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DSS: Judges Got Bribe in Dept Store, Ghana, Niger

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  • DSS: Judges Got Bribe in Dept Store, Ghana, Niger

More  allegations were made yesterday against some judges.

One got a bribe in a department store. Another travelled to Ghana, Niger Republic and Benin Republic to collect bribe, a security source alleged.

It is all in a bid to explain the controversial sting operations in which some judges were arrested at the weekend.

Eight more judicial officers, including one or two justices of the Supreme Court, may soon be invited for questioning as part of the controversial battle to rid the judiciary of corruption, it was learnt.

No fewer than 15 judges are under investigation for alleged corruption.

The outgoing Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike, has been arrested.

The Department of State Services (DSS) is expecting a Federal High Court ( Port Harcourt) judge, Justice Mohammed Liman, to honour its invitation after a botched attempt to arrest him on Saturday.

It was also learnt that the DSS yesterday  exchanged correspondence with the National Judicial Council( NJC) ahead of its meeting today.

But the secret service made “a shocking discovery” on some of the judges under investigation.

The DSS was said to be in possession of audio and video tapes of some of the judges collecting bribe.

While one of the judges just acquired a N1.5billion mansion, another allegedly collected bribe in a department store and one allegedly crossed the borders to Benin Republic, Niger Republic and Ghana to collect money.

A Court of Appeal judge allegedly collected N200million but he was only recommended for retirement and the NJC directed him to refund the cash installmentally.

According to investigation by our correspondent, seven of the 15 judges under probe have been detained by the DSS.

Those detained are two Supreme Court judges-Justices Sylvester Ngwuta and Inyang Okoro; the suspended Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, who was picked up in Sokoto; Justice Adeniyi Ademola( Federal High Court); the Chief Judge of Enugu State, Justice I. A. Umezulike;  Justice Kabiru Auta of Kano State High Court; and Justice Muazu Pindiga( Gombe State High Court).

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “I think so far, about seven judges have been detained but altogether 15 judges are under investigations. We still have about eight others already being probed. There may be one or two Supreme Court Justices among the remaining eight.

“The DSS has also invited three registry staff of some courts, who probably played some roles in the bribery saga, for questioning.”

Asked of the welfare of their Lordships, the source said: “We have treated the seven judges in custody with utmost respect, decency, they are not treated like criminals at all. Their interrogation does not last more than two hours and they are given meals of their fancy.

“The judges are being detained. They need to fill some forms. Also,  if they had answered our questions, they would have been released under one hour.

“Some of these judges have made statements to our team. We have also shown them some evidence in order to show that the DSS was tidier in in its probe.”

The source, who pleaded not to be named because of the “sensitivity nature of thise probe”  gave insights into “curious” findings against some of the judges.

He said:  “A Supreme Court Justice has a property worth N1.5billion. If not DSS, which other agency will unravel this? Are you expecting the police to take on these judges?

“Another Supreme Court justice credited everything to his son. If the son started earning a living from the day he was born( assuming he was earning N1million), he cannot be able to earn one quarter of what he is claiming to have.

“We said it is very simple, tell us the business or the work you have done to have been able to earn so much.

“A judge entered a department store not to buy anything but to collect bribe, inside a supermarket from a go-between. Unknown to the judge and the collector, there are cameras in the store. The video clip is there.

“Another judge under probe has perfected the art of being a bribe collector on behalf of others. He is notorious in crossing the borders to Benin Republic, Niger Republic and Ghana. We know some of the hotels where he used to lodge.”

The source went on: “We have the case of a judge who issued bail conditions to an accused person but the conditions were not met and the suspect was released. After the court session, the accused person sent word to the judge that he could not meet the conditions but take this amount to set me free.

“Of course, the judge did not act alone; the court clerk, the bailiff and the Registrar were involved. The DSS knew all that transpired, the amount involved and who took what. When we confronted the Registrar to give us the details of how the bail conditions were met, there was no single evidence.

“The judge in Port Harcourt is under probe for about $2.5million. Out of that amount, $500,000 was moved elsewhere and we know where it went.

“They mobilised thugs because the recovery of the remaining $2million will be a lead that will open a can of worms. That face-off was used to remove the money. We are tracking the money, we already have the idea of where the $2million was hidden. We will get it.

“Governor Nyesom Wike’s fear was that once that money was taken, the judge must account. So, there was need to cover up. The judge exposed himself by bringing Wike into the investigation and he has made his case worse. The question is: Why was Wike at the judge’s house? Is the judge’s house a government house? How can a governor be in that place at that hour?

“The judge gave a ruling  on the PDP crisis by legitimising the illegitimate for a purpose.”

On the alleged planting of recovered cash in the judges’ quarters, the source said: “The DSS did not do anything like that. In fact, the judges signed for items recovered from their residences.

“If you crosscheck, the operation was spontaneous and simultaneous in the judges’ quarters. It started between  10.30pm and 11pm on Friday night. It was painstaking and professionally conducted. Technically speaking, the DSS gave the time and the cameras used for the operation were digitalised.

“The search was conducted in the presence of the owners of the houses. There was no molestation, no harassment. We don’t need to plant money in anybody’s house because we have all subscribed to the oath of office. In an era where the government is trying to be fair, we don’t need to do that.

“There was search warrant duly obtained from the court. The execution of a search warrant does not require the presence of a lawyer. Even at that, one of the judges invited his lawyer who examined the warrant and asked him to cooperate with the DSS operatives.”

