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BREAKING: Catholic Church Disowns Fr. Mbaka, Says He Might Be Disciplined

Peter Okunoren

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The Catholic Church has distanced itself from the Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, over his perceived politically charged statements.

In a video that has since gone viral, Mbaka was seen telling the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Peter Obi, during the annual harvest and bazaar celebration of the church on Sunday, that neither the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, nor President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, would win the 2019 presidential election.

Addressing Obi in Igbo, Mbaka said, “(Former) governor, listen, so that we won’t be deceiving God. As you are standing in the presence of these children of God, tell God what you will do for Him. It means you don’t want to do anything for God.

“Let me believe in fear, but this is a political statement. God hates stinginess. What I am saying is not for your pleasure. I am saying what will save your life, otherwise you and Atiku will fail. The way you and Atiku are moving will end in shame.”

But the Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Rev. Fr. Benjamin Achi, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the diocese was not in support of the cleric’s remarks.

When asked if Mbaka was still a member of the diocese, Achi said, “He is.”

He, however, noted that it was wrong for priests to make political statements from the pulpit.

Achi said, “The diocese is not in support of any priest making political statements.

“The church is supposed to be apolitical and the Bishops’ conference has said that repeatedly.

“We are not supposed to make any political statements from the pulpit within the context of Mass, that is, church service.

“So, it would be wrong to stand at the pulpit to make any political statements.

“There is a document issued by the Bishops’ conference to that effect.

“So, he just spoke on his own, not representing the diocese.”

“We are not expected to come out openly to support a particular candidate for any reason. The church law does not accept such a thing. So, it would be wrong for anybody (priest) to come out and give an endorsement to a particular candidate.”

Achi noted that if necessary, disciplinary action against Mbaka would be carried out by the priest’s administrative head.

BIG STORY

FBI ‘Kidnapped” Hushpuppi From Dubai, There Was No Extradition, No Court Documents Filed —- Lawyer

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A Nigerian man accused of a multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering by the United States was kidnapped by the FBI from Dubai, his lawyer says.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas – known to his 2.5 million Instagram followers as Ray Hushpuppi – and another cyber-heist suspect Olalekan Jacob Ponle (aka Mr. Woodberry) were arrested in Dubai, where they lived, in June.

They then appeared in a Chicago court on 3 July.

The United Arab Emirates has no extradition treaty with the United States but Dubai police said they had been extradited to the US.

Mr Abbas’ lawyer Gal Pissetzky told the BBC that his client, who posts on Instagram about his extravagant lifestyle, was not a criminal and had made his money legitimately.

“He is a social media influencer with millions of followers, with millions of people that respect and loved him, and he loved them, and that’s what he did. In today’s society, that’s a business,” he said.

Mr Pissetzky admits that he is not “100% familiar” with social media and his children consider him too old but he knows “that’s how people make money today”.

The Chicago defence lawyer’s argument that Hushpuppi was paid by designer brands for promotion has set the stage for what promises to be a long trial in American courts.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accuses Mr Abbas, 37, of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from frauds known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and other scams.

It is the latest high-profile fraud case involving a Nigerian national in the United States but his lawyer says the US had no authority to transport him from Dubai.

In my opinion, the FBI and the government here acted illegally when they kidnapped him from Dubai without any legal process to do so,” Mr Pissetzky told the BBC.

“There was no extradition, there were no legal steps taken, there were no court documents filed, it was simply a call to the FBI. He is not a citizen of the United States, the US had absolutely no authority to take him,” his lawyer says.

But the Dubai police said in a Facebook post that the FBI director had thanked them for extraditing the two men.

“You’ll have to ask them about why they called it an extradition,” the US Department of Justice (DoJ) spokesman responded in an email.

In a statement about Mr Abbas’ initial court appearance, the DoJ said “FBI special agents earlier this week obtained custody of Abbas and brought him to the United States” without giving any further details.

Mr. Pissetzky is not convinced.

“If Dubai wanted to expel him, they should have expelled him back to Nigeria. I’ve never heard of anything like that. That is the real story here.”

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Buhari Suspends EFCC Boss, Ibrahim Magu; Appoints Umar

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The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), says the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has approved the suspension of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.

Malami said this in a statement by his Spokesman, Umar Gwandu, on Friday.

He subsequently appointed the EFCC Head of Operations, Mohammed Umar, as the acting chairman.

The statement read in part, “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate suspension of Ibrahim Magu as Ag. Chairman EFCC in order to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has also approved that the EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, should take charge and oversee the activities of the Commission pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regard.”

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Buhari Signs N10.8trn Revised 2020 Budget

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President Muhammadu Buhari, on Friday, signed the revised 2020 Budget of N10.8 trillion, passed by the National Assembly in June, into law.

While signing the bill into law, the President explained the revision became necessary because of the weakening effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s economy.

He also said ministries, departments, and agencies will be given 50 percent of their capital allocation by the end of the month.

The signing ceremony, which took place inside the State House, was witnessed by the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.

Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, and other principal officers also witnessed the signing.

The Ministers Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of State Finance, Clement Agba, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emiefile and Director General Budget, Ben Akabueze.

At 11:03am, Senator Babajide Omoworare, Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to President on National Assembly Matters (Senate) and Hon. Umar El-Yakub, on National Assembly Matters (House of Representatives), presented the budget to the President, while the Osinbajo, Lawan, and Gbajamilia joined him to witness the signing the budget at exactly 11:06

Details shortly…

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