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Few days after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo described grand corruption as the elephant in the room when discussing the Nigerian economy, more compelling details are emerging showing how several tranches of funds were illegally removed from the public till by the Jonathan administration specifically ahead of the 2015 presidential elections.

Besides, some new but dramatic details of how some of the funds were illegally transported from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the private residence of former President Goodluck Jonathan have now emerged.

In that particular case, the National Security Adviser in Jonathan’s administration, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, allegedly personally supervised the physical transfer of the money from the CBN vaults to the private residence of the former President.

In one particular instance, over N70 billion was released in parts from the national treasury between January 8 and February 25, 2015.

The over $289 million, which was also referenced last week by the Vice President, was said to be included in this particular series of illegal transactions.

Besides, in another illegal disbursement, the minutes of the CBN Board meeting of August 25, 2014 indicated the board’s okay of another N60 billion requested by the former President and released later by the Bank.

A Presidency source said the sum, which was okayed by the CBN Board, was not tied to any project or procurement and was meant and disbursed purely for campaign purposes through the office of the then NSA and the leadership of the Department of State Services at the time.

Specifically, the N60 billion that was okayed by the CBN on August 25, 2014 was said to have been shared between the Office of the NSA and the DSS.

While the NSA’s office got N40 billion, N20 billion went to the DSS.

While some of these newly emerging fund disbursements have been traced to Dasuki, there are indications that some of the funds are unconnected to the ongoing Defence contract trials of the former NSA.

Osinbajo in a recent speech had alleged that weeks to the 2015 election during the administration of Jonathan, about N100 billion was released and embezzled.

He also disclosed that about $289 million was disbursed illegally about the same time.

It has now been revealed that the $289 million mentioned by the Vice President was released on February 25, 2015

Documents, including cash vouchers, indicate that $289,202,382 was released in cash to the National Intelligence Agency by the CBN from the Joint Venture Cash Call Account No. 000-0000-11658-366 of the NNPC/NAPIMS with JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York, USA.

At the exchange rate then of $199 to a naira, $289 million is equivalent to about N60 billion.

But had the money not been stolen, it would be at today’s rate over N104 billion.
Further findings showed that in yet another set of illegal fund withdrawals about one week between January 8 and 16, 2015, the sum of N1.5 billion was released in three tranches of N300 million, N400 million and N800 million respectively.

“This money was released from the MEA Research Library Account to the Jointrust Dimension reportedly owned by Danjuma Yusuf and Nenadi Esther Usman,” an official source with knowledge of the transaction disclosed.

The source further said the sum was transferred to their various political associates, which included a former Minister of Aviation and spokesperson of the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Organisation for the 2015 polls, Femi Fani-Kayode.

Further findings showed that N350 million was allegedly transferred to Fani-Kayode through his Zenith Bank Account No. 1004735721 on February 2, 2015.

Also, another N250 million was allegedly transferred to Fani-Kayode through the same Zenith Bank Account on February 19, 2015.

A document further showed that yet another N10 billion was released to the Office of the National Security Adviser by the CBN on September 15, 2014.

The money was said to have been released in tranches of foreign exchange of $47 million, $5 million, 4 million Euros and 1.6 million Euros.

A letter from the Office of the NSA in November 2014 further showed that the monies were released by the CBN as “funds for special services”.

“Further to our discussion, you are pleased requested to provide the sum of Forty Seven Million United States Dollars (USD47,000,000,00) cash out of the Ten Billion Naira (N10,000,000,000,00) and the balance in Euro to this office for special services,” a letter signed by the former NSA read.

Findings have shown that this particular CBN release of N10 billion was sourced in November 2014 from a N40 billion CBN released funds meant for Corporate Social Responsibility.

It was this N10 billion that former President Jonathan allegedly instructed the CBN Governor and the then NSA to deliver to him personally in a private residence in Abuja.

Sources said the money was illegally transferred using CBN van for the use of “PDP Presidential Primaries”.

BIG STORY

Chinese Doctors Who Brought Medical Equipment To Help Fight COVID-19 In Nigeria Sent On 14 Days Isolation

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Amid a wave of opposition, 15 Chinese medical experts arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday, to join the battle against COVID-19.

