Buhari Mourns Okonjo-Iweala’s Father

Buhari Condemns Gombe Killings, Condoles With Victims' Families
A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has described the passing to glory of Professor Obi Chukuka Okonjo, father of former Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a great loss to the nation.

Prof Okonjo, until his death, was a professor of mathematics, university administrator, international consultant and traditional ruler.

President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said that the traditional ruler contributed immensely to Nigeria’s development with his uncommon wisdom of pursuing knowledge.

“The President believes that the wise and fatherly counsels, intellectual depth, and valuable insights of the scholar will be sorely missed by the family and entire nation, assuring that his place in Nigeria’s history is guaranteed.”

READ ALSO: Crowd Boos Ramaphosa At Mugabe’s Funeral Over Xenophobic Attacks

He condoled with the late patriarch’s family and encouraged them to follow the same path.

“President Buhari affirms that the traditional ruler contributed immensely to Nigeria’s development with his uncommon wisdom of pursuing knowledge, encouraging his wife and children to follow the same path and sponsoring other people’s children to acquire quality education.

“President Buhari prays that the Almighty God will grant the soul of the elder statesman eternal rest and comfort his family.”

Twitter Appoints Okonjo-Iweala To Board Of Directors

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

 

Social networking company, Twitter Inc, has appointed a former Nigerian Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as one its the boards of directors.

Okonjo-Iweala who served as the Finance Minister, during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan was appointed alongside Robert Zoellick as new independent directors with immediate effect.

The CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, using his verified twitter handle @Jack made the announcement on Thursday.

“We’re adding Ngozi (@NOIweala) and Bob (@authorzoellick) to the Twitter board. Welcome! Sadly we’re also saying farewell to our friend Marjorie (@marjscar). She’s been an amazing advocate for journalists everywhere and pushed us constantly to better inform people. Thank you M,” he posted.

The Executive Chairman of Twitter, Omid Kordestani said Mrs Okonjo-Iweala would be an incredible asset for the company as it strives toward transparency in its global operations.

“Ngozi and Bob are distinguished leaders with unparalleled global perspective and policy expertise,” he said. “We are confident they will be incredible assets to Twitter as we continue to focus on driving transparency and making Twitter a safer, healthier place for everyone who uses our service,” he said.

In her response, Mrs Okonjo- Iweala acknowledged that she is thrilled by the appointment and assured Twitter of maximising its influence for the good of the global society.

“Excited to work with @Jack and an incredible team on the Board of Twitter, a global platform that is such a strong connector of people and ideas. Thanks for the privilege, Jack,” she said.

She also expresses excitement, looking forward to working with one of the newly appointed board of Directors, Robert Zoellick.

“It’s a privilege to work again with Bob. ‘Look forward to contributing to the strong and visionary future for @Twitter,” she said.

Iweala will be replacing Marjorie Scardino who will be stepping down from the Board at the end of the year.

Reps To Investigate 500m Naira Fund For Chibok Secondary School

Reps To Investigate 500m Naira Fund For Chibok Secondary SchoolThe House of Representatives is to investigate why the Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state has not being reconstructed despite 500 million naira being earmarked for the project in the 2016 budget.

This resolution followed a motion sponsored by Rep Raphael Igbokwe who reminded the House that the former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had flagged off the reconstruction project.

Lawmakers wondered if the funds have been diverted and called for a proper investigation to be done in the matter.

The House also resolved that all schools destroyed in the course of fighting insurgency should also be reconstructed.

Governor Shettima Demands Probe Of N500m Chibok School Contract

Governor Shettima Demands Probe Of N500m Chibok School ContractGovernor Kashim Shettima has blown the whistle on the unaccounted 500 million naira set aside by the federal government for rebuilding of the Government Girls School in Chibok under the Safe School Initiative programme.

Governor Shettima, addressing villagers in Chibok town on Monday lamented how the misfortune of the people has become a money making venture for some group of people.

He called out the contractor handling the project, demanding for an investigation of the money released, particularly because the school has remained in a state of disrepair since the abduction of the girls.

