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DSS Clears Saraki, Others over Alleged N310m Theft

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  • DSS Clears Saraki, Others over Alleged N310m Theft

The Department of State Services (DSS) has cleared Senate President Bukola Saraki and members of the National Assembly over what it described as “malicious falsehood’’ being spread around by one of its dismissed officers, Abdulrasheed Maigari, who recently claimed that he and other security personnel, including an army captain stole N310 million from the Senate President while guarding his house in Maitama, Abuja.

“The story making the rounds that the sum of N310 million belonging to the Senate President was stolen in 2015 is a malicious falsehood,’’ a senior officer of DSS stated last night in Abuja.

“From our investigation, the money in question did not belong to the Senate President or any member of the National Assembly for that matter. The investigation conducted by the DSS and the confessional statement made by Abdulrasheed Maigari, a suspect in the case, did not support this claim at all,” he said, adding: “Maigari’s recent claim in the media is nothing but a made up story to achieve a hidden motive.”

He said the fact that Maigari, who is currently standing trial for an armed robbery case, could make up such a false claim was a further indication of how criminally minded he was.

Incidentally, the Chief Press Secretary to the Senate President, Mr. Sanni Ologun, had on Sunday refuted reports linking his principal, Saraki, with the N310 million said to have been stolen from a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator, by suspected operatives of the DSS and some army personnel in November 2015.

Ologun, had in a statement, said the reports were being rehashed by some online media to tarnish the image of Saraki.

Corroborating Saraki’s aide on Sunday, the senior officer of the secret security agency said it was because of the criminal behaviour of Maigari that the DSS dismissed him from the service in 2015 and subsequently charged him to court.

“Any attempt to link the Senate President or any member of the National Assembly with the stolen N310 million will be sheer blackmail and an outright mischief,” the senior DSS official who did not want his name mentioned insisted.

Maigari was recently arrested by combined operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team IRT and the Anti-Kidnapping Unit from the Abuja Police Command deployed to rescue the Chairman of Gateway Insurance, Alhaji Isa Ozi Salami.

The former DSS operative was arrested alongside the suspected gang leaders, Emeka Kelvin and Ndubuisi Prince Uzor, among others on the March 26, 2017 in Suleja, an outskirt of the Federal Capital Territory.

During their parade before newsmen by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Jimoh Moshood, at the Force Headquarters, Maigari revealed how he became a kidnapper and also told reporters how he stole N310 million from Saraki’s home in Abuja.

According to the ex-DSS personnel, “I was enlisted into the DSS in 2011 with the rank of a Senior Intelligence Officer 1.

“I served in operations department at Gombe and Osun Commands of the DSS before my dismissal in 2015.

“Before I was dismissed, I was posted to the home of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in Maitama and in November 2015, I can’t recall the exact date, three vehicles brought in the N310 million into the compound and the Army Captain who was on ground that day ordered that we should take the money away because he suspected the money was government money which could have been wrongly appropriated and could, therefore, be taken.

“We were four DSS operatives and four army officers involved and we drove the three cars to a house in Suleja where the money was shared. I got N30 million and I bought a car and took it to Kaduna State where I hid the rest of my share.’’

Maigari had said that he came back to Abuja, “but on November 28, 2015, I was asked to report at DSS headquarters and when I got there, I was interrogated over the theft and detained for five months, dismissed and charged to court”.

The suspect added that he was remanded in Kuje Prison, where he eventually fell ill after seven months and was later granted bail by the court on health grounds.

The Senate President’s Chief Press Secretary, Ologun, however, in a statement on Sunday, denied Maigari’s claims, recalling that the Senate President’s media office had refuted the report when it first broke that the Senate President had nothing to do with the money, nor did he have army personnel among his security detail.

He said: “We still insist that he has nothing to do with the money and we challenge those still rehashing the stale and fake news to avail themselves of the reports of the police and the DSS on the matter to avoid misleading members of the public unnecessarily.”

He said it was absurd for one of the suspects in a robbery to claim that the money he was found with was brought to the Senate President’s house from where they connived to steal it.

“The report remains a lie which must be disregarded by the public, and should it be recirculated tomorrow, it will still remain a lie. At best we count this unwarranted fake report as part of the April fool ritual. But the public deserves a better deal from its sponsors and purveyors,” he said.

According to Ologun, “The content and intention of the fake report is nothing but baseless allegations emanating from the infantile minds of unreasonable interlopers, hell bent on rubbing mud on the reputation of a distinguished Nigerian, who is today in his capacity as the Senate President, working assiduously with critical stakeholders to stabilise and grow our economy. Enough is enough.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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NIMC Announces Launch of Three National ID Cards to Boost Identity Management

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The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has unveiled plans to launch three new national identity cards.

These cards are aimed at providing improved access to government services and bolstering identification systems across Nigeria.

The three new national identity cards, as disclosed by Ayodele Babalola, the Technical Adviser, Media, and Communications to the Director-General of NIMC, will include a bank-enabled National ID card, a social intervention card, and an optional ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card.

Babalola explained that these cards are tailored to meet the diverse needs of Nigerian citizens while fostering greater participation in nation-building initiatives.

In an interview, Babalola outlined the timeline for the rollout of these cards, indicating that Nigerians can expect to start receiving them within one or two months of the launch, pending approval from the Presidency.

