‘How I Escaped Assassination Attempt’ – Wike

 

The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, has been narrating how he allegedly escaped from being assassinated in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

Governor Wike who spoke to journalists after a meeting with officials of the British High Commission who visited him at the government house in Port Harcourt, said he was trailed by soldiers from 6 Division Nigerian Army, while on his way to see some people

“Yesterday, I was shocked when I left here to go and see some political leaders, soldiers were following me. Anybody who knows me would know that I have never gone out with any soldier but the soldiers were following me.

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“So, along Abacha Road, I diverted to Louis Street, and to my greatest surprise, my security men were shouting, ‘What is going on, what is going on, soldiers are behind us?’”

Governor Wike warned that such action is capable of jeopardizing the nation’s quest for foreign investment. “Rivers State is so important to this country.

The economy of Nigeria cannot survive without River State. So by what they are doing, they are scaring investors away.”

The governor called on the army to refrain from being overzealous in the run up to the general elections, urging them not to be partisan and allow Nigerians to support whoever they want to support.

The visiting British envoys said they were in the state to observe the elections.

ICYMI: FG To Disburse Recovered $322m Abacha Loot To Poor Nigerians

Abacha
General Sani Abacha ruled Nigeria with an iron fist from 1993 until his death in 1998. He is believed to have embezzled up to $2.2 billion during that time.

 

The Federal Government says it will disburse the recovered $322.5m Abacha loot to 302 poor households in 19 states, starting from July.

This will be done as part of the government’s Social Investment Programmes which aims to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

The government expects to make the payments to poor households in installments in order to avoid logistic obstacles.

“Nobody is going to give anybody any cash; it is going to be through an electronic payment system which we want CSOs (civil society organisations) to verify,” the Special Assistant to the President on Justice Reform, Juliet Nwagwu, said at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday.

Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had first disclosed in April 2018, that that the government planned to use the funds for the social investment programme.

It is expected to help beneficiaries cope with their basic challenges, including health and education challenges.

FG To Close 2017 Budget With N1.5trn Excess Capital Spending – Adeosun
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun

 

The money is part of an estimated $2.2 billion looted by military dictator General Sani Abacha, who ruled Nigeria with an iron fist from 1993 until his death in 1998.

Originally deposited in Luxembourg, the $322.5 million was confiscated by a Swiss court in late 2014 and in March last year the two states signed an agreement on its repatriation.

“In accordance with policy on repayment of national assets taken illegally, Switzerland has agreed with Nigeria and the World Bank to return nearly US$321 for the benefit of the Nigerian people,” the Swiss government said in a statement early in December 2017.

The Nigerian government acknowledged the receipt of the looted funds in a special account later that month.

The return of the funds was supported and supervised by the World Bank, which will also help monitor the disbursement of the funds to the poorest Nigerians.

SERAP Writes Trump, Demands Return Of Nigeria’s Stolen Assets

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF's CaseA civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has sent an open letter to U.S President, Donald Trump, urging his administration to “attach and release to Nigeria, some $500 million worth of US-based proceeds of corruption traced to former Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha”.

The letter dated February 3, was signed by the organization’s U.S Volunteer Counsel, Professor Alexander W. Sierck and its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP.

SERAP’s Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, revealed content of the letter in a statement to the media on Sunday, February 5.

The letter tells President Trump: “These proceeds are separate from the $480 million of Abacha-origin funds that have been forfeited to the U.S under an August 2014 U.S Federal District Court order. SERAP’s request is fully consistent with the UN Convention Against Corruption, which both the U.S and Nigeria have ratified.

“The U.S Department of Justice must promptly initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings against these proceeds so as to fulfill several non-controversial commitments by the U.S to assist Nigeria in recovering assets looted by former Nigerian government officials.”

The letter, of which copies were sent to the US ambassador to Nigeria Stuart Symington, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, further reads in part:

“SERAP urges your new Administration to initiate discussions with the Nigerian government to fulfill these objectives within an agreed framework and timeline.

“Simultaneously, the Administration should instruct the Justice Department to initiate civil asset forfeiture proceedings in regard to the above-referenced $500 million in assets described above.”

“Any bilateral discussions between the U.S and Nigeria concerning these assets should include clear acknowledgement of the significant role that civil society plays in asset recovery matters.

