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$1bn Govt Funds Hidden In Unity Bank: Whistle-blower Writes Buhari Over Unpaid Reward, Accuses Justice Minister Malami

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has been accused by a whistleblower, John Okupurhe, of refusing to pay him to reward after exposing over $1billion government money hidden in Unity Bank Plc.

Consequently, Okupurhe has reported Mr. Malami to President Muhammadu Buhari, via a letter written by his lawyer, Aliyu Lemu, dated June 22, 2020, The PUNCH reports.

According to the whistleblower, the account was secretly being operated by the Nigerian Ports Authority to illegally collect revenue from vessels.

He said upon discovery, he informed the Office of the AGF in line with the whistleblower policy of the secret account, and an agreement was signed.

The agreement stated that Okpurhe would be entitled to a reward if the information provided turned out credible.

The whistleblower said after playing his own part, the AGF’s office began to play games.

The letter read in part, “Pursuant to the whistleblower policy of the Federal Government, our client approached the Office of the AGF with confidential information in respect of hidden public funds concealed within a commercial bank in Lagos contrary to the Treasury Single Account policy which requires all public revenue or funds to be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Our client presented the Office of the AGF with qualifying information on a cloned account with the Nigerian Ports Authority which was being used to illegally collect revenue from vessels by the signatories who are no longer in the service of the NPA.

“Upon establishing that our client’s information qualified under the whistleblower policy, the Office of the AGF signed a whistleblower agreement with our client through his appointed counsel – Mamman, Maiyaki & CO.

“The information provided by our client eventually led to the exposure of the hidden/concealed funds in Unity Bank Plc to the tune of $1, 034, 515, 000 (One billion, thirty-four million, five hundred and fifteen thousand dollars only).”

The whistleblower said the Office of the AGF had been making flimsy excuses as to why the reward was not paid.

He said the Head of Asset Management and Recovery Unit, Mrs. Ladidi Mohammed, informed him that the matter was in court and the plans had changed.

Okuprhe said when asked who filed the suit, she (Mohammed) could not come up with the answer. Also, she could not disclose which court the matter was pending.

He added, “On the next day, one Ms. Bunmi who deputizes for Mrs. Mohammed, called our client and asked him to come alone without a lawyer. Upon arrival, she informed our client that there was no pending matter in court on the account.”

The whistleblower said he was told that because the money involved was huge, the Office of the AGF recommended a private firm with which he should enter into a contract to help him get the funds.

The whistleblower said upon the insistence of the AGF’s office, he was made to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the company to forfeit 60 percent of his reward.

He said in a dramatic twist, his lawyer was attacked by armed policemen in his office who robbed him and made away with the original copy of the agreement signed with the AGF.

Okpurhe called on the President to quickly intervene as failure to pay him could compromise the whistleblower policy and affect public trust in the government.

The AGF’s Spokesman, Umar Gwandu, did not respond to calls on Saturday.

However, a top source at the AGF’s office said the matter was being investigated by the Department of State Services.

She said, “The AGF has ordered that the case be investigated by the DSS so we cannot speak on the matter for now. The truth is that the whistleblower’s information was not accurate. He is just going about trying to intimidate us.”

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EndSARS Reconciliation: We’ll Walk For Peace With You, LASU Students Assure Sanwo-Olu

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Representatives of the students union of Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, Thursday expressed readiness to participate in the proposed peace walk being organized by the state government to assuage frail nerves over the October 20, 2020, Lekki Toll Gate shooting incident in the state.

Recall that Sanwo-Olu, a few days ago, before the release of the White Paper, had invited some members of civil society and youths to join him and members of the state executive council in a peace walk for harmony in the state following reports and recommendations submitted by probe panel into EndSARS and Lekki Toll Gate shooting saga, which some individuals have declined to participate.

The students, however, gave the assurance to participate on Thursday, when Sanwo-Olu, commissioned the newly built students’ arcade in LASU, Ojo.

The LASU students Arcade is the largest Student Union Building in any Nigerian tertiary institution.

The governor also donated two large buses to the students union as well as other gadgets and equipment for students’ use.

The President of the Student Union Government, Comrade Oladipupo Uthman Badmus, and Speaker of the Students Union Representatives, Mustapha Adejuwon, who led hundreds of students to welcome the Governor, described him as a youth-centric Governor.

They commended the Governor’s giant strides in Lagos State, especially in the education sector.

The student union president, however, announced that all students of the state-owned tertiary institutions have resolved to walk with the Governor for peace and prosperity of the state.

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Emirates Airline Resumes Flight Operations To Nigeria Dec 5

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Emirates airline says it will resume passenger operations between Dubai and Nigeria from December 5, 2021, mandating COVID-19 PCR tests for all inbound travellers.

With this, we understand that passengers from Nigeria will take the COVID-19 PCR test within three days before departure and another test on arrival at the UAE.

