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$20m Accounts: Patience Jonathan May Forfeit N10bn Hotel to FG

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Dame Patience Jonathan, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, may forfeit to the Federal Government, a N10bn hotel allegedly belonging to her if she fails to explain how she came about some funds allegedly traced to her accounts.

“This is one of the questions she may have to answer as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission continues investigation into the $20m found in five accounts she has laid claim to,” a source told our correspondent on Monday.

The hotel, which is known as Aridolf Resort Wellness and Spa, Yenagoa, was inaugurated by Patience in April 2015, barely a month before the end of her husband’s tenure.

According to a UK business newspaper, The Financial Times, the hotel, which has imported state-of-the-art furniture, can compete with other luxury hotels in developed countries.

The report dated April 21, 2015, states in part, “The Aridolf Hotel in Yenagoa is an unlikely monument to kitsch on a reclaimed swamp in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta. In the lobby, Louis XIV furniture is accompanied by bowls of plastic fruit, faux Dutch landscapes and a grotesquely gaudy chandelier. The hotel is redolent of the riches on display in a region that for half a century has generated the bulk of Nigeria’s wealth.

“The Aridolf, which is owned by Patience Jonathan, wife of the former President, is symptomatic of how superficial progress has been in addressing the festering sense of marginalisation in the region, which remains desperately impoverished despite benefiting from a tide of petrodollars in recent years.”

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, told our correspondent that the EFCC had the right to investigate anybody who was living above his or her means.

He said anybody, who failed to do so, could risk forfeiture of properties believed to have been obtained through stolen funds or could lose funds traced to him or her.

Sagay, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, wondered how Patience, who was a civil servant and never held any government position, could have billions in her bank accounts.

He said, “The EFCC and ICPC Acts have provisions under which they can ask the court to freeze the account of a person if a person’s capacity to earn is below the amount of money that the person appears to have.

“If you are living a lavish lifestyle and it appears you don’t have the means to have acquired the property and the wealth you have, the EFCC is free to probe you.”

Patience recently sued Skye Bank and the EFCC for freezing four company accounts which have a balance of $15m.

The former first lady also has another account with the title, ‘Patience Ibifaka Jonathan’ which has a balance of $5m. The account is, however, still active.

Four of the accounts belonged to Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Globus Integrated Service Limited.

The anti-graft commission believed that a former Special Adviser to the President on Domestic Affairs, Waripamowei Dudafa, forged the identities of his domestic servants to open the four accounts while the fifth account was opened in the name of Patience.

The domestic servants were, however, denied access to the accounts while a platinum card was issued to Patience.

The EFCC froze the accounts of the four companies which were initially believed to be owned by Dudafa until Patience stated last week that the four accounts belonged to her.

The EFCC is set to arraign Dudafa and some bank officials for alleged fraud.

However, Mr. Joseph Okobieme, the lawyer to Demola Bolodeoku, one of the bank officials, said his client did not take part in forging the signatures of the domestic servants/directors.

He said, “I don’t know why he was included in the charge. He has no business in this transaction. He was merely doing his job as a banker. The allegation they levelled against him was not that he benefitted from the proceeds of the alleged transaction.

“There is a mere allegation of forgery of certain documents which are not within his power to have forged because he is not a director of the company.

“These four companies were duly registered by the CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) with the names and the directors on record. So, if they say the names of these directors were forged, it is not possible for my client to have forged them. Clearly, he was not the author of the documents.”

He believed that the four domestic servants should be charged by the EFCC as well.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Government

FG Approves N1.85 Billion For Construction of Ebonyi Salt Lake Walls

The Federal Government on Wednesday approved a sum of N1.85 billion for the construction of walls around Ebonyi Salt Lake.

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The Federal Government on Wednesday approved a sum of N1.85 billion for the construction of walls around Ebonyi Salt Lake.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) council meeting on Wednesday, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite disclosed that the project will be funded directly by the presidency. 

The Minister further explained that the 27km retaining wall would contain the loss of raw salt from the salt lakes in Ebonyi State, saving at least $88m spent yearly on salt importation.

Investors King earlier reported that Nigeria spent at least N155 Billion within the last two years to import salt and other locally available products from Asia and South America.

Salt is one of the most common mineral resources in Nigeria. A large deposit of salt could be found in Ebonyi State. The state even prides itself as the “salt of the nation”.