“To that end, the respective governments ought to commit to promptly sharing information with relevant civil society organizations on stolen assets of Nigerian origin located in the US or otherwise subject to US jurisdiction. This proposed commitment is similar to one between the US and Kenya as well as consistent with Articles 46(4) and 56 of the UN Convention Against Corruption.

“SERAP notes that Article 51 of the UN Convention against Corruption provides for the return of “corrupt” assets to countries of origin as a fundamental principle. Article 43 provides likewise.

“Similarly, under Articles 47(3)(a) and (b) states parties have an obligation to return forfeited or confiscated assets in cases of public corruption, as here, or when the requesting party reasonably establishes either prior ownership or damages to the states.”

“In SERAP’s judgment, some or all of these requirements have been met with respect to the $500 million in proceeds described above. A resolution adopted by the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention Against Corruption in Panama in November 2013 reaffirms this obligation, by requiring state to make “every effort” to return such proceeds. to the victim state.

“Nigeria’s Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption has recently informed SERAP that the U.S Government has identified another $500 million or so proceeds of Nigerian corruption, subject to US jurisdiction.”

In January 2017, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, had raised the alarm that Nigeria risked losing another $550m recovered from the Abacha family to the government of United States.

Sagay said that the amount represented a separate tranche from the $480m earlier forfeited to the U.S, following a court judgment.

According to him, “Nigeria presently stands to lose another $550m recovered from the Abacha family to the US, contrary to the earlier promise by the U.S to return same to Nigeria.”

Emir Of Kano, Awujale Sue For Peace In Nigeria

Emir Of KanoNigerians have been charged to see the cultural and traditional diversities existing among various ethnic groups in Nigeria as a unifying factor rather than one that should divide them.

This charge was made by the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and the Awujale and paramount ruler of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, when the former paid a courtesy call on him in his palace in Ijebu Ode.

The event was attended by members of the Ijebu traditional council, former governors of Ogun State, captains of industry, members of the Ogun State Executive Council among other dignitaries

The courtesy call, according to the Emir of Kano, was to extend his hands of fellowship to the Awujale for his role in his emergence as the Emir of Kano and to seek more collaboration and understanding with the paramount ruler.

As expected, the Emir solicited for cultural integration among his people and the South West Nigeria.

The Oba of Lagos, who was also part of the meeting, asked traditional rulers to live above board in their responsibility as custodians of culture and tradition.

Speaking passionately about the need to protect the integrity of the royal class, he threatened to expose some of the roles played by some traditional rulers during the Abacha regime.

The Awujale and the paramount ruler of Ijebuland, gave some advise to the new Emir and also prayed for continuous peace and harmony in the country.

U.S. Seizes Over $458 Million Abacha Loot, Largest by Foreign Dictator

Nigeria’s military Head of State between November 17, 1993 and June 8, 1998, Sani Abacha
Nigeria’s military Head of State between November 17, 1993 and June 8, 1998, Sani Abacha

The United States has frozen more than $458 million that former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha and his conspirators obtained through corruption and hid in bank accounts around the world, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday.

About $313 million was restrained in bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey and $145 million was restrained in bank accounts in France, the department said in a statement.

The department said it was pursuing additional holdings in the United Kingdom with an expected value of at least $100 million, but that the exact amount would be determined later.

Abacha died in 1998 at age 54. Nigeria has for years been fighting to recover his money, but companies linked to the Abacha family have gone to court to prevent repatriation.

The former military dictator looted between $3 billion and $5 billion of public money during his five years ruling Africa’s top oil producer from 1993 to 1998, according to Transparency International.

In November, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit seeking the recovery of money that had been identified in overseas bank accounts. A judge in Washington, D.C., unsealed the lawsuit on Wednesday.

Named with Abacha as conspirators in the suit were his son Mohammed Sani Abacha and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, whom the suit called their associate.

They laundered money through the purchase of bonds backed by the United States using U.S. financial institutions, according to prosecutors.

Last month, U.S. arrest warrants for the assets were enforced in France as well as in the Bailiwick of Jersey off the coast of Normandy, through mutual legal assistance requests and in the United Kingdom through litigation, the Justice Department said.

The assets were held in banks including Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings PLC and Banque SBA, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also seeks the forfeiture of five corporate entities registered in the British Virgin Islands.

