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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.

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Government

Oyo State Budgets N330M Monthly To Support Community Policing In LGAs

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Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State

Oyo State Governor, Seye Makinde has said that the state has set aside a monthly budget of N330 million to be spent on security across the 33 local governments in the state.

The governor who disclosed this in Ibadan said each local government in the state is expected to spend N10 million to support the security of lives and property in their domain.

He said part of the measures was the instruction to local government chairmen to involve traditional rulers as well as other voluntary residents in policing their areas.

Each local government is to spend N10 million monthly on this security arrangement.

Makinde explained that the initiative amounts to spending N330 million in the 33 local government areas, besides other efforts the state government had put in place to tighten security.

“We said each local government should set up a security committee, which should include traditional rulers and voluntary people willing to police their areas.

“I encouraged them to budget N10 million to service the committee every month. For the entire state, that’s N330 million per month by all local governments, excluding what we are doing generally at the state level,” the governor told a group on a visit to him during the recent Muslim festival.

“On security, most of the data in the past months shows that things are now improving. The Igangan incident, some days ago, was only falsified by some people who were saying that Fulani herdsmen had invaded Igangan again. The truth is actually about the NCS and smugglers. They know each other.

“Customs officials were accused to have entered Igangan, which is not a border town. But we are working with Federal authorities and they have arrested most of them.

“The gun that was collected is still with us. I said I won’t release it until I get the attention of the Federal authorities.

“In the Constitution of Nigeria, Oyo State is a federating unit. We are not saying Federal agencies should not carry out their operations here. But they must tell us; they must inform us. They may not disclose the details of the operation to us, but we must know about it.

“If we had known about the operation, we would have pre-informed the security detail in the town and those who died could have been alive. The Amotekun Coordinator that died in Igboora would have still been alive today.

“How can you go operating in an unidentified vehicle in a town where the security tactics have been heightened? As they wanted to enter the town, they were confronted because we have heightened security in all of those places.

“So, we will keep appealing to them and to our people that false information won’t help anybody. Nobody will profit politically from the security issues we are faced with. It is our collective responsibility. The people will play their part and the government will play its own part,” Makinde said.

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Security Operatives Arrest Sunday Igboho in Cotonou, Benin Republic

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The security operatives in Cotonou, Benin Republic have arrested Yoruba freedom fighter, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho.

An anonymous source privy to the arrest disclosed on Tuesday morning.

According to the source, Sunday Igboho was arrested in Cotonou while trying to travel to Germany from the West African nation.

President Buhari-led administration is now working with the Benin government to repatriate him to Nigeria.

The source said, “Sunday Igboho has been arrested in Cotonou. He was arrested about an hour ago.

“He was supposed to travel to Germany through Cotonou this night. He wanted to leave Africa through Cotonou. He was arrested by security operatives in Cotonou.

“They are planning to bring him back to Nigeria.”

It would be recalled that the Department of State Services had declared Igboho wanted after its operatives carried out a bloody midnight raid on his residence in the Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State.

DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunnaya, had advised Igboho to turn himself in to the nearest security.

“Those cheering and eulogizing him may appeal to or advice him to do the needful,” Afunnaya said. “He should surrender himself to the appropriate authorities. He or anyone can never be above the law.”

Pelumi Olajengbesi, one of the lawyers representing Igboho and others arrested in his House, told SaharaReporters he had not confirmed the news of Igboho’s arrest in Cotonou.

“I will contact Yomi Aliu (SAN) to verify the news,” he said.

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IOM Ethiopia Appeals for USD 40 Million to Assist Additional 1.6 Million People in Northern Ethiopia

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Northern Ethiopia - Investors King

Nearly two million people affected by the crisis in northern Ethiopia desperately need life-saving assistance, including water, medicine and shelter, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said today as it issued an urgent appeal for USD 40 million to help internally displaced men, women and children, including newborn babies. 

Since the outbreak of the conflict eight months ago in Ethiopia’s Tigray Regional State, millions of people are enduring unimaginable suffering, including forced displacement, hunger, death, and destruction of private and public property.

In Tigray, IOM has been providing support to more than half a million people, including displaced children, women, men, and vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and persons with disabilities. This includes shelter and provision of essential items such as food, water, clothing, medicine and supplies for babies, as well as sanitation and hygiene services.

IOM has also been supporting camp coordination and management efforts, providing mental health care to those in need, and producing Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) reports to shed light on the evolving situation.

Nearly USD 70 million (USD 69.3M) is needed to respond to the needs of internally displaced populations in northern Ethiopia but only USD 28.7 million has been received this year. IOM needs an extra USD 40.6 million for the remainder of 2021 to be able to continue and further expand its response to help the displaced.

“The nearly two million people displaced by this crisis continue to live in inhumane and undignified conditions and require critical and urgent support,” said Maureen Achieng, IOM Chief of Mission to Ethiopia and Representative to the African Union and UNECA. “IOM Director General António Vitorino said it before, and we say it again: we must act without delay to meet the needs of people in the region.”

The situation in Tigray remains volatile. In partnership and coordination with other UN agencies, IOM is committed to delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance, to continue reaching people in need. IOM is planning to significantly scale up response programming and increase the deployment of senior IOM staff in the region despite the severe shortage of funding.

IOM’s response is aligned with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group’s (ICCG) – a cooperative effort among sectors and the Humanitarian Country Team to improve the national response – Northern Ethiopia Response Plan, which estimates that 5.2 million people are in dire need in the worst-case scenario of this escalating humanitarian crisis.

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