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Trump fires FBI Director Comey

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  • Trump fires FBI Director Comey

Donald Trump has fired James Comey as FBI director in a move that has raised concerns over the independence of the bureau’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia in the run-up to last year’s US presidential election.

The president cited Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the reason behind his decision, but Democrats were quick to cry foul, and there were vociferous demands for a special prosecutor to be appointed to oversee the Russia inquiry. One Senate Democrat described the move as “Nixonian”.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that a grand jury had begun issuing subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser at the centre of the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the election. If confirmed, the report suggests that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump camp’s links with Moscow has entered a significant new phase.

In a letter to Comey, the president wrote: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”

The dismissal of America’s top law enforcement official came days after he testified on Capitol Hill about Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state and the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Comey incorrectly testified that former Clinton aide Huma Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information. On Tuesday, the FBI informed the Senate judiciary committee that only “a small number” of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there, while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices.

In a recent interview, Clinton partly blamed Comey’s letter in late October notifying Congress that the FBI was studying the emails on the laptop, for costing her the presidential election.

Comey had also been fiercely criticised for holding a press conference last July in which he said Clinton would not be charged but criticised her as “extremely careless”. The move was seen as infringing on the role of the justice department and attorney general.

The timing of Comey’s dismissal was related to the recent confirmation of Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general, according to the White House. In a memo released on Tuesday, Rosenstein wrote: “The director was wrong to usurp the attorney general’s authority on 5 July 2016, and announce his conclusion that the [Clinton] case should be closed without prosecution.”

The memo added: “Compounding the error, the director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation … the director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial.

“It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

A statement from the White House said: “Today, President Donald J Trump informed FBI director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

The search for the next head of “our crown jewel of law enforcement” will begin immediately, the statement said. Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, takes over in the interim.

Comey, 56, who was nominated by Barack Obama in 2013 to a 10-year term, reportedly found out he had been fired from breaking news alerts on TV screens as he delivered a speech to FBI staff in Los Angeles. He was “caught flat-footed” but carried on talking to the agents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Soon after, in another bizarre turn, a letter was hand delivered to FBI headquarters in Washington by Keith Schiller, Trump’s former bodyguard who worked for Trump’s security team for nearly two decades before joining the administration.

The last US president to fire an FBI director was Bill Clinton, who dismissed William Sessions in 1993 over financial irregularities.

Comey’s dismissal raises questions over the future of the FBI’s investigation into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia during the presidential election.
Analysis How Comey became tangled in the US election – and why it led to his downfall
Tasked with overseeing an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the now-fired FBI director earned the chagrin of both parties
Read more

While the Republican majorities in the House and Senate could hold back congressional investigations and a new FBI director to kill off its counter-intelligence investigation, a grand jury is not under Trump’s control. He may not be able to stop the Russian collusion affair from going to court.

Under US law, grand juries (which are larger than normal 12-person court juries) have sweeping powers to compel witnesses to appear, to call for the presentation of documents and to issue indictments.

Most Republicans backed the president, including the Senate judiciary committee chairman, Chuck Grassley, who said: “The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey’s decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI …The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.”

But broad condemnation from Democrats and dissent from some Republicans is likely to intensify pressure for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Justin Amash, a Republican congressman from Michigan, tweeted: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia.” He described the justification given in Trump’s letter to Comey as “bizarre”.

Democrat Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said: “The same president who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation.

Analysis ‘You are terminated.’ The three letters that ended James Comey’s career

“It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed.”

Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said: “This is Nixonian. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation … this investigation must be independent and thorough in order to uphold our nation’s system of justice.”

Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said he told Trump, who called to notify him before making the firing public, “you’re making a very big mistake.”

He added: “If deputy attorney general Rosenstein does not appoint an independent special prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire director Comey was part of a cover-up.”

Schumer has taken the unusual move of asking all Democratic Senators to be in their seats at 9.30am on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News reported.

Trump accused Schumer of hypocrisy. He fired back on Twitter: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, “I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.” Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp”

Civil society groups also expressed alarm at the day’s events. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “The independence of the FBI director is meant to ensure that the president does not operate above the law. For President Trump to fire the man responsible for investigating his own campaign’s ties to the Russians imperils that fundamental principle.”

The president only has one publicly scheduled item on his agenda on Wednesday: a meeting with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia.

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.

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Fiscal Federalism: Lagos Demands One Percent in Revenue Allocation Formula

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Sanwo-olu - Investorsking

Lagos State Government on Monday demanded a one percent share in the revenue allocation formula, maintaining that the special status of the State and its prosperity directly or indirectly have multiplying effects on the South-West region and the entire country.

