youths as lazy, why did you go to Paris to praise a governor who was caught red-handed receiving bribes on camera?”

In its reaction, the APC, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onillu, said the conduct by Atiku spoke volume that he was exhibiting early signs of depression, resulting from obvious frustration.

APC urged Atiku to preoccupy himself with the task of how to win the votes of Nigerians than to discredit the person of president Buhari.

“He should tell Nigerians why a discredited person like him should be elected as President instead of raising puerile allegations on a daily basis.

“Nigerians are desirous of campaign that focuses on issues that matter to them. For Atiku and his PDP co-travellers, the only interest is to grab power and continue where they stopped in their avarice. The APC administration is eager to showcase the impressive achievements we have recorded in the last three and half years.

“This is the campaign that matters to us and this is what Nigerians are interested in. The trajectory is exciting as we see a brighter future shaping up. We won’t yield to the PDP’s shenanigans. The obvious strategy of the PDP is to truncate the country’s journey towards economic buoyancy and social stability. We will not play the PDP’s game. PDP is acting an anti-people’s script,” the ruling party said.

According to the statement, Buhari remains unshaken by the desperate efforts being made by Atiku and the PDP to blackmail the APC government.

“Everyone who was involved in corrupt practices would be brought to justice. PDP is not offering any alternative to the progressive course this government is pursuing. It is actually apparent that the party is not contesting the 2019 elections to redeem itself, least of doing any good for the country, but simply to seize power to escape justice for the grievous crimes committed against the people of this country. Nigerians won’t be fooled by the rapacious PDP gang. Never.”

Source: Guardian Newspaper

Chinese Official Tied to Billionaire Fugitive Is Sentenced to Life in Prison

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Ma Jian, a former top security official, in a courtroom in Dalian, China, on Thursday. He was convicted of taking $15.9 million in bribes, committing insider trading and using coercive business practices, the court said.
Ma Jian, a former top security official, in a courtroom in Dalian, China, on Thursday. He was convicted of taking $15.9 million in bribes, committing insider trading and using coercive business practices, the court said.CreditCCTV, via Associated Press

BEIJING — A Chinese court on Thursday sentenced a former top security official to life in prison, the latest high-profile figure to fall in President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption campaign.

The official, Ma Jian, 62, a former vice minister of the Ministry of State Security, was convicted of taking $15.9 million in bribes, committing insider trading and using coercive business practices, the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court said in a statement on its website.

But it was another part of Mr. Ma’s past that had drawn attention lately: his ties to Guo Wengui, the billionaire Chinese fugitive who has unleashed a barrage of embarrassing accusations against Communist Party leaders from his New York penthouse.

The court said that from 2008 to 2014, Mr. Ma colluded with Mr. Guo, a real estate tycoon who was among China’s richest men, using threats to force sales that benefited Mr. Guo’s businesses. Mr. Guo fled China in 2015.

The sentencing of Mr. Ma was another sign that Mr. Xi has no intention of easing his signature anticorruption drive, which has ensnared thousands of officials, high and low. As he begins his second five-year term in office, Mr. Xi, China’s most powerful leader in decades, appears intent on using the drive to consolidate his control of all levers of the party.

“Under authoritarian regimes, power is performative, which means Xi must continue to prove his unrivaled authority through selective actions like the move against Ma,” said Jude Blanchette, a political analyst who is a senior adviser and China head at Crumpton Group.

Mr. Blanchette added that Mr. Ma’s sentencing might unintentionally fuel the perception that Chinese politics have become “increasingly vicious” under Mr. Xi.

Since Mr. Guo began his attacks on the party last year, using social media to accuse officials of graft and other crimes, Beijing has worked tirelessly to discredit him.

Last year, a video confession by Mr. Ma surfaced online. In the video, Mr. Ma, shown in a black puffer jacket with his hands folded together, said he had accepted millions of dollars in gifts from Mr. Guo in exchange for favors.

“Guo Wengui, to ingratiate himself with me, to thank me, and to maintain his relationship with me, gave me a huge amount of benefits,” Mr. Ma said in the video.

Mr. Guo is now working with Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, to set up a $100 million fund to investigate corruption and aid people they deem victims of persecution by the Chinese government.