However, Nigeria has not been able to successfully preserve and mine the large salt deposits. 

The Minister nevertheless disclosed that the wall which will be built along the lake will help to solve the challenges. 

“The salt is in Ebonyi State, of course, naturally, but it cannot be mined without this infrastructure that we’re about to do, we’re building a retaining wall because water comes in and washes the salt away every time. 

“These are salt lakes that occur naturally, so the salt is in the lakes, but when water comes in, it washes the salt away”. He noted. 

According to the Minister, the wall which has been awarded to Reinforced Global Resources Limited, at the sum of N1.85bn is about 27 kilometres long and about 2.9 meters high. 

The retaining wall project is expected to be completed within six months after which the process of salt mining from the lake will begin. 

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Nigerian Political Parties to Spend Billions of Naira as INEC Lift Ban on Political Campaigns

Political parties in Nigeria are expected to spend billions of naira in the next year’s elections as INEC officially lifts the ban on political activities. 

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2023 Presidential Candidates

Political parties in Nigeria are expected to spend billions of naira in the next year’s elections as INEC officially lifts the ban on political activities. 

It is about five months to the next general election in Nigeria where citizens will go to the polls to cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. Political parties are expected to spend billions of naira during this electioneering process as it was in previous elections. 

It will be recalled that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed February 25th for the Presidential and National Assembly elections while Governorship and State Assembly elections will be held on March 11th, 2023.

Investors King understands that Nigerian previous elections were hugely monetised and next year’s election would not be an exception. 

A closer analysis of the presidential election shows that there are 18 Presidential candidates which will compete in 176,846 polling units. 

Going by the electoral laws and the previous election, all candidates are expected to appoint polling unit agents who are offered some token for their service. 

Investors King gathered that in the last elections, polling units agents were offered between N10,000 to N20,000. Using N10,000 as a variable, this means each of the leading political parties will expend at least N1.7 billion on polling unit agents.

Other areas where political parties are expected to spend money include logistics, public campaigns, posters and banners, courtesy call gratification and security among others. 

Besides, it is also expected that the leading political parties will engage in vote buying which could run into hundreds of billions of naira. Many Election Monitoring Groups (EMGs) such as Yiaga Africa have alleged voter inducement in previous elections. 

Political parties spend between N5000 to N10,000 to induce voters. It can be assumed that parties will spend more in the next general election since Nigeria’s voter population has increased to 95 million, adding more than 12 million new registered voters in the just concluded voter registration. 

Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that the commission will spend N305 billion to conduct the 2023 election. This is different from the commission’s yearly budget which currently stands at N40 billion. 

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Nigeria Senate to Tax Unoccupied And Expensive Building Owners in Abuja

The Nigeria Senate intends to introduce a bill to tax unoccupied and outrageously expensive buildings in the Federal Capital City. 

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The Nigeria Senate intends to introduce a bill to tax unoccupied and outrageously expensive buildings in the Federal Capital City. 

The Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Senator Adeyemi Smart lamented that there were too many unoccupied buildings in the city despite being completed and built to taste. 

A check by Investors King shows that thousands of expensive houses are left unoccupied in Abuja, especially in high-net-worth neighbourhoods such as Guzape and Katampe Extension (Diplomatic Zone).

Smart Adeyemi made it known at a press briefing with members of the committee that the Senate will introduce a property tax bill on such buildings to mitigate the issue of accommodation in the capital city which has been a critical burden on average citizens. 

He said, “We have found that in this city, many houses are without habitation. There are a lot of mansions with no one living in them and no one is asking questions.

He added that the government will lock any uninhabited building and cause the owner to pay a fee to the government. 

“If you have built houses and they are unoccupied, we’d find out the reasons and tell the government to lock them up so that criminals will not take charge.

We’d propel legislation that will cause them to start paying taxes so that we’d use the money to develop the city”. He said.

The Senator also questioned why expensive buildings will be left unoccupied for years if the funds are from legitimate sources.  

It will be recalled that the ICPC Chairman Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, warned estate developers against serving as conduits for Illicit Financial Flows, (IFFS) at the commission’s 13th Annual General Meeting, AGM held in July 2022.

The ICPC Chairman further stated that the commission is currently probing completed and unoccupied estates in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, with the help of sister agencies.

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