- Alison-Madueke: I Did Not Forfeit $153.3m Because I Did Not Own it
A former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, on Saturday said she did not forfeit $153.3 million to the Federal Government as claimed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Arguing that no such money belonged to her, she said, “I cannot forfeit what was never mine.”
A Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice Muslim Hassan had on January 6 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sum of $153,310,000 allegedly siphoned by the former minister from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three banks. The forfeiture order was sequel to an ex parte order sought by the EFCC and accompanied by a nine-paragraph affidavit claiming that Alison-Madueke, sometime in December 2014, conspired with a bank chief executive on how the sum of $153,310,000 would be moved from the NNPC. Justice Hassan had given the banks and any other interested party 14 days to appear before him to prove the legitimacy of the monies, failure of which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
But in her reaction yesterday, Alison-Madueke said EFCC was now taking advantage of her silence and decision to allow ongoing investigations by the British National Crimes Agency into alleged corrupt practices against her to run its full course, to defame her.
The former minister said she would no longer give the anti-corruption agency any more mileages to vilify her.
She said the $153.3 million the EFCC said she forfeited to the Federal Government did not belong to her, and as such she could not have given up what did not belong to her.
In her response to the EFCC corruption claims against her which was obtained in Abuja, she said there was no evidence to establish she owned the $153.3 million.
She explained that the EFCC capitalised on a legislation on advanced fee fraud and other related offences to link her name and identity to funds it could not establish their real owners.
Noting that this was unethical, she said: “I am deeply disturbed and bewildered by recent media reports claiming that by virtue of an order of the Federal High Court, I have forfeited to the Federal Government, the sum of $153.3 million which I purportedly stole from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
“The principle of fair hearing demands that I should have been notified of formal charges if truly there was a prima facia evidence or indictment against my person linking me with the said issue, so as to ensure I have adequate legal representation. This was never done.”
Continuing, the former minister said: “I cannot forfeit what was never mine. I have never stolen any money from NNPC or any other entity I do not know the basis on which the EFCC have chosen to say that I am the owner of these funds as no evidence was provided to me before the order was obtained.”
“I am also informed by my lawyers that the legislation under which the EFCC obtained this order is for situations where the funds are believed to be proceeds of crime and the owner is not known. I do not therefore understand how the EFCC can in the same breath say the monies were mine when they would/should not have used the procedure which applies only to funds of unknown ownership.
“If indeed they used this particular legal procedure because they did not know who owned the monies, then how can they now falsely be attributing the ownership to me.”
Alison-Madueke also challenged the EFCC to publish incontrovertible evidence of the $153.3 million lodgement, its beneficiaries, and links to her, as well as the NNPC’s accounts from which the lodgments were made and her authorisation of same.
She said as minister of petroleum resources, she only had statutory influence as approved in the Petroleum Act, over NNPC’s finances.
She note another instance where the EFCC alleged that $700 million was found in her Abuja home, the former minister asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to further clarify and lend credence to EFCC’s claims by showing evidence it has the money in its custody.
“Should the videos of this $700 million cash discovery not have made good viewing? Or should those who recovered this money not tell the public where exactly the money has been kept? Perhaps, the Central Bank should corroborate that it is in custody of these monies found in my house,” she said.
On claims she illicitly benefitted from the $1.3 billion financial settlement of the protracted Oil Prospecting Lease (OPL) 245 oil block deal between Malabu Oil, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, Alison-Madueke said as minister she did not participate in any activity relating to financial payments in the agreement, and only played the statutory role mandated to her to see to the end of the dispute.
She also said that she had no house worth $18 million in Abuja as claimed by the EFCC, and that her family home in Yenagoa Bayelsa which the agency said was worth billions of naira, was uncompleted and worth N394 million as declared in the code of conduct.
“It is saddening that after eight years of serving my country, my experience as a public servant has been fraught with continuous malicious castigation and character assassination, all in the name of personal vendettas or political horse-trading.