The safe school initiative programme initiated by the immediate past Goodluck Jonathan administration was introduced after the abduction of school girls in Chibok.

Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had flown to Chibok to commission the 500 million naira rebuilding and Safe School Project in a foundation laying ceremony in the school where the girls were taken.

Two years on, the project has suffered a stillbirth and students of the school have remained at home.

Missing N30trn: Okonjo-Iweala Takes Legal Action

Okonjo-IwealaThe former Finance Minister, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, says that she was never served any court processes in relation to the allegation by former CBN Governor, Professor Charles Soludo that 30 trillion Naira was missing during the past administration.

The suit was instituted by the Socio-Economic Rights Accountability Project (SERAP) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

A statement signed by the former minister’s Media Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, says that she has instructed her lawyers to take steps to set aside the judgment as it affects her.

The statement adds that the decision of SERAP to anchor its case on an allegedly baseless and unsubstantiated allegation by former CBN Governor, Professor Charles Soludo that 30 trillion Naira is missing confirms SERAP’s alleged dubious motives and its role as a tool for politically motivated actors.

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had ordered Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government to provide information on the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion.

The fund, according to the court, represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last four years of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The judgment was delivered by Justice Ibrahim Buba following a Freedom of Information suit brought by SERAP.

SERAP’s suit followed revelations by the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, that at least N30 trillion “has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years under the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.”

You Must Account For Alleged Missing N30tn, Court Tells Okonjo-Iweala, FG

Dr-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-2The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government to provide information on the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion.

The fund according to the court represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last four years of the Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The judgment was delivered last week by Justice Ibrahim Buba following a Freedom of Information suit brought by a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

SERAP’s suit followed revelations by the former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, that at least N30 trillion “has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years under the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s watch.”

Justice Buba said, “Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have no legally justifiable reason for refusing to provide SERAP with the information requested for. The Court has gone through the application and agrees that SERAP’s application has merits and the argument is not opposed. SERAP’s application is granted as prayed.”

The Court agreed with the arguments by SERAP Deputy Director, Olukayode Majekodunmi that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government “should have either supplied the information requested by SERAP or communicate her denial within 7 days of receipt of the letter from SERAP if she considers that the request should be denied.”

The judgment by Justice Buba reads in part: “Preliminary objection by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is misconceived, the court upholds the arguments by SERAP for the reasons stated herein.”

“SERAP commenced this proceeding by way of Originating Summons dated 23 February 2015 and filed 25 February 2015. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government filed a Memorandum of Conditional Appearance, a Notice of Preliminary Objection and written address, all undated but filed on 29 September 2015.”

“The preliminary objection is on the following grounds: that SERAP did not obtain the mandatory leave of the Federal High Court to issue and serve the Originating Summons and other processes outside Lagos State; that there is no mandatory endorsement on the Originating Summons that it is to be served on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government in Abuja and outside jurisdiction of this Court.”

“The only issue for determination is whether Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should be heard on their preliminary objection considering the totality of the circumstances of this case.”

“He who wants equity must do equity. This suit was filed on 25 February 2015 and from the record of the court was served on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government on 3rd July, 2015. It took about 3 months for them to come up with technical response to the simple request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2011.”

“Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have therefore been caught by Order 29 of the Rules of this Court, which requires that an application shall be made within 21 days after service on the Defendants of the originating summons.”

“If Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government want to raise issues about service, the law does not permit of demurer. The proper route for them should have been to join issues with the originating summons and also file their objections. In the present case by SERAP, the Notice of Preliminary Objection by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is incurably defective for not conforming to order 29 of the Rules of this Court.”

“The process adopted by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government in this suit is to come by way of demurer. This process has long been abolished by the Rules of this Court. By Order 16 Rule 1 of the Rules of this Court, no demurer shall be allowed and rule 2 provides that a party shall be entitled to pursue by his pleadings any point of law and any point of law so raised shall be disposed by the judge who tries the cause at or after trial.”

“The implication of this clear provision of the rule of court is that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government must join issues with SERAP on the originating summons no matter how flimsy, instead of looking for a technical way out. This technical way out has failed.”