In the announcement on Thursday, the court said that Mr. Ma, who was first placed under investigation in 2015 and was later expelled from the party, would not appeal the verdict. It said that he had received a “lighter” sentence because he had confessed to his crimes, shown regret and returned the bribes.

More than 50 people were present for Mr. Ma’s sentencing in Dalian, a northeastern city, including members of his family, the court said.

Follow Javier C. Hernández on Twitter:@HernandezJavier.

Albee Zhang contributed research.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018




The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has asked the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s Presidential campaign spokesperson, Buba Galadima to have a clear understanding of the laws guiding campaign funding before making public statement on contribution to the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Organization lampooned Galadima for displaying crash ignorance and expressing frustration over the donation of about N1.2 billion by Nigerian farmers to the campaign the President.

Galadima had called for the disqualification of President Muhammadu Buhari for receiving such huge donation towards his campaign saying such donations contravene the provision of the Electoral Act.

In a statement signed by Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Madueke, Chairman and Secretary respectively, BMO said that Galadima is uninformed about the tenets of the Electoral Act which is why he is finding fault with N100 individual donation of members of an association to the campaign of the President.

“The association of farmers and fertilizer producers are not corporate entities and neither are they registered corporations, and certainly not captured in the Electoral Act. So for Galadima, a supposedly educated person and politician to ask for disqualification of president Buhari on the basis of their donation, is engagement in petty talks.

“Is Galadima rewriting the law on who and what to contribute to an electioneering campaign fund? He apparently forgets that President Buhari enjoys mass appeal and popularity among the Nigerian poor and downtrodden who he is feverishly elevating on to higher economic levels from the extreme poverty to which they were pushed into by the collective irresponsibility of the PDP governments of many years.“

The group contended that Buba Galadima got himself mixed up, by equating individual donation to corporate donation. “We advise this gentleman to keep his anger under control so that such anger should not be allowed to contaminate the political space”

The group also described the spokesperson’s allegation that security agencies were after the lawmakers who heckled president Buhari at the presentation of the 2019 budget proposal “as figment of his imagination and the product of a troubled mind.

“Obviously, PDP elements see defeat at the 2019 election staring them in face and they are jittery. The colossal failure of their presidential campaign flag- off in three geographical zones in the country, the groundswell of popular acclaim of President Muhammadu Buhari achievements all over the country have put the PDP under tremendous pressure and they have become desperadoes”.

BMO said President Muhammadu Buhari is a magnanimous person with a heart of gold that, despite Galadima’s rouble rousing, still keeps his (Galadima’s) daughter as one of his aides in the Presidency.

The group said the donation by rice farmers and fertilizer producers is a guarantee of over 12 million votes for President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 2019 election, adding that people who have enough confidence in a person to donate their widow’s mite of N100 each to his election campaign fund will definitely vote for that person along with their friends and relations.

While appreciating the testimonies by RIFAN members, through their leadership, the group said the anchor borrowers programme has yielded the desired result by generating more employment opportunities for our teeming youth in Nigeria, rice sufficiency to the Nigerian populace and easy access to fertilizer; the government programme also ensures that rice import is at its lowest level.

“So also FEPSAN testified through its president that the government fertilizer initiative has saved the country N120bn subsidy and thereby crashing the price of fertilizer within the last three years. FEPSAN leader also confirmed that as at year 2015, less than five fertilizer blending plants were working in Nigeria, but as at now we have thirty fertilizer blending plants working due to government policy.”

BMO says it believes that looking at the total number of beneficiaries and the card-carrying members in both RIFAN and FEPSAN, “one can confidently say that President Muhammadu Buhari will get the votes of all the members of these two associations and win in the 2019 presidential election because of his achievements in agriculture and other various sectors.”

The Buhari Media Organization applauded the diversification policy of the Buhari administration, the positive results and the employment generated in the informal sector.

Source: The Nation

Tuesday, 25 December 2018


NBA

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Owo branch, has urged Ondo State and the Federal Governments to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping on roads in Owo and across the country.

Its Chairman, Mr. Tajudeen Olutope Ahmed, said its members were worried about insecurity in Owo.

