Buhari Lists Priority Areas To Improve Livelihood Of Nigerians          

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has given an assurance that his administration will use the remaining years in office to improve access to quality education, health care and enhance productivity.

These sum up the nine priority areas listed by President Buhari on Tuesday when he received the Letters of Credence from Ambassadors/High Commissioners of eight countries at the State House.

In a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, President Buhari said efforts are being made to sustain Nigeria’s position as profitable investment destination with unequalled incentives in all sectors, especially a large market and flexible tax system.

According to the President, the focus over the next few years will be to “build a thriving and sustainable economy; enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty; enlarge agricultural output for food security and export; attain energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products and expand transport and other infrastructural development.”

READ ALSO: President Buhari Calls For End To Violence Against Women, Children

Other areas listed by President Buhari include expanding business growth and industrialization, access to quality education, affordable healthcare, and the fight against corruption.

He also assured the diplomats that Nigeria will remain steadfast in pursuing deeper and valuable relations among nations, without discrimination.

“In our efforts to achieve a realistic domestic and foreign policy, as well as national development, we have identified the following nine priority areas to guide our policy directions over the next few years.

“Build a thriving and sustainable economy; Enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty; Enlarge agricultural output for food security and export; Attain energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products and expand transport and other infrastructural development.

“Expand business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialization; Expand access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; Build a system to fight corruption, improve governance and create social cohesion; and improve security for all,” he said.

Describing Nigerians as the “nation’s most prized assets’’, President Buhari said the nine priority mandates were already reflected in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, a medium-term initiative pioneered by the government to restore economic growth and development while leveraging the resourcefulness and resilience of the citizens.

The President urged the diplomats to use the opportunity of working in the country to improve relations with their governments and people.

Alleged Corruption: Nobody Can Condemn Magu Before He Defends Himself, Says Lawyer

Ibrahim Magu, EFCC Chairman, Senate
A file photo of acting EFCC chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu.

 

Nobody is entitled to condemn Mr Ibrahim Magu before he is afforded the opportunity to defend himself in the corruption allegations levelled against him.

Mr Wahab Shittu, who is the lawyer to the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said this in a statement sent to Channels Television on Sunday.

He insisted that his client was innocent of the corruption allegations against him, although he has yet to be given the chance to prove his innocence.

The legal practitioner explained that the statement was in reaction to an online publication that the panel led by Justice Ayo Salami investigating Magu had recommended his sack and prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He noted that following an earlier report of similar nature, the presidential panel advised them to ignore the story.

READ ALSO: Buhari Affirms Magu’s Suspension, Directs Mohammed Umar To Take Charge

According to Shittu, the suspended EFCC boss is yet to formally present his defence and proceedings are ongoing, and witnesses are still lined up for next week beginning from Monday.

He decried that despite repeated demands, his client has not been served with copies of allegations against him while the instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on him until 35 days after proceedings had commenced.

The lawyer added that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, whose memo triggered the proceedings, has yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against Magu.

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

Among other issues raised, Shittu said his client was unable to gain access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence due to his suspension from office.

While the presidential panel was investigating the allegations of corruption against Magu, President Buhari affirmed his suspension from office on July 10.

A statement from the government explained that the presidential directive was to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.

Read the full statement by Magu’s lawyer below:

23rd August 2020.

PRESS RELEASE

SALAMI PANEL CAN’T SUBMIT INTERIM REPORT WITHOUT HEARING FROM MAGU- WAHAB SHITTU

Gentlemen of the Press,

Based on press inquiries on my clients’ response to the story on The Cable news online medium captioned “Exclusive, Salami panel asks Buhari to fire, prosecute Magu for corruption”, we wish to state as follows:

