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Alleged $5m Bribe: Court Okays Suit Seeking Arrest, Trial Of Gov. Ganduje’s Wife

Peter Okunoren

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A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Maitama, has okayed accelerated hearing of a suit seeking to compel the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to arrest and prosecute the First Lady of Kano State, Dr. Hafsatu Abdullahi Ganduje, over alleged role she played in a $5million bribery scandal involving her husband.

The court, in a ruling by Justice Yusuf Halilu, further ordered the EFCC, the Kano State government and the All Progressives Congress, APC, who were listed as 1st to 3rd Defendants, to show cause why all assets owned by and or traceable to governor Ganduje and his wife, should not be temporarily forfeited, pending the hearing and disposal of a suit that was lodged before it by a Non Governmental Organisation.

Likewise, the court ordered the APC, through its National Working Committee, to equally show cause why it should not be directed to immediately remove and substitute governor Ganduje’s name as its candidate for the 2019 general election in Kano State.

The orders followed a suit marked CV/344/18 and a motion ex-parte marked M/887/18, which was lodged by a group under the aegis of the Incorporated Trustees of Hope Development and Empowerment Foundation.

Though the plaintiff had in the motion ex-parte it filed through its lawyer, Mr. Johnmary Jideobi, prayed the court to order EFCC to temporarily seize all assets traceable to governor Ganduje and his wife, pending the determination of the suit.

However, Justice Halilu declined the request, even as he directed service of all the processes on the Defendants to enable them to appear before the court on January 31 to show cause why the orders should not be made.

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Why I Refused To Sack My Ministers —- Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his decision to retain cabinet ministers in the last three and half years in spite of pressures from some quarters was because of their unique skills, strengths, and leadership qualities.

The president made this known during a valedictory session of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.

He observed that the ministers, who exhibited spirit of team work, were more rational in taking decisions aimed at tackling the numerous challenges facing the country.

President Buhari described the cabinet members as “a reflection of the Nigeria we aspire to achieve.”

“You will recall that when we started this journey, our country was facing numerous challenges.

“We inherited a broken economy which eventually went into recession in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2016.

“The situation was further compounded by insecurity and massive corruption.

“Many would have given up. Indeed, many outside commentators said our situation was well-nigh hopeless.

However, we all came together and pushed forward to deliver our campaign promise to rescue our country from its parlous state.

“Although we all had a common vision, we frequently had heated debates in this room on the best way to achieve our goals. These differing views are what made the decisions we took all the more rational.

“It is this quality that made me retain my cabinet for the full term. Each of you in this room has a unique skill and strength.

“We are a reflection of the Nigeria we aspire to achieve – A diverse but tolerant nation where no one is silenced and where every opinion should be heard and considered.’’

President Buhari, who thanked the ministers for agreeing to serve the nation, urged them to be happy for contributing their quota in various ways to the development of the nation.

`I want you all to leave this meeting proud to have served your nation to the best of your ability.

“You should be proud to have been part of the government that liberated the local governments previously under Boko Haram rule.

“You should be proud to have contributed to our food security and economic diversification agenda which led to the revival of our rural agrarian economy

“You should be proud to have been part of the team that developed the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which led Nigeria exiting its worst recession in decades.

“You should be proud to have introduced the social investment programme that enhanced livelihoods of millions of Nigerians.

“You should be proud to have participated in settling outstanding pensions of many senior citizens abandoned by previous governments while supporting state governments to meet their salary arrears.

“And of course, you should all be proud to have overseen the most ambitious road, rail and airport rehabilitation programmes in the history of our country,’’ the president added.

According to the president, the ministers’ achievements within the period had guaranteed their position in the history books of the nation.

He maintained that the ministers had succeeded in building the foundations for an improved economy and a more purposeful government.

The president, therefore, directed all ministers to remain in office until May 28.

“Although today is our last council meeting, I expect all of you to continue working until Tuesday, May 28, 2019 when you will officially hand over your schedules to your respective Permanent Secretaries.

“Your handing over letters should be submitted to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo thanked President Buhari for trusting him with various responsibilities, especially when he acted as president.

He said “My deepest gratitude comes from the great trust that you reposed in me at all times.

“I will never forget when you were going on medical leave in May 2017 and you said to me in the course of conversation that evening that you would not meddle in my discretion as acting President in anyway.

“And in keeping with your character and style you kept your words.”

