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Money Laundering: 22 Ex-Governors, Many Serving Senators Under Probe — Attorney-General

Peter Okunoren

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Thursday, disclosed that a total of 22 former Governors and currently being investigated on money laundering related charges.

The AGF, who described President Muhammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption as “total, comprehensive and dispassionate devoid of any political or ethnic sentiments or inclination”, equally revealed that many serving Senators are under FG’s investigative radar.

Malami spoke during a media parley he held with the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents, NAJUC, at the Federal Ministry of Justice headquarters in Abuja.

Stressing that corruption undermines the security of any nation, generates huge economic damage and violates human development, the AGF said President Buhari would leave no stone unturned to recover wealth stolen from Nigeria either by individuals or corporate entities.

He noted that three former Governors have already been convicted and are currently serving various jail terms for corruption-related crimes they committed while in office, adding that the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, had between 2015 and 2019, secured the conviction of 1, 636 persons involved in corruption-related offenses.

Malami said: “I am delighted to host Judiciary Correspondents as part of the end of the year briefing on the monumental activities and historic achievements of the Ministry and its parastatals.

“Occasions like this one serve as avenues for introspection and unveiling action plans, future projects and strategic initiatives for consolidating the Ministry’s drive-in Justice sector enhancement for the forthcoming year and beyond.

“Members of the Judiciary Correspondents have been contributing tremendously in their reportage of the activities of the Ministry and its parastatals.

“You report to the general public the enviable contributions of the teaming members of the Ministry that culminated into landslide accomplishments.

“I would like to acknowledge the fact that that the Judiciary Correspondents have been very supportive in providing positive and adequate publicity for the Ministry’s activities.

“I am optimistic that the meeting is essential in enhancing the working relationship between the Ministry and the Media.

“The imperative of having a committed leadership that respects the rule of law and above all has zero-tolerance to corruption and corrupt tendencies remains the fulcrum upon which development revolves.

“Let me inform this gathering that corruption undermines the security of any nation, generates huge economic damage and violates human development. No doubt, failure to address corruption inhibit sustainable long growth which undermines national development.

“Like the President always states, if we don’t make an effort to kill corruption, corruption will kill us and when corrupt monies find a haven, it will begin to fight back. Thus, Nigeria and Africa at large can only move forward if we resist corruption in all forms.

“The present administration has been fighting corruption in all its ramified manifestations including legislative framework, institutional infrastructure and the adoption of effective preventive measures against corruption and putting in place mechanisms for the management of recovered stolen assets.

“To this end, we have created a central database for recovered stolen assets which is under the supervision of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

“The Government made concerted efforts that see to the boosting of the institutions and agencies responsible for the fight against corruption; Ministry of Justice, Independent Corrupt and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Code of Conduct Bureau, among others.

“Nigeria has taken anti-corruption measures in tackling cybercrime, money laundering, oil bunkering and false assets declaration among others. Pursuant to the Code of Conduct Act, Public Officers are expected to declare their assets immediately upon assumptions of office.

“We have also developed the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and a guideline for smooth implementation of the strategy which five (5) pillars include: Prevention of Corruption, Public engagement, Ethical re-orientation, Enforcement and sanction, and Recovery and management of proceeds of crime.

“The Government has improved the economic fortune of the country through institutional support and legislative framework. The Financial Bill, Deep Offshore Profit Sharing Contract Act among others count among steps in that direction.

“I am pleased to inform this gathering that the Federal Government of Nigeria has recovered funds from corporate bodies and individuals through the combined efforts of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and our Law Enforcement Agencies through local and international collaboration with international community and adoption of strategies put in place.

“On the international front, Nigerian Government is collaborating with various jurisdictions to recover and repatriate funds that have been stolen and stashed outside Nigeria.

“The government is not relenting in the pursuit of Nigeria’s stolen wealth. The recovery efforts are ongoing and work is in progress.

“Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will leave no stone unturned to recover wealth stolen from Nigeria either by individuals or corporate entities.

“Our fight against corruption is total, comprehensive and dispassionate devoid of any political or ethnic sentiments or inclination.

“One of the multiple institutions involved in the fight against corruption, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, was able to, from 2015 to September 2019 convict 1, 636 persons involved in corruption-related offenses.

“It might interest you to note that former state Governors and even serving senators are not spared.

“Currently, high profile personalities including judicial officers and former governors indicted for corruption have been prosecuted and many sentenced to jail.