  1. We are unaware of the source of the story and we are actually shocked that such a false story is being orchestrated in the public space, contrary to the stage of ongoing proceedings before the panel. We wish to state with high sense of responsibility that our client is yet to formally present his defence. Proceedings are ongoing and witnesses are still lined up for next week beginning from Monday. Please note that the earlier report of similar import published by The Pilot was brought to the attention of the panel and we were advised by the chairman of the panel to ignore the story. Our attitude is also to ignore this latest story as falsehood not reflecting the realities on ground.
  2. We all know that in spite of repeated demands, our client has not been served with copies of allegations against him.
  3. The instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on my client until August 8, 2020 (35 days after proceedings have commenced).
  4. That the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), whose memo triggered the proceedings, is yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against our client. He who “asserts must prove”.
  5. That our client was excluded from the initial stages of the proceedings with several witnesses testifying in his absence.
  6. That counsel to our client was not allowed to cross-examine many of the witnesses who had testified until recently.
  7. That our client is yet to be granted access to petitions/presentations, case files and exhibits admitted in the proceedings. Please note that we have written to the panel to that effect.
  8. That our client was accosted on the street and compulsorily requested to appear “immediately” before the panel without opportunity to access documents to adequately prepare his defence.
  9. That our client was subsequently detained for ten days after appearing before the panel in unpleasant circumstances. This detention is not covered by the Terms of Reference arising from the instrument constituting the judicial commission of inquiry.
  10. That our client, owing to his suspension from office, is unable to have access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence.
  11. That cases pending before superior courts of records such as Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court are being reviewed in the proceedings. We believe that this development is subjudice and unhealthy for our jurisprudence.
  12. That witnesses appearing before the panel were not sworn on oath before giving evidence as stipulated under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, 2004 on whose authority the instrument setting up the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is derived.
  13. It is curious and worrisome that an administrative panel of inquiry headed by His Lordship, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, having sat and taken evidence (both oral and documentary) in the past one month, has suddenly metamorphosed into a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. How this comes within contemplation of a commission of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act, 2004 is very questionable.
  14. We also raise serious objection to piecemeal release of the so-called interim report in the social media, particularly the WHISTLER online medium which claimed to have seen the interim report.
  15. It is instructive to state that the online medium went ahead to recklessly engaged in libelous publication where it listed individuals, and companies that being investigated for corruption by the EFCC allegedly paid bribes to my client.
  16. We are shocked that such a libelous publication against my client without hearing from him.
  17. This panel must address this weighty issue before the commencement of today’s proceedings.
  18. The Salami panel also revealed the identities of eight suspects that allegedly paid the bribes to Magu through pastor Omale and Shanono. Shanono allegedly received NGN570,698,500 from China Zhonghao Nigeria limited through the Zenith Bank account 1018895662 of his company, Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Ltd. “The transfers were in about 43 tranches between 5th December 2014 and 23rd June, 2015. The china Zhonghao Coy is being investigated by the EFCC for abandoning a road contract awarded to the company by the Zamfara State Government between 2012 and 2019”, the panel noted. An aide to a formal managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nathniel Uyo, was alleged to have paid the sum of N10 million into an Ecobank Account Number 3912014141 of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry on 09/06/2018. The report said the former NDDC MD “was then being investigated by the EFCC over an alleged attempt to bribe members of the Akwa-Ibom State APC Appeal Committee in Abuja”. Pastor Omale, according to the Salami panel, also received N10 million from a Bureau De Change operator, 7*7 BDC Limited, through his Church’s Ecobank account. The report said that the BDC was being investigated by the EFCC for, “receiving over N1.6 billion (N1,600,000,000), part of the N27 billion (N27,000,000,000) Insurance Premiums looted during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan”. A former Chairman of the Niger State Pilgrims Agency, Liman Kantigi, who was being investigated by the EFCC for allegedly misappropriating funds during his tenure at the agency, also allegedly paid N200 million bribe to Magu through Shanono. Kantigi, through his company, Sadiq Air Travels, allegedly transferred N200 million into the Access Bank Account of Shanono’s company, the report said. Weeks before paying the alleged bribe, the EFCC was said to have traced N4 billion to two Guaranty Trust Bank accounts linked to Kantigi. A government contractor, A.G Ferrero & Co. had also allegedly paid N213 million to another company belonging to Shanono, Newttech Aluminium and Roofing Service Ltd. “A.G Ferrero & Co. was a contractor to Jigawa State Government during the tenure fo Sule Lamido between 2007 and 2013. Lamido was investigated by the EFCC during the period”. The report said. The Salami panel said Pastor Omale, through his Church, also received N1.3 million from the company being investigated for alleged link to EFCC’s N1.5 billion money laundering case against a former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye. According to the panel, “Apartment Le Paradisi transferred One million three hundred and twenty thousand naira (N1,320,000.00) into Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry Eco Bank Account Number 3912014143, on 22/04/2014. The company had testified before the EFCC, in respect of a case involving the former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye who was then being investigated for laundering about One billion five hundred million naira (N1,500,000,000.00). Former Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, was alleged to have paid N30,744,000 to Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Limited over his investigation for alleged looting of N6.3 billion while serving as governor of the state. Senator Jonah David Jang transferred the sum of thirty million seven hundred and forty-four thousand naira (N30,744,000.00) into the UBA account Number 1018895662 of Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Ltd, on 18th July 2016. Senator Jang, a former Governor of Plateau State is being investigated by the EFCC for alleged looting of Six Billion three hundred million naira (N6.3bn) belonging to Plateau State Government”, said the report”.
  19. The entirety of the publication above is first-class falsehood from the pit of hell. None of the issues arose from the proceedings of the judicial commission of inquiry. I recall Pastor Omale appearing before the panel to confirm openly that none of the transfers into the church’s accounts emanated from Magu and that Magu never donated to his personal or church account. It is also instructive to note that no character by the name Shanono ever appeared before the judicial commission of inquiry. The purveyors of this fake news may assume they are destroying the sterling image of Magu, but I have news for them. Majority of Nigerians however cannot be fooled. I can only refer to the testimony of former SGF Babachir Lawal on Magu thus

