- Diezani Warned Aluko Against Buying $80m Yacht
Court documents filed by the US Department of Justice in Houston have revealed that former oil minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, warned her alleged business partners – Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore –against lavish spending, including splashing millions of dollars on a yacht.
“If you want to hire a yacht, you lease it for two weeks or whatever. You don’t go and sink funds into it at this time when Nigerian oil and gas sector is under all kinds of watch,” she said to Aluko in a recorded conversation.
But her warning was not heeded as Aluko went on to buy Galactica Star, a luxury yacht, for $80million.
The yacht, a stupendous luxury on water, was once rented by Jay Z and his wife, Beyonce, for close to a million dollars during a holiday last year. It also once hosted Beyonce’s 32nd birthday in 2013.
Both Aluko and Omokore are alleged to have paid bribes between 2011 and 2015 to Diezani who ensured that shell companies owned by the businessmen received billion-dollar contracts to sell Nigeria’s crude oil.
The oil swap contracts were a controversial barter arrangement which saw Nigeria use middlemen to sell crude oil in exchange for refined products. With local refineries under-performing, oil swap deals were used to shore up local demand for petroleum products.
Between 2010 and 2014, under Diezani’s watch, Nigeria was estimated to have channelled over 352 million barrels of oil worth a total of $35 billion into oil swap deals.
But with the contracts mostly opaque, Nigeria reportedly lost more than $900 million in crude oil swap deals between 2009 and 2012.
The deals came under severe scrutiny with former Central Bank Governor, now Emir Muhammadu Sanusi, describing them “not properly structured, monitored and audited.”
President Buhari cancelled the oil swap arrangement in November 2015, seven months after taking office.
The US Justice Department (DOJ) lawsuit has provided more insight into the scale of theft of Nigeria’s oil riches under Diezani Alison-Madueke’s watch.
The civil lawsuit, brought by DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, is seeking to recover $144 million in assets, including a $50 million luxury condo apartment in New York and the $80 million yacht.
Prosecutors say both assets were proceeds from bribes paid by the two Nigerian businessmen for lucrative oil contracts. The lawsuit seeks the forfeiture of both assets.
Prosecutors claim that the businessmen, Aluko and Omokore, laundered money through the US by purchasing lavish assets.
The $50 million New York condo is at One57, located opposite Carnegie Hall in midtown Manhattan. The building currently holds the record for the most-expensive residential sale in New York following a $100.5 million apartment purchase in 2014.
Aluko’s $50 million condo is the 8th most expensive in the building, but following a loan default, his mortgage lenders are set to auction the apartment on July 19.
The yacht and penthouse are not the only items under scrutiny by the DOJ.
The government also alleges that Aluko, Omokore and others funded a lavish lifestyle for Alison-Madueke.
According to the allegations, they conspired to purchase millions of dollars in real estate in and around London for Alison-Madueke and her family members, then renovated and furnished these homes with millions of dollars in furniture, artwork and other luxury items purchased at two Houston-area furniture stores at Alison-Madueke’s direction.
According to Financial Times, the two are accused of buying a total of four residential properties in and around London worth 11.45 million, and furnishing them with furniture, artwork and other luxury items.
“In one day in May 2012, Mr. Aluko was said to have wired $461,500 and $262,091 to two furniture stores in Houston from a Swiss bank account, on behalf of Mrs. Alison-Madueke, the civic complaint filed in the court claimed.
In return, the government alleges Alison-Madueke used her influence to direct a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to award Strategic Alliance Agreements (SAAs) to two shell companies created by Aluko and Omokore: Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Ltd. and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Ltd. (the Atlantic Companies).
Under the SAAs, the Atlantic Companies were required to finance the exploration and production operations of eight on-shore oil and gas blocks. In return for financing these operations, the companies expected to receive a portion of the oil and gas produced.
However, according to the complaint, the Atlantic Companies provided only a fraction of the agreed upon financing or, in some instances, failed entirely to provide it.
The companies also failed to meet other obligations under the SAAs, including the payment of $120 million entry fee.
Nevertheless, according to the allegations, the companies were permitted to lift and sell more than $1.5 billion worth of Nigerian crude oil.
