News

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A staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Christian Nwosu has pleaded guilty to receiving N30 million as bribe from the N23 billion alleged Diezani bribe meant to compromise electoral officers before the 2015 general election.

Nwosu was among three INEC officials that were on Wednesday docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice M. B. Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a 7-count charge bordering on receiving gratification to the tune of N264,880,000.

Nwosu and the other accused persons-Yisa Olanrewaju Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir had, on March 27, 2015, allegedly received bribes from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, ahead of the 2015 general election.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Mrs. Diezani Allison – Madueke (still at large), Christian Nwosu, Yisa Olanrewaju Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir on or about the 27th day of March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired among yourselves to directly take possession of N264,880,000 (Two Hundred and Sixty-four Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira) which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: gratification and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2002 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Another count reads: “That you, Christian Nwosu on or about the 27 day of March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly used the sum of N30,000,000 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: gratification and you hereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(a) of the money laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Both the second and third defendants, Adedoyin and Bashir, pleaded not guilty to the charges..

However, the first defendant, Nwosu, pleaded guilty to the charge preferred against him.

Counsel to the first defendant, Adaku Ngbangba, pleaded with the court to grant her client bail on self-recognizance, adding that “he is a first-time offender. He has put in over 20 years in service. Given his honestly, I urge you, my Lord, to grant him bail on liberal terms.’’

Counsel to the second defendant, Ngbangba, as well as counsel to the third defendant, Nelson Imoh, also pleaded with the court to grant their clients bail on self-recognizance.

In his address, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the first defendant had entered a plea bargain agreement with the Commission.

He said: “We received the sum of $115 million kept in the custody of Fidelity Bank Plc, which was subsequently converted to N23bn.

“Of this amount of money, it was alleged that the first defendant received a cash payment of N30, 000,000. 00 as Director and Administrative Secretary, INEC, Kwara State.

“The first defendant went to Fidelity Bank and signed for N264, 880,000. This was left in the bank in the custody of the third defendant who carried it in a Hilux bus and was making cash payment/withdrawals without going through any financial institutions.

“In the course of making the cash payments, the third defendant paid the first defendant the total sum of N30, 000,000 cash.”

Oyedepo further told the court that the first defendant was invited to the Commission’s office, where he made his statement under words of caution.

He stated that the receipt of payment of the money signed for by the first defendant was also retrieved by the Commission.

Both the statement and the receipt were tendered and admitted as exhibits A-A6 by the court.

Oyedepo also told the court that the first defendant had admitted essentially to the ingredients of the alleged offence in his statement to the Commission on December 12, 2016.

The first defendant in his statement, according to Oyedepo, admitted to have benefitted N30, 000,000.

Oyedepo, in his address, also stated that “the first defendant also gave account of the properties he used the money to acquire.

“He brought the title documents to the EFCC office.

“Having demonstrated remorse and given useful information to aid the prosecution of the case, he has entered into an agreement to forfeit the properties to the Federal Government.

The properties are listed in the paragraphs 1 and 2 of the plea bargain agreement.

“The EFCC has recovered the N5m left from the first defendant, having spent N25m to acquire properties.”

He also urged the court to convict the first defendant in line with the count seven of the charges and adopt the term contained in the plea bargain agreement.

Consequently, Justice Idris found the first defendant liable as charged on count seven.

He, however, deferred the sentencing of the first defendant to May 7, 2017.

The first defendant was ordered to be remanded in the EFCC custody till the next adjourned date.

Justice Idris admitted both the second and third defendants to bail in the sum of N50 million, with two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must have landed properties within the jurisdiction of the court.

The second and third accused persons must submit their international passport to the court.

They were ordered to be remanded in prison custody till the perfection of their bail conditions.

The case was adjourned to May 7, 2017 for continuation of trial.

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Governor Yari of Zamfara State

Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari has attributed the current outbreak of meningitis in the country to retributive justice from God.

The governor said the current outbreak of Type C Cerebrospinal Meningitis is God’s way of punishing Nigerians for their immoral conduct. 

The governor spoke in Hausa during an interview with State House reporters yesterday after meeting President Muhammdu Buhari.

Zamfara State is the most ravaged in the latest outbreak, accounting for 215 out of 336 deaths nationally. 

“What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the ‘type A virus’ which had been tackled through vaccinations by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the governor said. 

“However, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccine.

“People have turned away from God and He has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow,’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned.

“There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured,” Yari stated.

“The most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth. All they need to do is repent and everything will be all right.”

Asked whether leaders also need to repent, he said “leaders are doing their best by enlightening the populace and working assiduously for the good of all,” but that they cannot go from house to house and arrest offenders.

He said a meeting of stakeholders in the state had adopted a strategy to deal with the outbreak.

