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Diezani Removed $70m From NNPC In 12 Bags —– Ex-NNPC GGM

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos heard on Thursday that in 2015, a former Petroleum Resources Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke ordered the removal of $70 million from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 12 padlocked bags.

A former NNPC Group General Manager told Justice Muslim Hassan that he delivered the bags to an Abuja-based banker on Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s instructions.

He testified that he and others “had a command-and-obey relationship and also took an oath of office to obey directives and authority”.

The former GGM appeared as a prosecution witness in the trial of a former Executive Director of a top commercial bank, Dauda Lawal.

Lawal is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for alleged money laundering of N928,000,000

The commission accused him of handling $25 million out of $153 million, which the former minister allegedly doled out to influence the 2015 general elections.

The trial opened on Thursday with the ex-NNPC GGM appearing as the first prosecution witness.

Led in evidence by EFCC Prosecutor Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness narrated how he delivered the cash-laden bags to the Abuja banker, identified simply as Charles, in the front of Dume Supermarket in Abuja.

The witness said: “My lord, as I can remember, shortly before the 2015 elections, it was the norm for heads of subsidiaries (of the NNPC) to be invited for an undisclosed briefing of activities of their departments to the minister.

“At the end of such briefings, the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, gave me a GSM number in respect of one Charles, whom I had never met, with a clear instruction that I should convey 12 padlocked bags to the said Charles.

“My lord, the source, the content, and the purpose of the bags were not disclosed to me.

“Thereafter, I called the said Charles, who equally confirmed to me that he had been briefed about the message. I delivered the bags to Charles.

“Much later, my lord, the EFCC invited me for interrogation on the issue and I made a statement to that effect.

“Charles equally confirmed at the EFCC that he received the 12 padlocked bags and the bags contained $70 million.”

Under cross-examination by the defense counsel, Patrick Ikwueto (SAN), the witness said he had never met Lawal before.

Justice Hassan adjourned till July 21, 22, and 23 for the continuation of trial.

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BIG STORY

‘I Paid 42k Twice For COVID-19 Test’ — Sweden Returnee Laments Extortion In Abuja

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Ndubuisi Ekwulonu, a Nigerian who came into the country from Sweden, says he was extorted in Abuja, as he paid twice for the mandatory COVID-19 test for passengers on international flights.

It is compulsory for all passengers coming into the country to provide negative COVID-19 test results prior to boarding; passengers are also expected to pay for a repeat test, which will be done after arrival.

Speaking with Brekete Family, a reality programme focused on human rights, in a viral video, Ekwulonu said despite paying twice for the COVID-19 test, his name was not found on the list of people who were to be tested.

“At the airport, there is a form the federal government said we would fill online before we leave where we are coming from. So after I filled the form, there are two options; either I pay with card or on arrival. Because of the bad network in Nigeria, I chose the option of paying on arrival,” he said.

“So, on getting to Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, I used my ATM card and I showed them a picture that I have filled the form and they saw the ‘capture’. They requested my passport number which I gave them and they filled it in on their computer and brought out their POS. I paid and was debited N42,750.

“I was given two options; one laboratory in Jabi, the other in Maitama. Because I live close to Maitama, I chose that. But if you put the address of the laboratory in Google, it will take you to Emab Plaza, one laboratory there.”

He said on getting there, the people at the lab said they were unaware of what he was asking for and told him to leave.

“So, I came out, met a gateman to direct me to the place. He said I should go to THISDAY Dome. I went there; they said I should go to the ministry of health in the secretariat. At the ministry, I was directed to MM, one conference center. So, I took the taxi there and found the lab.

“I told the guy that they will ban me from the country if I don’t do the test and he said he will forward my information to Lagos which he did.”

Ekwulonu said he waited at the laboratory the whole day for a response from Lagos, but unfortunately, none came.

“I went home, came back. He checked the system and said my name is not on the list they gave him. Luckily for me, two people on the same flight with me came and couldn’t find their names. Even my friend from Sweden couldn’t find his name,” he said.

“Then they said I will have to pay another money if I want to do the test. I paid another N42,750 and did the test.

“This morning… I am supposed to leave Nigeria on Saturday, they sent me a message that I have to pay again for another test.”

Ndubuisi, who was in tears, lamented the difficulty in securing a job as a Nigerian in Sweden. He said there are about 5,700 employees where he works, but 5,000 were sacked.

“And I was among those retained. It took me time to get this job because I am a Nigerian. Even a Rwandan will get a job before you and these are people you know, in every aspect of life, you are better than them. Just because you are carrying a Nigerian passport, to get a job will be hard, so how can I lose my job because I came into Nigeria?” he lamented as he burst into tears.

However, later on, Tuesday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), in a tweet, said Ndubuisi had been refunded.

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The Story Was Twisted Fundamentally Out Of Context, My Client Never Begged Salami Panel For Mercy —– Magu’s Lawyer

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Wahab Shittu, counsel to Ibrahim Magu, suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says his client never admitted to the allegations against him.

Magu is being investigated by a presidential panel over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets under his watch as acting chairman of the EFCC.

Magu appeared before the panel last Friday to defend himself.

Shittu, in a statement on Tuesday, said the report that Magu confessed to the panel that he was overzealous as EFCC chairman and begged for mercy was misleading.

“We wish to state that this story was twisted fundamentally out of context by my client’s accusers who want to hit back at my client without justification,” he said.

“It is true that Magu and my humble self addressed the panel at the conclusion of his defense while Magu clarified that he threw himself to the job of acting chair because of his passion for the anti-corruption war, a situation that may be alleged overzealousness in some quarters.

“He however pleaded for justice and fair-play by the panel members in the context of his overall achievements and his fledgling career which hitherto remain unblemished and will terminate in two years’ time.

“Counsel to Magu also urged the panel members in the interest of fear of God and loyalty to their conscience to ensure justice in the matter and concluded by thanking them for patience and understanding throughout the proceedings.

“At no time did Magu admit to guilt to the allegations, the subject matter of the inquiry. Indeed the only thing going for Magu is the conviction of his innocence.

“A member of the panel had cause to inquire from me whether I am convinced that the panel will do justice to my client? I responded in the affirmative and I hope my optimism of the justice of the process at the end will not be illusory.”

He said as Nigerians wait on the Ayo Salami-led panel to do justice in this matter, commentators in the public space should comment based on facts and law.

According to the lawyer, the preoccupation of the inquiry is to reveal the truth without grandstanding, sensationalism, dramatization, or any attempt at the coloration of the truth.

“The danger is that these orchestrated stories in the public space may have the effect of shifting the real focus from the quest for facts and truth which is the real focus of the inquiry to sensationalism, half-truths, propaganda which will neither benefit either Nigerians who are interested in the real facts and truth nor the panel members who have toiled for days to execute the assignment including the subject of inquiry whose proclamation of guilt or innocence will define his future career and his perception in the public space,” he said.

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Nigerian Govt Orders DisCos To Suspend Electricity Tariff Hike

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The Federal Government has ordered the Electricity Distribution Companies in the country to suspend the recent hike in tariff.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission issued the order on Tuesday night.

This followed an agreement reached by the Federal Government and Organised Labour for the suspension of the hike in tariff for 14 days.

According to the NERC, the tariff suspension will be from September 28, 2020, to October 2, 2020.

The Order, No. NERC/209/2020, with the title: “NERC Order on the suspension of the Multi-Year Tariff Order 2020 for the electricity distribution licensees,” was signed by the NERC Chairman, James Momoh; and the Commissioner, Legal, Licensing and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, and addressed to the country’s DisCos.

 

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