“One error that cannot be ascribed to me is stealing from Nigeria and defrauding my country. I cannot sit back and allow the fabricated accusations against my person designed by unscrupulous persons with vengeful agenda go unchallenged,” she said.
On the dividends that accrued to Nigeria from her stake in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Ltd, the former minister said: “It is pertinent to note that at the end of my tenure, I left behind in the LNG dividend fund for the incoming administration, the sum of $5.6 billion.
“I did this to ensure continuity in the crucial gas sector development which underpins the entire power and energy sector and which was and still is absolutely imperative for the country’s current and future economic development.”
Nigeria Immigration Service Reopens Portal With New Passport Application and Payment Process
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has announced the reopening of its passport application and payment portal.
The assistant comptroller of immigration, Mr Amos Okpu announced in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
In the statement, Mr Muhammad Babandede, the Comptroller-General of the service, said the portal became effective for new applications from 12 midnight on Tuesday.
Babandede further said that the portal would allow eligible applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of passports of their choice.
Mr Muhammad Babandede explained that with the reopening of the portal, a new passport application and payment regime had begun.
The statement in full:
“The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (CGI), Muhammad Babandede MFR, has announced the reopening of the Passport application and payment portal effective 8th June 2021 by 12 midnight to allow eligible Passport applicants to apply and make payments for the various categories of Passports of their choice.
The Passport portal was closed following the directives of the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on the 17th of May, 2021to afford the Service the opportunity to clear all backlogs of applications that have piled up across Issuing Centres in the past few months.
With the reopening of the portal, a new Passport application and payment regime have commenced. Under the new Passport regime;
Applications and payments for Passport services shall be made through the Service website www.immigration.gov.ng;
- applicants are expected to visit the portal to apply and upload their support documents for vetting and processing;
- a chat room facility to guide applicants through the application and payment process has been provided on the portal;
- upon successful applications, applicants shall make their online booking interview/enrollment appointment on any day, time and location they consider convenient;
- that the new timeline for Passport production and issuance after a successful enrollment at the selected Issuing Centre shall be six weeks for Fresh applications and three weeks for Re-issue (Renewal applications);
- that no applicant who is yet to make an online application and payment shall be allowed into any of the Passport Issuing Centres for Passport processing;
- applicants will be contacted through email and phone number they provided during application when their Passports are ready;
- a helpline with the number 08021819988 has been provided for feedback mechanism on any challenges.
The Comptroller General, Muhammad Babandede MFR wishes to use this medium to call on Nigerians and indeed Passport applicants to avoid patronizing touts as the entire process has been made seamless for effective and efficient service delivery. He warned Passport racketeers to desist from acts capable of undermining the reform efforts to avoid very strict sanctions.
Signed AMOS OKPU MNIPR
ASSISTANT COMPTROLLER OF IMMIGRATION
SERVICE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
For: COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF IMMIGRATION 8TH JUNE, 2021″
INEC To Publish The List Of New Polling Units Next Week
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has pledged to publish a comprehensive list of its new polling units across the nation next week.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja.
Yakubu was speaking at the formal handing over of a new state of the art fire truck, deployed to the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja by the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
He said that details of the locations of its registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration for resumption of nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) would be made available in the second week of May.
He expressed appreciation of the commission to the FFS and all security agencies for the demonstration of their support to protecting INEC facilities
He said that the support was coming on the eve of the resumption of the CVR nationwide in the next three weeks.
“We earlier assured Nigerians that we shall conclude work on the expansion of voter access to polling units and make the new polling units available to citizens ahead of the CVR exercise.
“I am glad to report that we have accomplished this task for the first time in 25 years.
“A comprehensive list of the new polling units will be published next week.
“Similarly, details of the locations of the registration centers and the procedure for the commencement of online registration will also be made available after a series of regular consultative meetings with stakeholders next week,” Yakubu said.