The Federal Government received some medical equipment and supplies brought by the medical team which arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in a chartered Air Peace flight.

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the sponsor of the trip, said they brought about 16-tons of test kits, ventilators, disinfection machine, disposable medical masks, N95 masks, medications, rubber gloves, protective gowns, goggles, face shields, infra-red thermometers, and others.

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who was at the airport to receive the Chinese and their supplies, said the team will be quarantined for two weeks.

“They knew that before they came and have undergone tests before they left their country.

“Nevertheless, they will be in quarantine for 14 days. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has gone to see where they will be quarantined.”

Ehanire added: “The equipment (they brought) will assist a lot to fill some existing gaps.

“We now have 50 more ventilators.”

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, said the equipment and medical supplies are valued at about $1.5million. Added to the cost of the flight, everything is worth about $2million.

Our reporter learnt that 12 of the 15-man team are doctors. The rest are specialists in infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses, intensive care, cardiology, neurology, general surgery, and anesthesiology.

CCECC Nigeria Managing Director, Michael Jiang, said in a statement: “The primary purpose of the working team is to escort the medical supply and provide guidance for their usage and distribution.

“They will also provide CCECC employees with critical and necessary healthcare assistance where necessary. They are also coming with adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and medical items for the employees.

“In addition, under the directive of the Chinese Embassy and in response to the Nigeria Government’s request, the working team may also share with Nigerian medical teams effective methods on how to contain the COVID-19 and provide advice on the use of relevant medical equipment.

“The team is not coming to treat COVID-19 patients in Nigeria.

“In keeping with its corporate value, ‘Stride with Nigeria’, CCECC is participating in the construction of two COVID-19 response facilities in the FCT for free as part of its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR).

“The facilities are a 196-bed at ‘ThisDay Dome Treatment Centre,’ in collaboration with Sahara Group and Arise News; and the 150-bed ‘Idu Depot Treatment Centre’.”

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) re-iterated that the Chinese experts must not directly treat any Nigerian patient.

They described any attempt by the Chinese medical team to manage any Nigerian patient as unethical and illegal.

NMA President Dr Francis Faduyile told our reporter: “Our stand has not changed and we still insist that there is nothing that they (Chinese) want to offer that can improve what we have on the ground.

“There are so many things that we need to put into consideration because it is a war affecting ordinary Nigerians, and sometimes, you look at the risk and benefits.

“Our members will look at what is on the ground; if we are doing what we are doing and they (Chinese) do not interfere with us, we will continue doing what we are doing for Nigerians.

“We cannot now precipitously make a decision. We are an association that is bounded by ethics, and rules. In a very short while, you will hear our decision”

NARD President, Dr Sokomba Aliyu, said while the association was not against donations, the experts cannot attend to any Nigerian patient because they do not have the license to practice in Nigeria.

“We do not need their hands as we are not overwhelmed and can take care of our patients.

“So far, they have also stated that they are not coming to attend to patients, so we cannot say categorically if their words are anything to go by.

“While they (officials) have gone ahead to welcome the Chinese, we are hopeful that the Chinese will have nothing to do with our patients because if they proceed to involve the Chinese in the management of our patients, we will just leave the patients for the Chinese to continue.

“As it is now, we are going to be watchful and wait for them to see how far they are engaging the Chinese, and to what extent they are going to be managing our patients,” Aliyu said.

Also yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked Nigerians to hold President Muhammadu Buhari responsible should there be an upsurge in the rate of COVID-19 infection and death following the arrival of the Chinese.

The party said it was alarmed that the President ignored the protests by Nigerians and professional bodies, including the NMA and allowed the Chinese doctors to be brought in “from the hotbed of the plague”.

PDP, through its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, questioned the safety of kits and equipment from China, adding that it was concerned about “scary reports of escalation of the scourge in certain countries reportedly after the arrival of Chinese medical personnel”.

“Our doctors and nurses have been on top of the situation with records of recoveries and fewer casualties, thus raising questions about the real intentions of bringing in doctors from China.

