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EFCC Probes N8bn Counter-Insurgency Funds

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Achike Udenwa

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has begun investigations into the utilisation of N8bn released by the Office of the National Security Adviser for multi-national operations.

It was gathered on Thursday that the funds were released in March, 2014 and January, 2015 for counter-insurgency operations across the Nigerian borders.

It was learnt that the investigations were based on the third report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment in the Nigerian Armed Forces, which was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari in July.

A source in the commission, who confided in one of our correspondents, said the commission had started tracing how the funds were spent with a view to recovering it.

The Air Vice-Marshal John Ode-led panel had, in its report, stated, “In March 2014, the ONSA made a case for the release of N1,000,000,000 to sustain offensive operations against Boko Haram insurgents across Nigerian borders. Although the amount was approved and released, the committee could not establish the utilisation of the funds.

“Additionally, in January 2015, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs requested N7,000,000,000 to urgently fund operations of the Multi-National Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad, which was approved and released from ONSA. However, the committee could not ascertain the utilisation of the funds from ONSA and the Defence Headquarters.”

The source stated that one of the mandates of the EFCC was to recover all funds diverted in the guise of fighting insurgents.

The source added, “I can assure you that the commission is doing that and those who got funds and could not account for how the money was used for counter-insurgency operations will be quizzed.

“They have to provide documents to prove that the money was used for what it was meant for. The report is not a final indictment, but if they cannot provide documents besides being taken to court, they will refund the money.”

It was learnt that those being investigated on how the funds were spent included a former NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); an ex-Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed; and a former Director of Finance in the ONSA, Alhaji Salisu Shuaibu.

It was also gathered that the EFCC was investigating the abuse of end-user certificates and payments of withholding tax.

According to Wikipedia “an end-user certificate is a document used in international transfers, including sales and arms provided as aid, of weapons and ammunition to certify that the buyer is the final recipient of the materials, and is not planning on transferring the materials to another party.

“EUCs are required by many governments to restrict the flow of the materials to undesired destinations such as embargoed states or rebel groups, governments with bad human rights records or states, which are considered a threat by the original supplier of the arms.”

The presidential committee had stated in its report, “The Nigerian Army issued several EUCs for the procurement it undertook within the period under review. The authority to issue or raise EUCs is exclusively vested in the NSA.

“The Nigerian Army also made provision for payment of VAT in several of its contract agreements for procurement of military hardware which are exempted from the payment of VAT. On the other hand, the Nigerian Army failed to deduct WHT from source on most of the payments and where made, there were no evidence of remittance to FIRS.’’

The EFCC had begun investigations into 20 companies indicted in the third arms probe report.

No fewer than six of the companies would pay a total of N2.4bn as withholding tax in connection with defence contracts awarded between 2007 and 2015.

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

China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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Ahmed Kuru, Hassan Confirm as AMCON, NDIC MDs

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AMCON

Ahmed Kuru, Hassan Confirm as AMCON, NDIC MDs

The Senate has confirmed both Ahmed Kuru and Bello Hassan as the Managing Directors of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigerian (AMCON) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, respectively.

The two were confirmed after careful consideration of two separate reports of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.

Also, the Senate confirmed Ebelechukwu Uneze and Aminu Ismail as executive directors of AMCON; and Muhammad Ibrahim as Executive Director of the NIDC.

Senator Uba Sani, the Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, said Kuru was confirmed as the MD of the AMCON in 2015.

He said, “The Corporation saw tremendous and tangible transformation and performance in effectively discharging its mandate during his first tenure through the introduction of new policies and frameworks.

“Strategically under his leadership, AMCON partnered investors and operators for value-enhanced exit of its portfolio companies, as well as the introduction and implementation of the Asset Management Partners scheme to assist with the resolution of small loans which in turn created over 3000 jobs both directly and indirectly.

“He also championed the creation of the Asset Tracing Unit which has led to more extensive discovery of assets and subsequent recovery of indebtedness while simultaneously having proactive negotiations with debt holders to achieve prompt and optimal settlements,” the lawmaker said.

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