- Arms scam: Obanikoro’s Wife Loses Abuja Mansion to FG, Appeals
A Federal Capital Territory High Court, sitting in Jabi, Abuja, has ordered that Alhaja Moroophat Obanikoro, the wife of a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, should forfeit her property pending the outcome of investigations into her husband and children.
The court also rejected a prayer asking the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to pay her the sum of N200m for violating her fundamental human rights.
Obanikoro’s wife has, however, headed for the Appeal Court to challenge the court judgment.
As part of investigations into the $2.1bn arms scam, involving the Office of the National Security Adviser, the EFCC had traced the transfer of about N4.7bn to the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan McNamara, a company allegedly owned by Obanikoro’s two sons – Gbolahan and Babajide.
Out of the N4.7bn, Obanikoro allegedly gave N3.880bn to Ayodele Fayose and Senator Iyiola Omisore in July 2014, when they were the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidates in Ekiti and Osun states respectively.
Part of the money allegedly given to Fayose was said to have been 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.
Obanikoro allegedly kept over N600m to himself.
The EFCC subsequently seized a house in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State allegedly belonging to Obanikoro’s sons – Gbolahan and Babajide – and a property located at 44 Mamman Kotangora Crescent, Katampke Extension, Abuja, belonging to their mother.
However, Obanikoro’s wife argued that she bought the property over seven years before the alleged arms scam took place.
She said the EFCC had no right to punish her for any crime allegedly committed by her husband and urged the court to award her N200m.
Obanikoro’s wife demanded “an order setting aside the sealing of the property; an order directing the EFCC to tender an unreserved public apology for the unlawful and unconditional invasion of the aforesaid property and the sum of N200,000,000 as general damages for the unlawful and unconstitutional invasion of the property.”
In an affidavit, deposed to by one Jackson Edet, the EFCC claimed that Obanikoro’s wife could not claim to be ignorant of her husband’s alleged crime.
The commission said Moroophat’s husband and her sons collected over N600m from the ONSA for a non-existent contract.
The EFCC argued that investigation had shown that, “the property belongs to Musiliu Obanikoro and he paid for the statutory charges for the property.”
The commission added, “That a lawyer, Tejumola Adeboye, who volunteered a statement to the commission, stated that he managed the said property and remits the rent to MON Integrated Services (a company allegedly owned by Obanikoro, which is also under probe).”
In his ruling, the Justice Y. Halilu said he could not stop the EFCC from doing its work, adding that all Nigerians must unite in the fight against corruption.
He added, “I shall refuse the application because it is most unmeritorious and specially packaged to deceive this court. God forbid.”
African Union Holds Global Conference to Accelerate African Vaccine Development and Manufacturing Capacity
African leaders assembled at a global meeting to discuss the status of local pharmaceutical manufacturing on the continent, underscored the need to increase local production of vaccines and therapeutics to achieve greater public-health security.
“The production of vaccines and access to vaccines is an absolute priority,” Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, said Monday in opening remarks at the start of the two-day virtual meeting, convened by the African Union.
The meeting was attended by several African heads of state, health, finance and trade ministers from across the continent, as well as officials from global financial institutions, foundations, pharmaceutical manufacturers, business leaders, and the general public. The African Development Bank was represented by Solomon Quaynor, Vice President Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization.
Although Africa consumes approximately one-quarter of global vaccines by volume, it manufactures less than 1% of its routine vaccines, with almost no outbreak vaccine manufacturing in place. The region lags behind in procuring vaccines amid a global scramble for the medicines among wealthier nations. Thus far, only around 2% of the world’s vaccination against Covid-19 has taken place in Africa.
The need for a new public health order in Africa, which promotes domestic vaccine manufacturing, epidemic preparedness and upgraded healthcare systems to meet the needs of the world’s fastest-growing population, was the conference’s main objective.
The African Union and the Africa CDC said they would continue to work with all stakeholders to identify implementable actions, financing needs and timelines to competitively produce vaccines in Africa.