“The concept of demurer as presently raised by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government is no longer known to law especially the Federal High Court of Nigeria. It is the position of the law that the application of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should fail. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government, having failed to file Counter Affidavit to SERAP’s suit, are deemed to have forfeited that option of filing anything again.”

“Having shown why the Application by Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government should be dismissed for failing to join issues with SERAP, the originating process must be moved on the merits.”

“On the issue of failure to obtain pre-requisite consent/leave of Court to issue and serve the originating summons on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government outside of jurisdiction, Order 6 Rule 31 states that ‘in this Order out of jurisdiction means out of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’”

“It is also necessary to refer to sections 97 and 99 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act. The provisions apply to the validity of the service and have nothing to do with the validity of the originating process. On the strength of this clear provision, which Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government did not deny and incapable of denying at this point, their objection is dismissed as the validity of the process is not affected in any way.”

“The main issue in this Court’s view bothers on the legal binding obligation imposed on Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government by the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act access to a record of information requested for. In the case at hand, SERAP through its letter of 2 February 2015, Exhibit A, sought the information relating to the spending of the alleged missing N30 trillion, which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government during the last 4 years of the Administration of President Goodluck Jonathan. Exhibit A has been received by them, and Exhibit B is the acknowledgement of receipt of Exhibit A.”

“However Mrs Okonjo-Iweala and the Federal Government have since the receipt of the request letter failed, refused and or neglected to provide SERAP with the information it requested for within their custody. They should have either supplied the information requested by SERAP or communicate their denial within 7 days of receipt of the application from SERAP if it considers that the application should be denied.”

It would be recalled that SERAP in February 2015 dragged Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to court over “failure to provide information about spending of the alleged missing N30tn, which represents some accruable income to the Federal Government in the past four years.”

SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni said: “This judgment shows the important role that Nigerian courts can play in the efforts to promote transparency in government and combat corruption and the impunity of perpetrators. It also confirms that high-ranking government officials can no longer escape accountability for their action while in office. We urge Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to cooperate with the authorities in the efforts to ensure the full and effective enforcement of the judgment.”

Mr Soludo had earlier reportedly asked Mrs Okonjo-Iweala: “How many trillions of naira were paid for oil subsidy (unappropriated?) How many trillions (in actual fact) have been ‘lost’ through Customs duty waivers over the last four years? Can you tell Nigerians why the price of diesel has still not come down despite the crash in global crude oil prices, and how much is being appropriated by friends in the process?”

Mass Looting: Femi Falana Responds To Okonjo-Iweala’s Statement

Okonjo-Iweala-Femi-FalanaA human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, pushing for the prosecution of corrupt government officials in Nigeria has decried what he called an attack on his person by Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, after he lodged a request for investigation of former public officers with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a response to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s statement, Mr Falana said he was being attacked by the former Minister for having the temerity to request the ICC to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by some former public officers who bear full responsibility for the atrocities perpetrated by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.

The Lagos State based lawyer had requested for investigation into the allegations of crimes against humanity committed by serving and retired military officers and their civilian accomplices.

He claimed that the government officials had diverted over $8 billion earmarked for the procurement of arms and armament for counter insurgency operations.

“I argued that the suspects who aided and abetted the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the barbaric killing of over 25 soldiers and civilians including children and the displacement of two million people ought to be prosecuted at the ICC.

“Her [Okojo-Iweala] baseless attack is not unusual as she is always quick to deflect criticisms by accusing anyone seeking to hold her to account for her appalling records in government of ulterior political motives,” Mr Falana stated.

He further claimed that when Professor Chukwuma Soludo alleged that about N30 trillion could not be accounted for under Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s watch he was described as “an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space”.

“When Comrade Adams Oshiomole questioned the illegal withdrawal of $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account, he was accused of having animus towards her because she had blocked Edo State from obtaining a loan. Therefore, instead of exchanging vulgar abuse with the former Minister I shall respond to the diversionary allegations which lacerated her response and the attempt to extricate herself from the mass looting of the commonwealth under her watch,” he explained..

