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Court Orders Seizure of Diezani’s $37.5m Lagos House, Funds

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  • Court Orders Seizure of Diezani’s $37.5m Lagos House, Funds

The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Wednesday, ordered the temporary forfeiture of a property at Banana Island, Lagos, bought for $37.5m in 2013 by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The property, designated as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate, has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses, according to court papers presented on Tuesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Apart from the property, the court also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The funds were said to have been found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486.

Justice Chuka Obiozor gave the temporary forfeiture orders on Wednesday, following an ex parte application to that effect brought before him by a counsel for the EFCC, Mr. Anselem Ozioko.

Ozioko had told the judge that the EFCC reasonably suspected that the property was acquired with proceeds of alleged unlawful activities of Diezani.

The lawyer said investigation by the EFCC revealed that Diezani made the $37.5m payment for the purchase of the property in cash.

It added that the money was moved straight from her house in Abuja and paid into the seller’s First Bank account in Abuja.

“Nothing could be more suspicious than someone keeping such huge amounts in her apartment. Why was she doing that, to avoid attention?

“We are convinced beyond reasonable doubt because, as of the time this happened, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke was still in public service as the Minister of Petroleum Resources,” Ozioko told Justice Obiozor.

The ex parte application, taken before the judge, was filed pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other related Offences Act, No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(k) of the constitution.

Listed as respondents in the application are Diezani; a legal practitioner, Afamefuna Nwokedi; and a company, Rusimpex Limited.

In a 41-paragraph affidavit attached to the application, an investigative officer with the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, alleged that Nwokedi, in connivance with Diezani, purposely incorporated the company, Rusimpex Limited, on September 11, 2013, to facilitate the alleged fraud scheme.

According to Bawa, when Nwokedi was questioned by the EFCC, the lawyer explained that he had approached Diezani for opportunities in the oil and gas industry but the ex-minister told him that being a lawyer, she did not have any such opportunity for him and asked him whether he could, in the alternative, manage landed properties, an offer which Nwokedi accepted.

Bawa said Nwokedi later registered Rusimpex Limited at the Corporate Affairs Commission, and named a lawyer in his law firm, Adetula Ayokunle, and a Russian, Vladmir Jourauleu, as the directors.

He added that the address of Nwokedi’s law firm in Ikoyi, Lagos, was registered as the business address of Rusimpex Limited.

The investigator added that when Ayokunle was questioned by the EFCC, he explained that he only appended his signature to the CAC documents at his boss’ instruction, while Jourauleu denied knowledge of the company.

The investigator stated, “Sometime in 2013, the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, invited Barrister Afamefuna Nwokedi, the Principal Counsel Stillwaters Law Firm, to her house in Abuja for a meeting, where she informed the said Barrister Afamefuna Nwokedi to incorporate a company and use same as a front to manage landed properties on her behalf without using her name in any of the incorporation documents.

“She further directed Mr. Afamefuna Nwokedi to meet with Mr. Bisi Onasanya, the (former) Group Managing Director of First Bank of Nigeria Plc for that purpose.

“Mr. Stephen Onasanya was invited by the commission and he came and volunteered an extrajudicial statement wherein he stated that he marketed a property at Bella Vista, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, belonging to Mr. Youseff Fattau of Ibatex Nigeria Limited to Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke later bought the property from Mr. Youseff Fattau, through her lawyer, Mr. Afamefuna Nwokedi (who she introduced to him) and that payment for the said property was made through the Abuja office of First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

“First Bank of Nigeria Plc, through Mr. Barau Muazu, wrote to the commission and also volunteered an extrajudicial statement in writing that it made the payments totalling US37,500,000 to Ibatex Nigeria Limited & Y. F. Construction Development and Real Estate Limited on behalf of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and that they (officials) collected the entire cash from Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke at her residence No. 10 Fredrick Chiluba Close, off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and paid into the First Bank of Nigeria Plc accounts of Ibatex and Y. F. Construction Development and Real Estate Limited on her instructions.”

After listening to the EFCC lawyer, Ozioko, on Wednesday, Justice Obiozor made an order temporarily seizing the property and the funds.

He directed that the order should be published in a national newspaper and adjourned till August 7, 2017, for anyone interested in the property and funds to appear before him.

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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Kagame Dominates Election with 99.15% of Votes Counted

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President Paul Kagame has taken a commanding lead in the Rwandan presidential election, securing 99.15% of the votes counted thus far, according to the National Electoral Commission.

The provisional results, reported by the state broadcaster Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, indicate a decisive victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Front candidate.

With 79% of the ballots tallied, Kagame’s overwhelming lead leaves his opponents trailing significantly.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has garnered only 0.53% of the votes, while independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana has received 0.32%.