“But now in the case of Magu, the narrative is that corruption is fighting back. These are the impressions and the consequences of such conducts. Initially, I had the feeling that the system would come after Magu, especially the press and social media. If you are very discerning, you will know they are with him. The preponderance of opinions is in support of Magu’s position. The views being laid out are as if it is a witch-hunt. There are better ways to end Magu’s reign because no matter what anybody tells you, Magu tried. I used to joke that if you are a thief and you are caught by Magu, nobody can release you unless you cut off his hands. – Culled from The Punch Newspapers.

  1. THISDAY front-page lead story of Sunday 23rd August 2020 in a banner headline reported “Magu May Face More Investigations, Criminal Prosecution”

I am at a loss of how the paper arrived at this conclusion when it is clear to all that the only thing going for Magu is his innocence. We will not join further issues on the publication with the paper at this stage.

  1. We wish to confirm that the proceedings are still ongoing, and my client is yet to present his defence. We are therefore shocked at the suggestion that an interim report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari. We all know that this is a democracy anchored on respect for the rule of law. Central to the rule of law is the element of fair hearing.

Section 36(1) of 1999 Constitution (as amended) is explicit on this. It provides;

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

  1. We urge those bent on prejudicing the proceedings of the panel by planting false stories in the public space to think of the interest of our country and not prejudge our client whose commitment all along is service to the country.
  2. The only thing keeping our client going in spite of the desire of mischief-makers to pitch him unfairly against the authorities is his conviction of his innocence.

Please no one is entitled to condemn our innocent client before he is heard or before he is afforded the opportunity of defending himself on the merits.

Wahab Shittu (Esq)

W.K. Shittu & Co.

Alleged Corruption: Court Adjourns Trial Of Adoke, Abubakar

A file photo former AGF, Mr Mohammed Adoke. Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday adjourned the trial of former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and an Abuja-based businessman, Aliyu Abubakar.

The court fixed September 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 as new dates for hearing the case.

The trial, which is being presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo, was adjourned after the prosecution opened its case by calling two witnesses, according to a Channels Television correspondent.

Mr Adoke and Mr Abubakar, on August 4, were re-arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 14-count amended charge bordering on alleged money laundering and corruption.