Lagos State Government also proposed that the revenue sharing formula should be 34 percent for Federal Government including one percent for FCT – Abuja, 42 percent for State Governments, 23 percent for Local Governments and one percent for Lagos State (Special Status) as against the current revenue allocation formula, which are 52.68 percent, 26.72 percent and 20.60 percent for Federal Government, 36 state governments and 774 local governments respectively.

The demands were made by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the opening of a two-day South-West Zonal Public hearing on the review of revenue allocation formula by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) held on Monday at Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island.

Governor Sanwo-Olu in a memorandum on review of Revenue Allocation Formula he submitted to the RMAFC declared that allocating one percent for Lagos State (Special Status) and allowing the three tiers of government to share 99 percent in a new revenue sharing formula is very straightforward, self-justifying and in no way controversial.

He said the review of the current revenue allocation formula is long overdue, noting that the best way to guarantee national progress and development is by paying attention to sub-national development because the national is a summation and a reflection of the sub-national.

He also reiterated the call for Lagos State to be accorded special status in recognition of its huge financial commitments to infrastructure and provision of basic amenities for the increasing population of its residents, as well as its preeminent contribution to the national coffers.

He said the call, which has been re-echoed at different fora and at various levels and tiers of government, cannot be overemphasized, especially against the backdrop of the current economic situation of the country, the aftermath of the EndSARS protests a year ago, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, for which Lagos has been the national epicenter.

“Our demand is a sharing formula that is just, fair and equitable; reflecting the contribution of stakeholders to the common purse, and also one that enhances the capacity of state and local governments to deliver high-quality services and the full dividends of democracy to the greatest number of our people.

“Lagos State is no doubt the nation’s commercial capital, and population center. The level of funding required to service the State’s social and public infrastructure is so significant that it will be difficult for the State to bear the burden for much longer under the present arrangement.

“I should say that it will actually be unfair to expect the State to bear this heavy burden on its own. It is, therefore, necessary to give due consideration to all the variables that support our advocacy for a Special Status.

“The call for a special status for Lagos is not a selfish proposition; it is in the best interest of the country and all Nigerians, for Lagos which accounts for about 20 percent of the national GDP and about 10 percent of the nation’s population to continue to prosper,” the Governor said.

Justifying the need for Lagos State to be accorded special status, Governor Sanwo-Olu said Lagos is more than just another state in the Nigerian federation, noting that there is no tribe in the country that has no significant stake in Lagos State.

He said: “As the former capital of the country for 77 years (compared to the 30 years that Abuja has been the Federal Capital Territory), Nigeria’s largest metropolis still bears the heavy brunt of being home to all Nigerians; irrespective of age, class, gender, religious affiliation or tribe.

“There are several statistics that show the number of people that comes into Lagos every day, however, there are clear indications that most of these people migrate with the intention to make Lagos their new home and in pursuit of personal dreams due to the opportunities the city-state seemingly possesses, and this portends additional responsibilities on the government.

“Additionally, Lagos still harbors a huge number of federal establishments which could not be moved to Abuja. These include military cantonments and barracks, Police, Customs, Immigration, Civil Defence, Prisons, Road Safety and security/intelligence establishments.

“There are several reasons to justify the call for a special status for Lagos apart from the aforementioned factors and by extension, a review of the Revenue Allocation Sharing Formula.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu also said that it would be unfair for Lagos State to be left alone to bear the burden of the massive destruction experienced by the State during the EndSARS protests hijacked by hoodlums and the COVID-19 pandemic without assistance from the Centre.

“This month marks one year after the massive destruction experienced by the State in the violence that accompanied the hijacking of the EndSARS protests. Public buildings were burnt down, and historical infrastructure was destroyed.

“Although we have put that experience behind us and forged ahead, the reality of this unfortunate incident remains with us; resources that should be committed to other areas of need are now being used for the restoration of these public facilities. It will be totally unfair for Lagos State to be left alone to bear these huge expenses without assistance from the Centre.

“COVID-19 pandemic is another issue that has once again, supported the justification for Lagos to be accorded the privilege of special status. As much as this affects the entire country, it is a fact that the degree of the havoc caused by this virus differs from State to State.

“Lagos was the epicenter for this virus, the same way it was for the Ebola virus some years ago. The management of these unforeseen occurrences comes with huge responsibilities and financial commitments on the part of the State Government,” he said.

Governor Sanwo-Olu commended the Chairman and members of RMAFC for taking a bold step, which he believed will “result in a fundamental alteration of the current revenue sharing formula, in favour of one that is truly fair and equitable, and that takes into full consideration the specific and more pragmatic fiscal contexts of the sub-national governments of the Federation.”