2015: With Or Without Contesting, Jonathan Will Be President – Asari Dokubo

Inspite of the crisis rocking the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the alleged desperation of the Northern elites to produce the next president of the country, a Niger Delta activist, Asari Dokubo has said that President Goodluck Jonathan will emerge as leader with or without a contest, hinting that there would be bloodshed otherwise.

Speaking on Politics Today, he said “2015 is already a settled matter; Goodluck Jonathan will be president in 2015. Whether they contest or they don’t contest, Goodluck Jonathan will be president,” he said adding that he would be ready for violence if needed.

He described claims that he only defends people or governments that benefit him as “an insult” on his person. “That’s an insult and they are lying and they will continue to lie and die in their lies,” he said.

He continued by saying “I am 50 years old. I fought all government. In the June 12 battle I was in the fore front, I did not gain”.

He stated that his allegiance is to President Jonathan because he is as an Ijaw man. He added that his support is biased because “charity begins at home”.

Abacha and Obasanjo had their supporters “so why should I leave my own?” he asked.

“Monkey no fine, him mama like am” he said.

He also denied benefiting from the abundance of crude oil in the Niger Delta and accused Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola of reaping from that which belongs to him, his children and ancestors.

I Remain Loyal To PDP, Despite Emergence Of New Parties– Atiku

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said while he remains a loyal PDP member, he doesn’t have the right or power to stop others from associating or seeking registration for new parties.

Following press enquiries on the reported registration of the Peoples’ Democratic Movement (PDM) as a political party, the former Vice President said he would always welcome the expansion of the political space to accommodate all shades of opinions or political hue.

While acknowledging that many of his political associates are involved in registering the PDM, Atiku Abubakar explained that he had no powers to stop adults with common interests from coming together to form a party.

He also noted that many of his political associates are equally members of political parties other than the PDP.

According to him, freedom of association as enshrined in the constitution is the beauty of democracy and that he wouldn’t dissuade any of his followers from seeking a platform to promote their programmes.

Political analysts It would be recalled that the PDM played active roles of in the country’s democratic transition from the Babangida, Abacha and Abdulsalami administrations, a platform founded by late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, which provided the impetus for his impressive performance across the country during the September 1992 presidential primaries, which were later cancelled by the military regime.

The late Gen. Yar’Adua came close to becoming President, with the help of the formidable PDM structure. In 1999, the PDM was also part of the force behind the emergence of former President Obasanjo as PDP presidential candidate.

It should also be of note, that the choice of Atiku Abubakar as running mate to Obasanjo in 1999 was a recognition of the active role of the PDM platform in his victory.

Court upholds Abacha’s sentence

A Geneva court has confirmed the sentence handed down to the son of former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha for belonging to a criminal organisation linked to looted assets charges.

Nigeria's late dictator General Sani Abacha

Abba Abacha’s lawyers say their absent client will appeal.

On Thursday the Geneva Police Court rejected a medical excuse put forward by Abacha’s lawyers which they claim explained his absence from the long-awaited retrial.

“His absence is unjustified and he never asked to be represented by his lawyers,” the judge declared.

This absence meant opposition to his one-year suspended prison sentence for belonging to a criminal organisation handed down by the same court in summer 2010 was “deemed withdrawn”, the judge concluded.

During the hearing, Abacha’s lawyers presented a medical certificate from a Geneva doctor who had travelled to Nigeria to examine him, which stated that he was still unable to travel to Geneva. Abacha injured his back during a road accident in Nigeria several days before the retrial was due to open in July this year.

But based on separate independent medical conclusions, the judge declared Abacha had a minor injury and could have easily managed the air flight three months after his accident. Prosecutor Dario Zanni accused Abacha of “playing for time”.

Abacha did not appear before the court during the original 2010 hearing as he failed to get a visa in time.

The case was heard in his absence and he received a one-year suspended sentence. However, in March 2011 an appeal court quashed the verdict and ordered a retrial. It found that Abacha’s rights had been “seriously violated” because the case had been heard in his absence. The Swiss Federal Court backed the appeal court’s decision which led to Thursday’s retrial.

As part of the family structure set up by his father, 43-year-old Abacha was found guilty of helping to plunder the Nigerian treasury while Sani Abacha was in power in the 1990s.

