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Arrest of Mompha, Lebanese Associate A Landmark Achievement —- EFCC Boss Magu

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The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has described the recent arrest of an alleged Internet fraudster, Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha and his Lebanese accomplice, Hamza Koudeih, as a landmark achievement in the sustained fight against internet-related frauds and money laundering in the country.

Magu said the arrest of Mompha and Hamza by operatives of the EFCC bore testimony to the commitment of the Commission to the fight against internet-related frauds, adding that “it is also a red alert to potential fraudsters.”

Speaking during an interactive session with stakeholders at the Lagos Zonal office of the Commission on Thursday, October 31, 2019, Magu said actionable intelligence received from local and international law enforcement agencies had revealed that the suspects, alongside their collaborators, were high-valued targets in Organized Cyber Syndicate Network (OCSN).

According to him, “The recent arrests of a social media celebrity, Ismaila Mustapha, popularly known as Mompha, and his Lebanese collaborator, Hamza Koudeih, for their alleged involvement in internet-related fraud and money laundering remain a landmark achievement of the EFCC.

“I make bold to tell you that these arrests have further confirmed our commitment to the anti-graft war, while also sending a red alert to potential internet fraudsters.

“I am sure you will be greatly shocked to know that five wristwatches valued at over N60 million were recovered from the suspected internet fraudster, Mompha, at the point of arrest.

“Investigation has also revealed that he operates 51 bank accounts in Nigeria with which he acquires properties in Dubai and had laundered about N14 billion through a firm known as Ismalob Global Investments Limited.

“His accomplice, Koudeih, also has two firms namely: THK Services Limited and CHK properties Limited with which he has allegedly laundered about N19 billion.

“Koudeih lives in a $5 million per annum suite at the Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, Victoria Island Lagos.”

The EFCC Chair also stated that the Commission had begun forensic analysis of the phones, documents and “strange” items recovered from both suspects.

“They will be charged to court accordingly as soon as investigation is concluded,” he added.

Magu also emphasized the fact that the Commission, prior to the arrests of both Mompha and Koudeih, had independently launched intensive investigative actions against the Internet fraudsters, popularly known as Yahoo Yahoo Boys, culminating in various strategic raids on their hideouts.

He further stated that the Commission had embarked on the raids even before the recently concluded collaborative operation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, tagged Operation Rewired – an international operation targeted at the Business Email Compromise (BEC) suspects across the world.

Magu added: “From January to date, the Lagos office of EFCC has made over 300 arrests, secured 207 convictions and recovered a good number of exotic cars. In addition, several properties suspected to have been acquired through the proceeds of crime were sealed.”

He, therefore, charged the media to join hands with the Commission in sensitizing the members of the public about the evil of internet frauds as well as economic and financial crimes.

Magu, who described media professionals as critical stakeholders in the anti-graft war, said: “We must collectively strive to achieve the Nigeria of our dream, one that our children and even generations unborn will be proud of.

“It is very critical for you to understand that you owe the youths that the social responsibility of awakening their consciousness to the importance of a noble life devoid of crimes.

“We must continue to mentor our youths and impress it on them to shun crimes and its alluring temptation because it will always end in sorrow and regrets.

“For us, there will be no hiding place for fraudsters as the Commission will hunt and bring any errant and criminally-minded persons to justice.”

Magu also used the occasion to disclose that the Commission might soon put in place a policy of rehabilitating convicted internet fraudsters so that they could deploy “their computer wizardry to good use for the overall well-being of the society.”

He further disclosed to the stakeholders that the EFCC would commence the auctioning of recovered items soon, adding that the commission wants to ensure there is transparency in the process of auctioning the items.

“We have already commenced the process in Port Harcourt, where we will be auctioning 242 trucks that have been forfeited. We have so many recovered items that have been forfeited to the Federal Government that are waiting to be auctioned. The process should be properly coordinated in compliance with a judgment given by the court and that is why we have taken so much time,” he said.

Magu urged the stakeholders to join the EFCC in the fight against corruption by using their platform to expose the criminals and not promote them.

BIG STORY

War Of Words: Amaechi Fights Wike At Supreme Court Justice’s Burial

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, and his predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi, on Saturday engaged in a verbal fight at the burial of a former Justice of the Supreme Court, Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, in the Abonnema, Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of the state.

Amaechi, who is the Minister of Transportation, while speaking at the funeral service, lamented what he termed the rising insecurity and political intimidation in the state, saying the state was back to the time of Ateke Tom, a former militant leader, who is now the traditional head of Okochiri town in Okrika LGA of the state.

“You have lost your voice. The sage (the late justice) has gone under and nobody is speaking. When I was governor, I gave people voices, but they have blocked those voices.

“Everyone is scared. We are going back to when Ateke held sway. We are going back to the period where we run away from our people. We are back to a period when nobody could speak. But from next year, I will begin to speak, if nobody wants to speak.

“We are all here because we need to bury a man God has blessed. I have stopped traveling because of bad weather, but I told myself I must be here because of Justice Whyte.

“If you knew Justice (Karibi-Whyte) very well, you will know I was close to him. I was one of the few people he mentored,” Amaechi stated.

Wike on his part described the late Karibi-Whyte as an epitome of unshakable integrity, civility, and dignity, but noted that comments credited to Amaechi were embarrassing.