The voter turnout has been reported at an impressive 98%, underscoring the high level of public engagement in the electoral process.

The early results suggest a strong mandate for Kagame, who has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 2000.

Kagame’s administration has been marked by significant economic growth and development, but it has also faced criticism for its stance on political dissent and freedom of expression.

Despite this, Kagame remains a highly popular figure in Rwanda, with many citizens crediting him for the country’s stability and progress.

The National Electoral Commission is expected to release the final results in the coming days. As the tallying continues, Kagame’s supporters have already begun celebrating his anticipated victory.

Analysts believe that Kagame’s likely re-election will provide continuity in Rwanda’s economic policies and development programs.

However, they also call for more inclusive governance and respect for political freedoms to ensure long-term stability and growth.

Kagame’s near-unanimous support in the early results reflects his entrenched position in Rwandan politics.

His ability to maintain such high levels of support will be a focal point of discussion in the aftermath of the election.

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Kenya Prepares for More Protests Over Unresolved Political Crisis

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Kenya is on the brink of another wave of anti-government protests as efforts to resolve the nation’s escalating political crisis appear to have stalled.

President William Ruto’s proposal for a national dialogue has yet to take off, leaving the nation in a state of heightened tension.

Activists have called for demonstrations across the East African nation on Tuesday, protesting the government’s failure to hold security forces accountable for the deaths of at least 41 people.

These casualties occurred during protests against Ruto’s contentious plan to raise taxes over the past month.

Despite the president’s announcement last week that national dialogue would commence on Monday to defuse the situation, progress has been elusive.

The main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), expressed uncertainty regarding the proposed talks.

“We haven’t received any invitation,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna stated. “When called, we’ll go because we are keen on getting broad-based reforms.”

A spokesperson for the presidency indicated that parliamentary leaders were managing the planned talks, but National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah did not respond to requests for comment.

Protests initially erupted in mid-June over Ruto’s plans to increase taxes on essential goods, including bread and diapers, aiming to raise over $2 billion to reduce the government’s budget shortfall.

The public outcry forced Ruto to abandon the proposal, but dissatisfaction remains high.

Last week, in a dramatic move to quell public anger, Ruto fired almost all his cabinet members, underscoring the severity of the discontent.

The scrapping of the tax measures is expected to widen the government’s budget deficit to 3.6% of GDP in the current fiscal year, up from a previous projection of 3.3%.

This financial strain has not gone unnoticed; Moody’s Ratings downgraded Kenya’s rating by a step to Caa1, plunging it deeper into junk status, highlighting the country’s deteriorating fiscal condition.

On Saturday, Ruto vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the recent killings. However, his efforts to address public concerns seem insufficient to stem the tide of unrest.

On Monday, he called on the Ford Foundation, an organization promoting civic engagement, to clarify its role in the protests, though the foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

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Rishi Sunak Announces Resignation Amid Labour’s Sweeping Victory

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced his resignation as the leader of the Conservative Party following a historic victory by Labour in the general election.

Addressing the nation from the steps of 10 Downing Street, Sunak expressed his deep regret and took full responsibility for the party’s defeat.

“I would like to say, first and foremost, I am sorry. I have given this job my all,” Sunak began, visibly moved.

“But you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change. And yours is the only judgement that matters. I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss.”

The Conservatives experienced a staggering loss, with more seats taken by Labour than in any previous election.

This shift marked a dramatic change in the political landscape, as large swathes of the country turned red. Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, claimed victory early Friday morning, addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters.

“The UK has the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back,” Starmer proclaimed.

Sunak, who retained his seat in Richmond, North Yorkshire, described the night as “sobering.”

In his concession, he stated, “The Labour Party has won this general election, and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory. The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight; there is much to learn, and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Following his resignation speech, Sunak and his wife, Akshata, departed from Downing Street for Buckingham Palace to formally tender his resignation to King Charles III.

A spokesperson for the King confirmed, “His Majesty was graciously pleased to accept.”

Reflecting on his tenure, Sunak said, “I am honoured to have been your prime minister. This is the best country in the world.”

He also acknowledged the many Conservative MPs who lost their seats, stating, “It pains me to think how many good colleagues who contributed so much to their communities and our country will now no longer sit in the House of Commons. I thank them for their hard work and their service.”

As the Conservative Party faces a period of introspection and rebuilding, Sunak emphasized the importance of the party’s role in opposition.

“It is important that the Conservative Party now rebuilds and also takes up its crucial role in opposition, professionally and effectively,” he noted.

The leadership race within the Conservative Party is expected to commence shortly, as the party seeks to navigate its path forward after this significant electoral defeat.

For now, the UK braces for a new political era under Labour’s leadership, with the promise of significant changes on the horizon.

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