The government contends the Atlantic Companies then used a series of shell companies and intermediaries to launder a portion of the total proceeds of these arrangements into and through the U.S.
Restructure Nigeria Before 2023 Polls, Afenifere Tells Buhari
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, on Friday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to bury the idea of holding elections before restructuring the country.
The Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who made the call at the group’s meeting held at his Ogbo residence in Odogbolu local government area of Ogun State, said: “there must be a country before elections are held”.
Adebanjo said: “We urge Buhari to bury the idea of holding an election before returning to federalism by restructuring the country.
“There must be a country before elections are held, it would be patriotic of him to heed this advice. If Gen. Buhari is sincere about keeping the country together, he must restructure the country now this is the only answer to halt the disintegration of the country. To save Nigeria, restructure the country now.
“We should be proud as inheritors of a noble heritage, the party (Afenifere) was founded on the political philosophy of federalism due to the multi-ethnic, multilingual, multicultural and multi-religious nature of our country”.
“Failure to adhere to this principle has been the cause of the instability that has plagued our country since Independence. Our consistent advocacy for the restructuring of the country to federalism is based on the founding philosophy of the party”.
“It is for this reason that the founding leader of the party is known as the father of federalism in Nigeria”.
“It is the only political system that can keep the country together in peace. It is mischievous for President Buhari’s government to accuse advocates of restructuring as secessionist and separatists”.
“It is the system that our founding fathers, The Saudarna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmad Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe agreed to before the British government granted us independence in 1960, after the collapse of Macpherson constitution in 1953”.
“The present constitution which is the cause of instability in the country is imposed on us by the military-dominated by Northern Muslims after the coup of 1966”.
“The clamor for the return of the country to federalism is born out of the obnoxious provision in the constitution which has made economic and political progress impossible and this has been the main cause of instability in the country”.
“Our resolve for the restructuring of the country back to federalism is unshakeable. We assert we are no secessionist. It is those who oppose restructuring that are enemies of a United Nigeria. That all opponents of restructuring give impetus to secessionists”.
“We do not believe in the National Assembly which is a product of this fraudulent constitution to amend the constitution, it is immoral and illogical for a product of fraud to amend the fraud.
Six years ago, I warned the nation of the danger of voting for Gen. Muhammad Buhari, I accused him of being a feudalist by birth, a dictator by training and a religious fanatic”.
“I accused him of being a tribalist who has no respect for the rule of law. We were bombarded with the propaganda that he will ruthlessly fight corruption which they said was the bane of Jonathan administration”.
“They even told us that as a military man, he would wipe out Boko Haram in 6 months. But after six years in office, we now know better. Buhari has failed in his promises to the electorate”.
“Our economy is in tatters, corruption is growing in arithmetical proportion. Our security has collapsed to the extent that Buhari’s government has become so helpless that it now negotiates with Bandits who are so powerful that they dictate the terms of the negotiation. Kidnapping, murder, rape and various acts of criminality pervade the length and breadth of the country unabated”.
“The clamour for Gen. Buhari to resign or be impeached is growing louder and louder every day”.
“As a cover-up for his misdeeds, Gen. Buhari has resorted to silence the opposition by raising the false alarm that former military officers and prominent leaders of the ethnic organization and some Emirs are planning a meeting to pass a vote of no confidence in him. You will wonder even if that allegation is true when is it illegal or unconstitutional in a democracy for citizens to associate. Freedom of association is embedded in our constitution”.
“He also raises a false alarm that people are planning a coup. I assert Gen. Buhari has failed woefully, he has no clue about the problems facing Nigeria. He should go now before he plunged the country into a crisis the end of which nobody can foretell”.
“The Yoruba people are the only ethnic group that has never called for secession. We have invested in a united Nigeria that we will resist any act that will lead to its break up. We will be in Nigeria as equal partners in a federal Nigeria. A Nigeria in which we will play a second fiddle is most unacceptable”.
Therefore, our irreducible minimum condition of staying in Nigeria is a restructured Nigeria. Anything short of that is ‘‘to thy tent, oh Isreal.” The unity of the horse and the rider in which a section of the country is the rider and we the horse is most unacceptable.
Afenifere by our resilience and consistency over the years has proved to be the most reliable and dependable organization in the country”.