Responding to Amaechi, Wike who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Emeka Woke, said the minister had lost touch with developments in the state, adding that since the launching of Operation Sting by his administration, the security situation had improved greatly.

Wike said, “It is unfortunate for Amaechi to come to Kalabari land and accuse former President Goodluck Jonathan of not developing the area six years after he had left office.

“I wonder why the former governor will choose to make such embarrassing remarks at the funeral of late Justice Karibi-Whyte, a man he (Amaechi) claimed to be his mentor.”

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Nationwide Strike: Nigerian Govt Releases Details Of Agreements With Labour Leaders

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The Federal government on Monday made public the details of its agreements with organised labour.

A statement on FG’s Twitter handle said officials held consultation meetings with leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) on September 15, 24 and 27, 2020.

The resolutions reached included establishment of Technical Committee on Electricity Tariff.

It is chaired by the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, and comprises ministries, agencies, NLC and TUC.

They will work over the next two weeks.

They are to examine the justification for the electricity tariff review; review the deployment of meters, and advice FG on issues hindering implementation.

During the two-week period, DISCOs will suspend implementation of the electricity tariff adjustments.

The statement reiterated that the petrol subsidy regime has stifled downstream sector growth.

“In addition, the dire financial circumstances of the Federation preclude the ability to sustain any subsidy on PMS, and thus makes the deregulation of the sector inevitable. NNPC will expedite the rehabilitation of its Refineries, with a 50% completion target for Port Harcourt by December 2021.

“NNPC will integrate national leadership of NUPENG and PENGASSAN into the Steering Committee established to oversee the Rehabilitation Exercise. A Validation Team comprising of Reps of @NNPCgroup, @nigeriaeiti, @icrcng, NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be established to monitor the progress of the Rehabilitation of Refineries, Pipelines and Depot Networks.

“The Federal Government will continue to facilitate licensing and delivery of new modular and regular refineries. FG will ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG Autogas Conversion Kits, Storage Skids and Dispensing Units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme, by December 2021.

“A Governance Structure for this project will be established and will include Labour Representatives. FG will work to facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage. FG will make available to Labour 133 CNG/LPG-driven Mass Transit Buses immediately, for use in major cities nationwide, and thereafter extend to all States and LGAs before December 2021.

“Ongoing FG Housing Initiatives will have 10 per cent allocated to Nigerian workers. Moribund National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) will be revived before the end of 2020, to institutionalize dialogue and engagement on socio-economic and labour issues to forestall future crises,” it disclosed.

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BIG STORY

Labour Suspends Planned Strike As FG Reverses Electricity Tariff Hike

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The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have suspended the strike scheduled to commence today (Monday).

This followed an agreement reached with the Federal Government at a meeting which started at 8.30 pm on Sunday and ended at 2:50 am this morning.

After exhaustive deliberations on the issues raised by the labour centres, the meeting agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, read the five-page communique signed by the representatives of the government and labour.

The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, amongst others signed on behalf of Organised Labour while the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige; Minister of State Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and others, signed on behalf of the government.

Olaleye confirmed the development in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday morning.

He said, “Definitely correct. We just left a press conference. We signed a document to suspend the action for two weeks for the government to implement those things that we agreed in the agreement. So, we are suspending for two weeks.

“We don’t need a notice again to re-convene if there is a need to do that.”

The parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC.

It would work for a duration of two weeks effective September 28, to examine the justifications for the new policy “in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive rollout.”

The members of the committee include the Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) as Chairman; Minister of State Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission, James Momoh; Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari as the Secretary.

Other members are Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Joe Ajaero (NLC), Chris Okonkwo (TUC) and a representative of electricity distribution companies.

The committee’s terms of reference are to examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DISCOs and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate; examine and advise government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the 6 million meters, among others.

“During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments,” the communique noted.

It also noted that the FG has fashioned out palliatives that would ameliorate the sufferings that Nigerian workers may experience as a result of the hike in cost electricity tariffs and the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

The palliatives will be in the areas of transport, power, housing, agriculture and humanitarian support.

The meeting also resolved that the 40 per cent stake of government in the DISCO and the stake of workers should be reflected in the composition of the DISCO’s boards.

It agreed that “an all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatization MoU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with labour represented.

“All parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependency on the importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce the cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.”

To address this, the parties resolved that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna to achieve 50 per cent completion by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive steering committee.

“To ensure commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association into the steering committee already established by the corporation,” the communique stated.

It added that a validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, NUPENG and PENGASSAN would be established to monitor the progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the steering committee periodically.

It also said that post-rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the nation’s refineries.

The statement added, “The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, the involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing a framework for financing in the downstream sector.

“NNPC to expedite work on the Build, Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.”

The government and its agencies agreed to ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel.

A governance structure that will include representatives of organized labour shall be established for a timely delivery.

To cushion the impacts of the downstream sector deregulation and tariffs adjustment in the power sector, the FG agreed to announce in two weeks a specific amount to be accessed by workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the Central Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture.

The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting.

The meeting further resolved that the FG will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.

The government would also make available to organized labour 133 CNG/LPG-driven mass transit buses immediately and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis thereafter, to all states and local governments before December 2021.

“On Housing, 10 per cent to be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC,” the communique disclosed.

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