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Biafra ‘Cabinet’: DSS Puts Soludo, Utomi, Gana, Others Under Watch

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Chukwuma Soludo
  • Biafra ‘cabinet’: DSS Puts Soludo, Utomi, Gana, Others Under Watch

There were strong indications last night that the Department of State Services (DSS) was planning to invite three ex-ministers and some prominent Nigerians for questioning, following their announcement by a secessionist organisation, Biafra Zionist Federation (BZF) as cabinet members.

The Federal Government was shocked that none of the people the pro-Biafra group appointed as ministers had reacted more than 72 hours after their names were announced.

The BZF had on Monday announced the formation of an interim government for the Republic of Biafra, with one Barrister Benjamin Onwuka as the President.

Some of the people listed as ministers at a press conference the group held in Enugu include former Minister of Power, Prof Barth Nnaji; former Minister of Information Prof Jerry Gana and another former Information Minister, Labaran Maku.

The pro-Biafra organisation also named other key cabinet members to include Prof. Pat Utomi as Foreign Affairs Minister; Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as governor of the Central Bank of Biafra (CBB); Mrs. Aruma Oteh as Minister of Finance and a former Personal Secretary to the late former Biafran leader Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu as Minister of Petroleum.

Other appointees are ace broadcaster, Amarachi Ubani as Minister of Information; Ohanaeze President, Chief Nnia Nwodo as Ambassador to the US; Gana as Minister of Transport; Maku as Aviation Minister; a lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Mrs. Mary Okafor as Minister of Trade and Industry; Benny Lar as Secretary to the Government of the Republic; Gabriel Oluwole Osagie as Minister of Education; Nnaji as Minister of Energy and Philip Effiong Jnr. As Minister of Health.

Investigation revealed that the Federal Government was disturbed that none of those named as cabinet members has disowned the secessionist movement more than 72 hours after.

A top intelligence source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent in Abuja, said: “Respected citizens such as these should not in any way be associated with acts of treason. Assuming that it was inadvertently or mischievously done, they have a duty to themselves and the nation to renounce such association.

“In this particular instance, we are worried about the deafening silence on the part of these respected citizens. What do they lose by renouncing their listing by the secessionists?”

He, however, said the DSS would wait for a “respectable period” before moving against any of them.

The source said: “If the silence persists, we reserve the right to read meaning into it, and that could lead to the law taking its course.”

Findings made at press time revealed that the activities of BZF had been placed under surveillance.

“We will not condone any act of treason anymore in this country. We have had enough of secessionist agitations under any guise.

“The BZF is under investigation and surveillance by the DSS and other intelligence agencies,” another source added.

Some of the affected people contacted last night reacted in different ways.

Maku said: “Somebody called that I have been appointed a minister of Biafra. How can somebody associate me with a micro in Nigeria? What does that tell you?

“It means there is confusion and desperation among the youths. You need to bring the youths together and reassure them that they have a future.”

A media adviser, Mr. Ike Abonyi, who spoke on behalf of the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, said: “The President of Ohanaeze is presently engrossed in tackling challenges facing Ndigbo. He will not be involved in every issue. He will not give credence to any group.

Disowning the BZF, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, Hon. Beni Lar, said: “It has come to my notice that several media outlets published my name as being part of a Biafran declaration, to include me as a cabinet member. I dissociate myself with any such move or movement.

“As a true democrat, I have repeatedly granted interviews on the need for Nigeria to remain one, indivisible country. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Asked to react to his inclusion in the cabinet of the Republic of Biafra, Prof. Gana, who said he was in transit, said: “I am on my way back, I will talk to you later. I will call you back.”

Efforts to speak with Utomi was unsuccessful as calls and text message to his mobile number were neither answered nor replied.

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

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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Ahmed Kuru, Hassan Confirm as AMCON, NDIC MDs

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AMCON

Ahmed Kuru, Hassan Confirm as AMCON, NDIC MDs

The Senate has confirmed both Ahmed Kuru and Bello Hassan as the Managing Directors of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigerian (AMCON) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, respectively.

The two were confirmed after careful consideration of two separate reports of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.

Also, the Senate confirmed Ebelechukwu Uneze and Aminu Ismail as executive directors of AMCON; and Muhammad Ibrahim as Executive Director of the NIDC.

Senator Uba Sani, the Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, said Kuru was confirmed as the MD of the AMCON in 2015.

He said, “The Corporation saw tremendous and tangible transformation and performance in effectively discharging its mandate during his first tenure through the introduction of new policies and frameworks.

“Strategically under his leadership, AMCON partnered investors and operators for value-enhanced exit of its portfolio companies, as well as the introduction and implementation of the Asset Management Partners scheme to assist with the resolution of small loans which in turn created over 3000 jobs both directly and indirectly.

“He also championed the creation of the Asset Tracing Unit which has led to more extensive discovery of assets and subsequent recovery of indebtedness while simultaneously having proactive negotiations with debt holders to achieve prompt and optimal settlements,” the lawmaker said.

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