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FG Places 3,964 Nigerians on Watch List, Suspends Passports

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Nigerian passport - Investorsking

No fewer than 3,964 Nigerians are currently on the watch list of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

The names of the affected individuals, it was gathered, have been placed with security agencies at the nation’s international airports where they will be arrested on sight.

According to the 2020 NIS annual report suspect index, 308 persons were placed on the watch list in 2019, 166 in 2020, while 51 persons were stop-listed in two years.

No fewer than 3, 438 passports are also being watch, while 23 are on the exemption list.

The report states, “Suspect index reviews and maintains the list of persons whose entry into Nigeria is prohibited or on whom special instructions are in place with respect to entry and departure from Nigeria. The travel documents are the instruments used to achieve this objective through synergy with other law enforcement agencies and court of competent jurisdiction.”

In a related development, the NIS has revoked 149, 875 stolen or lost passports and uploaded them to Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database via the Web Services for Data Management platform.

Meanwhile, there are indications that the FG may not meet its 2021 revenue projection from NIS services.

Findings show that there might be revenue shortfall from visa; e-PASS, ECOWAS Residence Card, the Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card and other documents issued by the NIS due to the reduced number of foreign visitors and expatriates in the country following COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Immigration sources said the number of Italians, Britons, South Africans, Chinese, Indians, and other Asians, who constitute a large percentage of expatriates in the country, had reduced on account of travel restrictions imposed by their respective countries.

The erstwhile Comptroller-General of Immigration, Muhammad Babandede had said the service recorded a 40 per cent revenue shortfall in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figures from the NIS showed that in 2018, the immigration service generated N20.3bn from CERPAC; N40.7bn in 2019, and N16.7bn in 2020.

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Envoy Considers Establishment Of Chinese Banks In Nigeria To Boost Economy

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Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria- Investors king

Mr Cui Jianchun, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, says he is in talks with Chinese owned Banks to establish operations in Nigeria.

This, the envoy said, is to boost Nigeria’s economy and expand trade relations between the two nations.

Cui made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while addressing Journalists during the commemoration of the 2021 Chinese Moon Festival and China-Nigeria Cultural week.

According to Cui, the establishment of Chinese Banks in Nigeria will also be one of the key areas of discussion during the China-Nigeria Binational Committee meeting, which he is also pushing for the establishment.

He said that an efficient financial institution was a key driver to achieving a strong economy, one Nigeria can learn from China’s experience.

“Before my departure from Beijing to Abuja, I talked to several banks in China. When you list the World’s 10 big banks, six are in China.

“The Banking sector is very important, because, without money, we cannot build our industries.

“What I am thinking here is best to talk to the governor of Central Bank and how we can allow the Chinese Banks to run office here and now, they are doing the feasibility studies on that.

“I am working hard that in the Bi-national meeting, I hope we can make a big decision and give a big push to let the banking industry and insurance industry because financial integration and institutions are key.

“If you go to China, you will find our banking industry is very powerful, not only for business but the change in the way of life.

“Because of the COVID-19, the Banking Industry is a little hesitant, but I told them Nigeria has a lot of human resources and as long as we work together, we can do big things.

“And that is why it is important to invest in the banking industry, to solve this problem,” Cui said.

Extolling the extant China-Nigeria trade relations, Cui noted that the volume of trade between China and Nigeria is nearly 20 billion US Dollars, with an increase from 2020’s 19.2 billion dollars.

Cui said the Chinese economy is restoring to the normal post-COVID-19 pandemic and both governments are working hard on how to expand imports and exports.

Speaking on the event, Cui said the China’s moon festival is a very important and significant one for China as it symbolises family reunion, national peace and social harmony.

The envoy said the 2021 celebration is also a special one as it coincides with the 50th Anniversary of China-Nigeria’s bilateral relations.

He said that both countries also share Oct. 1 as their National Days.

He said it is also on that note that the Chinese Embassy is honouring 50 Nigerian employees of Chinese Companies in Nigeria for their outstanding performance and contribution to strengthening diplomatic ties.

Dr Ifeoma Anyanwutaku, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, also lauded the Nigeria-China relations.

She said the relations had recorded great successes over the past five decades.

“The five decades of co-operation had since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the spheres of arts, music, dance, exhibition, cultural administration, training and capacity building of cultural officers.

“And recently, the development of Cultural Industries centres in Nigeria, among others.

“I must add that China, through the youth-oriented programmes such as the photos competition and similar activities in the past is surely a dependable ally.

“In redirecting the energy and mind of our youth to creative ventures, thereby furthering the Nigerian government’s policy of lifting a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years”, Anyanwukatu said. (NAN)

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