Emirates, the flag carrier of the UAE, said this in a statement on Thursday.

“The world’s largest international airline will operate to and from its Nigerian gateways with daily flights, providing travellers from Nigeria convenient access to Dubai, which remains a highly popular holiday and business destination,” the statement reads.

“It’ll also enable travellers to safely connect via Dubai to the Emirates network of over 120 global destinations.”

The statement added that Emirates will fly to Abuja with EK 785 and 786, leaving Dubai at 1100hrs, arriving in Abuja at 1540hrs. The return flight, EK 786 will take off from Abuja at 1900, arriving in Dubai at 0435hrs the next day.

The airline said travellers coming from Nigeria must hold a negative COVID-19 PCR certificate for a test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

It added that passengers departing Nigeria must obtain the certificates from one of the designated centres provided by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

“Travellers coming from Nigeria will also need to take another Covid-19 PCR test on arrival at Dubai International Airport,” the statement adds.

“Ensuring the safety of travellers, visitors, and the community, Covid-19 PCR tests are mandatory for all inbound passengers arriving to Dubai, including UAE citizens, residents and tourists, irrespective of the country they are coming from.”

Last Friday, the federal government lifted restrictions on Emirates flights almost ten months after the diplomatic discussions around COVID-19 travel requirements for Nigerian passengers.

Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, said the airline had removed some of its travelling conditions for Nigerian passengers.

In February, the airline had instructed Nigerian travellers at the Lagos and Abuja airports to take another PCR test on arrival at Dubai — the directive led to a ban on Emirates flights in Nigeria.

The decision was later reversed when the airline agreed to stop the rapid antigen tests.

In a twist in March, the federal government reintroduced the ban, explaining that Emirates had continued to conduct tests for passengers before departure and at arrival in Dubai.

 

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Omicron: Don’t Panic, COVID-19 Vaccines Still Effective, NCDC Tells Nigerians

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The director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, Ifedayo Adetifa, has advised Nigerians to dismiss what he described as speculations that vaccines have no effect on the new SARS-CoV2 variant which has been named Omicron.

He said vaccination remains “a very powerful tool to prevent transmission of the disease and death caused by this virus.”

Mr Adetifa, who spoke on Channel’s “Sunrise Daily” programme on Wednesday, said NCDC believes that even if the Omicron variant has any impact on vaccination, “it cannot be equal to full abrogation”.

“So theoretically speaking, if the vaccine was 90 per cent protective against severe disease and deaths from the Delta variant, it may become 80 per cent protective from the Omicron variant. So while we work out what kind of impact it will have on vaccine protective effect, the point remains that vaccines are effective, safe and they confer protection,” Mr Adetifa said.

According to the director-general, the centre, like other scientists across the world, does not know how dangerous the variant is, noting that investigations are still ongoing.

He said; “There are mutations that have been seen in the spike proteins that theoretically may confirm the risk of increased transmissibility, may cause more severe disease or reduced protections from existing vaccines but the reality is that we don’t know.

“What we know is that the cases currently affected by this variant have been mostly asymptomatic, they have been mostly young, and there have been no deaths. So we are still watching, we need more time to see what happens when it affects slightly different pockets of the population like the susceptible or the elderly. But for now, we don’t know much.

“What we know is that current public health safety measures and vaccination confer protection. It might not be 100 per cent but the protection they offer is useful and beneficial and people should adhere to those measures and make use of every opportunity that is currently provided especially in Nigeria to receive their vaccines..”

Mr Adetifa warned Nigerians of the possible emergence of a more dangerous variant and advised them to remain cautious by observing all non-pharmaceutical measures to ward off the danger.

He said the consequences may be bad if they throw caution to the wind.

He said the emergence of the Omicron variant is a reminder that the battle is not over, that there is still a risk.

Mr Adetifa added; “The fact that we thankfully have not seen many severe cases and deaths does not mean that we are not getting infections and does not mean that the virus has not been transmitted. What happens is that if we have unmitigated transmission of the virus within the population, you will always have a chance that a variant that may be more dangerous than the predecessor or even change the pattern of disease for us, may emerge.

“This is why we are calling on people to return and adhere to safety measures that are in place. And of course, vaccination, which is very important.”

The NCDC boss also explained that there is nothing strange about the mutation of the Omicron variant, saying all viruses mutate.

“Viruses mutate at different frequencies depending on what type of virus it is. What is new is the pathogen SARS-CoV2 which we call RNA virus. Most RNA viruses have frequent mutations. It means that in the cause of multiplying, their errors are made in every circle in their genetic code.

“While humans and some other viruses have corrective mechanisms, a lot of viruses especially the RNA virus do not have corrective mechanisms. So errors are carried on to the next generation but just a few are able to survive and go ahead to cause diseases,” Mr Adetifa said.

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