”Nigerians are aware that since the index case was reported till date, our nation’s COVID-19 data stands at 254 confirmed cases, out of which 44 have been successfully treated by our doctors with six deaths, which reportedly had other underlining ailments”, the party noted.

The figure rose to 276 last night.

The party charged Nigerians to be extra vigilant and asked the Presidential Task Force to outline the states and local government areas the Chinese doctors are expected to operate in for monitoring .

Also, the United Labour Congress (ULC) said while there is nothing wrong with seeking help, stakeholders should have been carried along.

Its President Comrade Joe Ajaero said in a statement: “We are surprised that the decision to bring in the Chinese medical experts was not fully discussed and agreed among the top medical practitioners and stakeholders in the nation… This is worrying.

“Why would such a crucial decision be taken in secret without coordinate input from the critical stakeholders in the nation?

“This sector is a highly specialized area which requires that at all times the input of the professionals in this sector to process the offer and agree on its mechanics and modalities.

“As we battle against COVID-19, we strongly believe that the nation’s medical experts must be involved if not allowed to be at the forefront of taking such crucial decisions.”

ULC urged the Federal Government to address Nigerians’ fears, especially as it relates coronavirus.

The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) said it would resist any move to deploy the Chinese medical team in Southeast and Southsouth.

Its leader Uchenna Madu said in a statement: “We shall resist any medical assistance from China…Medical doctors and other health workers in Southeast and Southsouth are capable and trained to handle every medical challenge professionally in those areas.”

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BIG STORY

COVID-19: Nigerians To Get 2-Month Free Electricity — DisCos

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The Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) have given assurance of its support for the plan to supply free electricity to all consumers, as one of the palliative measures to bring succor to Nigerians in the face COVID-19 induced period.

Mr Sunday Oduntan, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), confirmed their support for the move on Wednesday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the House of Representatives is to consider a fresh Stimulus Bill that will allow Nigerians to enjoy electricity supply for two months without any charge.

According to Oduntan, details of the implementation of plans for the free electricity supply will come soon.

“We are completely aligned with the plans to ensure palliative measures, including free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months, to make life easier, during the lockdown period.

“We recognize the challenging effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economic and daily lives of our customers.

“In fulfillment of our commitments to the nation, we hereby align ourselves with the efforts of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council to mitigate the hardships that are currently faced by our customers and other citizens all over the country,” he said in a statement.

Oduntan said that DisCos also commended the Federal Legislators, the Executive arm and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for the initiative.

He said that the DisCos were committed to working with them to ensure a more efficient power supply within this difficult period, as the nation battles with the ravages of COVID-19.

“Again, as a key utility player in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), we hereby reiterate our commitment to improving service delivery to the nation during this pandemic period and thereafter,” Oduntan said.

 

(NAN)

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BIG STORY

Data Centre Intact, Fire Didn’t Destroy Any Record At Account-General’s Office —- Min. Of State For Budget and Planning

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Clem Agba, minister of state for budget and planning, says the fire that gutted the office of the accountant-general of the federation did not destroy any record.

On Wednesday, a fire broke out at the Treasury House, a building housing the AGF’s office.

Officials of the Federal Fire Service and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) were able to put out the fire after about an hour later.

Many had alleged that the fire was an attempt to cover up wrongdoing by the federal government.

But speaking with journalists after inspecting the affected offices in Abuja, Agba said they are yet to take an inventory of what was destroyed in the fire but all the government’s financial transactions were intact.

The minister said the fire was caused by a spark in one of the air conditioners (AC) on the fourth floor.

“We have gone round the rooms and offices where the fire affected, and I am glad to report that our data Centre where all our records are kept are fully intact,” he said.

“There is no destruction, so we haven’t lost any record. As a government I want to assure you that our records are intact, a few documents are burnt, we haven’t started recovery to check what actually burnt, but all our financial transactions are intact.

“We would be doing a full-scale investigation using the right professionals to determine exactly what happened.”

Also speaking, Ahmed Idris, AGF, said there would be a “thorough” investigation of the incident.

“For emphasis, our data Centre is intact, no harm in any way except for the cooling system which we are now working hard to put back to operation,” Idris said.

“We are also glad there is no casualty.”

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