Ahmed, who stated this in a statement made available to The Nation, said the branch had vowed not to defend kidnap suspects.

He said the news of “armed gangs, gun running and kidnapping are now ubiquitous in every nook and cranny of the ancient city”.

According to him, all the major roads that lead to Owo “are infested with all forms of criminally minded men”.

Ahmed said: “We call on the Government of Ondo State and that of the Federal Government to complement the efforts of the police authorities in securing the roads.

“It is not in contention that security is a key component of the fundamental objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of Government as enshrined in Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as altered).

“By the provisions of the above quoted section of the constitution, ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’.

“On our part, we hereby declare that no lawyer from our branch shall henceforth, defend anybody that is accused of kidnapping a fellow citizen. Kidnapping is a heinous crime. It is a horrendous offence in all ramifications. It is a grievous wrong against humanity.

“It is on this note that we hereby invite the government of Ondo State and that of the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping on Owo roads and that of the entire federation.”

The lawyer noted further that men of the underworld, regularly masquerade as “pseudo policemen, pseudo soldiers or Fulani herdsmen”, to kidnap people “from all the roads that lead to Owo.”

Source: The Nation


Bankers Warehouse said the two persons arrested by EFCC with $2.8m cash in suitcases were not money launderers


Bankers Warehouse said the two persons arrested by EFCC with $2.8m cash in suitcases were not money launderers

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Enugu Zonal Office, has filed a motion at a Federal High Court, Enugu, seeking an order for the interim forfeiture of the $2.8million seized from two men last week.

Also filed is an affidavit of urgency for the matter to be heard on December 27, 2018, before a vacation Judge sitting in Port Harcourt.

The Commission on December 20 arrested two persons, Ighoh Augustine and Ezekwe Emmanuel, along with the money at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

The duo said they work for Bankers Warehouse. But EFCC suspected they were money launderers.

The suspects told the EFCC they have been in the business of moving cash for “some notable banks”, for over six years and that the money they had was for Union Bank Plc, located at New Market, Onitsha, Anambra State.

The EFCC spokesman , Tony Orilade said on Monday that Union Bank or its officials were yet to step forward to establish their claim.

“Efforts are being made to secure warrant for the detention of the suspects pending when they will be charged to court”, he said.

Bankers Warehouse in a statement at the weekend claimed ownership of the money and asked the EFCC to apologise and return the money.

The company which said it is licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to carry out Cash/Asset movement and Currency Processing said the men arrested were not involved in any money laundering and were carrying out a legitimate movement of cash.

“We hereby state emphatically that the movement of this currency was a legitimate exercise, being carried out on behalf of a legitimate Financial Institution,” the company said..

“We emphasize that our employees are in no way criminals, carrying out any act of illegality as the EFCC has tried to portray. The young men whose character and reputation have been deliberately soiled by the EFCC operatives were conducting their legitimate duties as requested by a bank customer of our company.

“We request for the swift and immediate release of our employees and our customer’s currency, both detained without proper cause.

“We also demand an immediate retraction by the EFCC and an apology issued to our company and our employees whose images have been maligned

Source: PM News


Olojeme

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the temporary forfeiture of 46 properties allegedly belonging to Dr. Ngozi Olojeme, the Deputy Chairman, Finance Committee of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in the 2015 election.

The court order showed that the properties were located in several locations in Abuja, Delta, Enugu and Bayelsa States.

The properties comprise 27 buildings, including a bank, office buildings and houses, at various stages of development and several pieces of undeveloped land.

Some of the properties include: a twin duplex office building – Plot R/151 (No. 30A) Kingsway Road, Old GRA, Enugu State; a parcel of land measuring 4833.241 sq. metres located at Uberi Bush along Mbiama Road, Akenta, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State; and a parcel of land located at Igbandaden Bush, Emeya 2 Town, Ogbia LGA, Bayelsa.

Others include: Properties located at 196, Melford Okilo Road, Amarata-Epie, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State (six units of one bedroom apartments, one unit of five bedroom bungalows, a block of six units of office space); a mansion at 24 Kainji Crescent, Maitama, Abuja and a bank building (former Intercontinental Bank) located at Plot No. 933 Cadastral Zone B01, Gudu District, Abuja

Punch reports that Olejeme, who was the Chairman of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund, is wanted in a case of criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds and money laundering.

