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Two Key Witnesses Die After Giving Evidence Against Ex-Governor In Alleged N29bn Fraud Case

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Two vital prosecution witnesses who gave evidence in the trial of former Adamawa Governor Murtala Nyako have died mysteriously.

Adekunle Odofin, a detective with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, made the startling revelation before Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja today.

According to the detective, the two witnesses made “crucial statements” during the investigation into a N29billion fraud case.

Odofin told the court that the two persons were very vital to the prosecution of the case.

Nyako is being prosecuted by the Commission, alongside his son, Senator Abdul-Aziz Nyako, Abubakar Aliyu and Zulkifikk Abba, on a 37-count charge of criminal conspiracy, stealing, abuse of office and money laundering to the tune of N29billion.

Five companies that allegedly served as conduit pipes for the illegal diversion of the funds – Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited, were equally charged before the court as the 5th to 9th defendants.

Testifying as the twentieth prosecution witness, Odofin, who started his testimony on June 23, 2018 and tendered documents which were admitted in evidence, told the court on November 26, 2018, that one Mohammad Maj Iro, who was the General Manager, Zenith Bank Plc, the Regional Manager in charge of North-East, and the Account Officer of Adamawa State 200 accounts, domiciled in Zenith bank, died after making “crucial statements”, at the time of filing the case in the court.

While being led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, on November 27, 2018, the detective told the court that the Commission also extended invitation to one Dalhatu Abdulmalik, who was the cousin to Nyako.

The commission invited the Director of Ameak Investment Limited, Kirkelly Investment Limited and Pilkola Engineering Limited, who also died after giving his statement.

Odofin said Mohammad Major Iro pulled out over N800million from the Adamawa State account, and credited it to Crust Energy Limited, the 9th defendant in the case, taking orders from Nyako.

Odofin explained that the pattern of two accounts belonging to the State (Special Service Department, SSD, and Secretary to the State Government, SSG) drew the attention of the EFCC.

According to him, “the behaviour of these accounts, showed how money was being withdrawn in multiples of Ten Million Naira on different dates, running into billions of naira, by late Mohammad Maj Iro”.

“The question is, why did Maj Iro withdraw money from Adamawa State account, without being a staff of the state government?

Investigations revealed that memos were originated from permanent secretaries of the SSD, Mohammed Ibrahim Jidado and that of the SSG, Emmanuel Ibrahim.

“Having generated these memos, same were forwarded to SSG for transmission to the number one citizen of the State, the governor. Upon the approval of these memos, same came back to the SSG”.

He explained that vouchers were raised after the approval of the memos, in the name of the Permanent Secretary, the Accountant, and cashier as the same and now taken to Maj Iro.

“Having received these cheques, Maj Iro, being a seasoned banker, pulled out these monies from the two accounts ( SSD and SSG) and he starts crediting various individuals and corporate accounts, most especially, without the knowledge of the account owners”, the witness added.

“Maj Iro credited Zenith Bank accounts of the 5th to the 9th defendants (Blue Opal Limited, Sebore Farms & Extension Limited, Pagoda Fortunes Limited, Tower Assets Management Limited and Crust Energy Limited), out of the money he pulled out from Adamawa State account. Part of the money Maj Iro transferred to Tower Asset Management Limited, the sum of N678,000,000 (Six Hundred And Seventy-Eight Million Naira) was transferred to Crust Energy on different dates.

“Maj Iro also transferred N160, 000,000 out of the money he pulled out from Adamawa State account to a company called Maxion Option Limited. Maxion Option Limited transferred same to Crust Energy Limited zenith bank account”.

The witness further told the court how Maj Iro disbursed millions of naira to the companies used to launder state funds.

“Maj Iro also transferred sums of money on different dates to Sabore Farms Limited. Out of the money transferred to the company by Maj Iro, the sum of N20million was transferred to Mainstream Energy Limited. Another N20million was transferred from same Sabore Farms to one Sanni Hello of Mainstream Energy Limited. Another N10million was transferred to Crust Energy Limited”, Odofin said.

Statements made by Maj Iro at the Commission were tendered and admitted in evidence by the court.

According to the court, “Statements made by Maj Iro on June 21, 2014; June 24, 2014; July 2, 2014; July 10, 2014; July 15, 2014; July 22, 2014; July 23, 2014; August 29, 2014 and October 22, 2014 admitted in evidence as LL40-1 to Ll40-9, respectively”. Also, statements made by Dalhatu Abdulmalik were tendered and admitted in evidence.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to November 29, 2018, for the continuation of trial. (NAN)

BIG STORY

Implement N30,000 New Minimum Wage Before May Day, Labour Tells FG

Peter Okunoren

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) wants the Federal Government to commence the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage for workers in the country before the May Day Celebration.

Mr Najeem Yasin, Acting President of NLC, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

He commended the Senate for approving the minimum wage bill of N30,000 on Tuesday and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly sign the bill into law.

NAN recalls that the House of Representatives had earlier approved N30,000 as new national minimum wage before embarking on break for the 2019 general election.

The Nigeria Governors Forum had proposed N24,000 while the Federal Government forwarded N27,000 to the National Assembly.

“We commend the Senate for passing the minimum wage bill of N30,000 but the battle for the minimum wage was not yet over; workers will not rest until the bill is signed and implemented.