The court ordered the confiscation of the sum – thought to be over $400 million (N100 billion) – which Abba Abacha stashed in the Bahamas and Luxembourg.

The Abacha clan is thought to have diverted a total of about $5 billion from the Nigerian treasury.

KBR ex-boss goes to jail for helping Halliburton bribe Nigerian government officials

A US court on Thursday sentenced Albert Stanley, a former Kellogg Brown & Root LLC Chief Executive Officer to two and a half years in prison for his role in a scheme to bribe Nigerian government officials in return for $6 billion in engineering and construction contracts.

The court also said that Mr Stanley must serve three years of probation and pay $1,000 a month in restitution after he is released.

The former KBR chief pleaded guilty in 2008 to conspiring with others to bribe Nigerian government officials to secure construction and engineering contract in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company from 1995 to 2004.

Mr Stanley was KBR’s chief executive until 2001 and chairman until June 2004.

KBR was previously a subsidiary of Halliburton, but was spun off in 2007 and in 2009 agreed to pay $579 million to settle bribery allegations.
Kellogg Brown & Root LLC, the former engineering subsidiary of Halliburton Co, pleaded guilty in 2009 and admitted that it paid $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to win the $6 billion in contracts for the Bonny Island LNG project in the Niger Delta. Partner companies from Italy, France and Japan were involved.

According to agency reports, Mr Stanley told the U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison that alcoholism played a role in compromising the traditional American values of hard work, honesty and integrity that he brought to his professional life.

“I lost touch,” he said. “I wish to be very clear that I accept full responsibility for what I have done … and hope to be able to continue to make amends for my past.”

Larry Veselka, Stanley’s lawyer, asked the judge to forgo a prison sentence for Stanley, citing his involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous and mentoring relationships with people in Houston and North Carolina, where Stanley now lives. About two dozen people also attested to Stanley’s volunteer work in court Thursday.

Indeed, Stanley’s sentence is lighter than his plea agreement had outlined, as he had faced the possibility of seven years in prison for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. A federal presentencing report suggested punishment of three and a half years.

Veselka also argued that Stanley had cooperated with prosecutors and helped the government recover $1.7 billion in fines and restitution; making this case, Veselka said, the most successful prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The act says it is unlawful to bribe foreign government officials or company executives to obtain or retain business or to secure an advantage to getting the business.

But the trial Judge dismissed Veselka’s statement, saying the sum was only large because the case was one of the biggest ones prosecuted.
Ellison settled on two and a half years, acknowledging that white-collar criminals face hardship in prison. But he insisted he didn’t want to make a “distinction for crime for rich people.”

“The court does take note of and salute the strides Mr Stanley has made both to put things right in Nigeria and to redeem his own life,” Ellison said. “But the misconduct was serious, ongoing and deeply hurtful.”

After the sentencing, Stanley appeared to tell friends who approached him that it was disappointing. Veselka congratulated the Justice Department for its successful prosecution but withheld additional comments since Stanley was still cooperating with prosecutors.

TWO OTHERS GET SENTENCED

A second man involved in the bribery scheme, British lawyer Jeffrey Tesler, was sentenced earlier Thursday to 21 months in prison and two years’ probation. He was arrested in London in 2009, pleaded guilty in Houston a year ago to conspiring and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The third man to get a conviction in the e bribery scandal was Wojciech Chodan, 74, who on Wednesday received a one year supervisory probation and fined $20,000.

Mr Chodan pleaded guilty in December 2010.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had in 2010 charged the current and former KBR and Halliburton executives; including former American Vice President Dick Cheney, who at one time led Halliburton; in the bribery scheme. But the charges were dropped a few weeks later after Halliburton agreed to pay a $35 million settlement.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was passed in 1977. Its anti-bribery provisions were broadened in 1998 to apply to foreign firms and persons who directly or through agents allow corrupt payments to take place.

NO ACTION YET FROM NIGERIA

Despite these convictions, the Nigerian government is yet to take any major steps in identifying or prosecuting the bribe takers.

The only Nigerian to be prosecuted by the EFCC in relations to the Halliburton trial is an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Adeyanju Bodunde, who is facing trial in an Abuja High Court for his role in the scale.

A preliminary report names some former Nigerian President as Halliburton bribe takers. They included, Military Head of States, Late Sani Abacha, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo.