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N13bn Recovery: Osinbajo Panel Quizzes Magu, as Committee Begins Sitting

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  • Osinbajo Panel Quizzes Magu, as Committee Begins Sitting

The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, was on Friday quizzed by the committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the suspended secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and the suspended Director-General of the National Intellegence Agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke.

The three-man committee which is chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, as members.

Magu appeared before the committee members for hours at the Vice-President’s office inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja as the committee began sitting early Friday.

It was gathered that the EFCC chairman was asked questions on the recovery of N13bn, which the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency had claimed belonged to the agency.

It was learnt that Magu justified the raid on the Ikoyi apartment where the money was recovered and briefed the committee on the investigation into the operation.

A top government source said, “The meeting with Magu was part of the assignment of the committee. He was asked questions on the operation and as expected he justified it.”

It was gathered that the committee asked the EFCC to continue with its investigation into the recovered money.

At about 1.30pm, the committee went on a short break to allow Malami, Monguno and Magu attend the Juma’at service inside a mosque located beside the President’s office.

The three of them returned to continue the meeting after the prayer session.

Holding about two bulky brown envelopes and an official file, Magu left the committee members at about 4pm.

He told some reporters who approached him that he would still return to the venue, apparently to avoid granting interview.

Monguno and Malami left the venue at about 4.20pm.

When asked how the investigation was going, Malami directed reporters to the Vice-President.

“Go and ask the chairman (of the committee),” the minister simply said as he walked out of the premises.

It was the EFCC under Magu’s leadership that recovered N13bn ($43.4m, N23m and £27,000) at a residential building in Lagos.

The suspended DG NIA had laid claim to the recovered fund.

Following the discovery of the N13bn, the NIA, which is Nigeria’s foreign intelligence service, had claimed that the money, which was found on the seventh floor of the building, was approved for the agency by former President Goodluck Jonathan for covert operations and security projects covering a period of years.

But later in the day, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, also claimed the money belong to the Rivers State government, alleging that a former governor of the state and current Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, kept the money in the apartment. He described the claim that the cash belonged to the NIA as balderdash.

Wike alleged that the money was part of the proceeds from the sale of a gas turbine by the immediate past administration, adding that the gas turbine was initially built by the Peter Odili administration. He then gave the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to return the money or be ready to face legal action.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday joined Muslim faithful for the Juma’at service inside a mosque at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari was joined at the prayer session by the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Malami; Monguno; Magu; and the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura.

Others who joined the President at the service were his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari; Permanent Secretary, State House, Jalal Arabi; and the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, among others.

That was Buhari’s first public appearance for the week.

Shortly after the session, the President returned to his residence while Monguno, Daura and Magu engaged in a long discussion at the forecourt of the President’s office.

It was the DSS under Daura that issued a security report which formed the basis for the Senate’s rejection of Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC.

The DSS had claimed that Magu lacks the integrity to drive the present administration’s anti-corruption war.

The Vice-President had however disclosed that the Presidency would not replace him.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has announced the postponement of the annual retreat of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation with Secretaries to State Governments.

Although no reason was given for the decision, it was however not clear if the postponement had to do with the suspension of the embattled SGF over grass cutting contract inflation scam.

A terse statement issued in Abuja on Friday with Ref. No: PPR/OSGF/PR/03 by the Director of Press and Public Relations in the Office of the SGF, Bolaji Adebiyi, did not give any explanation.

The statement read, “The annual retreat of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation with Secretaries to State Governments scheduled to hold in Yola, Adamawa State, from April 23 to 25, 2017 has been postponed.

“A new date will be communicated to all participants and invited guests in due course. The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation regrets any inconveniences.”

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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