“I assert very confidently that from the First Republic we are the only national party in the country”.
“It is our consistent and persistent agitation for the right of minorities that has given birth to Edo, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states in the South and Benue, Plateau, Borno, Kwara and the Adamawa States in the North”.
“Our party manifesto of Free Education, Free Health and Integrated Rural Development as successfully implemented in the West is not confined to Yoruba land but applicable and implementable beyond Yoruba land across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“Afenifere is the beacon of progressive politics. The political philosophy of federalism propagated by our leader the sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo is now the sing-song all over the country today.
I hereby appeal to all our members who for one reason or another have sojourned in the other parties to come back home, you will be welcome with open arms. There is room for the youth to rise to leadership on the merit of their performance.
“It is cheering that the call for the restructuring is no longer limited to Afenifere, PANDEF and Middle-Belt forum, The Northern Elders Forum, Arewa Consultative Forum have joined the crusade”.
While declaring the group support to the decisions of the Southern governors in their efforts towards tackling the problem of insecurity facing the country, Chief Adebanjo said, “Afenifere welcomes and endorse fully the resolution of the Southern Governors Forum. And we hope Gen. Buhari in the interest of Nigeria unity, peace, tranquillity and economic progress give serious attention to the recommendation”.
ICPC Declares Buhari’s Son-In-Law, Two Others Wanted For $65M Fraud
The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) has declared Gimba Kumo, a son-in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari, and two others wanted over alleged misappropriation of $65 million National Housing Funds.
Mr. Kumo, a former managing director of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, had in 2016 married Fatima, the president’s daughter, in Daura, Katsina State.
The ICPC in its list of wanted persons declared Mr. Kumo wanted alongside Tarry Rufus and Bola Ogunsola over the alleged fraud.
In the notice signed by its spokesperson Azuka Ogugua, the ICPC urged the public to provide information about the whereabouts of the wanted persons.
“The persons whose pictures appear above, Mr. Tarry Rufus, Mr. Gimba Yau Kumo, and Mr. Bola Ogunsola, are hereby declared WANTED by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in connection with issues bordering on misappropriation of National Housing Funds and diversion of the sum of Sixty Five Million dollars ($65,000,000).
“Anyone who has useful information on their whereabouts should report to ICPC Headquarters Abuja, any of the ICPC State Offices, or the nearest police station” the notice read.
In April, the senate committee on public accounts had summoned Mr. Kumo to explain the alleged irregular award of N3 billion contract when he was still at the bank.
The committee issued the summons following a query raised in a 2015-2018 report by the office of the auditor-general of the federation (AuGF) against the FMBN.
According to the report, the contract was awarded in four phases and was overpaid to the tune of N3,045,391,531.97.
Lagos State Moves to Completely Ban Okada, Keke, Introduces Minibuses
The Lagos State Government on Monday announced plans to completely ban the use of motorcycles (okada) and tricycles (Keke) due to rising crime and lawlessness across the state.
The announcement was made after a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja.
In the meeting attended by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Chief Judge, Kazeem Alogba; the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, traditional and religious leaders and members of the civil society, among others, the governor said the string of lawlessness daily witnessed from the confrontation between commercial motorcyclists and law enforcement agencies required urgent action.
“Based on all that we have seen and experienced in the past couple of weeks, as well as the increasing threat posed by the activities of commercial motorcycle operators to the safety and security of lives, we will be announcing further changes to the parameters of motorcycle and tricycle operations in the state in the coming days. No society can make progress amid such a haughty display of lawlessness and criminality,” he added.
Sanwo-Olu said from next week, the state would be inaugurating the First and Last Mile buses next week, which would take the routes the motorcycles were plying.
The state Commissioner of Police, Odumosu, raised the alarm over rising security breaches from the menace of okada operations in the state.
He said between January and early this month, 320 commercial motorcycles were impounded in 218 cases of criminal incidents in which 78 suspects were detained and 480 ammunition recovered.
In the same period, the Lagos police boss said Okada accounted for 83 per cent of 385 cases of avoidable fatal vehicular accidents in Lagos.
At the end of the meeting, a 12-point resolution was reached, among which was a ban on Okada “as a means of transportation in the state.”
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