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Emirates Resumes Flights From Five African Countries, Excludes Nigeria

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) has announced the resumption of Emirates Airlines passenger flight operations to and from Guinea, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Uganda. However, flights from Nigeria remain suspended.

Emirates in a travel update posted on its website indicated that the lifting of travel restrictions placed on Ghana, Guinea, and three other African countries took effect on Thursday.

“From 13 January 2022, Emirates will resume passenger services to and from Guinea (CKY), Cote d’Ivoire (ABJ), Ghana (ACC), Uganda (EBB), and Angola (LAD),” the statement reads.

It said passengers traveling to Dubai from Guinea, Uganda, and Ghana must present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test obtained within 48 hours of departure, six‑hours rapid PCR with a QR code, and another PCR test on arrival.

Also, travelers from Angola and Ivory Coast are required to show a negative 72-hour PCR test and another PCR test on arrival in Dubai.

However, Dubai nationals and children under 12 years were exempted from the stipulated guidelines.

BIG STORY

BREAKING: EFCC Arrests Accountant-General Of The Federation, Ahmed Idris, Over Diversion Of N80bn

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Nigeria’s Accountant-General, Ahmed Idris, has been arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds.

Those familiar with the development said Mr. Idris was intercepted in Kano by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday evening and is being flown to Abuja, the nation’s capital, for interrogation.

Report has it that the EFCC has for some time been investigating a case of diversion of at least N80 billion in public funds which were allegedly laundered through some bogus contracts.

The companies used in laundering the funds have allegedly been linked to family members and associates of the accountant-general, investigators said.

Our sources further said after progress was made in the investigation, Mr. Idris was summoned repeatedly for interrogation but he failed to honor the invitations.

“We kept inviting him but he kept dodging us,” one of our sources said. “We were left with no choice but to keep him under watch and arrest him.”

The spokesperson for the EFCC could not be reached to comment on his story. One of his subordinates said he is traveling in the United Kingdom at this time.

However, a top EFCC official confirmed the development but asked not to be named because he had no permission to discuss the matter with the media.

President Muhammed Buhari appointed Mr. Idris’s accountant-general on June 25, 2015.

The position became vacant at the time after the former Accountant General, Jonah Otunla, left office on June 12, 2015.

President Buhari reappointed Mr. Idris for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labor groups who said the accountant-general should retire after turning 60.

Mr. Idris, a native of Kano State, North-west Nigeria, was born on November 25, 1960, and was until his appointment in 2015 the Director of Finance and Accounts, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: Embattled Ex-EFCC Chair, Ibrahim Magu, Promoted To AIG

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The Police Service Commission has promoted Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), along with five others.

AIG Magu Ibrahim who is proceeding on retirement is the most senior in the CP cadre and missed the last two promotions after returning to the Police from the EFCC.

It was gathered that the decision to promote Magu follows the recommendation of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba. The PSC had last July declined to promote Magu during the promotion of 24 CPs and other officers.

This is just as the PSC confirmed the promotion of Mr. John Ogbonnaya Amadi as a Deputy Inspector General of Police, to take over from late DIG Joseph Egbunike who represented South East in the Police Management team. Also promoted DIG is Zana Bala Senchi.

The other Commissioners of Police promoted to AIG are CP Abraham Egong Ayim; Okunlola Kola Kamaldeen; Andrew Amieengheme; Akeera Mohammed Younous; Celestine Amechi Elumelu; Ngozi Vivian Onadeko and Danladi Bitrus Lalas (Airwing).