At a previous sitting on August 11, the prosecutor, Bala Sanga, had presented a witness but failed to serve the defendants with the proof of evidence and statement before approaching the court.

Mr Adoke has pleaded ‘not guilty ‘to the charges levelled against him.

Malami Writes Buhari, Denies Corruption Allegations

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has denied corruption allegations levelled against him.

 

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari, denying the allegations of corruption levelled against him.

This follows a call from a coalition of Civil Society Organisations asking President Buhari to probe the AGF over 14 high-profile corruption cases and calling for his resignation.

The allegations levelled against Malami, by the CSOs include “financial fraud” and “influence peddling”, as well as “illegally” auctioning sea vessels holding crude oil seized by the Federal Government.

But the minister wrote to the presidency, insisting that he had declared all his assets and statements of accounts upon his assumption of office.

READ ALSO: Why Insurgents Are Recruiting More Members – North-East Governors

He writes, “Since my appointment as a Minister in your cabinet, I have conducted myself strictly within the confines of the Code of Conduct for public officers contained in part 1 of the fifth schedule of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended.”

“It is to be noted that apart from my successful legal practice of more than 20 years, seven of which were as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), before my appointment, I have as allowed by law had interests in business ventures, all of which I had resigned from active participation upon my appointment,” he added.

Also in the letter, the Minister said he has also decided to seek redress in court.

The Minister has been accused of being behind the ordeals of the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, after criticising some of his actions.

Magu, who was quizzed by the Department of State Services (DSS) on July 6, was made to appear before a panel of the Federal Government set up to investigate the allegations of corruption levelled against him.

The panel led by the retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami grilled Magu for about 10 days before granting him bail on July 15.

Following Magu’s reported arrest, many Nigerians and groups reacted to the development, with some commending the Federal Government’s approach to the war against corruption.

Although Magu denied any wrongdoing, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Femi Odekunle said the DSS invitation is a power play by blocs in the corridor of power.

According to the PACAC member, Magu was only invited for questioning regarding some purported memo by the Minister of Justice.

He explained that the Presidential Advisory Committee perceives Malami as the arrowhead of the bloc that is not really interested in President Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.

Former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, Laments Loss Of Values In Society

EFCC Seeks Diezani’s Extradition, Court Adjourns Arraignment Till May
(File) Former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

 

Former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has bemoaned the deterioration of values in society.

The former Minister, in a video posted online Sunday, was speaking at a virtual conference organised by an umbrella body of Ijaw cultural associations, the Ijaw Development Group (INDG).

“The ones that have swag, the Yahoo Yahoo boys as my son would say, these, in short, are the role models they are looking at,” she said. “These are the ones that reinforce negative societal norms and values.

“This is a travesty of an unfolding tragedy for us. Why have I spent time talking about fatherless homes and the impact it has on our children? The truth of the matter is that an irresponsible boy tends to become an irresponsible man and it is therefore a vicious cycle. If you plant coco-yam, you cannot harvest plantain.”

 

In July, a Federal High Court, ordered Mrs. Alison-Madueke to appear for an arraignment on money laundering charges filed against her by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

According to the court, the former Minister has been charged with 13 counts of money laundering involving $39.7m and N3.32bn said to be proceeds of unlawful activities.

She is alleged to have escaped to the United Kingdom after leaving office in 2015.

The EFCC has since called for her extradition and sought to seize some of her assets within its jurisdiction.

Ex-Chinese Banker Admits Receiving Over $12m Bribe

Hu Huaibang, former chairman of China Development Bank, is currently under probe, according to China’s top anti-graft authority.  AFP

 

A former top banker in China pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally receiving over $12 million after being caught last year in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping campaign against corruption.

Hu Huaibang, former party secretary and chairman of the China Development Bank, had taken advantage of his positions to illegally receive money and goods worth a total of 85.5 million yuan ($12.2 million) between 2009 and 2019, heard a court in northern Chengde city.

