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EFCC Re-arraigns Orji Kalu, Others for Alleged N3.2bn Theft

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Money Laundering

A former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu; his ex-aide, Jones Udeogo and Kalu’s company, Slok Nigeria Limited, were on Tuesday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, nine years after their cases were stalled.

Also, the EFCC on Tuesday arraigned the immediate past Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin (retd.) and three others for alleged diversion of N600m.

Kalu and others had been initially arraigned in 2007 before Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court, Abuja (now retired).

They were arraigned in an amended 34-count charge over an alleged diversion of about N3.2bn from the Abia State Government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

Before their arraignment, Kalu and others had argued against the proceedings, and urged the court to await the pending appeal by Slok pending at the Supreme Court.

But Justice Anwuri Chikere rejected their objection to their arraignment and ordered that the charges be read to them.

When the charges were read to them, the accused persons pleaded not guilty, while the court granted them bail on the terms attached to the bail earlier granted them on April 30, 2008 when they were earlier arraigned before Justice Bello.

The court adjourned the case till December 6 for the commencement of trial.

After pleading not guilty to the charges, lawyer to the ex-governor, Awa Kalu (SAN), urged the court to allow them to remain on the bail earlier granted them.

He gave to the court a copy of the enrolled orders made in 2008 by Justice Bello, granting bail to Kalu and Udeogo.

Counsel for Udeogo, Solomon Akuma (SAN), aligned with Kalu’s lawyer and urged the court to adopt Justice Bello’s position.

The EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), did not however object to the position canvassed by the defence lawyers, saying he was interested in their trial.

Others the EFCC arraigned with Jibrin include Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (retd.), who was the Commander, Central Pay Office; and Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia (retd.), who is a former Chief of Naval Accounts and Budget.

The EFCC also arraigned a firm, Habour Bay International Limited, which allegedly helped the accused persons to perpetrate the fraud.

The ex-naval officers were arraigned before Justice A. S Umar of the FCT High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on four counts bordering on criminal conspiracy.

The anti-graft agency alleged that the naval chiefs whilst in office allegedly bought a house worth N600m from the account of Naval Engineering Services without the said purchase contract being captured in the budget.

It was also alleged that the documentation for transfer of ownership of the property was done such that a private company owned by the family of Jibrin became the buyer.

The offence is in contravention of Section 26 (1) (b) and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission Act 2000.

The defendants pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.

In view of their plea, counsel for the EFCC, Abdullah Faruk, asked the court for a date for commencement of trial.

However, Y. C. Maikyau, (SAN), representing Jibrin and the firm, through an oral application made pursuant to Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution sought for the bail of his clients.

Maikyau told the court that the defendants had been enjoying administrative bail granted them by the EFCC and had never breached any of its terms.

The counsel stated that though he had earlier filed and served the prosecution with a formal bail application, he felt the need to move an oral application subject to the discretion of the court.

Counsel representing Mshelia and Ahmadu also requested bail based on Jibrin’s argument.

Justice Umar after listening to the submissions of counsel on both sides, remanded the accused persons and adjourned till Wednesday (today) for hearing on the bail application.

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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Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy

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Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria- Investors king

Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.

This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.

Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.

According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.

He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.

“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.

“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.

“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.

“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.

“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.

“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.

“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.

Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.

Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.

Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.

The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.

He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.

He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.

Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.

She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.

“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.

“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.

“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.

“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)

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Lagos Prohibits Open Cattle Grazing, Sanwo-Olu Signs Bill Into Law

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herdsmen

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to the bill prohibiting Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land, signing the legislation into law 11 days after it was unanimously passed by the State House of Assembly and transmitted to the Executive arm for authorisation.

By implication, it is now criminal in Lagos for cattle rearers to occupy unapproved public areas and private land with their livestock for grazing. The law also prohibits the act of moving cattle round public places by herders.

The signing of the anti-open grazing law by the Governor followed the decision of Southern Governors’ Forum last August, setting the September deadline to pass the law across member States.

There have been crises witnessed in some States, resulting from alleged open grazing.

Although farmer-herder crisis is not pronounced in Lagos, the anti-open grazing law is expected to prevent the spillover of the menace into the State.

Sanwo-Olu, who assented to the bill during the State’s Executive Council meeting in Alausa, directed the security agencies to swing immediately into action and enforce provisions of the law.

