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‘10 Corruption Cases that Can Fetch FG $74.5bn, N2.5trn’

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Falana
  • ‘10 Corruption Cases that Can Fetch FG $74.5bn, N2.5trn’

Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has listed 10 alleged corruption cases that can fetch the Federal Government not less than $74.5bn and N2.5trn if prosecuted.

The lawyer said without resolving these high-profile corruption cases in which the funds were trapped, it would seem that the Federal Government was chasing shadows in its anti-graft war.

Falana listed the 10 cases in a paper titled, “Promoting Transparency and Accountability in the Recovery of Stolen Assets in Nigeria: Proposals for Reforms,” which he delivered in Lagos at a seminar organised by a human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, USA.

Top on the list of the cases, Falana said, was the alleged diversion of $20.2bn from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

He said the details of the alleged fraud were captured in reports by the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative covering 1999-2012.

According to him, NEITI concluded that the $20.2bn fraudulently ended up in the hands of some oil companies and agencies of the Federal Government as opposed to being remitted into the Federation Account.

Falana said the alleged $20.2bn fraud at the NNPC and nine other monumental frauds worried him enough that he had had cause to write a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission calling for the probe of the alleged frauds.

He said, “Convinced that the Federal Government was chasing shadows in the fight against corruption, I have had cause to petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to open the allegations of corruption which border on crimes against humanity. In the said petition, I alleged as follows:

“From five cycles of independent audit reports covering 1999-2012, the National Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, some oil companies and certain agencies of the Federal Government have withheld $20.2bn from the Federation Account.

“In 2006, the Central Bank of Nigeria removed $7bn from the nation’s external reserves and placed same as deposit in 14 Nigerian banks. In 2008, the bank gave a bailout of N600bnn ($4bn) to the same banks. Up till now, the CBN has failed to recover the said sum of $11bn from the banks

“On September 6, 2016, the NNPC announced that arrangements had been concluded to recover the sum of $9.6bn in over-deducted tax benefits from joint venture partners on major capital projects and oil swap contracts. The NNPC is said to have recovered the said sum of $9.6bn but has not remitted same into the Federation Account.”

Falana listed as number four, the alleged outstanding sum of $1.9bn “which ought to be recovered from Mobil Oil Producing Nigeria Unlimited and paid into the Federation Account.”

According to him, the $1.9bn is the outstanding sum out of the $2.5bn which Mobil ought to pay the Federal Government for the renewal of three oil blocks.

Instead of paying $2.5bn, Falana said, “curiously, the $600m paid by Mobil was accepted by the Federal Government,” sometime in 2009.

He also tasked the Federal Government to demand accountability on the over $4bn recovered out of “the estimated $5bn stolen by a former military ruler, the late Gen. Sani Abacha.”

“The office of the Accountant General should be asked to account for the recovered loot. Furthermore, the moves to recover the remaining loot of about $800m are being frustrated by Swiss and United States governments,” the lawyer said.

He also called on the Federal Government to forthwith comply with the judgment obtained by SERAP at the Federal High Court which ordered the Federal Government to account for the spending of the recovered Abacha loot under the regimes of ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.

Next on Falana’s list was “the $470m contract awarded to ZTE (a Chinese company) in 2009 by the Federal Government for the construction of CCTV cameras in Abuja and Lagos.”

He asked, “Since the contract was not executed, what then has happened to the $470m?”

Falana also wants the Federal Government to take steps to recover the N2.5trn allegedly paid as subsidy by the Central Bank of Nigeria, to a cabal of fuel importers

“Although the EFCC has charged some suspects to court, the whole fraud ought to be revisited as the investigation into the monumental fraud was compromised by the Jonathan administration,” he said.

Again, he urged the Federal Government to take action towards the recovery of $12.7bn from some oil companies, being the value of 60.2 million barrels of crude oil which the oil companies allegedly stole, “shipped from Nigeria and discharged at the Philadelphia port in the United States from January 2011 to December 2014 and were not recorded locally recorded.”

He said, “The EFCC ought to be directed to recover the $12.7bn from the shipping and oil companies that carried out the fraud.

“If the investigation of the stolen crude oil can be extended to other ports in the United States, China, India, France, United Kingdom etc, Nigeria may be able to recover not less than $200bn during the same period.”

Finally, the human rights lawyer said the Attorney General of the Federation, ought to recover the sum of $13.9bn which telecommunication company, MTN “illegally transferred” out of Nigeria.

“The huge fund should be recovered while the economic saboteurs involved in the illicit transfer should be prosecuted,” Falana said.

He stressed that “it is imperative for the EFCC to conduct an investigation into the colossal fraud and recover the huge proceeds of the economic and financial crimes to the states’ coffers.”

He also tasked the government on the quick passage of relevant laws that would aid the Federal Government in its effort to recover funds looted by corrupt public officials.