A statement by Ikechukwu Ani, Head of Press and Public Relations said 23 Deputy Commissioners of Police were promoted to Commissioners of Police

The new 23 Commissioners of Police are; Taiwo Olusola Jesubiyi, former DC, Admin and Finance, Akwa Ibom State Command; Kolawole Olajide former DC, Force CID Annex, Alagbon, Lagos; Julius Alawari Okoro, former DC, Maritime, Lagos; Adelesi Ebunoluwa Oluwarotimi, former DC DFA, Kwara State Command; George Chijioke Chuku, former DC Ops Ebonyi State Command; Paul Alifa Omata, former DC Ops, Kwara State Command; and Effiong Dominic Edem, former DC Ops, Zone 2 Lagos. Others are Yusuf Adesina Akeem, presently at the National Defence College; Mary Gbemudu George, former DC, Anti Human Trafficking Abuja; Etim Aqua Efiom, former DC Ops FHQ, Abuja; Mohammed Yakubu, former DC SCID Anambra Command; Ganiyu Alhaji Salami, former DC ZCID Zone11 Osogbo; Magaji Kontagora Ahmed, former, DC Ops, Lagos State Command; and Kolo Yusufu, presently O/c IGP Special Tactical Squad & TIU.

Also promoted CPs are Bzigu Yakaba Kwazhi Dali, presently on secondment to ECOWAS Commission, Guinea, Bissau; Ahmed Ammani, presently at the National Defence College; Afolabi Babatola Adeniyi, former DC, Ops Yobe State Command; Njoku Henry Eronini, former DC, JTF, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State; Abiodun Oladimeji Asabi; Dankwara Adamu Mohammed, former DC, SPU FHQ, Abuja; Mohammed Usaini Gumel, former DC TIU FHQ, Abuja; Ogundele Ayodeji, former DC Central Intelligence, Force CID Annex, Lagos and Idris Nagoya, former 2i/c Force Animal branch.

The Commission also approved the promotion of 23 Deputy Commissioners to the next rank of Commissioners of Police; 31 Assistant Commissioners to Deputy Commissioners of Police.

Magu’s ordeal began in July 2020 when he was suspended from office as acting EFCC chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari, over Malami’s allegations against him and he consequently appeared before a presidential panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami set up to probe him for alleged graft and insubordination.

More to come…

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BIG STORY

REVEALED: The Men Who Helped Abacha Launder $23 Million Recently Recovered By UK Govt

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The $23.5 million Abacha loot recovered this month by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) was forfeited by Mohammed Abacha and an offshore company Mecosta Securities Inc., the British agency has told PREMIUM TIMES.

PREMIUM TIMES’ further investigation, based on the NCA’s exclusive disclosure and analysis of leaked financial records and court documents, shows that Mecosta’s account in London, from which the stolen funds were recovered, was controlled by Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu. In the 1990s, Mr. Bagudu worked in the role of an Abacha bagman helping to steal and stash hundreds of millions of dollars across the world.

On May 5, the NCA released a statement disclosing the recovery of “$23,439,724.98 siphoned out of Nigeria in the 1990s” by the Abacha family and associates.

The agency said it acted at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The USDOJ started its civil forfeiture case – and has since obtained forfeiture orders – in the district court in Washington D.C. against stolen Nigerian assets linked to Mr. Abacha. USDOJ told the court the assets were routed through the American jurisdiction and stashed in several other jurisdictions, including the UK, by the Abacha family and associates, most notably Mr. Bagudu.

“The funds form part of a larger pool of monies identified by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) as having been misappropriated by Abacha and his associates,” the NCA said. It added that it obtained the recovery order after nearly seven years of litigation in the UK to enforce the U.S. forfeiture order related to the recovered funds.

However, the NCA in its statement did not disclose the specific individuals or entities from whom the stolen funds had been recovered.

Recovered from Mohammed and Bagudu’s secret company

PREMIUM TIMES contacted the agency with a request for specific and undisclosed information.

“The monies were recovered from Mohammed Sani Abacha and Mecosta Securities Inc,” said NCA’s communications manager Stuart Hadley in an emailed reply.

PREMIUM TIMES then used leaked financial records such as Pandora Papers and the USDOJ court documents to establish Mr. Bagudu’s association with Mecosta.

The Standard Bank London account of the offshore company Mecosta, registered in the British Virgin Islands on October 9, 1995, was controlled by Mr. Bagudu, who helped Mr. Abacha steal and launder Nigerian monies across jurisdictions with complicated financial transactions, according to leaked financial and U.S. court documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES.