The former chairman is alleged to have, along with Mr Umar Munir Abubakar, the former Managing Director of NSITF, mismanaged and diverted well over N69 billion in government funds into their personal accounts through the award of suspicious and bogus contracts to proxy companies.

The suspect, who served as the Chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund from 2009 to 2015, was in June declared wanted for allegedly diverting N69 billion from the agency but turned herself in last Monday.

Olojeme is also the widow to Felix Obuah, the late Chief Security Officer to Jonathan, was said to have fled the country shortly after her sack by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

The suspect, who was also the convener of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme sub-committee on Public Works and Road Rehabilitation, finally reported at the EFCC on Monday after which she was detained.

The NSITF, which was headed by Olojeme, is a social insurance scheme designed to provide compensation to employees who suffer from occupational accidents or diseases in the line of duty. The organisation is funded by deducting 1 per cent from all government and private sector employees enrolled in the scheme.

However, according to documents made available to The PUNCH, Olojeme and some directors in the company allegedly diverted billions of naira including funds meant for the payment of allowances of its staff as well as compensation of contributors

Trouble started for Olojeme shortly after her sack by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

The EFCC subsequently received a petition alleging that over N50bn from the Employee Compensation Scheme fund paid by Ministries Department and Agencies and private companies as well as another N18bn being the contribution of the Federal Government as take-off grants to the NSITF were mismanaged and diverted into the personal accounts of Olojeme and Umar Abubakar, the Managing Director of the NSITF.

The EFCC immediately set up a team of detectives to look into the allegation. The commission looked into the bank account of the NSITF and discovered suspicious transactions and diversion of funds.

Some funds were said to have been traced to accounts of some consultants and contractors who were mainly fronts of Olojeme and other directors in the NSITF

Source: PM News

Tuesday, 18 December 2018


JUDICIARY

A statement the Public Affairs Officer of the Commission, Mr. Chris Oluka issued, said Ogbonna was arraigned on a five-count charge bordering on intent to defraud and possession of fraudulent documents containing false pretences contrary to Section 6 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

He said, Ogbanna’s arrest was sequel to series of raids carried out by the zonal office over the past one week in which several suspected fraudsters in their early twenties and allegedly into cyber/internet scam were arrested having been found to be living flamboyantly despite having no identifiable means of livelihood.

“Analysis  carried out by the Commission on the computer of the suspected fraudster revealed certain incriminating documents intended to be used in swindling gullible Nigerians and foreigners alike.

“Further investigations disclosed that Ogbanna uses his e-mail address activitygeneral@hotmail.com to send unsolicited emails to his victims using fake or stolen identity to legitimise his nefarious activities.

“One of the documents was addressed to oneAlan Christopher of BG Group Plc,Thames Valley Park,Reading,RG6,Berkshire,United Kingdomwith a rider ‘Your attention is needed’ and a second paragraph talking about a (£12,500.000.00) Great Britain Pounds Sterling unclaimed contract fund.

“Another document found with the accused was a purported Contract Award Certificate to one Michael Morgan of 101 Brooklyn,New York,United State of America, on Directing and Fixing of Oil Spillage in the Niger Delta signed by the Chairman, Contract Tender Board and Chairman, Legal Department of Chevron Nigeria,” he said.

According to Oluka, the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against when it was read , prompting his counsel E.O. Isiwu move a motion for his bail which was opposed by prosecution counsel, Innocent Mbachie.

The presiding judge, however, granted bail to the accused in the sum of  N500,000.00 and one surety in like sum.

The surety he ruled, must have a landed property in Enugu which must be verified by the Commissioner of Lands.

Ogbonna is to be remanded in prison custody until he fulfils his bail conditions. Case was then adjourned to January 30,2019.

In another development, the Commission, has arraigned one Kingsley Ifeanyi Eluma, AKA Doctor Eluma, Managing Director of EEAL Global Links Nigeria Limited before Justice Liman on two -count charge bothering on obtaining the sum of N2, 452, 500 million under false pretences.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was subsequently remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of his bail conditions.

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