One of such laws, which must be urgently passed, he said, is the Proceeds of Crime Bill.

When passed into law, the bill, according to him, will address the problem of “absence of a forfeiture law in a distinct legal framework in Nigeria.”

Making a case for the passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, in his presentation, Falana said, “In view of the urgent need to chart the law in Nigeria in respect to forfeiture of assets in respect of unlawful activities, it is hoped that the National Assembly will pass the Proceeds of Crime Bill into law.”

He said it was regrettable that despite the existence of a treaty such as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption of 2005, some Western nations still held onto funds stolen from Nigeria and kept in their banks.

He flayed the United States of America and Switzerland particularly for maintaining a puritanical stance to frustrate Federal Government’s effort to recover the funds stolen and kept in the country by Abacha.

“The government of the United States has filed copious objections to the suit filed by Nigeria in Jersey for the recovery of over $3oom of the Abacha loot. The gravamen of the objection is that the fund be released to the United States to manage on behalf of Nigeria.

“In the same vein, Switzerland has insisted that the sum of $321m of the Abacha loot would not be repatriated to Nigeria unless the World Bank would be allowed to monitor the disbursement of the fund.

“Such patronising attitudes of western governments cannot be justified having regard to the fact that they had connived with a few unpatriotic Nigerian public officials in the grand looting of the treasury of Nigeria,” Falana said.

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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Russia and North Korea Revive Military Pact, Heightening Tensions with US

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have revived a Cold War-era military pact.

The agreement, signed on Wednesday during Putin’s first visit to North Korea in 24 years, commits the two nations to provide immediate military assistance to each other if either is attacked.

This development is likely to exacerbate tensions with the United States and its allies.

The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty, as the pact is officially named, represents the most powerful treaty signed between the two countries, according to Kim.

“This treaty elevates our ties to an alliance,” he declared during the signing ceremony. The deal stipulates that if either nation is invaded by an armed force, the other will provide military and other assistance “with all the means at its disposal,” in line with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the laws of both nations.

Putin’s visit to Pyongyang and the signing of the pact come on the heels of Kim’s trip to Russia in September, an event that has already resulted in a notable increase in arms transfers between the two countries, as confirmed by satellite imagery.

Despite the mounting evidence, both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied any such exchanges.

The renewed military alliance marks a significant escalation in the strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea, which had been relatively dormant since the end of the Cold War.

Analysts suggest that this move is a clear message of defiance to Western powers, particularly the United States, which has been involved in ongoing disputes with both nations over various geopolitical issues.

“The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Treaty is for defensive purposes,” Kim stated, but experts warn that the alliance increases the risks for the US and its partners in responding to provocations from Moscow and Pyongyang. The treaty not only includes mutual defense commitments but also outlines plans to enhance cooperation in trade and investment, further solidifying the bilateral relationship.

Russian officials emphasized that the pact is a natural progression of the countries’ shared interests.

“This treaty is a testament to the deepening strategic and military cooperation between Russia and North Korea,” said Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister. “It is essential for maintaining regional stability and countering external threats.”

The US and its allies have expressed grave concerns over the implications of this agreement. “This treaty significantly alters the security landscape in East Asia,” stated a senior US State Department official. “It underscores the need for vigilance and reinforces the importance of our alliances in the region.”

Military analysts are closely watching the developments, noting that the alliance could embolden both nations to take more aggressive stances on the international stage.

“With this treaty, North Korea gains a powerful ally, while Russia secures a foothold in East Asia,” said Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “It is a strategic maneuver that complicates the geopolitical calculus for the US and its partners.”

The reactivation of the military pact also comes at a time when Russia is deeply involved in the conflict in Ukraine, where it faces significant opposition from Western nations.

North Korea’s unreserved support for Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as articulated by Kim, further aligns the two nations against common adversaries.

As the international community grapples with the potential ramifications of this treaty, it is clear that the renewed alliance between Russia and North Korea represents a formidable challenge to the current global order.

The coming months will likely see increased diplomatic activity as nations reassess their strategies in light of this development.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Begins New Term Under Coalition Government

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Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in for another term as South Africa’s president on Wednesday, the beginning of a new era under a coalition government.

The ceremony held at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheater in the Union Buildings saw Ramaphosa take the oath of office before Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The event was attended by prominent dignitaries, including Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, Democratic Republic of Congo leader Felix Tshisekedi, and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, and was marked by a 21-gun salute and an air force flyover.

Ramaphosa’s reappointment comes three weeks after elections saw his party, the African National Congress (ANC), lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid.

The ANC secured just over 40% of the vote on May 29, with millions of former supporters either backing a splinter party led by ex-leader Jacob Zuma or abstaining due to dissatisfaction over high levels of poverty, unemployment, and crime.

In his inauguration address, Ramaphosa emphasized the resilience of South African democracy and the need for unity.