He said: “By the powers vested in me as the Governor of Lagos State, I am signing the bill on Open Cattle Grazing and Trespass of Cattle on Land into law to prohibit issues associated with open grazing of livestock.”

The Governor also signed legislation transforming the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) into a full-blown agency.

The development coincided with the commemorative month dedicated to raising awareness on gender-based violence in the State. The Governor and members of the State’s cabinet wore attire with purple shades to support the campaign against sexual violence.

The DSVRT legislation provides for the establishment of Sexual Offenders’ Register that would help the State efficiently tackle violations in the communities.

After signing the law, Sanwo-Olu said: “Raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence is an important piece of working to end the cycle of violence. It is important to reiterate the State Government’s zero tolerance to all forms of sexual and gender-based violence. We will not rest on our oars until the menace is reduced to the barest minimum in Lagos.”

The Governor appointed Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi as the Executive Secretary of the new agency.

Vivour-Adeniyi was the coordinator of the response team before the legislation was signed into law.

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ECOWAS Imposes Sanctions on Guinea Junta Over Coups

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ECOWAS Bans Junta-Investors King

West African leaders have decided to impose travel bans and freeze the financial assets of members of Guinea’s ruling junta and their families after a coup more than a week ago.

The decisions were announced Thursday after an Extraordinary Summit on Guinea in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Mediators with the regional group had traveled to Guinea to meet with junta leaders and check on the condition of deposed President Alpha Conde.

ECOWAS president Jean Claude Brou said the West African leaders have also insisted that there should be no “need for very long transition for the country to return to democratic order.”

The targeted sanctions come after Guinea’s coup leaders set a number of conditions for releasing Conde, according to the foreign minister of Ghana.

ECOWAS had already warned it will impose penalties on the junta in Guinea unless it immediately releases Conde, who has been held at an undisclosed location since being detained during the Sept. 5 coup in Conakry.

“We are coming to address a burning issue in the region,” said Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the current chair of the regional bloc, ahead of the summit. He was joined by presidents or high-ranking officials from eight of the other 15 ECOWAS countries.

Members of the ECOWAS delegation that visited Conakry after the coup presented their reports at Thursday’s meeting, said Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. The junta has set a number of conditions for complying with the demands of regional mediators, she said but declined to disclose what they are.

The delegation has spoken with Conde’s doctor “who ascertained that indeed physically, he’s very well,” she said. However, she said, the ex-president is still coming to terms with the fact that his government has been toppled after more than a decade in power.

“For anybody who has gone through such a traumatic experience like he did, mentally, it’s not the best, not to say that mentally we found anything wrong, but he was quite shocked; he’s still in a state of shock,” she added.

Meanwhile, in Conakry, junta leaders were also set to meet with mining company representatives on the third day of a special summit to chart Guinea’s political future. Junta leader Col. Mamady Doumbouya has sought to reassure the country’s most vital economic sector that the political changes will not impact existing mining projects in the country, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite.

Guinea’s coup leaders have yet to make public their proposed timeframe for handing over power to a civilian transitional government, nor have they outlined how quickly new elections can be organized.

Conde had sparked violent street demonstrations last year after he pushed for a constitutional referendum that he used to justify running for a third term, saying term limits no longer applied to him. He ultimately won another five years in office last October, only to be toppled by the coup 10 months later.

At the time he came to power in 2010, he was Guinea’s first democratically elected leader since independence from France in 1958.

The regional bloc also planned to tackle concerns over whether a second member state, Mali, is making enough progress toward a return to democracy more than a year after a military takeover there.

In Mali, the ruling junta led by Col. Assimi Goita has committed to holding new elections by February 2022, though mediators who recently visited have expressed concern about whether that deadline now can be met.

Goita overthrew Mali’s president in August 2020 and then agreed to a civilian transitional government and an 18-month timeframe for holding a vote. However, only nine months after the first coup he effectively staged a second one, firing the civilian interim leaders and ultimately naming himself as president of the transition.

ECOWAS has not reinstated Mali’s membership in the bloc, marking the first time since 2012 that two of the 15 member states are suspended concurrently.

ECOWAS President Brou said there was the need to revisit the organization’s 2001 protocol on good governance “because a lot of things have changed or improved.”

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