The accusations included using his status — and staff in other countries — to help obtain and increase bank credit lines, set up an auto finance company, and assist with job promotions, reported the state-run People’s Daily.

Hu pleaded guilty at the hearing attended by more than 30 people including national, provincial and municipal people’s congress representatives, the report added.

He will be sentenced at a later date.

More than one million officials have been punished in Xi’s crackdown on corruption, though critics say it has also served as a way for him to purge political rivals.

Hu had worked his way up China’s financial sector, moving between regulatory positions and state-owned companies before landing the top job at the Bank of Communications.

In 2013 he became chairman of China Development Bank and held the position until September 2018.

But his connection to fallen Chinese oil tycoon Ye Jianming, chairman of CEFC China Energy, appeared to have landed him in trouble.

In Hu’s roles at the Bank of Communications and the CDB, he allegedly helped CEFC secure billions in credit lines for its overseas deals.

AfDB Chief, Adesina Cleared Of Corruption Allegations

A file photo of President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina
A file photo of President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina

 

An independent panel of experts, headed by former Irish president Mary Robinson, has cleared the beleaguered leader of the African Bank of Development (AfDB) of corruption, according to a report obtained by AFP. 

Akinwumi Adesina, 60, a charismatic speaker known for his elegant suits and bow ties, became the first Nigerian to helm the AfDB in 2015 — but a 15-page report earlier this year claimed that under his watch the bank had been tarred by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment and favouritism.

The panel of three experts, led by Robinson alongside Gambia’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s integrity vice president Leonard McCarthy, cleared Adesina of all charges alleged by whistleblowers.

“The Panel concurs with the Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee,” Monday’s report concluded.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Confirms 648 Fresh COVID-19 Cases As Country Mulls Int’l Flight Resumption

The African banking institution and Adesina — who is the sole candidate for the bank’s August’s presidential elections — has been battered by the rollercoaster of allegations after the whistleblowers’ complaints were leaked to the media in April.

The former Minister of Agriculture had always stated he was “innocent” of the charges.

Robinson — who led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002 — dismissed the 16 whistleblower allegations against Adesina.

The panel did not investigate the charges themselves, as that was not within their mandate.

The AfDB plays an important if the largely behind-the-scenes role in African economies, financing projects in agriculture, health, energy, education, transport and other development sectors.

AFP

EFCC Committed To Championing Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Crusade – Umar

A file photo of the EFCC logo.

 

The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mohammad Umar has reacted to cases of corruption in the country.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Politics Today via telephone, Umar said the commission is committed to championing the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Although he admitted that the whole world is closely monitoring the agency following the probe of its former boss, Ibrahim Magu over corruption allegations.

“The commission is poised more than ever before to continue to champion the anti-corruption crusade of the current administration.

“Like any other agency of government, they will of course scale down our activities long before the ongoing probe because of the COVID-19.

“We are forging ahead to champion the anti-corruption crusade of the current administration. Investigations are going on now in earnest. All our formations are moving on with their investigations,” he said.

Umar’s remarks come shortly after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked President Muhammadu Buhari to resign, accusing his administration of failing to tackle insecurity and attempting to sweep allegations of corruption under the carpet.

The National Chairman of the Party, Mr. Uche Secondus, made the call at a news briefing in the nation’s capital Abuja on Friday.

At the briefing, titled Nigeria on a free fall as corruption, insecurity engulfs our nation,’ Mr Secondus said the rising insecurity in the country has exposed the poor leadership in the military and the ruling class.

N81.5bn: SERAP Writes Buhari, Asks Presidential Panel To Probe ‘Corruption In NDDC’

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari urging him to “use his leadership position to urgently set up a presidential investigative panel to probe grave corruption allegations in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), including allegations that the agency illegally spent N81.5 billion, on travels, ‘condolences’, consultancy and ‘public communication between January and July 2020.”

The organisation also asked him to “immediately suspend Mr Godswill Akpabio, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and all those implicated in the allegations pending the outcome of any such investigation”.

Beyond that, the agency called for the protection of witnesses and whistle-blowers, adding that the findings of the investigation should be made public.

