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BIG STORY

Presidency To Obasanjo: Your Atiku Will Be Defeated Comprehensively

Peter Okunoren

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The Federal Government says though it is the constitutional right of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo to support a candidate for an election, his endorsement does not guarantee victory.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who spoke on behalf of the government on Monday in Abuja, said Obasanjo’s candidate for the presidential election, Atiku Abubakar “will be defeated roundly and comprehensively’’.

“With due respect to former President Obasanjo, it is his constitutional right to support any candidate of his choice and we urge him to go out and campaign vigorously for any candidate he wants to support.

“He has not hidden his preference for the PDP candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and we wish him very best of luck.

“However, I want to assure you that his candidate will be defeated roundly and comprehensively. It is not about endorsement, endorsement does not win election,’’ he said.

The minister also responded to a statement credited to the former President that, “only a fool will sit on the fence when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption lack of focus, insecurity nepotism and brazen impunity’’.

Mohammed said he held Obasanjo in high esteem and probably he was not properly briefed on the development in the country to have made such conclusions,.

“The facts are all there that this government has done more than any other governments in three and half years.

On corruption, the minister said that the government had put in place institutional reforms which had confirmed its sincerity and commitment to fighting the menace.

“It is not about putting people in Jail but what are the things put in place to address this endemic problem.

“Take the example of Treasury Single Account TSA, which was not initiated by this government. It is only the Buhari administration that has the political will to implement it.

“Before we came in, there were over 22,000 government accounts in various banks.

“Since we came, we reduced it to one account and from 2015 to date N8.9 trillion has passed through the TSA which is as a result of transparency and accountability,’’ he said.

The minister said that even with lean resources, the Buhari administration had spent more on infrastructure than the 16 years of the PDP administration.

He said there was no state in the country without one or two infrastructure development being embarked upon by the federal government.

The minister said the Administration had commissioned the Abuja to Kaduna standard rail gauge while the 156 km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge would be ready for commissioning in March next year.

He said the government had made fund available for five critical infrastructure projects including the Mambilla power project, the East-West Road, the second Niger Bridge, the Abuja – Kano and Abuja-Lokoja-Okenne highways.

Mohammed said the efforts of the administration in diversifying the economy away from oil had yielded fruits with achievement recorded in agriculture, particularly in rice production and solid mineral sectors.

On power supply, the minister said the administration had improved on generation, transmission and distribution than it met them in 2015, while Nigerians are benefiting from its numerous social investment programmes. (NAN)

BIG STORY

Seized Properties Cornered By Top EFCC Officials, Magu’s Friends —- Probe Panel

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The suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu, could not give a proper account of missing 332 out of the 836 recovered properties in March 2018, the News Agency of Nigeria has reported.

NAN reported on Sunday that the latest allegation against the suspended EFCC boss was contained in a report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets.

It also stated that the panel alleged that recovered properties were taken over by some top EFCC officials or sold to Magu’s friends and cronies at giveaway prices.

The news agency had, on Saturday reported that the panel, in its report titled, ‘Final Report of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the EFCC Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020,’ alleged that Magu was unable to account for the interest generated from N550bn cash recovered from 2015 to 2020.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), set up the Justice Ayo Salami-led committee, which is currently investigating allegations of corruption against Magu after the panel on the audit of recovered assets submitted its report.

Besides the Chairman, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, other members of the previous committee were Deputy Inspector General Anthony Ogbizi; a member from the Federal Ministry of Justice; Mualledi Dogondaji from the EFCC; Hassan Abdullahi from the Department of State Services; an unnamed member from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation; Chinedu Ifediora from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, while Mr Kazeem Attitebi served as the secretary.

The Salami panel was constituted to enable the suspended EFCC chairman to respond to allegations leveled against him in the report of the committee on an audit of recovered assets.

Magu’s friends, cronies bought properties at giveaway prices

The report stated, “Most of the recovered assets are allegedly sold without anyone knowing and without proper records and without recourse to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that has the mandate to undertake an evaluation of such properties.

“Some of the assets have been taken over by the EFCC officials while some are sold at giveaway prices to friends and cronies of the acting chairman.

“It is also on record that the (suspended) acting chairman is maintaining different accounts, including using proxies who return the benefits of the sold assets to him.

“These funds are then used to procure property and lands in the names of some of his proxies,’’

Falana denies receiving N28m from Magu, threatens libel suit

In a related development, a human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), on Sunday denied receiving N28m from the suspended acting chairman of the EFCC.

Falana, in a pre-action letter signed by his lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN) of Citipoint law firm, demanded a retraction of the claim by a newspaper that published a story suggesting that Magu had paid the sum of N28m to him from the money allegedly siphoned from the EFCC.

The letter with the title, “Pre-action demand regarding your defamatory imputations against Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, in your online publication, titled, ‘More trouble for Magu as new facts on re-looting of recovered funds emerge’,” threatened to institute legal action against the newspaper should it fail to apologize to him and publish a retraction of the story on its front page within 48 hours.

Olumide-Fusika stated in the letter that he received Falana’s “immediate instruction” to demand that “you (the newspaper’s editor) acknowledge your wrongdoing, expressly admit that what you imputed against my client was false, and apologize for your unprofessionalism and the damage you have caused to him”

“I do hope that you will, within the next 48 hours, comply with this gentlemanly request by publication on the front page of your newspaper. Failing compliance, my instruction is to issue a Writ in the tort of defamation in order to afford you an opportunity to prove what you imputed against his my client’s character,” the letter added.

