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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.

BIG STORY

N41 Billion Nitel Fraud: UBA, Elumelu Challenges Senator Akinyelure, Demands Apology

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The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has denied claims credited to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Senator Ayo Akinyelure alleging the bank’s involvement and the indictment of its chairman Tony Elumelu in a N41 billion NITEL fraud.

In a letter made available to PorscheClassy News on Monday, Mr Elumelu’s lawyers demanded a public apology and retraction of the claim within seven days of receipt of the letter or face legal action.

The said reports credited to Akinyelure alleged the amount was withdrawn “systematically from NITEL for nine years” under the leadership of the UBA.

“Our Client is shocked by this false, baseless, and mischievous allegation as neither he nor any of the organizations associated with him has ever been involved in or indicted for any fraud as was falsely alleged by Senator Ayo Akinyelure,” the letter by Elumelu’s lawyers read.

“Our Client is also alarmed and appalled by this deliberate peddling of falsehood and misinformation against an unblemished personal and business reputation, painstakingly built by our Client over several decades with great personal sacrifice and unquestionable integrity.

“Our Client has instructed us to, and we have demanded an immediate open, public and unreserved retraction of the said statements credited to Senator Akinyelure and an apology from Senator Akinyelure for this false allegation and defamation of our Client,” it added.

Group Managing Director/CEO of UBA, Kennedy Uzoka, is due to appear before the Senate committee on Wednesday.

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BIG STORY

REPORT: Marketers Stockpile Petrol, August Fuel Price May Hit N150 Per Litre

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Filling station owners are currently in a panic buying mood, as many of them are stockpiling products ahead of the announcement of a new pump price for petrol in August, an investigation has shown.

It was also gathered that the price of the commodity might increase to about N150/litre as the committee saddled with the task of fixing the petrol price had been meeting and would make the new price public soon.

Marketers and officials of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency told our correspondent in Abuja on Sunday that the rise in crude oil price in the international market could lead to an increase in petrol price.

They noted that since March this year, the cost of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, had always been adjusted based on the global prices of crude oil.

“There is panic buying and it is because of the worry that prices will be reviewed either downwards or upwards. But because of the marginal rise in crude oil prices, the calculation is that petrol price could go up,” the National President, Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, Billy Gillis-Harry, said.

He added, “That is the situation and this was why we requested that there should be a stakeholders’ engagement every month or quarterly so that we can be sure of what to expect.”

He said many marketers who had stockpiled products were ready to sell at the current rate regardless of any increase.

Gillis-Harry noted that the failure of the pricing regulator to involve marketers in the price-fixing process was putting dealers in a bad light.

He, however, stated that a lot of marketers had determined not to hike petrol cost immediately, particularly if there was an increase in the price of PMS in August.

The PETROAN president said, “Many of our members have been buying products since (July) 22nd and now they have products lined up, hoping that if PPPRA increases the price, they will manage the cost in a way that Nigerians will know that we are not out to profiteer.

“We are out there to give service. So if we got products at this current rate of about N143 and they are ready to shoot the price up to N155, which is what is being anticipated, we will still sell at N143.”

Gillis-Harry said marketers would not take advantage of any petrol price increase, adding that a task force had already been established to work on enforcement of agreed terms.

He further noted that marketers had written to the petroleum minister, the PPPRA, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company on the need to involve marketers when fixing prices.

Gillis-Harry said, “From March to July, there was no clear-cut permutation or formula that we as marketers can affirm that this is the reason why the price changed from this to that. We don’t have it.

“And we’ve kept asking what the parameters are because the information we have is that marketers margin is going to increase. There was no such increase in the margin; rather, there was the depletion of our buying capital.”

In June, the PPPRA insisted that it would continue providing price bands for petrol despite opposition by oil marketers regarding the move.

It also declared that regulation for PMS price had been established in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

The Executive Secretary, PPPRA, Abdulkadir Saidu, argued that different sectors of the polity operated under the guidance of national regulators.

He said, “The Central Bank of Nigeria regulates the banks and other financial sector operators, the National Communication Commission regulates telecommunications, etc, and the same exists for operators in Nigeria’s downstream petroleum sector.

“To this end, it is not out of place for the agency (PPPRA) to provide a guiding price band with the aim to protect consumers against price gouging.

“It is important to also state that there is nowhere in the world that deregulation means total lack of control, supervision or oversight.”

Saidu noted that while the market-based pricing regime was a policy introduced to free the market of all encumbrances to investment and growth, it should not be misconstrued to mean a total abdication of government’s responsibility to the sector and citizenry.

On the need for a regulatory/legal framework for PMS pricing, he said extant laws gave the agency the legislative backing to formulate policy initiatives on pricing regime.

“In accordance with the above, the development of Guidelines for Petroleum Products Commercial Framework has been concluded and Code of Conducts for Operators is currently being firmed up to reflect the present price regime,” Saidu said.

He added, “The agency, in collaboration with the Office of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation has put in place regulation on the PMS market-based pricing regime.”

On Sunday, the spokesperson for PPPRA, Kimchi Apollo, told our correspondent that the committee saddled with the task of coming with the new price for August was working on it.

“The committee has been working on the new price and I will keep you updated as soon as the cost for August is arrived at,” Apollo said.

But oil marketers insisted that it was high time the government intervened in the matter by making owners of filling stations to be involved in the process of fixing the price of petrol.

PUNCH

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BIG STORY

JUST IN: Shoprite Announces Plan To Quit Nigeria, To Sell Business [Full Statement]

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Africa’s largest food retailer, Shoprite is making plans to exit the Nigerian market after posting continuous losses from its operations in the West African countries.

Shoprite said it was planning to discontinue its operations in Nigeria in a trading update filed at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) on Monday morning.

“Following approaches from various potential investors, and in line with our re-evaluation of the Group’s operating model in Nigeria, the Board has decided to initiate a formal process to consider the potential sale of all, or a majority stake, in the retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Shoprite International Limited,” the update read.

“As such, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited may be classified as a discontinued operation when Shoprite reports its results for the year. Any further updates will be provided to the market at the appropriate time.”

Shoprite was launched in Nigeria nearly 15 years ago, opening its first store in Lagos in December 2005.

The business has since grown from one to more than 20 retail stores across Nigeria — including some of the biggest retail stores in west Africa.

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