“But it is not yet over because we want them to make sure that the process gets to the logical conclusion and for the quick implementation of that N30,000. Nigerian workers are happy and commend them.

“We want the federal government to ensure its implementation before the May Day celebration, which is the Workers Day celebration. Government should greet workers with the commencement of the implementation,” the labour leader said.

Yasin, who is also the National President of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), called on the federal government to ensure effective sanctions for employers who refused to implement the N30,000 National Minimum Wage.

“We have been fighting for this N30,000 for a long time and the governors have been opposed to it. But now, it has been passed. Nigerian workers are now looking forward to the signing the bill into law,” Yasin said.

Mr Amechi Asugwuni, NLC Deputy President, also called on President Mohammadu Buhari to follow the path of honour and immediately sign into law the new pay rise document once he received it.

He, however, disagreed on call by the Senate for a review of the Revenue Sharing formulae which gave federal government 56 percent, states 24 and local government 20 percent.

He argued that the minimum wage bill was an independent bill which should not be subjected to adjustments in sharing formulae by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission.

According to him, such calls could further slow down the already overdue implementation of the new minimum wage.

Also, Mr Joe Ajaero, President, United Labour Congress (ULC), commended the Senate for the passage of the N30,000 minimum wage.

Ajaero called on the federal government to ensure that the process of the national minimum wage implementation should not be beyond March and April.

“Government should ensure that this year May Day should be a day to celebrate the implementation of the national minimum wage. I want to say that by May 1, all employers of Labour should have implemented it,” he added. (NAN)

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Buhari’s Prayer Warrior Kidnapped, Abductors Demand N300m Ransom

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The kidnappers of a famous Islamic scholar and prominent reciter of the Holy Quran, Sheikh Ahmad Sulaiman, have demanded a ransom of N300 million before his release.

PRNigeria gathered that the abducted Sheikh Suleiman, a prayer warrior and fanatical supporter of President Muhammdu Buhari, had offered prayers for the re-election bid of Mr. President at some political rallies organised by All Progressives Congress (APC), in the build to the 2019 general elections.

The Islamic Scholar was returning to his base in Kano, after attending a religious function in Kebbi State when they were abducted.

However, in an audio clip obtained by PRNigeria, the kidnappers are demanding a colossal sum of N300 million as ransom, before releasing the revered cleric from their hideout.

The supposed ringleader of the abduction gang, spoke in Hausa, with a close associate of the kidnapped Quranic reciter, saying they were mandated by an influential politician to abduct and kill Sheikh Sulaiman, who their sponsor allegedly claimed is a terrorist.

“However, after taking a close observation, we noticed that our victim has no semblance to a terrorist. We discovered that he is rather a God-fearing Muslim and very knowledgeable preacher. We also interrogated him, and he told us everything about himself,” the kidnapper told the reciter’s sympathiser, in the nine-minute telephone chat.

When asked by his caller what they should offer for the speedy release of the notable Islamic teacher, the Hausa-speaking gang leader with Fulani’s accent, said they were never interested in carrying out the murderous assignment, in the first place.

“But it will be unfair that we fritter the three hundred million naira the politician gave us without executing his work,” he said, adding that, “So, we are intending to give him back his money since we may not be able to do his bidding. And again, we will also express our displeasure to him for wrongly accusing the Sheikh to be an insurgent, when in reality, he wasn’t.

“But in the meantime, you (his people) should first raise the three hundred million we will return back to the politician. And then, you will also give us money for fueling the vehicle we used to convey him to Kebbi.

“But if you people cannot raise the money we demanded, we will not hesitate to eliminate Mallam, and collect the additional sum the politician promised us if we should kill him.”

Katsina is becoming a den for kidnappers as there is hardly a day without a reported case(s) of kidnapping in the state.

PRNigeria gathered that kidnapping cases have been reported in most local government areas of Katsina State especially in Jibia, Dandume, Faskari, Sabuwa, Danmusa, Safana, Kankara, Batsari, Dutsinma, Kurfi, Funtua and Katsina metropolis.

While many of the abductions were not reported for undisclosed reasons, the recent reported kidnapping cases included that of a group of Islamic caregivers of about 20 members of First Aid Group who were abducted in Jibia and that of an 80-year-old Mother-in-Law to Governor Aminu Masari who was abducted at her Dandume Crescent, Sabon Gari area of Katsina metropolis.

Early in the year, Governor Aminu Bello Masari has blamed the continued kidnapping and other heinous crime on informants who support the bandits saying Katsina State is under kidnappers’ siege.

He said the daily security reports reaching him indicate that no day passes without a reported case of kidnappings, armed robbery and cattle rustling.

According to him, “Kidnappings, cattle rustling and armed robbery are now the order of the day in Katsina. Informants have made it difficult for security agencies in the state to operate effectively.” (PRNigeria)

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Senate Approves N30,000 Minimum Wage

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The Senate on Tuesday approved N30,000 as the new national minimum wage.

This decision was reached after the upper chamber’s ad-hoc committee on new minimum wage headed by Senator Francis Alimikhena submitted its report.

The Senate then went on to request the Federal Government to submit a supplementary budget to cover the new wage structure for consideration and approval.

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