The lawyer further took a swipe on the former Minister saying that “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has continued to give the erroneous impression that she rendered selfless service to the nation. But while her colleagues who served as Ministers under President Olusegun Obasanjo were paid their salaries and allowances in the local currency she received hers in dollars despite a judgment of the Court of Appeal which had declared the payment illegal and unconstitutional in the case of Fawehinmi v The President (2007) 14 NWLR (Pt 1054) 275.

“In order to weep up sentiments Dr. Okonjo-Iweala referred to the unfortunate kidnap of her 84-year mother, two years ago. But it is public knowledge that the lumpen elements involved in the kidnap were arrested by the Lagos State Police Command,” he said.

Mr Falana further reiterated that his petitions to the anti-graft agencies and the Special Prosecutor of the ICC were anchored on law and facts without personal interest.

He stated that it was done to further push the ongoing battle to end impunity and retrieve the looted wealth of the nation from corrupt elements and institutions.

See full text of Mr Femi Falana’s response to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s earlier statement below. 
MASS LOOTING: FEMI FALANA’S REJOINDER TO DR. NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA’S REPONSE TO ICC PETITION

In my application to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week, I requested for investigation into the allegations of crimes against humanity committed by serving and retired military officers and their civilian accomplices. Having diverted over $8 billion earmarked for the procurement of arms and armament for counter insurgency operations I argued that the suspects who aided and abetted the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the barbaric killing of over 25 soldiers and civilians including children and the displacement of 2 million people ought to be prosecuted at the ICC. However, for having the temerity to request the ICC to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by some former public officers who bear full responsibility for the atrocities perpetrated by the terrorist group Dr. Okonjo-Iweala resorted to the scurrilous attack of my person.

Her baseless attack is not unusual as she is always quick to deflect criticisms by accusing anyone seeking to hold her to account for her appalling records in government of ulterior political motives. When Professor Chukwuma Soludo alleged that about N30 trillion could not be accounted for under her watch he was described as “an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space.” When Comrade Adams Oshiomole questioned the illegal withdrawal of $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account, he was accused of having animus towards her because she had blocked Edo State from obtaining a loan. Therefore, instead of exchanging vulgar abuse with the former Minister I shall respond to the diversionary allegations which lacerated her response and the attempt to extricate herself from the mass looting of the commonwealth under her watch.