He said that as a member of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) FFS had been as concerned as other security agencies about the recent attacks on our offices across the country.
“This is particularly so because out of the 42 attacks on our facilities nationwide, 18 incidents resulted from arson and three more by a combination of arson and vandalisation.”
Yakubu recalled that concerned by those incidents, the commission convened an emergency meeting of ICCES last week of April, where the security agencies renewed their determination to collaborate more with the commission.
According to him, they pledged to assist the commission address the challenge beyond the routine protection of INEC assets and the security of its officials, voters, observers, the media, candidates and their agents during elections.
“On its part, the Federal Fire Service offered to deploy an additional state-of-the-art fire engine to the INEC headquarters to complement the two existing trucks.
“At the same time, it directed its state offices to take additional protective measures around other INEC facilities nationwide.
“Today’s inauguration of the new fire engine is another affirmation of the support to the commission from the FFS whose personnel, already deployed permanently to the commission
“The personnel will continue to operate and maintain the fire engines and other firefighting equipment installed by INEC,” Yakubu said.
Speaking earlier, the Controller-General (CG) of FFS, Alhaji Liman Ibrahim said the deployment of the firefighting truck was premised on recent fire attacks on INEC offices in different parts of the country.
Ibrahim, represented by the Assistant Controller-General of the service, Mr Samson Karebo, said the deployed truck would serve as fire cover for the premises of INEC headquarters and the entire Maitama vicinity of Abuja.
“The FFS is taking this step as a proactive measure to protect our critical infrastructure and help to protect our economy by forming synergy with all stakeholders in protecting our environments.
“Our center is focused on bringing firefighting operations to every part of the country as part of our statutory duties by having a presence in virtually every state in Nigeria
“The FFS will very soon be moving into all senatorial headquarters in the country. That is how we want to operate for now so that we can touch every corner of this country,” Ibrahim said.
He called for the cooperation of all for the service to better serve the nation by not molesting FFS staff in the line of duty.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, who is also Co-Chair of ICCES, described the deployment of the truck as a demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to sustain Nigeria’s democracy and address insecurity.
Monguno said that the gesture also symbolised commitment to a clear affirmation of Buhari toward protecting institutions of government, toward securing their property, toward fighting acts of irresponsibility, vandalisation and outright criminality.
“The President is determined as much as he can within the confines of legality to suppress any kind of criminality and destruction of public property.
“This is something that he is determined to do regardless of whatever the challenges are.
“He will apply all the resources in his disposal in his capacity as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure the wider Nigerian society is safe, stable and is allowed to carry out its legitimate undertaking, free from any act of insecurity,” he said
Monguno urged all other security agencies not to relent in ensuring that they continued to protect lives and property.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Usman Baba pledged commitment to security agencies to work with INEC and protect INEC’s facilities, citizens’ life and property.
Also at the occasion was the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, represented by Director of Joint Services, Mr Peter Obodo; as well as the representative of Director-General, Directorate of State Services, Tony Adikweruka.
Recovered Assets: Ad-hoch Committee Gives Emefiele, Others 72 Hours Ultimatum
The House of Representatives ad-hoc committee, investigating recovered assets, has given the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, 72 hours to appear before it.
The committee also issued same ultimatum to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh.
The summon was issued on Monday, after Mr Emefiele and the others failed to appear before the committee.
The government officials had sent representatives, but the committee chairman, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Ondo), said they failed to forward letters to that effect.
He said allowing representatives without a proper letter of introduction would be akin to allowing “impersonators.”
“You are indirectly insulting the House of Representatives. You are undermining the House of Representatives,” an angry Mr Adeogun said.
Moving a motion to give the agencies 72hours to appear before the committee, Ibrahim Isiaka (APC, Ogun), said the agencies created by Acts of the parliament “should not be undermining the parliament”.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the committee.
Mr Isiaka suggested that the House should shut down its activities if the agencies fail to appear before them.
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