“We have three former Governors convicted and serving various jail terms for corruption-related crimes while in office. Equally, twenty-two ex-governors are either under probe or on trial.

“The Whistle-blowing Policy is also well implemented and has yielded lots of recoveries of stolen assets in Nigeria.

“I urge journalists to use the institution of the media for advocacy against corruption, encouraging the implementation of crucial measures and providing inspirational motivation against corrupt practices as well as highlighting exemplary models by promoting excellence and creativity in anti-corruption projects as an incentive to greater motivation is significant to the Africa continent.

“This engagement is about soliciting for consensus building in the fight against corruption and working together toward nation-building for the betterment of its citizens.”

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BREAKING: Sanwo-Olu Lifts Curfew In Lagos

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has lifted the curfew imposed on the state with immediate effect.

This was contained in a press statement by the Lagos Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, on Saturday.

The statement read, “The curfew imposed on Lagos State after the hijack of the peaceful #EndSARS protests has been lifted immediately. The 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. curfew imposed by the Federal Government to curb the spread of COVID-19 remains.

“Lagosians are free to go about their businesses without any hindrance whatsoever. Security agencies will continue to discharge their duties. Lagosians are urged to co-operate with them to maintain the status of our state as one of the most peaceful.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu thanks security agencies for their efforts in restoring peace to our troubled communities. He commends Lagosians for observing the curfew and ensuring the return of normalcy.

“The Governor urges the citizenry not to do or encourage any action that may turn back the clock, but to keep living in harmony as we get set to rebuild our dear State and strengthen the unity that we are known for.”

Details later…

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JUST IN: US Special Forces Storm Nigeria, Rescue Kidnapped American, Kill 6 Bandits

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An American citizen held hostage in northern Nigeria has been successfully rescued by the United States forces, CNN is reporting.

This was revealed in a statement by the Pentagon Spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, on Saturday.

The hostage, Philip Walton, was abducted Monday night on the outskirts of Massalata, a village about 10 kilometers (six miles) from the border with Nigeria.

Part of the statement reads, “U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of October 31 in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen held hostage by a group of armed men.

“This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.

“We appreciate the support of our international partners in conducting this operation. The United States will continue to protect our people and our interests anywhere in the world.”

The mission, which was several hours long, was conducted by the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 who were flown to the region by Air Force special operations, a US official with knowledge of the operation told CNN.

The US forces who conducted the mission killed six of the seven captors, the official said.

The US believes the captors have no known affiliation with any terror groups operating in the region and were more likely bandits seeking money.

The State Department confirmed earlier this week that a US citizen had been abducted in Niger.

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SARS Detained Me For 22 Days, Took Me To A Shrine, I Lost Two-Month Pregnancy To Torture —- Schoolteacher Tells Lagos Panel

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Hearing by the Lagos State Panel of Judicial Inquiry into complaints of human rights violations by men of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad continued on Saturday with a schoolteacher, Ndubuisi Obiechina, narrating to the panel how she was arrested in 2017 on a bogus allegation of being a thief and a kidnapper and tortured by SARS men till her then two-month-old pregnancy was aborted.

The schoolteacher, who appeared before the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel alongside her husband, told the panel that she was detained for 22 days and tortured till she lost her pregnancy.

She named the officers who tortured her as Phillip Rilwan, Christian, and Haruna Idowu.

She alleged that the policemen stole her husband’s N50,000 and compelled them to part with N400,000 as bail fee before they were freed.

Narrating their ordeal in the hands of the SARS men, she said, “On June 1, 2017, I received a text message from an unknown number that I had a parcel from DHL. A caller using different numbers asked for my home or office address and I gave him my school address upon my husband’s advice.

“The following day, I saw a black jeep with huge men inside it. One of them was in a DHL uniform. Immediately, they approached me, they started beating me. They said I should enter inside. They said I was a thief, an armed robber. The one in the DHL uniform removed it. My HM (headmistress) was peeping at us. I said let me go and tell her. They said no.

“I said my kid is there, they said no, that I should follow them, that my kid would die there.

“My HM came to the gate; they pointed a gun at me. She asked what was going on. They said, ‘This woman is a thief, a kidnapper. She must follow us and go. They said they were Police, SARS’.

“They pushed me inside the car and moved. The men were slapping, beating me. I was two months pregnant. I started vomiting. That’s when they found out I was pregnant. But they kept torturing me. I told them I did not know the suspect.

“They took me to their office at Ikeja. They took me to a shrine. They hanged me, beat me. They said they would force my baby out of me. They said I must produce the person or die there.”

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