The claim that I am unfamiliar with the mandate of the ICC shows that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala has not been following the practice of the court and its active and robust approach to its mandates, in particular with regard to the investigation of crimes in Darfur, the warrant of arrest for Joseph Kony (Uganda), and the warrant of arrest for Ahmad Harun, (Sudan). In many decided cases, the ICC has expanded its mandate to humanitarian issues, aimed at forestalling and impeding the perpetration of crimes which cause gross human rights abuse. There is absolutely nothing in the Rome Statute of the ICC to suggest that the court cannot address impunity for enormous financial crimes (and its crippling impact) which took place while Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala was the Finance Minister and the Coordinating Minister of the economy.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s claim that I own the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is far-fetched and laughable. A simple google search would have shown her that while I am one of the legal advisers of the organization, there are other very distinguished lawyers and academics of international repute on SERAP’s board. Her claim that SERAP is ‘discredit’ is the exact opposite of reckless characterization because it is an organization that has won national and international recognitions—including nomination for the UN civil society award; the Ford Foundation Jubilee Transparency Award; and the Wole Soyinka Anti-Corruption Defender Award.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also claimed that my petition against her to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) “were lacking in credibility”, without any substantiation of what this means or specific rebuttal of the allegations contained in that petition. She has however not denied the accuracy of the claims in my petition. Whereas the former Finance Minister had insisted that only $500 million was recovered from the Abacha loot my petition detailed the recovery of $4 billion. As she could not challenge my claim Dr. Okonjo-Iweala now says that the $500 million was the amount recovered while she was the Minister of Finance under President Obasanjo. In making that claim she did not take cognizance of her recent statement that while she gave out $322 million to Col. Dasuki the sum of $700 million had been set aside for development. From her own account, over $1 billion was recovered from the loot under the Jonathan regime when she was coordinating the economy.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala should have also provided further explanations as to why a substantial part of the Abacha loot was criminally diverted under her watch, especially in light of her confessional statement that she transferred $322m from the Abacha loot to former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, to prosecute the war on terror. Apart from the said $322m, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also released £5.5m to Dasuki. Even on this ground alone, Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala cannot plausibly claim not to have anything to do with the arms procurement scandal. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s excuse that the said $322m was released due to the urgency of the crisis in the North-East region is untenable having regard to the fact that former President Jonathan had sought the approval of the National Assembly to take a loan of $1bn to equip the armed forces to fight insurgency. Therefore, her self-induced urgency is not a justification for spending public funds without appropriation.
In the course of my defending several military officers and soldiers who were charged before court-martial for demanding weapons to fight the terrorists I confirmed that the $1 billion loan for arms procurement. I was compelled to request Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for an inventory of the military equipment purchased with the $1 billion loan. The requested inventory was made available to me as the weapons were not purchased.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has continued to give the erroneous impression that she rendered selfless service to the nation. But while her colleagues who served as Ministers under President Olusegun Obasanjo were paid their salaries and allowances in the local currency she received hers in dollars despite a judgment of the Court of Appeal which had declared the payment illegal and unconstitutional in the case of Fawehinmi v The President (2007) 14 NWLR (Pt 1054) 275. In order to weep up sentiments Dr. Okonjo-Iweala referred to the unfortunate kidnap of her 84-year mother, two years ago. But it is public knowledge that the lumpen elements involved in the kidnap were arrested by the Lagos State Police Command. From the report of police investigation the kidnappers were palace guards who were inspired by sheer avarice. In fact, they were arrested by the Police following the disagreement over the sharing of the N12 million ransom paid to them for the criminal enterprise.

The most ludicrous of Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala sweeping and jejune allegation is that some “corrupt elements” are using me as a tool. Although the allegation is without factual support it is illogical, to say the least. My request that the disbursement of the Abacha loot be investigated is further buttressed by the fact that the $500m Dr. Okonjo-Iweala claimed was spent on development projects was also not appropriated by the National Assembly, contrary to constitutional provisions. However, I have asked the EFCC to discountenance the 700-page report of the World Bank which has listed some phantom projects executed with the $500 million.

In the Appropriation Act of 2011, the sum of N245 billion was budgeted for fuel subsidy. But at the end of the year, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala had authorized the illegal payment of about N2.5 trillion to a cabal of fuel importers. As usual, she washed off her hands like Pontius Pilate. In order to unearth the monumental fraud I petitioned the EFCC and gave oral testimony before the House of Representatives Committee which separately investigated it. In the same vein, I have just asked the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation under the Freedom of Information Act to provide information on the failure of the NNPC to pay into the Federation Account the sum of $9.7 billion out of the $11.8 billion dividends paid by NLNG from 2004-2014. I have equally demanded information from the NEITI over its claim that the NNPC and some oil companies are indebted to the Federal Government to the tune of $19.1 billion.

Finally, let me make it abundantly clear that my petitions to the anti graft agencies and the Special Prosecutor of the ICC were anchored on law and facts as there is nothing personal in the ongoing battle to end impunity and retrieve the looted wealth of the nation from corrupt elements and institutions. It is my belief that the recovered loot should be channeled towards job creation and infrastructural development. Therefore, all hands should be on deck to ensure that the recovered loot is not criminally diverted by another set of looters .

Ex-Minister, Okonjo-Iweala Opens Up On Funds To Dasuki

Okonjo-Iweala

Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been explaining the transfer of 300 million US dollars and 5.5 million pounds to the former National Security Adviser, Retired Col. Sambo Dasuki.

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, in a statement by her media adviser, Mr Paul Nwachukwu, condemned what she described as a campaign of falsehood being carried out against her by the Edo State Governor and others who have called on the federal government to probe her in connection with the arms procurement scandal.

He added that the allegations are a distortion of the contents of a memo in which the former minister responded to a request by the former NSA.