The court documents specifically said that a sum of $21.7 million targeted for forfeiture was held in Mecosta’s account at Standard Bank London controlled by Mr. Bagudu.

Mr. Bagudu, who was twice elected federal lawmaker, has been the governor of Nigeria’s northwestern Kebbi State since 2015 and is an ally of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Bagudu is an example of how Nigeria’s kleptocratic political class enjoys power and privilege despite their clear and condemnable track record,” commented Mathew Page, a Nigerian governance expert.

Mr. Bagudu has never been charged and enjoys immunity from prosecution in Nigeria while he holds office as governor of a state.

Apart from the Standard Bank, Mr. Bagudu was the authorized signatory on the accounts of Mecosta at other banks such as ANZ, London; Credit Agricole Indosuez London; Goldman Sachs, Zurich, and Banque Baring Brothers in Geneva, according to the U.S. court documents obtained.

It is believed that the $21.7 million stashed in the Mecosta’s Standard Bank London’s account controlled by Mr. Bagudu was the far larger part of the $23.5 million recently recovered by the NCA.

The other part, it is believed based on our review of USDOJ’s court filing and the definite disclosure by the NCA, is $1.6 million in an HSBC account in the name of Mohammed Abacha, the late dictator’s son.

Abacha plunder machine

In the plunder machine that late kleptocrat Mr. Abacha set up, Mr. Bagudu was the most prolific bagman, court documents and leaked financial records revealed.

“Abubakar Atiku Bagudu was an associate of General Abacha and his sons who participated in the conspiracy to steal and launder hundreds of millions of dollars,” American investigators told the court. “Among other things, Bagudu played an instrumental role in setting up and executing the complicated financial transactions used to launder the proceeds of the conspiracy.”

Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State

Mr. Abacha, his family, and associates systematically plundered Nigeria between 1993 when the dictator seized power and 1998 when he died. In conspiracy with his family and associates, he stole up to $5 billion, according to Transparency International.

According to American investigators, they used false security claims to steal at least $2 billion dollars, which “was transported out of Nigeria and deposited into accounts controlled by General Abacha’s associates, including Mohammed Abacha and Bagudu.”

This was apart from other stolen funds through bribery and a dramatic conspiracy by Mr. Abacha’s son, Mohammed, and Mr. Bagudu to lend money stolen from Nigeria back to Nigeria “with zero risks and at an enormous profit” by using proceeds of the security vote fraud to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. dollar-denominated Nigerian bonds, called Nigerian Par Bonds, NPBs.

Between 1998 and now, more than $3.6 billion dollars has been recovered through international efforts with different tranches linked to Mr. Bagudu alone.

The systematic plunder as well as the worldwide hunt for the stolen funds, worth billions of dollars, is reckoned to be one of the worst cases of kleptocracy and offshore shenanigans in the world.

The $21.7 million in the account of Mecosta at Standard Bank and the $1.6 million held in the name of Mohammed Abacha at HSBC were part of the stolen funds, American investigators said, and are believed to form the $23 million recovered by the NCA based on our analysis.

The NCA said it had transferred the recovered funds to the U.S. with the “ultimate intention” being the repatriation to Nigeria for the benefit of the people in the West African nation.

NCA said it would not answer our question if Nigeria was involved in a tripartite deal over this particular recovery. It also did not disclose the outstanding Abacha-linked assets being targeted for forfeiture in London.

However, PREMIUM TIMES understands from our Pandora Papers investigation that nearly 100 million euros kept in London investments accounts of Mr. Bagudu’s Blue family trusts and holdings are among the outstanding assets.

Mr. Page said the revelations about Mr. Bagudu “suggest he has held unto significant quantities of unexplained wealth accumulated in the Abacha years.”

Mr. Bagudu did not honor our request for his comment on this report, a consistent pattern since we started reporting his link to the Abacha kleptocracy.

Mohammed Abacha also did not reply to a text or answer calls to seek his comment.

Credit: Premium Times

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