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BIG STORY

FBI ‘Kidnapped” Hushpuppi From Dubai, There Was No Extradition, No Court Documents Filed —- Lawyer

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A Nigerian man accused of a multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering by the United States was kidnapped by the FBI from Dubai, his lawyer says.

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas – known to his 2.5 million Instagram followers as Ray Hushpuppi – and another cyber-heist suspect Olalekan Jacob Ponle (aka Mr. Woodberry) were arrested in Dubai, where they lived, in June.

They then appeared in a Chicago court on 3 July.

The United Arab Emirates has no extradition treaty with the United States but Dubai police said they had been extradited to the US.

Mr Abbas’ lawyer Gal Pissetzky told the BBC that his client, who posts on Instagram about his extravagant lifestyle, was not a criminal and had made his money legitimately.

“He is a social media influencer with millions of followers, with millions of people that respect and loved him, and he loved them, and that’s what he did. In today’s society, that’s a business,” he said.

Mr Pissetzky admits that he is not “100% familiar” with social media and his children consider him too old but he knows “that’s how people make money today”.

The Chicago defence lawyer’s argument that Hushpuppi was paid by designer brands for promotion has set the stage for what promises to be a long trial in American courts.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) accuses Mr Abbas, 37, of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from frauds known as Business Email Compromise (BEC) and other scams.

It is the latest high-profile fraud case involving a Nigerian national in the United States but his lawyer says the US had no authority to transport him from Dubai.

In my opinion, the FBI and the government here acted illegally when they kidnapped him from Dubai without any legal process to do so,” Mr Pissetzky told the BBC.

“There was no extradition, there were no legal steps taken, there were no court documents filed, it was simply a call to the FBI. He is not a citizen of the United States, the US had absolutely no authority to take him,” his lawyer says.

But the Dubai police said in a Facebook post that the FBI director had thanked them for extraditing the two men.

“You’ll have to ask them about why they called it an extradition,” the US Department of Justice (DoJ) spokesman responded in an email.

In a statement about Mr Abbas’ initial court appearance, the DoJ said “FBI special agents earlier this week obtained custody of Abbas and brought him to the United States” without giving any further details.

Mr. Pissetzky is not convinced.

“If Dubai wanted to expel him, they should have expelled him back to Nigeria. I’ve never heard of anything like that. That is the real story here.”

BIG STORY

BREAKING: Ogun Politician Buruji Kashamu Dies Of COVID-19

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Buruji Kashamu, a former senator from Ogun state, has died of complications from COVID-19. 

Kashamu, who represented Ogun-East senatorial district between 2015 and 2019, died at First Cardiology Consultants, Lagos.

The hospital is the same facility where a former Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi; and the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, died.

It was learnt that Kashamu, who had diabetes and high blood pressure, was admitted at the hospital for over a week before giving up the ghost.

Confirming his death, a former lawmaker, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, said the deceased would be sorely missed.

Murray-Bruce wrote on his verified Twitter handle, “I have just lost my good friend of forever to COVID-19. Until his death, Sen. Buruji Kashamu and I were inseparable. He died today at First Cardiology Consultants, in Lagos. May his gentle soul rest in peace. I pray his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear this heavy loss.”

Kashamu, who was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2019 election, was facing extradition for alleged drug trafficking before his death.

See tweet by Murray-Bruce;

I have just lost my good friend of forever to #COVID19. Until his death, Sen. Buruji Kashamu and I were inseparable. He died today at First Cardiology Consultants, in Lagos. May his gentle soul rest in peace. I pray his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear this heavy loss. pic.twitter.com/OJGIt0VK3n

— Ben Murray-Bruce (@benmurraybruce) August 8, 2020

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BIG STORY

Failed Contracts: NDDC Asks Senator Nwaoboshi To Refund N2.5bn Within Two Weeks

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The Niger Delta Development Commission has demanded refund of N2.5bn from Delta North Senator Peter Nwaoboshi for contracts his companies allegedly failed to execute.