In the memo to former President Goodluck Jonathan requesting his approval to transfer the funds to Mr. Dasuki, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala stated that as explained by the former NSA, the money was to be used to procure ammunition, security and other intelligence equipment for the security agencies to enable them fight the war against Boko Haram.

Part of the memo reads: “They have distorted the contents of the January 20 memo in which she responded to a request by the former National Security Adviser and quoted selectively from the document to make their false allegations of “illegal diversion” of funds.

“For your information and a fuller understanding of the issues, please see the attached January 20 memo by Dr Okonjo-Iweala as published by some online sites. It confirms that Dr Okonjo-Iweala is a transparent person of integrity and patriotic professional who worked hard to protect the interest of the country and that her accusers are purveyors of falsehood on a political mission to tarnish an innocent patriot,” Paul Nwachukwu wrote.

Baseless Allegations

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had on Wednesday (December 9) dismissed allegations that she illegally authorised the diversion of recently recovered Abacha loot during the administration of former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala described the allegation as “part of a campaign of falsehood” to “tarnish her image” in a statement by her media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu.

The former minister noted that the contents of the memo dated January 20, 2015 in which she responded to a request by the former National Security Adviser, Col Ibrahim Dasuki (retired) for funds to prosecute the war against Boko Haram, was “distorted”.

To set the records straight, the statement maintained that “the central responsibility of the Minister of Finance is to find sources of funding for the financing of approved national priorities such as security, job creation and infrastructure”.

The December 9 statement also “recalled that throughout 2014, there were public complaints by the military hierarchy to President Goodluck Jonathan about the inadequacy of funds to fight the anti-terror war in the North East, resulting in Boko Haram making gains and even taking territories. A lot of the criticism was directed at the Federal Ministry of Finance under Dr Okonjo-Iweala which was accused of not doing enough to find funds for the operations.

Find a copy of Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s January 20 memo published as obtained by Channels Television.

Okonjo-Iweala
The January 20 memo to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in which Okonjo-Iweala responded to a request by the former National Security Adviser.

 

Okonjo-Iweala Describes As Baseless Allegations Of “Illegal Diversion” Of Abacha Funds

Dr-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-2Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has dismissed allegations that she illegally authorised the diversion of recently recovered Abacha loot during the administration of former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala described the allegation as “part of a campaign of falsehood” to “tarnish her image” in a statement on Wednesday by her media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu.

The former minister noted that the contents of a memo dated January 20, 2015 in which she responded to a request by the former National Security Adviser, Col Ibrahim Dasuki (retired) for funds to prosecute the war against Boko Haram, was “distorted”.

To set the records straight, the statement maintained that “the central responsibility of the Minister of Finance is to find sources of funding for the financing of approved national priorities such as security, job creation and infrastructure”.

The statement also “recalled that throughout 2014, there were public complaints by the military hierarchy to President Goodluck Jonathan about the inadequacy of funds to fight the anti-terror war in the North East, resulting in Boko Haram making gains and even taking territories. A lot of the criticism was directed at the Federal Ministry of Finance under Dr Okonjo-Iweala which was accused of not doing enough to find funds for the operations.

“In fact, the Ministry, on several occasions, had to call press conferences to provide details of budgetary spending on the military, to show, against the background of limited resources and other urgent national priorities, that it was doing its best on funding security.

“It was about this time that some new Abacha funds of about $322m were returned with another $700m still expected to be returned. (This is not to be confused with the Abacha funds returned in 2005-2006 under the Obasanjo government whose use for developmental purposes was monitored by the World Bank as earlier explained by Dr Okonjo-Iweala), the statement said.

It further noted that “former President Jonathan set up a Committee comprising of the former Minister of Justice, former NSA and the former Minister of Finance to determine how best to use both the returned and expected funds for development.

“The NSA made a case for using the returned funds for urgent security operations since, he noted, there cannot be any development without peace and security. Based on this, a decision was taken to deploy about $322m for the military operations, while the expected $700m would be applied for development programmes as originally conceived.