Earlier, the ministers, who took turns to recount their experiences lauded President Buhari’s humility, integrity and hard work.

They expressed appreciation for his kind gesture and pledged to do more for the country when called upon to serve the nation.

The president and the out-going ministers later had a group photograph, as the cabinet members prepare to bow out of office on May 28.

(NAN)

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Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air Running Drug Cartels In Nigeria — Presidency

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The Presidency has accused Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines of running drug cartels in Nigeria.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said this when she appeared before the Senate Adhoc Committee set up by the Senate to look into circumstances that led to the arrest of Zainab Aliyu in Saudi Arabia last year over alleged possession of a banned substance, Tramadol.

Dabiri-Erewa also said many of the scanners at Nigerian Airports were not functioning.

Dabiri-Erewa, who is also Chairman of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission, accused Egypt and Ethiopian Airlines of running drug cartels at International Airports across the country.

She explained that Aliyu’s ordeal in Saudi Arabia before the intervention of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which led to her release, was caused by a drug cartel collaborating with officials of the two airlines.

She said: “We have other foreign and local airlines operating at our airports, but Egyptian and Ethiopian Airlines have drug cartels operating at our International Airports.

“They operate alongside local collaborators.

“It is not Air Peace, not Arik Air but Egyptian and Ethiopian Airlines.”

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Buhari’s Minister In N21.5m Debt Scandal, Dragged To Industrial Court

Peter Okunoren

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Two former aides to the Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, on Tuesday, dragged the minister before an Abuja Division of the National Industrial Court (NIC) over twenty-one million, five hundred thousand Naira (N21,500,000.00) unpaid salaries and allowances.

They were former Personal Assistant to the minister, Razaq Olubodun and Special Assistant on Media, Victor Oluwadamilare.

The duo in their separate suits filed by their counsel, Adewale Lawal prayed the court to order the payment of their outstanding salaries and allowances which the Minister allegedly denied them while serving under him.

Olubodun, in his suit numbered NICN/Abj/132/2019 is seeking to recover from the Minister the sum of N9.8m allegedly paid alongside the Minister’s salaries and allowances for 24 months.

It was gathered that no fewer than seven aides of the minister have resigned due to issues bordering on nonpayment of salaries and allowances since he (Shittu) was appointed in 2015.

Recall that Olubodun resigned after failed attempts to reclaim his salaries from the Minister.

Oluwadamilare in his suit, NICN/Abj/133/2019 is claiming N11.7m being his outstanding salaries and allowances for 28 months.

He also resigned after failed attempts to reclaim his salaries from the Minister.

The duo are seeking the order of the court to declare that the non-payment of full salaries and allowances to them for those periods as wrongful, illegal and unconstitutional.

They urged the court to order the minister to pay them their unpaid salaries and allowances according to the Federal Government directive for payment of aides to the Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The claimants are asking for an order on the defendant to pay the sum of N50m to each of them and to also pay them their full taxed costs of the prosecution of the suits. They averred that by their letters of appointments as PA and SA respectively, they were informed that their monthly emolument would be in line with the existing practice for paying PA and SA to Hon. Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Though, the claimants noted that the above-stated fact was indicated in the ‘paragraph 3′ of their letters of appointments dated 23rd Nov. 2015, the defendant “tried to make the salaries and allowances of PA and SA to Hon. Minister to look like his own personal affairs. The defendant tried to indicate this by an Internal Memo, seven months after the claimants’ appointments”.

While Olubodun claimed to have received just N1m all through his period of service from the Minister, Oluwadamilare disclosed that he was paid thrice to the tune of N2.3m in his 28 months of service under the Minister, yet, the defendant was alleged to have collected all salaries and allowances belonging to them from the FGN and refused to forward or remit same to them.

The claimants recalled that based on the circular from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) dated 27th July, 1999, it indicated in paragraph 1a that the salaries of PAs and SAs to the Ministers are Grade Levels 12 and 16, steps 4 respectively.

The Minister was accused by the former aides of applying intimidation, harassment, draconian and Machiavellian approach and threatened to take them to the court where he would ensure that they are frustrated and would still not pay them the salaries in contention each time they demanded for their rights while serving under him.

The claimants disclosed that they have been subjected to immense sufferings, ridicule and untold hardship as a result of the denial of their rights by the Minister.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the case in which both the PA and SA presented 35 and 40 statements of facts respectively.

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