The bank-enabled National ID card, designed to cater to the middle and upper segments of the population, will offer seamless access to banking services within the specified timeframe.

Also, the National Safety Net Card will serve as a crucial tool for authentication and secure platform provision for government services such as palliatives, with a focus on the 25 million vulnerable Nigerians supported by current government intervention programs.

This initiative aims to streamline the distribution process and ensure efficient delivery of social services to those in need.

Furthermore, the ECOWAS National Biometric Identity Card will provide an optional identity verification solution, facilitating cross-border interactions and promoting regional integration within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The announcement comes on the heels of NIMC’s collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to develop a multipurpose national identity card equipped with payment capabilities for various social and financial services.

This collaborative effort underscores the commitment of key stakeholders to foster innovation, cost-effectiveness, and competitiveness in service delivery.

Babalola stated that the new identity cards aim to address the need for physical identification, empower citizens, and promote financial inclusion for marginalized populations. With a target of providing these cards to approximately 104 million eligible applicants on the national identification number database by the end of December 2023, NIMC is poised to revolutionize the identity management landscape in Nigeria.

The implementation of these programs aligns with broader efforts to drive digital transformation and improve access to essential services for all Nigerians.

Babalola highlighted the multifaceted benefits of the new identity cards, including their potential to uplift millions out of poverty by facilitating access to government social programs and financial services.

While the launch date is set tentatively for May pending presidential approval, NIMC remains committed to finalizing the necessary details to ensure a smooth rollout of the new identity cards.

The introduction of these cards represents a significant step forward in NIMC’s mission to provide secure and reliable identity solutions that empower individuals and contribute to the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Efforts to reach Kayode Adegoke, the Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, for further insights on the initiative were unsuccessful at the time of reporting.

As Nigeria gears up for the launch of these innovative identity cards, stakeholders express optimism about the potential positive impact on identity management, financial inclusion, and socio-economic development across the country.

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Nigeria Launches New National ID Card to Enhance Access to Social and Financial Services

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the launch of a National Identity Card with integrated payment and social service functionalities.

This initiative, spearheaded by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-bank Settlement System (NIBSS), aims to provide Nigerians with a single, multifunctional card that combines identification, payment, and access to various government and private sector services.

The new National ID card backed by the NIMC Act No. 23 of 2007 is poised to become the country’s default identity card, serving as a tangible proof of identity for citizens and legal residents alike.

With features aligned with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, including a Machine-readable Zone (MRZ) and biometric authentication capabilities, the card offers robust security and verification mechanisms.

One of the most significant aspects of the new ID card is its payment functionality. Cardholders will have the ability to link their cards to bank accounts, enabling them to conduct debit and prepaid transactions seamlessly.

This feature is expected to enhance financial inclusion efforts, particularly for the unbanked and underbanked populations in Nigeria.

Also, the card will grant holders access to a wide range of government interventions programs, including travel, health insurance, microloans, agriculture initiatives, food subsidies, transport benefits, and energy subsidies.

By consolidating these services onto a single platform, the government aims to streamline administrative processes and improve service delivery efficiency.

To ensure widespread accessibility, the NIMC has outlined various channels for obtaining the new ID card, including online applications, commercial banks, participating agencies, and NIMC offices nationwide.

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New York City Hit by 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake

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New York City, famously known as the “city that never sleeps” was hit by a 4.8 magnitude earthquake.

The tremors reverberated through the towering skyscrapers and bustling suburbs as it sent shockwaves across the densely populated metropolitan area and left residents feeling shaken.

The earthquake, with its epicenter approximately 45 miles west of New York City and 50 miles north of Philadelphia, caught many off guard.

Reports indicate that over 42 million people across the Northeast region may have felt the midmorning quake with reports coming in from as far as Baltimore to Boston and beyond.

The impact of the earthquake was not confined to mere tremors; it resulted in significant damage to several multifamily homes in Newark, New Jersey, displacing nearly 30 residents.

Officials immediately sprang into action, conducting checks on bridges and other major infrastructure to assess any potential structural damage.

Flights were diverted or delayed, Amtrak slowed trains throughout the busy Northeast Corridor, and a Philadelphia-area commuter rail line suspended service as a precautionary measure.

The experience was unsettling for many New Yorkers, with some likening it to the sensation of an explosion or construction accident.

Shawn Clark, an attorney working on the 26th floor of a midtown Manhattan office, described it as “pretty weird and scary,” echoing the sentiments of many who felt the earth move beneath them.

Aftershocks were reported hours later in a central New Jersey township, causing additional concern and producing reports of damage and items falling off shelves, according to Hunterdon County Public Safety Director Brayden Fahey.

The disruption caused by the earthquake extended beyond immediate safety concerns. Cellphone circuits were overloaded as people tried to reach loved ones, and phones blared with earthquake-related notifications during the New York Philharmonic’s morning performance, adding an unexpected twist to the day’s events.

Even as the seismic event rattled New York City, residents and officials alike drew comparisons to past earthquakes, particularly the memorable tremor of August 23, 2011. Registering a magnitude of 5.8, it was the strongest quake to hit the East Coast since World War II, leaving lasting impressions on those who experienced it.

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