Responding to a question, the source said: “The DSS is in custody of some audio and video tapes of some of these judges. By the time we start running these tapes, Nigerians will appreciate that we have done a good job.

“The DSS did not just jump into investigation, it received petitions on these judges on how  they literally took money. The worst aspect is that they took money with both hands.

“ Some of these things were becoming disturbing and people were bringing facts and figures. We went to verify these. If a judge builds a house, it is easier to discover because he might have bought the land from an individual or an agency or estate agent. There is no way you can cover up all these things.”

Concerning why the DSS stormed the official quarters of the judges, the source added that the poor  cooperation of the NJC accounted for it.”

He spoke of how the DSS decided to go through the NJC to invite the judges for investigation “in a less dramatic way”. Correspondences were exchanged between the NJC and the Federal Ministry of Justice for certain information and dossier. The Ministry of Justice complied but the NJC refused, he claimed.

“We wanted to intervene in a less dramatic way. In fact,MIT was our wish, it would have been seamless. But it did not work that way.

“In the last two weeks, the NJC submitted the names of three judges for sanctions. By what the NJC told the press, one of the judges, Justice Mohammed Ladan Tsamiya, only demanded N200million from a litigant, but the DSS discovered that he took the money.

“The NJC asked the Appeal Court Justice to be paying back the N200million instalmentallly. Is that punishment proportionate to the offence? The NJC went ahead to give such a judge soft landing. That in itself is corruption,” the source said, adding:

“Other officers were to be retired. Then, what happens to the proceeds of the crimes committed? How is that action going to stop corruption?

“Notwithstanding, DSS is  working with everybody. We are in touch with NJC. Even today, we exchanged correspondence with the NJC. We don’t personalize issues.

“For record purpose, NJC is not a court of law; it is an institutional disciplinary body which ought to collaborate with security and anti-graft agencies.”

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has criticized the arrests, saying the judges should be released. The source faulted the NBA’s reaction, stressing that the cleansing of the Judiciary was not peculiar to Nigeria.

The source said: “I think there is nothing like tension; whoever tries to provoke national insecurity will be dealt with according to the law of the land.

“There is nobody that is above the law. In Ghana, 32 senior judges and over 20 magistrates were sent out if the bench because of corruption. Did the Ghana Bar Association threaten to shut down the courts?”

Asked if the DSS will respect court orders to release the judges when arraigned, the source said: “If it is an order, we will respect the court and release them.”

Pressed to comment on whether or not the accounts of the detained judges have been frozen, the source replied: “I won’t tell you.”

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

COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria

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COVID-19 Vaccine - Investors King

The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.

In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.

Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.

“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.

“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.

“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.

“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.

“​Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”

“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.

Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.

He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.

The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.

Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.

Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.

He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.

“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.

“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.

“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.

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South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport

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South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.

In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.

He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.

The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.

Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.

The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.

“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”

“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.

After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.

To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.

The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.

Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.

South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.

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Government

FG Launches GEEP 2.0 Plans To Lift 100M Nigerians Out Of Poverty

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Muhammadu Buhari

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the restructured Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) now known as GEEP 2.0. to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.

Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, speaking during the inauguration said the programme was a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways.

She said that GEEP was one of the components of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).

According to her, the initial GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that has always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses.

“The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products – the TraderMoni for marginalised youths, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.

“With President Muhammdu Buhari’s gracious approval of expansion to provide loans to an additional one million beneficiaries with emphasis to targeting smallholder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off today as GEEP 2.0.

“The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans and skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalised women and unemployed youths amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.

“I wish to state here that the GEEP 2.0 is well-coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels,” Farouq said.

Farouq said that part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMon/ and Market Moni loans from N10, 000 to N50,000, while the FarmerMoni is now N300,000.

“There is also the provision of the value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.

“In addition, there is a digital integration and coordination platform along with a strong and centralised monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery.’’

Speaking, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare who also represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said he was delighted at the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0.

Dare said whenever he saw other ministries that helped in reducing the burden of youths unemployment from his ministry, he was happy, adding that youths were the biggest beneficiaries of NSIP.

Similarly, Mr Clem Agba, the State Minister of Financial, Budget and National Planning said his ministry had been at the forefront of ensuring human dignity and protecting households from poverty.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen said women and youths were always affected by humanitarian crisis and poverty.

Tallen said that the GEEP 2.0 would now help the poor and marginalised women and youths who did not have collateral to secure loans.

Also, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said that the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0 was an indication to show that President Buhari meant it when he said he wanted to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

“It is evident that as we collaborate and corporate with all hands on deck, we shall achieve the ultimate objectives of the programme.”

Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) said the agency would work with state programme managers and focal persons toward the success of the NSIP.

Meanwhile, the Team Lead of the GEEP 2.0, Ms Zainab Musawa said that intended beneficiaries would be effectively supervised and monitored by desk officers in all 774 local government areas, state programme managers and the ministry in partnership with NOA.

“Essentially, GEEP 2.0 is a continuation of the Buhari administration’s laudable empowerment drive committed to the upliftment of oppressed Nigerians and we hope the programme will engender job creation.”

Ms Hadiza Hambuza, a representative of Access Bank Plc said the bank would work with the beneficiaries to achieve the objectives of the programme.

The event attracted officials from Presidency, National Assembly, NEMA, EFCC, FCTA Disability Commission among others.

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