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BIG STORY

US Lists Conditions To Lift Nigeria Visa Ban

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The United States has listed conditions for it to lift the visa ban slammed on Nigeria and four other countries by President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, said the issue could be resolved if the conditions that necessitated the ban are met by the Federal Government.

She listed information sharing goals as one of the terms that must be fulfilled before the US government can reverse the ban.

Speaking during a visit to Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige in Abuja, the envoy said the ban was based on her country’s concerns over the need for information sharing and not about character definition.

She, however, reiterated that students visa were not included in the ban and that the people who are resident in the US were excluded from the immigrant visa ban.

The ambassador said: “I need to clarify something for you here, the immigrant visa ban does not affect people who are currently resident in the United States. It does not cancel the status of anyone who currently is in the United States.

“What Secretary Pompey said was something that was meant to be temporary. And it is about problems with information sharing, which are investigable, achievable and resolvable, and we look forward to Nigeria in a very short time being able to meet those information-sharing goals so that the decision can be reviewed.”

Noting the industrious endowment of Nigerians at home and abroad, she said the country has the ingenuity to diversify the economy.

Noting these as ingredients to be employed to tackle unemployment, she said: “I think for Nigeria, you have an interesting story about diversification of your economy and prosperity of your economy and it is people. You know Nigerians are so well known at home and abroad for their industriousness.

“You hear about how much of the activity in the informal sector. So, I wonder how you think about capturing that entrepreneurial spirit and to bring it into the formal sector in service and to enhance employment.”

The minister described as shocking the inclusion of Nigeria in the list of countries under the US travel ban. According to Ngige, the ban was unwarranted because of the contribution of Nigerian professionals to the US economy.

He said: “Some of these Nigerians are medical doctors, engineers and people with a high level of proficiency in oil and gas fields.

“They were all part of the Nigerian residents in the U.S. and it came to us as a rude shock when the US government banned Nigerians and put us in the list of those countries whose residency status been canceled.”

Ngige urged the US ambassador to discuss the visa ban issue with her home government in order to reach an understanding and have it reversed.

The minister told the US ambassador that more than 70 percent of Nigerians living in the US were highly skilled professionals who contributed billions of dollars yearly to the US economy while sending an equally impressive amount to Nigeria.

He used the opportunity of the visit to seek for collaboration and assistance of the US in the area of poverty eradication and child labour, stating Nigeria will rather seek other forms of assistance that demand for money from the US.

Ngige said: “We have called on the US Department of Labour to assist and we have given them a list of what we need. We are not asking for monetary assistance and we are not asking for American cash, but we need technical assistance and logistics like vehicles for those in the inspectorate division to be able to carry out their functions.

“We call on the US to help us build schools in those areas where child labour is endemic. You also help in setting up clinics and executing its own empowerment programmes in those localities.”

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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BIG STORY

Manhunt Launched For Pastor Allegedly Used By Magu To Buy N573m Land In Dubai —Probe Panel

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A report by the Presidential Probe Panel has revealed details of how the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, allegedly used a cleric to launder funds abroad.

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

A copy of the report made available to NAN on Saturday in Abuja said one Pastor Emmanuel Omale of Hand of God Prophetic Ministry was used by Magu in laundering the funds.

Omale’s name was uncovered through an investigative report on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit and mentioned in the final report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets.

According to the report, the unknown clergy is alleged to have bought a landed property on behalf of Magu worth N573 million in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The report added: “Another individual who is helping in laundering funds for the Acting Chairman and who has been referred to in several petitions is one Pastor Emmanuel Omale (Hand of God Prophetic Ministry).

“He is reported to have travelled to Dubai with Mr Magu and his name was used in purchasing a property in Dubai for Mr Magu.

“As an unknown pastor, the NFIU’s report showed the huge movement of funds ranging from N573,228,040.41.”

NAN also gathered that efforts had been intensified to expose the real identity of the Pastor with a view to arraigning him for prosecution if found culpable.

On the Diezani Alison-Madueke case, the PCARA report accused Magu of failure to cooperate with authorities in the United Kingdom to facilitate effective prosecution of the case.

The report said: “In the Diezani Alison Madueke case, the Acting Chairman is failing to further cooperate with the UK NCA to enable them to charge the Former Minister to court in the UK.

“The Acting Chairman despite his knowledge that Mrs Madueke will not be extradited to Nigeria until after her trial in the UK has consistently been accusing the UK government on the pages of print and electronic media of not wanting to extradite her to Nigeria.”

Magu was also accused of deliberately refusing to provide documentary evidence that would make the office of the nation’s Attorney-General to commence the extradition process of Alison-Madueke.

“This has strained the EFCC relationship with Europe most strategic partner,” the report further observed.

NAN reports that Magu, who is being held at the Police Headquarters in Abuja, is expected to reappear before the Salami probe panel on Monday to defend himself against several allegations.

NAN.

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