“The resilience of our democracy has once more been tested, and the people have spoken loudly that they choose peace and democracy over conflict,” he said. “The voters of South Africa did not give any single political party the full mandate to govern our country alone. They have directed us to work together to address their plight and realize their aspirations.”

The ANC’s unprecedented electoral outcome necessitated a power-sharing agreement with long-time rivals. The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and four other parties have agreed to join a government of national unity, supporting Ramaphosa’s leadership in exchange for cabinet and parliamentary positions.

This coalition is expected to prioritize economic growth, investment attraction, structural reforms, and sustainable management of state finances.

The rand strengthened to a level stronger than 18 per dollar for the first time in over ten months, and Johannesburg’s benchmark equity index reached a record high on Wednesday.

Market optimism is driven by the inclusion of business-friendly parties in the government, anticipated to bolster Ramaphosa’s reform agenda aimed at addressing power shortages, logistical challenges, and other economic impediments.

Despite criticism in his previous term for his consultative approach, which opponents labeled as indecisive, Ramaphosa reaffirmed his commitment to inclusive governance.

“Those who would like a president that is dictatorial, who is adventurous, who is reckless, will not find that in me,” he stated last month. “In me they will find a president who wants to consult. All these processes have often been seen as, ‘he is weak, he is not decisive.’ I am decisive, but I want to take people along with.”

The new coalition government faces significant challenges, including negotiating policy differences and accommodating politically powerful figures within the ANC and its partners.

The DA has already expressed concerns over the ANC’s uncosted national health insurance plan and its foreign policy stance.

Susan Booysen, director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, noted the complexities ahead. “South Africa is really moving into this with minimal on-the-ground preparation and justification,” she said. “The devil is going to be in the exact detail. Once cabinet is announced, some basic agreement will have to be reached on policy positions and on what the red-line issues will be.”

As Ramaphosa begins his new term, the nation watches closely, hopeful that this coalition government can navigate the intricate landscape of South African politics and bring about the much-needed reforms and stability.

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Fubara Appoints and Swears in Caretaker Chairmen for All 23 Rivers State LGAs

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Siminalayi Fubara

Governor Siminalayi Fubara of Rivers State has appointed and sworn in new caretaker chairmen for all 23 local government areas.

This significant action followed swiftly after the House of Assembly, led by factional Speaker Victor Jumbo, screened and confirmed the nominees earlier in the day.

The process began on Tuesday when Governor Fubara submitted the list of nominees to the state House of Assembly.

According to a statement by the Clerk of the House, G.M. Gillis-West, the nominees were summoned for an early morning screening at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

The rapid succession of events underscores the urgency of the appointments amid ongoing political unrest in the state.

The political crisis intensified as former council chairmen, whose terms had expired, refused to vacate their offices.

This defiance prompted the need for a swift and firm resolution to ensure continuity and stability in local governance.

The swearing-in ceremony took place under tight security at the Executive Council Chambers of the Government House in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

Governor Fubara administered the oath of office to the first batch of eleven caretaker chairmen, with subsequent batches following promptly.

The newly appointed caretaker chairmen are:

  • Abua/Odua LGA: Madigai Dickson
  • Ahoada East LGA: Happy Benneth
  • Ahoada West LGA: Mr. Daddy John Green
  • Akuku Toru LGA: Otonye Briggs
  • Andoni LGA: Reginald Ekaan
  • Asari Toru LGA: Orolosoma Amachree
  • Bonny LGA: Alabota Anengi Barasua
  • Degema LGA: Anthony Soberekon
  • Eleme LGA: Brain Gokpa
  • Emouha LGA: David Omereji
  • Etche LGA: John Otamiri
  • Gokana LGA: Kenneth Kpeden
  • Ikwerre LGA: Darlington Orji
  • Khana LGA: Marvin Yobana
  • Obio/Akpor LGA: Emmanuel Dogwo
  • Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGA: Vincent Anyanwu
  • Ogu/Bolo LGA: Margaret Ezenwa
  • Okrika LGA: Chizoba Onyebuchi
  • Omuma LGA: Cynthia Amadi
  • Opobo/Nkoro LGA: Solomon Dokubo
  • Oyigbo LGA: Chima Nwafor
  • Port Harcourt LGA: Isaac Udochukwu
  • Tai LGA: Ruth Michael

Governor Fubara expressed confidence in the capabilities of the newly appointed chairmen and emphasized the importance of their roles in maintaining stability and driving development at the grassroots level.

He urged them to prioritize the needs of their communities and work diligently towards improving the quality of life for all residents of Rivers State.

The appointment of the caretaker chairmen is expected to quell the political tensions that have recently plagued the state, ensuring that local governance continues smoothly and efficiently.

As Rivers State navigates this transitional period, the administration remains committed to fostering a stable and prosperous environment for its citizens.

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