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House: Obasanjo is Grandfather of Corruption in Nigeria

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  • House: Obasanjo is Grandfather of Corruption in Nigeria

The House of Representatives has responded to accusations of corruption levelled against the National Assembly by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, describing him as the grandfather of corruption who introduced corruption into Nigeria in the Fourth Republic.

The House said the former president introduced corruption into the National Assembly after the return of democracy in 1999, by bribing the legislators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) to vote against the majority candidate of the PDP, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, and electing Senator Evan Enwerem as the Senate President.

The spokesman of the House, Hon. Namdas Abdulrazak, briefing newsmen yesterday, also accused Obasanjo of attacking President Muhammadu Buhari because his cronies were not appointed into government by the president.

Obasanjo at a lecture on Wednesday had accused the legislature of corruption, budget padding and said it had threatened the life of a “whistle blower”.

Namdas however noted that Obasanjo’s grouse with the National Assembly stemmed from the foiling of his third term bid in 2007, after trying to corrupt the members with bribes of N50 million each.

“Have we forgotten that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo used his position as president to extort money from businessmen and contractors with his government to build his presidential library? The list of his corrupt acts while in office is endless.

“Unquestionably, he is the greatest corrupt person ever to hold office in Nigeria. He remains the grandfather of corruption in Nigeria and lacks the moral authority to discuss corruption or indeed abuse of office in Nigeria as he remains the most corrupt Nigerian on record,” Namdas said.

Continuing, the House asked: “Have we forgotten the sacks of money displayed on the floor of the House of Representatives, being bribe money paid by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to some honourable members to impeach the speaker, Rt. Hon. Ghali N’abba?”

Namdas also addressed the issue of the budget padding allegation, insisting that there was no crime committed in the 2016 budget.

“It is most unfortunate that a former president of Chief Obasanjo’s stature would allow himself to be hoodwinked and procured by a renegade member of the House, who embarked on massive propaganda and lies just because he was removed from office,” he said.

The spokesman further accused the ex-president of always working to bring down governments, particularly when presidents refuse to listen to him.

“It is unfortunate that he has started his very familiar method of bringing down governments. He did it to Alhaji Shehu Shagari, he did it to General Buhari, he did same to General Babangida, he attempted to bring down General Abacha before he imprisoned him for treason; he made frantic efforts to derail the government of President Yar’Adua when he couldn’t use him.

“He supported President Goodluck Jonathan but when he refused to take dictation, he turned against him. He supported President Buhari, but since he has sensed that Nigeria is having economic difficulties under him, he has pounced to derail his government,” he said.

Part of the spokesman’s address read: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to former President Olusegun Obasanjo at a lecture he delivered recently, wherein, in his characteristic manner accused everybody but himself of corruption.

“He ventured to accuse the National Assembly of budget padding, accused the House of criminal activities, of threatening the life of a ‘whistleblower’, lampooned constituency projects which he approved as president, and ventured to discuss the budget of the National Assembly which is highly underfunded?

“The House of Representatives would ordinarily not join issues with the former president as he has held an office that deserves respect and reverence. However, because of the material misstatement of facts, outright lies and falsehood, and mischievous innuendo introduced in his statement, we are left with no option but to correct him.

“We have repeatedly maintained that there was no ‘padding’ of the 2016 Appropriation Act, which is a legitimate document passed by the National Assembly, authenticated by the Clerk of the National Assembly as provided in the Acts Authentication Act and assented to by Mr. President.

“It is most unfortunate that a former president of Chief Obasanjo’s stature would allow himself to be hoodwinked and procured by a renegade member of the House, who embarked on massive propaganda and lies just because he was removed from office.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is no crime that was committed by the National Assembly by exercising its constitutional function of appropriation. If Chief Obasanjo has an issue with the execution of the 2016 budget or indeed other Appropriation Acts, he should direct his anger elsewhere.

“He claimed that the National Assembly budget is very high, when by all standards, the National Assembly is grossly underfunded and is hampered from effectively and legitimately carrying out its constitutionally assigned functions. The National Assembly budget funds a bureaucracy of about 5,000 civil servants. It has some other agencies under its purview such as the National Assembly Service Commission, with its own staff of about 500; even the Public Complaints Commission is now a parastatal of the National Assembly.

“The National Assembly budget also funds the National Institute for Legislative Studies, which is a legislative think-tank and highly rated academic institution that serves both national and state Houses of Assemblies and even international legislators.

“All these agencies also have their capital budgets including development of their headquarters, procurement of office equipment, procurement of regular items for running their offices

“The National Assembly maintain legislative aides of about 3,000 in number that aid the work of the Assembly; it also conducts regular public hearings involving the media and stakeholders and oversight activities, involving huge sums of money.

“The cost implication of running the National Assembly is high because of the nature of our presidential democracy. Then of course, there are 109 Senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives that require proper equipment to function effectively.

“They require adequate travel and transport support to carry out legislative functions. The National Assembly also has buildings and offices to build and maintain. National Assembly staff and members attend conferences, training and seminars to keep abreast of legislative developments worldwide. The activities are very encompassing and expensive.

“It is also unbecoming of a former president to quote figures of sums of money that are factually incorrect. No member of the House of Representatives receives N10 million every month. The salaries and allowances of members of the House are as determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

“Of course further sums of money are spent such as running costs, that is, the cost of running the office of a member. If a minister, chief executive or director in a ministry travels on official duties, for instance, do you include the cost of his ticket and accommodation as part of his salary or allowances?

“Does the cost of stationery and maintenance of equipment like computers used in their offices form part of their salaries and allowances? These are some of the costs that must be taken care of by the National Assembly and the media calls these costs ‘jumbo pay’.

“For goodness sake, the National Assembly is an arm of government, not just an ordinary agency of government. The budgets of many agencies in the executive branch are indeed higher than the current budget of the National Assembly that is an arm of government.

Examples abound: CBN, NNPC, NCC, etc. Allowances paid to even junior staff of some of these government agencies cannot be compared to what members of National Assembly enjoy.

“The way Chief Obasanjo talks gives the impression that he is a lifetime opposition leader who has never held any office. What did he do about the issues he raised in his eight years as president?

“This is a man with unlimited access to President Buhari. Or is it because he has not appointed all his cronies as requested? We may never know. His stock in trade is blackmail, subversion and treachery… We wish him well.”

In the same vein, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) yesterday reacted to the former president’s criticism of lawyers and judges in the judiciary for corrupt practices, saying that the presence of a few bad eggs in the legal profession should not lead to a blanket condemnation of the entire members of the profession.

The NBA said it was aware that the profession currently parades some unscrupulous members and that everything was being done to flush them out and bring them to justice.

The NBA’s reaction was made on the sidelines of the National Executive Council meeting of the association in Minna, the Niger State capital.

The President of the NBA, Mr. Abubakar Balarabe Mahmood (SAN), said: “The allegations of corruption against the bar and the bench should not undermine the significant contributions of the judiciary and the legal profession to nation building. A few bad eggs should not lead to the total condemnation of the profession.

“NBA will always co-operate with the federal government to flush out bad eggs but this should be done in accordance with due process and the rule of law.”

While conceding that there are problems in the judiciary and the legal profession that need to be addressed, the NBA president said the association was working round the clock to address these problems.

“NBA is making effort to ensure the integrity of the profession and for the judiciary to be restored and improved upon.

“The allegations against members are under investigation, if the allegations are established, NBA will come out with disciplinary measures against those concerned.”

Mahmood called on the public to continue to respect the legal profession, which he maintained had played a vital role in the nation’s political and economic trajectory.

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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