“Where there is relevant admissible evidence, suspected perpetrators should be handed over to appropriate anti-corruption agencies for prosecution.”

In the letter dated 18 July 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “These are extremely serious allegations.

Nigerians expect that those who run the NDDC should be free of corruption, and should enjoy no impunity. Nigerians who want to see development and prosperity in the Niger Delta will want you to take the lead to get to the bottom of these allegations and take appropriate and decisive action to address them.”

Read Also: House Committee On NDDC Summons Akpabio, Pondei

According to SERAP, “A special panel to probe allegations of corruption in the NDDC, and that is able to work closely with anti-corruption agencies would protect the integrity of the forensic audit, remove the possibility of obstruction of justice, and interference in the process by those suspected to be involved in alleged corruption in the NDDC.”

SERAP said: “The investigation by the National Assembly has been controversial, and has reportedly turned into a ‘dirty fight’ between the NDDC and the National Assembly. Similarly, the hearings have reportedly indicted lawmakers of both the Senate and House of Representatives.

SERAP also said: “Any perception of politicisation and bias in the investigation of the corruption allegations in the NDDC would undermine public trust in the process, and ultimately, the public interest and good government, as well as justice for the victims of corruption in the Niger Delta.

The letter, read in part: “SERAP is concerned that allegations of systemic and widespread corruption in the NDDC are not only punishable offences but also directly undermine the human rights of Nigerians, especially the people of the Niger Delta.”

“SERAP notes that your government has expressed the commitment to ‘get to the root of the problem undermining the NDDC.’ However, the most effective way to ‘get to the root’ of the corruption problem in the agency, and to ensure and protect the integrity of a forensic audit is to establish a special panel to carry out credible, independent, impartial and effective investigations into the alleged corruption in the NDDC.

“A decisive action is needed by you and your government to stop the corruption in the NDDC, ensure that anyone suspected to be responsible is brought to justice, and to fully recover stolen, mismanaged or misappropriated public funds.

“Ensuring an independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation into the corruption allegations in the NDDC would be entirely consistent with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the NDDC Act, and Nigeria’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption to which the country is a state party.

“Section 15 subsection (5) of the Constitution requires your government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power, including corruption allegations in the NDDC. Similarly, the UN Convention against Corruption requires your government to ensure effective investigation and prosecution of allegations of corruption.

“Specifically, Article 26 of the convention requires your government to ensure ‘effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions’ including criminal and non-criminal sanctions, in cases of grand corruption. Article 26 complements the more general requirement of article 30, paragraph 1, that sanctions must take into account the gravity of the corruption allegations.

“Your government should send a strong message of intolerance for grave corruption in the NDDC, and show that you are willing and able to enforce important constitutional, statutory and international principles and obligations.

“SERAP also urges you to instruct the police authorities and security agencies to immediately end the harassment and intimidation of Ms Joy Nunieh, former Acting Managing Director of NDDC, or any other witnesses and whistle-blowers. Suspected perpetrators will escape justice if witnesses and whistle-blowers are intimidated, harassed or threatened.

“Effective investigation and prosecution will not be achieved if such crucial participants in the investigation are not sufficiently protected to perform their roles unimpeded. Stopping the harassment and intimidation would also ensure that innocent people are not wrongfully punished and that suspected perpetrators would not subvert the course of justice and escape sanctions.”

“We request that you take the recommended action within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel your government to act in the public interest.”

“These allegations and the apparent attempts to weaken the independence, work and freedom of action of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) including alleged deliberate targeting of some directors of the agency have undermined the public’s confidence in the government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption.”

“According to reports, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation have indicted the NDDC of illegally spending 81.5 billion between January and July 2020. Further, the Bureau of Public Procurement has also reportedly stated that it did not issue ‘Certificates of No Objection’ to the NDDC for the procurements made by the commission with the money.”

