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N23.2bn Poll Bribery Cash: EFCC Traces N400m to Governor’s Hotel, Others’ Accounts

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Achike Udenwa
  • N23.2bn Poll Bribery Cash: EFCC Traces N400m to Governor’s Hotel, Others’ Accounts

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has traced N400 million poll bribe cash to the accounts of some firms and a charity organisation allegedly owned by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi.

The accounts are those of Osborn La-Palm Royal Resort Ltd and Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd and David Umahi Faith Foundation.

The Deputy Governor of the state, Fidelis Nwankwo and a former minister, Ambassador Frank N. Ogbuewu, were also said to have admitted collecting the cash.

They were said to have admitted that based on the instructions of the governor, the N400 million was handed over to a branch of Access Bank in Abakaliki.

There were indications last night that the EFCC might seal off all the companies implicated in the bribery scandal.

Only the sum of N90 million of the said sum was said to have been refunded.

The N400 million was the sum allocated to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi State out of the N23,299,705,000 slush funds provided by the immediate past Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

According to findings made by our correspondent, the anti-graft agency was able to establish that the governor was central to the allocation of the N400 million and the coordination of its disbursement.

The funds were later wired into the accounts of the two firms and the charity organisation.

Investigation confirmed that the companies were incorporated by the incumbent Governor of Ebonyi State in 1993 and 2011 respectively.

A reliable source said: “In the state, Kelechi Igwe (incumbent deputy governor), Fidelis Nwanwko and Ambassador Frank N. Ogbuewu collected the money to prosecute the 2015 general election.

“Fidelis Nwankwo and Ambassador Frank N. Ogbuewu were invited and they disclosed that they collected the N400 million from Fidelity Bank and handed it over to Access Bank on the directive of the then Deputy Governor, Engr David Umahi, who is now the incumbent governor.

“The Operations Manager of Access Bank Abakaliki was invited, and he revealed that the money was paid into the accounts of Osborn La-Palm Royal Resort Ltd and Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd. domiciled in Abakaliki.”

It was learnt that detectives traced the N400 million to the accounts of the two companies and Umahi Faith Foundation.

Analysis of the accounts indicated that while N300 million was paid into the account of Osborn La-Palm Royal Resort Ltd, N100 million was remitted into the account of Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd.

The N100 million in the account of Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd was later transferred to David Umahi Faith Foundation.

The detectives later uncovered how the funds were subsequently withdrawn by one Chinyere Egwuche in tranches of N50 million.

Another source said: “The movement of the fund from one account to another and the subsequent cash withdrawal of N300 million in tranches of N50 million are clear features of money laundering .

“Consequently, letters of invitation were written to the Managing Directors of the companies where the money was paid but the letters were returened undelivered as the addressees refused to collect them.

“Thereafter, Austin Umahi, Maxwell Umahi, Chinyere Egwuche and Mabel Dikibo were arrested. Investigation revealed that Chinyere Egwuchu and Mabel Dikibo were the signatories to the accounts of the companies.

“It was also discovered that one of the suspects, Chinyere, withdrew the N300 million paid into the account of Osborn La-Palm which, according to her, was used to further the construction of Osborn La-Palm hotels in Abakaliki, Uburu and Port Harcourt.

As at press time, the three key suspects, who were arrested and grilled, had been released on bail.

But the EFCC was able to recover N90 million out of the N400 million.

It was learnt that while the properties of the two indicted companies have been tagged as “Under Investigation,” the EFCC may soon seal off the assets if the suspects do not refund the poll bribe cash.”

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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