“Following the discussions and based on the urgency of the NSA’s memo, Dr Okonjo-Iweala requested the President to approve the transfer of the requested amount to the NSA’s Office for the specified purposes”.

Mr Nwabuikwu maintained that “she insisted on three conditions: a. only a part, not the entire Abacha funds would be spent on the arms; the rest would be invested in developmental projects as originally conceived b. the money was to be treated as borrowed funds which would be paid back as soon as possible c. the NSA’s office was to account for the spending to the President who was the Commander in Chief, given the fact that the Minister of Finance is not part of the security architecture and does not participate in the Security Council”.

He insisted that “the attempt to link the former Minister’s name to any misuse of these funds for any purpose other than security as far as she understood it is totally false and cannot stand.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is alleged to have illegally approved the transfer of at least N61.4 billion ($300 million and £5.5 million) from funds recovered from late dictator, Sani Abacha, to the Office of the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, for “urgent security needs”.

Op-Ed: SERAP? Shut up!

serap

I am often amazed at the proclivity of some idle persons for claims that are not only exaggerated but also completely baseless. These ambitious individuals are usually used by paymasters to spin all sorts of specious tales whilst hiding behind the mask of non-governmental organisation, civil society or pressure group of various nomenclatures. Their ostensible motivation is public interest, but their real goal is to get back at perceived enemies of their sponsors and, perhaps, gain some popularity for themselves in the process. One group that appears to have mastered this art is so-called Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

An examination of the group’s activities, compared to its stated objectives, shows that SERAP is little more than a terribly misguided set of noisemakers. While the group is touted as a non-profit organisation established “to promote transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors through human rights”, recent developments have shown that the organisation is nothing but a bunch of attention-seeking opportunists.

In fact, one doubts if it is really an organisation and not a “one-man battalion” with the unseemly prominence of one Adetokunbo Mumuni who is believed to be the body’s Executive Director.

Anyone who has been following this SERAP’s press releases and “media noise” would easily understand what I am talking about. The latest in the series of uncouth debates generated by the group is its false alarm about the recovered Abacha loot. In a statement made available to the public on November 29, 2015, SERAP alleged mismanagement of the recovered funds and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe ex-minister of finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. How do you call for the probe of someone who facilitated the recovery of the loot and ensured its judicious disbursement?

Alluding to records purportedly obtained from the World Bank, Mumuni in SERAP says it is “closely studying and scrutinising with a view Dr-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala-2to discovering whether the documents contain details that Nigerians would like to see and whether the information correspond to the facts on the ground.” In the same breath, however, he calls for the probe of the former minister of finance. Isn’t it instructive that the ramshackle of a group has proceeded to pass judgement while acknowledging that it had not done due diligence to conclude its scrutiny and investigations?

Contrary to SERAP’s claims that the disbursement of the fund was not monitored, the World Bank indeed monitored how the money was spent, together with a group of Nigerian and Swiss NGOs. Beyond monitoring, they issued a report which is well documented at the World Bank. The gist of the entire process has been in the public domain for about a decade. Apparently, the bank has furnished SERAP with the relevant documents in this regard, and the latter is attempting to twist the information to defame Dr Okonjo-Iweala and sully her reputation.

The World Bank specifically stated in one of its reports that the monitoring and analysis of repatriated fund utilisation was undertaken both at the macro level and at the micro level. While the macro level involved analysis of general budget expenditure trends, the micro level deployed a field survey of randomly selected projects funded under the program. In its December 2006 report, a 58-page document [http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTNIGERIA/Resources/Abacha_Funds_Monitoring_1221.pdf], the World Bank clearly affirms that in spite of expected difficulties recorded in the joint monitoring exercise – being the first of its kind – the process was largely successful. It earned a seal of approval from the government and civil society, both of whom acknowledged that they have found the exercise valuable.

Now, where was SERAP when these reports were published and jointly attested to by international observers, government representatives, and reputable Civil Society Organisations? The monitoring exercise involved bodies like the Nigeria Society of Engineers, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, Action Aid International, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, among others. It is laughable that an organisation which claimed to have been in existence since 2004 has only just woken up in 2015 to raise issues where none exists. How daft and desperate can people be? Well, the good news is that SERAP and its sponsors are about to be revealed for who they really are. So Nigerians will not be deceived anymore by their antics.