“The breakdown of the N81.5 billion reportedly include: community relations, N1.3bn; condolences, N122.9m; consultancy, N83m; COVID-19, N3.14bn; duty tour allowances, N486m; imprest, N790.9m; Lassa fever, N1.956bn; Legal services, N900m; maintenance, N220m; and oversea travels, N85.6m.”

“Others are: project public communication, N1.121bn; security, N744m; staffing related payments, N8.8bn; and stakeholders’ engagement (Feb 18 – May 31, 2020), N248m. A senator also allegedly used 11 companies as fronts to secure for himself N3.6 billion contract in September 2016. The current managing director of the NDDC also reportedly said that the commission spent N1.5 billion for staff as ‘COVID-19 relief funds.”

Zambia Health Minister Denies Corruption Charges

A file photo of the Zambian flag.
A file photo of the Zambian flag.

 

Zambian Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya on Thursday pleaded not guilty to corruption charges on the first day of a trial for allegedly using ill-gotten gains to acquire property and assets.

Chilufya, 47, was arrested last month and charged with four counts of possession of property “suspected of being proceeds of crime”.

“I understand the charges and I plead not guilty,” Chilufya told judge Lameck Mwale at the magistrate court in Zambia’s capital Lusaka.

Graft investigators homed in on the minister in May after the minister allegedly amassed a sudden fortune.

According to court documents, Chilufya bought around $215,000-worth of shares in a lakeside lodge in 2017. He is also accused of using $165,000 to purchase a guest house and $52,000 for a boat.

The trial is set to resume on August 4.

Chilufya, who remains in office, could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

 

AFP

Corruption Fight: Buhari Won’t Be Deterred By Baseless Criticism – Presidency 

President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at a meeting with members of the CNNI in Abuja on February 21, 2020.

 

The Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari will not be deterred by baseless criticism in the fight against corruption.

Speaking to State House correspondents on issues raised by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the beginning of the interrogation of suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said his principal will not fail Nigerians.

According to him, President Buhari is determined to “eradicate rampant, chronic corruption.”

He, however, berated the main opposition for its stance on corruption while at the helms of affairs in the country, adding that the volume and reach of the anti-corruption crusade so far reflect what the PDP left behind.

“A large number of cases, new and old, may appear to be daunting but PDP, which is now heckling the President, has forgotten that the party bequeathed this to the current administration.

“They had a large number of cases they did not investigate and prosecute,” the presidential spokesman said.

While cautioning the PDP to allow the process of investigation and prosecution to work instead of being pre-emptive about ongoing cases, Shehu expressed hope that the Judiciary would deal with the cases swiftly and satisfactorily, in a manner that would deter other would-be offenders.

“The current administration is handling many of the cases that the PDP should have dealt with and the new ones as they arise,” he said while praised the current administration’s approach in tackling corruption.

Itse Sagay Wants Buhari To Sack NDDC Interim Management Committee

 

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the interim management committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

He made this call on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

Professor Sagay also wants his principal to inject fresh members into the board in view of the allegations of corruption rocking the commission.

“I will suggest that everybody there should be cleared out and the President should not appoint a new set of people very quickly under temporary conditions so that a permanent board and management can be established in the place that will then be monitored.

“My view is that everybody should be removed right now. Clear the place, sweep it clean. Start afresh with a new set of people,” he said.

READ ALSO: NDDC Fails To Defend 2019 Budget Over Discrepancies In Figures

While describing the corruption allegations as mind-boggling, Sagay wondered why forensic auditing cannot be done despite having a regular board manning the affairs of the commission.

The professor recalled that when some appointments were made into the commission, he was against the character of two nominees then.

He regretted that the question mark posed on some members of the NDDC has given a bad impression about the Niger Delta region.

This comes shortly after the 2019 budget defence of the NDDC by the agency’s Interim Management Committee (IMC) suffered a setback.

The NDDC team comprising its acting Managing Director, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei, Executive Director (Project), Dr Cairo Ojougboh, among appeared before the National Assembly in Abuja to defend the agency’s budget for the previous year.

They, however, could not successfully defend the agency’s budget as the lawmakers pointed out some discrepancies in the budget.