Quaynor noted that the current undertaking would require immense investment. “Vaccine manufacturing, because of its complexity, is not really an entrepreneurial drive but actually an institutional drive,” he added.
The African Development Bank is working with global and African stakeholders, to articulate a 2030 vision for Africa’s Pharmaceutical Industry in response to several calls received from African Heads of State, who have expressed a strong political will. This vision aligns with its “industrialize Africa” priority strategy.
The vision will build on previous efforts to produce a continental plan of action to boost local African pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, such as the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa adopted in Abuja in January 2005 and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA), prepared by the African Union Commission and the United Nations in 2012, to assist local manufacturers with pharmaceutical production.
Quaynor said Africa could count on the African Development Bank’s support to secure Africa’s health defense system. “Leveraging on our comparative advantages, we will both provide upstream support to governments on the enabling environment, as well as provide financing to private sector and PPPs both indirectly through some of our private equity investee funds and directly through lending, and credit and risk guarantees. We will also use the Africa Investment Forum to bring in all relevant stakeholders and partner DFIs into bankable opportunities…”
The 2030 vision for Africa’s pharmaceutical industry would also work with pharmaceutical industry associations in Africa to create capacity development links between universities and industry in Africa, and work with African scientists in the diaspora, Quaynor said in remarks made on behalf of African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.
ITF, Nigerian Air Force, Others, Sign MOU To Advance Research
The Industrial Training Fund, ITF has signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, and Equipment and Protective Application International Limited to establish the framework that will give room for optimal performance as well as enhance productivity.
The Director General, Industrial Training Fund, Sir Joseph Ari while speaking at the NAF headquarters in Abuja, said the MOU will be pursued with vigour and all the seriousness it deserves so that greater success would be the catalyst that will drive their intentions.
He explained that over the years, ITF had redirected its focus on technical, vocational training and education noting that developed nations are where they are today because of the initiative.
According to him, “even here in Abuja, we have a model of a skills training centre and the model was brought in from the Singaporean experience of the institute for technical education and services of Singapore”.
“We brought a semblance of it here to experience with five trade areas, Mechatronics and Autotronics, Computer Networking, ICT, Facility Technology as well as culinary in both African and Western cuisine is right there in the heart of Abuja in the ITF house, it is like a university”.
“The ITF is well positioned to work hand in hand with the Nigerian Air Force,” he said
The ITF boss added; “I must say that the Chief of Air Staff has a lot of foresight with his men to think about this Memorandum of Understanding because I deed, ITF is where you should be”.
“The ITF came into contact with the Nigerian Air Force even though a lot of the officers of the Air Force might have participated in its programmes in the past and since then I have noticed that NAF has not relented in its efforts to equipped it’s workforce and also upgrade and retrain its people,” Sir Ari added.
He also commended the men and officers of the NAF for their sacrifice in keeping the nation safe.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal, Oladayo Amao said the Nigerian Air Force has a highly technical Service and technology is the bedrock of all its operations.
Represented by the Chief of Standards and Evaluation, Air Vice Marshal, Olusegun Philip, Amao noted that in line with the focus of the Federal Government in promoting indigenous technology, the Nigerian Air Force has been looking inwards to gradually wean itself of overdependence on foreign technology and to become more innovative and resourceful.
“Therefore, in order to advance the Nigerian Air Force’s Research and Development efforts, we have deemed it necessary to formally collaborate with indigenous organizations through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding,” Amao stated.
“These collaborative efforts provide pedestals to leapfrog capability as well as a repertoire of capabilities that can be harnessed”.
“The collaborative efforts also provide platforms to synergise ideas for innovations that are key to achieving meaningful results to solve the technological challenges we currently face in a cost effective manner,” he said.
The Managing Director, Equipment and Protective Application International Limited, Engineer, Kola Balogun however, assured that the MOU entered would be for the overall economic benefit and development of the nation.
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
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