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Obanikoro Undertakes to Return N480m, Submits Passports to EFCC

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Musiliu Obanikoro
  • Obanikoro Undertakes to Return N480m, Submits Passports to EFCC

A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, has signed an undertaking to return N480m to the Federal Government.

Obanikoro has also submitted his United States of America and Nigerian passports to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

In addition, the ex-minister has provided two sureties who are directors in the Federal Civil Service.

Impeccable sources told our correspondent that these were part of the conditions given to the ex-minister for his release.

A source said, “The EFCC asked Obanikoro to submit his passports. He was only willing to drop his Nigerian passport but he has finally submitted the American one. He was asked to produce two directors, who must also present a three-month salary pay slip.

“He has returned N100m and has pledged to return N480m. The actual balance is meant to be N685m, but he was able to provide receipts for some transactions. He paid N85m to someone and that person has been traced.

“He also bought some bulletproof vehicles when he was minister and they will be handed over to the EFCC. The cost of the vehicles will be deducted from the amount that should be returned. Having met the conditions, he should be released any time from now.”

Obanikoro, who left the country around June 2015, was detained by the EFCC on October 17, 2016, after returning and surrendering himself to the commission in Abuja.

He was detained for his alleged role in the diversion of N4.7bn from the imprest account of the Office of the National Security Adviser.

The money was said to have been paid into the bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company in which his two sons, Babajide and Gbolahan, were directors at the time.

Obanikoro reportedly told detectives that out of the N4.7bn, he paid N3.880bn to Ayodele Fayose and Senator Iyiola Omisore in July 2014, when they were the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidates of Ekiti and Osun states respectively.

However, detectives challenged Obanikoro with evidence that he also received N785m from the money and asked him to return it.

A source at the EFCC said, “Obanikoro claimed that he used part of his own share to do an anti-Boko Haram campaign in Lagos in 2014. However, we found out that he wasn’t telling the whole truth because some of the money was spent on his governorship campaign when he was contesting against Jimi Agbaje during the PDP primary.

“So, we asked him to return his own share of the money and he has promised to do so.”

Part of the money allegedly given to Fayose was converted to $5.377m and handed to him at Spotless Hotel, Ado Ekiti, in the presence of the then Ekiti State PDP Secretary, Tope Aluko, and other party stalwarts.

Abuja bizman loses filling station, complex to commission

Meanwhile, the EFCC has seized a filling station and a shopping complex from a man who described himself as a building engineer, Abdullahi Rilwan, for failing to explain where he got the money to buy the properties.

The EFCC Act Section 71 (b) gives the commission the power to commence investigations into the property of any person if it appears to the EFCC that the person’s lifestyle and extent of properties are not justified by law.

The EFCC said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Thursday, that Rilwan was also arrested for offences bordering on operating a land racketeering syndicate, criminal conspiracy, unlawful possession of classified documents, obtaining by false pretences and money laundering.

According to the commission, the suspect was first accosted in the Kuje Area Council of Abuja during a separate investigation into the $2.1bn arms procurement fraud.

Detectives were said to have visited the area to verify the ownership of several properties suspected to be proceeds of money laundering.

In the course of investigating the ownership of a filling station and a shopping complex both still under construction, located along Pegi Road in the Kuje Area Council, operatives gathered that Rilwan was in charge of the construction work.

The statement added, “Rilwan, who was subsequently engaged, denied ownership of the station but confirmed he was the engineer in charge of the construction work. He admitted to being the owner of the shopping complex. He also told operatives that he was the owner of two companies, Kaibo Oil and Gas and Kaibo Properties, but could not account for his source of wealth.

“A visit to his office, however, revealed that he was involved in several shady and suspicious business deals.”

It was learnt that the revelation made EFCC operatives to beam its searchlight on Rilwan’s business activities.

Subsequently, on October 31, a search and arrest warrant was executed at his Kuje residence.

The statement added, “The search unearthed several implicating documents in his custody, many of which he uses to sell plots of land. Properties recovered from his residence in Kuje included letter-heads in the name of Kuje Area Council, allocating plots of land, an ‘Irrevocable Power of Attorney’ in favour of Air Commodore Bassey Inyang, a ‘Right of Occupancy’ document granted to Henryville Farms, Abuja, among other implicating documents.

“The filling station and the complex are currently under investigation and he would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

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

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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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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