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BIG STORY

Automobile Dealers Association Threatens To Sue Nigerian Custom Service For Sealing Their Business Premises

Peter Okunoren

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A group of Auto-mobile dealers in Lagos State has threatened to drag the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, to court over the unlawful sealing of their business premises.

In a letter to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service, through the law firm of Ubani & Co, the group condemned the September 30, 2019 raid and sealing of their offices by customs officers saying that the action of the Agency was a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.

They maintained that all the cars in their business premises were duly cleared and appropriate duties paid to the federal government.

The group in the letter which was also forward to the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and Attorney General of the Federation, also warned that if their business premises were not opened in the next 14 days with a compensation of N10billion for businesses loss during the period of closure, they would have no other option but to approach the court for redress.

Part of the letter which also serves as a pre-action notice reads:

“We must state here with all sense of responsibility and patriotism that the action of Nigeria custom officers in this regard is a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.

“Though the Nigerian Customs & Excise Management Act gives you the power to examine, mark, seal and take account of any goods …, In this case, you did not examine, mark, seal and take account of the particular vehicles identified as not being properly cleared, but rather sealed up the entire premises without any form of examination or inspection of papers.

” This very act of yours has no protection under the Act, but smacks of impunity, illegality, and flagrant abuse of executive power.

“No law under our law books, including the Customs & Excise Management Act, empowers you to take the steps you have taken in the manner you have taken it.

“The action of the Nigerian Customs is not only lawless but very oppressive. The moment when Nigerian Government agencies elevate the pursuit of revenue above the right and welfare of the citizens, Nigeria is doomed, but God forbid that things degenerate to that level.

“Take notice therefore that you have 14 days from the day you receive this letter to unseal all our Client’s members’ business premises to enable them carry out their lawful businesses as Nigerian citizens.

“Take further notice that you have a period of 30 days from the date you receive this letter to pay a compensation of N10Billion to our Clients for the severe hardship, suffering, embarrassment, loss of business, physical, mental and psychological torture and trauma your arbitrary, lawless and inconsiderate action has caused our clients and their families failing which our Client shall be left with no other option than to seek redress through a competent court of law.”

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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