The newspaper’s story was based on a  report published by NAN, which claimed to have obtained the final report of a prior presidential panel allegedly indicting Magu for being unable to account for the interest generated from N550bn cash recovered from 2015 to 2020.

Olumide-Fusika stated in his pre-action letter that the newspaper, by its publication “meant and intended to mean and convey” to its readership that Magu allegedly used a bureau de change operator to pass the sum of N28m to Falana in an alleged money laundering scheme.

Falana’s lawyer described the publication as “damning against my client because his entire career as a lawyer has been devoted to fighting human rights abuses and corruption in high and low places”.




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BIG STORY

Police Disband IRT, STS State Offices

Peter Okunoren

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The Police at the weekend disbanded all satellite offices and bases of the Intelligence Response Squad (IRT) and Special Tactical Squad (STS).

The directive followed moves by the Force Headquarters to reposition the police and ensure accountability as well as due process.

The IRT and STS were recently integrated into the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) headed by Ibrahim Lamorde to improve efficiency and ensure operational discipline.

According to a signal sighted by our Correspondent, the Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) in charge of IRT (Abba Kyari) and Yusuf Kolo (STS) are to ensure that all bases and offices outside Abuja were shut with immediate effect.

It was learnt that the disbanded offices were ordered to submit all firearms in their possession to the central armory, all suspects in their custody transferred to the state command’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) while cases already charged to court but investigation not concluded be moved to State Criminal investigation Departments (SCID).

Commissioners of Police were also directed to monitor strict compliance of the directive.

Already, DCP Kolo in compliance with the directive has asked his sector commanders to “fall-in” with their men, exhibits, suspects arms, and ammunition on July 16 at the unit’s Abuja office to be inspected by the DIG.

“You are further directed to warn all your operatives to remove the IGP inscription on their operational kits. The correspondences should bear FIB STS,” Kolo said in a signal to the sector commanders.




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BIG STORY

Magu Didn’t Account For N47.8b, Linked With BDC With 158 Accounts, Gave Falana N28m — Probe Panel

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The suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, may be facing fresh cases of alleged re-looting of funds recovered by the commission as well as bribery.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Magu is currently being interrogated by a presidential probe panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami over allegations of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by the EFCC.

A final report of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the EFCC Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020, obtained by NAN, had seriously indicted and implicated Magu on various allegations levelled against him.

The investigative committee terms of reference were to:

Investigate, verify, and review the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets as it relates to the EFCC, with a view to ascertaining the complicity or otherwise of the Ag. Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, in the mismanagement of the assets recovered by the Commission;
Identify Avenues through which the recovered assets are dissipated and seized, recovered, forfeited (Interim and Final) assets are valued, managed, disposed, and/or mismanaged with a view to ascertaining compliance or otherwise with extant laws, regulations, processes and procedures.

Review the existing procedures on the Management of the seized, recovered, and Forfeited assets (interim and final) and proffer Standard Operational Procedures for the management of seized, recovered and forfeited assets.

Determine whether assets recovered during his tenure, whether locally in Nigeria or abroad, are being kept safely in a manner as to preserve their original value and determine:-

Whether all the assets could be properly accounted for by the Ag. Chairman.

To confirm if any of the assets have been diverted to the benefit of the Ag. Chairman, his family, relation, friends, or favoured staff.

To recover any such diverted assets and return back to the EFCC or appropriate government agency.

The committee was also to investigate and report on corruption and money laundering allegations involving Magu and Bureau De Change operators, as well as some of his associates; as per the intelligence reports and petitions.

It was to audit the Assets and Finances of the EFCC as a legal entity from 2015 to 2020, with a view to establishing compliance or otherwise with procurement procedures of the EFCC in line with the provisions of the Procurement Act.

However, new facts have emerged on how interest rates accruing from N550 billion recovered by the EFCC in the period under review were allegedly re-looted.

Magu is now expected to disclose the whereabouts of the missing interest funds running into millions of naira.

NAN also observed that the Final Report of Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets that covered the period of May 29, 2015, to November 22, 2018, had also confirmed the concerns of the public about contradictory recovery figures emanating from Magu.

The report said: “It is quite disturbing that conflicting figures are being circulated in the public space by EFCC as the amount of recovered funds

“For Foreign currency recoveries, EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgements were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.

“These inconsistencies cast serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.

“While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgements were N543,511,792,863.47. These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgement exceeded its reported recoveries by N39,357,608,119.43.

“It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than thirty-nine billion naira does not include interest accrued in this account since it was opened.

“It, therefore, cast serious doubt on the credibility of the figures and means that a substantial amount of money has not been accurately accounted for.

“Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgements clearly establishes that interest element of over N550 billion has been re-looted relating to the period under review.

“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts.”

NAN also reports that the PCARA revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.

The report added: “The NFIU reports established that the Acting Chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases collecting bribes from suspects.

“The report has shown that a particular Bureau de Change, owned by Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono linked to the Acting Chairman based in Kaduna has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of funds.

“The link to Magu was also established by the payment of N28 million to FALANA who is a close associate and ally of the Acting Chairman.”

NAN reports that the Salami probe panel is expected to continue sitting on Monday while Magu’s lawyer, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, had on Friday applied for an administrative bail for his client, who is facing corruption and other charges before the panel.

NAN.




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