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N23bn Diezani Bribe: EFCC Declares Billionaire Businessman Wanted

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EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has declared billionaire businessman and Managing Director of Aiteo Group, Mr. Benedict Peters, wanted for his alleged role in the $115m (N23bn) bribe given to officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, during the build-up to the 2015 election.

The EFCC said in an official gazette signed by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, that Peters was wanted for criminal conspiracy, diversion of funds and money laundering.

The notice read in part, “Dark-complexioned Peters is wanted in connection with a case of criminal conspiracy , diversion of funds and money laundering. He hails from Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. His last known address is 8B Agodogba Avenue, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos.”

Peters is alleged to have given Diezani about $60m during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

The EFCC had alleged that the MD of Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo, helped Diezani convert $115m to N23bn after which it was disbursed to INEC officials.

Some of the money was said to have emanated from some oil companies including Northern Belt Gas Company Limited which allegedly gave $60m to Fidelity Bank on behalf of Diezani.

An EFCC source told our correspondent that Peters was the person behind Northern Belt Gas Company Limited.

The source said, “We have launched investigations into the companies that gave Diezani money in form of kickbacks. About $60m came from Northern Belt Gas Company Limited. We have not been able to ascertain the directors of the company. However, we found out that Mr. Benedict Peters is the sole signatory to the account at Fidelity Bank.

“All attempts to get him have proved abortive. We currently do not know where he is and he is hardly ever in one place because he has a private jet.”

The oil magnate, who owns oil facilities in several countries, is said to own tank farms in Lagos and Port Harcourt. Under former President Goodluck Jonathan, Peters acquired an 85-per cent stake in block OML 29 from Shell Gas Company for $2.56bn. OML 29 potentially holds up to 2.2 billion barrels of oil and about 300 million standard cubic feet of gas.

He was also alleged to have taken part in the controversial crude oil swap deal involving the exchange of crude oil for refined petroleum products in which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation gave out 445,000 barrels of crude per day to nine companies through the Pipelines Product Marketing Company, a subsidiary of the NNPC.

However, Peters had in an advertorial in Sunday PUNCH of May 8, 2016, denied the allegations levelled against him.

The statement read in part, “In order to put the facts clearly and correctly in the public domain, both AIETO Group and Mr. Peter would like to state categorically that Mr. Peters has not been officially invited by the EFCC on this matter.

“As a law-abiding citizen and a significant participant in Nigeria’s key oil and gas sector and an accomplished global businessman with significant interests in different parts of the world, Mr. Benedict Peters will upon receipt of an official invitation from the EFCC, cooperate with such relevant authorities.

“Mr. Peters who is currently out of the country will certainly attend to an invitation from the EFCC upon return to Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency has also declared one Mr. Johnson Salako wanted for allegedly defrauding the Bank of Industry of N1.424bn.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

UK Government Has Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

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The United Kingdom on Wednesday Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

British government on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, according to the UK government.

The vaccine will be rolled out from next week and the first dose could be administered as early as December 7th, stated people familiar with the matter.

Last week, the UK government announced it had ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 and appointed Nadhim Zahawi, the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of the vaccines.

British government on Wednesday morning said, “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use” 

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, revealed that the programme would commence early next week.

“It is very good news,” Hancock said.

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Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.

On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.

Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.

“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.

“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.

“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”

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Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria

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Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.

The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.

However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.

Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.

In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.

Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.

“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.

“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.

On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.

The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.

He added that people are facing desperate choices.

In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.

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