However, the names of the errant firms were not disclosed in the letter addressed to the lawmaker.

The commission asked Nwaoboshi to refund the money within two weeks.

The letter dated July 5 signed by the Director, Legal Services of the NDDC, Peter Okoro, asked the senator to pay back the money meant for the supply of plastic chairs and desks for primary and secondary schools in the Niger Delta region in 2017.

It read, “Instead of supplying the chairs and desks to the Commission’s warehouse in Port Harcourt or to any of the NDDC offices in the nine Niger Delta states, the items were supplied to a warehouse described as Akuede Akwis’ located at Benin Expressway, Okpanam, before Wichetech Aluminum Company.”

According to the letter, the lawmaker’s firms were paid to supply the plastic chairs and desks to schools in Delta North Senatorial District, including desks and benches to selected schools in the Niger Delta.

The NDDC noted, “Despite having fully paid for the 2017 contracts for the production of chairs and desks, the items have not been supplied to the commission.

“The resultant effect is that the commission and the Niger Delta region have been deprived of the use of the desks and chairs.”

The NDDC spokesperson, Charles Odili, confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

Matter in court, unsigned letter not delivered to me –Nwaoboshi

But Nwaoboshi in a statement by his media aide, Awele Onokwai, on Friday, said the matter was already before a competent court of law and that he had yet to receive a copy of the letter purportedly addressed to him from the NDDC.

Nwaoboshi described the letter as fake as it was not officially addressed or signed.

He also said that the letter did not link him to any of the contracts.

The statement read in part, “Our attention has been drawn to the purported subject matter above, credited to one Peter Claver Okoro, Esq, posing as the Director, Legal Services of the Niger Delta Development Commission and we make bold to state the following:

“That the purported matter is sub judice as it is already before two law courts of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria, wherein, Distinguished Senator Peter Nwaoboshi sued the NDDC, Mr Charles Odili and relevant newspapers for defamation of character.

“The purported letter addressed to the Senator Peter Nwaoboshi was written on the 5th of July 2020 and as of today, 7th of August 2020, the said letter has not reached Senator Peter Nwaoboshi – either in person or office or by substitution.

“The purported letter, unlike any formal letter emanating from a recognized government Ministry, Agency or Department is not signed, therefore, can easily be denied.

“Nowhere in the contents of the purported letter was it stated that the contractor is directly linked to Distinguished Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.

“Nowhere in the purported letter was it stated that the warehouse, where the plastic chairs were domiciled, belongs to Distinguished Senator Peter Nwaoboshi.”

Nwabaoshi, his colleagues in the National Assembly and some former ex-governors have denied being contractors to the NDDC.

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BIG STORY

Union Bank’s Edu360: The Search For The Next Robotics Legend Is On!!!

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Next Robotics Legend is an initiative designed by Edu360, Union Bank’s education platform, in collaboration with Awarri, a pan-African technology company, to infuse Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the education of the Nigerian child. This stems from the realization that the solutions to some of our most complicated problems as a nation lie in the education of our children today.

This first-of-its-kind robotics training and competition for students aged 11 to 16 will focus on identifying and nurturing young potential inventors and creators who will receive the necessary training to solve some of the challenges facing the Nigerian society with the aid of robotics and AI.

To enter, take a 30-second video of your child telling us what they like about robots. Upload on www.edu360.ng and fill the accompanying consent form. 25 of the most creative and passionate entries will be selected to participate in robotics training.

At the end of the free training programme, participants will be required to identify a need in their community, and apply the skills learned to proffer a solution. The student with the best solution will be admitted for a mentorship program with Awarri, the advanced AI and robotics company owned by Silas Adekunle – top international robotics engineer renowned for creating the world’s first intelligent gaming robot.

Schools are not left out! To ensure the sustenance of the initiative, Edu360 will partner with four secondary schools by providing robotics toolkits and training for their teachers to enable them to include robotics in their curriculum.

Entries will be received from August 7th to 21st, 2020.  Visit  www.edu360.ng for more information.

#NextRoboticsLegend

Terms and conditions apply.

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