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Court Orders Forfeiture Of 23 Properties Linked To Former Pension Reform Boss Abdulrasheed Maina

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An Abuja Federal High Court on Tuesday ordered a temporary forfeiture of 23 properties linked to Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT.

Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo gave the order while ruling on a motion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, wherein, it prayed the court to order the temporary forfeiture of the properties linked to Maina.

EFCC also sought an order of the court to publish an advert on the properties in a national daily, to enable anyone who has any reason why they should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government to come forward and prove the same.

The anti-graft agency supported its motion by a 30-paragraph affidavit which is brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Money Laundering Act.

Ruling on the matter, the trial judge granted the prayers of the anti-graft agency.

Justice Ogunbanjo also ordered the anti-graft agency to return to the court on November 19, for the mention of the case.

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Nigerian Travellers To Pay $15,000 Visa Bond As Trump Introduces New Policy

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Nigerian visitors to the United States (US) may have to pay up to $15,000 in bonds according to a new temporary policy issued to discourage nationals of some countries with higher visa overstay rates.

The President Donald Trump administration introduced the visa bond pilot programme on Monday for B-1 visas (for business travellers) and B-2 visas (for tourists) and it is expected to run for six months — December 24 to June 24, 2021.

The rule will see US consular officers ask travellers from affected countries to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000. About 15 African countries are said to be on the list.

The visa bond pilot programme by the US Department of State is said to target mostly African countries with high visa overstay — the visitors are believed to have entered the country legally on a student, tourist, work visas and then stay past their visa expiration date.

“The purpose of the pilot program is to assess the operational feasibility of posting, processing and discharging visa bonds, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to help assess the burden on government agencies and identify any practical challenges related to visa bonds,” the policy document read.

“The pilot program is designed to apply to nationals of specified countries with high overstay rates to serve as a diplomatic tool to encourage foreign governments to take all appropriate actions to ensure their nationals timely depart the United States after making temporary visits.

“The Pilot Program will run for six months. During that period, consular officers may require nonimmigrant visa applicants falling within the scope of the Pilot Program to post a bond in the amount of $5,000, $10,000, or $15,000 as a condition of visa issuance.

“The amount of the bond, should a bond be appropriate, will be determined by the consular officer based on the circumstances of the visa applicant.”

According to data from the DHS, almost 30,000 Nigerians overstayed their B1/B2 visas in 2018, ranking as the 5th country with the most visa overstays in the US. This makes Nigeria the African country with the most visa overstays.

In January, the United States had imposed an immigrant visa ban on Nigeria as a result of the country’s failure to comply with its established identity-management and information-sharing criteria.

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Nigerians Should Be Proud We Are Importing Fuel From Niger Republic —– Timipre Sylva

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Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, says Nigerians should be proud that the Federal Government is set to resume the importation of petroleum products from neighbouring Niger Republic.

Sylva said contrary to comments by critics of the government, the plan by the Federal Government to resume fuel importation from its West African brother should not be seen as ‘an embarrassment’ but rather as a means of encouraging intra-regional trade.

Recall that we had reported that the Ministry of Petroleum Resources announced last Thursday in a statement that the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding for petroleum products transportation and storage.

According to the statement, Niger Republic’s Soraz Refinery in Zinder, some 260km from the Nigerian border, has an installed refining capacity of 20,000 barrels per day.

The move by the Federal Government attracted steaming criticisms with many knocking the government over its inability to keep the country’s refineries running.

But reacting on Monday evening while featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme, the minister said Nigeria is a big market that needs excess fuel products processed in other countries.

Sylva said, “I don’t see that as an embarrassment at all. As a country, Nigeria is a big market, we need products, even if all our refineries were functioning, we will still need extra products.

“Niger Republic produces oil and they are landlocked as a country. They have a refinery that produces in excess of what they require as a country and they offered to sell to us in Nigeria because this is a bigger market.

“In the spirit of regional cooperation, regional trade development, we decided to buy from them. I don’t see anything wrong with that. If your neighbour is producing something that is required in your country and you buy from him, why is that a big problem?

“So, we agreed with Niger to buy the excess of what they don’t require in Niger because this is a big market.”

“Nigerians should be proud that we are doing that to encourage sub-regional trade because we have been talking about sub-regional trade for a long time and this is how it should be between neighbouring countries. Niger should import from us what we have and we should be able to import from Niger what they have. Let us encourage intra-regional trade and this is one good example of trading within West Africa,” he added.

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JUST IN: Trump Finally Okays Transition As Key US Agency Declares Biden Winner Of Presidential Election

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The General Services Administration has ascertained that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the November 3 election.

President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

The move clears the way for the start of the transition of Trump’s administration and allows Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over January 20.

An official said administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official —including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good … fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

Earlier Monday, retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.

“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for the head of the General Services Administration to release the money and staffing needed for the transition. Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.

Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately. Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”

Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.

The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”

Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.

AP

 

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