It will be recalled that this same Mumuni in SERAP was used to call for the revocation of Okonjo-Iweala’s appointment on the board of GAVI, owned by Bill and Melinda Gates, for spurious claims that the former minister favoured GAVI while in office. The silliness of SERAP is made glaring when one considers that the money in question was not Nigeria’s money in the first place. It was GAVI’s donation to Nigeria for the immunisation of Nigerian children, for which GAVI later discovered inappropriate use of $2.2million of the funds and therefore called for a refund of that amount. An official release of GAVI’s finding was published on its site several months ago to set the record straight on this transaction [http://www.gavi.org/Library/News/Statements/2015/Reimbursement-of-misused-amounts-identified-in-Gavi-Cash-Programme-Audit-in-Nigeria/].

Little wonder that despite the sponsored hullabaloo made by SERAP and its media cronies, GAVI did not even accord their noise a glancing attention.

I think it’s high time Mumuni, his hurting sponsors and SERAP shut up or go get another prey. That Okonjo-Iweala woman is too smart and too formidable a target for their puerile and uncoordinated stratagem. And the Nigerian people are a better informed audience than Mumu gives them credit for.

 

Issachar Odion is a Political Scientist writing from Port Harcourt.

Fayose Hails Jonathan’s Appointment As Leader Of Tanzania’s Election Observers

fayoseEkiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, has hailed the appointment of former President, Goodluck Jonathan as leader of a 33-nation observer mission to the general election to be held in Tanzania on Sunday, October 25.

Mr Fayose described the appointment as “a global recognition of the former president’s democratic credentials.”

He said, “Jonathan’s appointment to lead the Commonwealth observer team, comprising of 33 countries is in recognition of his remarkable role in the last presidential election, in which he conceded defeat, thereby saving Nigeria from catastrophe that even the international community thought would befall the country”.

Speaking through his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said that; “Jonathan should be celebrated and I am happy that the world is beginning to give him the deserved recognition and celebration less than five months after he left office”.

He said, Dr Jonathan’s courage and spirit of sportsmanship in accepting the outcome of the presidential election despite the obvious shortcomings, saved the nation from political chaos and violence, adding that; “Jonathan provided the foundation on which democracy is standing in Nigeria today and one is not surprised that he is being asked to lead the Commonwealth election observer team from 33 nations to Tanzania.

“Even if those who benefited from his show of love and commitment to the peace and development of Nigeria are paying him back with persecution and victimisation, I am happy that the former President and those who worked with him are being celebrated globally.

“Today, four of those who worked with Jonathan, who were called thieves by our friends on the other side, are holding top positions in international organisations.

“Mrs Omobola Johnson, the immediate past Minister of Communication Technology is a Honorary Chairperson of the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a United States based global coalition; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Finance Minister now chair the Board of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, (GAVI), as well as Senior Advisor to Lazard, a 167-year-old global investment firm; Mrs Arunma Oteh, former Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the Treasurer and Vice President of the World Bank and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development is President of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Mr Fayose added: “I therefore congratulate Dr Jonathan and urge those presently holding power in Abuja to emulate him by putting Nigeria and its interests first”.

House Uncovers Extra Budgetary Spending

reps on extra budgetary spendingThe House of Representatives has questioned an extra budgetary spending of over 222 billion Naira for fuel subsidy by the Executive.

The Chairman of the Ad-hoc committee on the Non-Implementation of the Capital Component of the 2015 Budget, Aliyu Pategi, made the discovery during a presentation from the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday.

The committee once again queried the presentation from the Ministry of Finance and the agencies that appeared before the committee.

The Chairman of the House Committee, inquired if a figure of 222 billion Naira said to be spent on fuel subsidy crisis was contained in the budget.

The lawmakers also queried an extra 615 billion Naira loan raised by the Executive without recourse to the National Assembly.

The Committee, however, said the next step would be to submit its report to the House for consideration.