According to him, the five million doses of the vaccine announced by relevant organisations against the Type

C meningitis in Nigeria “is not enough for Zamfara people alone, not to talk of Katsina or Kano”.

He said Zamfara got 20,000 doses from the Federal Ministry of Health owing to the high rate of the disease in the state.

“Our Focus as a state now is to continue treating those who are infected with the disease, but as for vaccination, it has an international dimension.

“We have information that Nigeria will get the highest percentage of the 5 million doses available now. Apart from WHO, other International bodies such as the Bill Gates foundation and UNICEF are also currently focusing on how to tackle the outbreak.

FG ramps up control as death toll rises to 336

The death toll in the current outbreak rose to 336 and suspected infections figure is now 2,997, according to the  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) latest report released yesterday.

Meanwhile the Federal Government “incidence management” response was switched on yesterday after the Emergency Operations Centre was activated on Monday.

The switch to incidence management is to “ensure that all activities across the country will be managed using a clear command and control structure led by an Incident Manager who reports through the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, to the Minister of Health,” the NCDC announced.

“With this new coordinating structure, the country will have a tight, multi-partner team of experts pulled from the most competent agencies focusing on outbreak control in Nigeria,” Lawal Bakare, technical advisor for communications at NCDC said.

The central command is similar to response to Ebola viral disease outbreak in 2014, but the command centre for meningitis will be headed by John Oladejo, head of emergency preparedness and response at the NCDC.

Experts from  the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC, NPHCDA, WHO, UNICEF, Africa CDC, US CDC, Medecins Sans Frontieres, AFENET, University of Maryland and E-Health Africa will have roles on different components of the meningitis outbreak—all coordinated in one place.

So far, half a million doses of Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed to affected states for immediate vaccination in response to the outbreak.

An additional 823,970 doses of the vaccine are expected from the United Kingdom to support vaccination in other affected states.

The EOC will begin state-wide vaccination today in Zamfara and then move on to 15 more states.

“We are confident that we have turned the tide, and with increasing vaccination activities, expect a reduction in number of cases,” said Bakare.

“Importantly, lessons learned from this outbreak will help the country prepare for the future.”

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Senator Gbenga Ashafa (APC), Lagos East

Worried about the recent outbreak of Meningitis, the Nigerian Senate Tuesday, 4th April, 2017 passed a resolution directing the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant agencies to carry out a nationwide immunization of children and adults who are susceptible to the disease of meningitis.

The attention of the Senate was drawn to this outbreak by a motion titled “Outbreak of Meningitis. Need to Curb the Spread and stop further deaths” sponsored and moved on the floor of the upper chamber by Senator Gbenga Ashafa , representing Lagos East Senatorial District, with 16 other Senators as co-sponsors.

The Senator expressed his worry over the outbreak of the disease, which has claimed several lives in the North especially, Zamfara Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger States and has recently spread to the Federal Capital Territory as well.

He noted that this particular disease is a new strand of meningitis and as such its vaccines are not commercially viable.

Some of the other Senators who contributed to the debate on the floor of the Senate include Senators, Sabi Abdulahi (Niger North), Tijanni Kaura (Zamfara North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North), Abdulfattah Buari (Oyo North), Sam Anyanwu (Imo East) and others.

The Distinguished Senators in their contributions called on the Federal Ministry of Health to be Pro-active in tackling issues of this nature and not wait for such outbreak to happen before steps are taken to prevent same.

The Federal Government was also called upon to provide the Ministry of Health with sufficient funds to engage in Nation wide immunization of citizens against such diseases like meningitis and prevent same from ever occurring.

 

The Senate thereafter resolved that the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies/parastatals to work closely with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to acquire more vaccines to protect Nigerians against the spread of the disease while also advising the Nigerian Police, Prison Authorities, NEMA and IDP camps to concrete steps to prevent an outbreak of meningitis in their prisons, police cells, detention centres and IDP camps. It was also resolved that the vacinnes should be administered freely in all public health institutions.

 

In conclusion the President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki commended the steps taken so far by the Federal Ministry of Health and urged that the process of Nationwide vaccination should be expedited. He also assured that more funding would be made available to the Ministry for disease control and prevention in the 2017 Budget.

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Professor of Law, Itse Sagay

Itse Sagay, chairman of the presidential advisory committee against corruption, has maintained that the senate lacks the power to summon him and urged any aggrieved lawmaker to sue him for defamation.

The senate had resolved to invite Sagay over his criticism of the red chamber for refusing to screen 27 resident electoral commissioners and seeking the sack of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

After a point of order was raised by Bala Ibn Na’Allah, deputy senate leader, the senate referred the matter to its committee on ethics and privileges.

Sagay had shortly thereafter responded saying the senate lacked the power to summon him.

Reacting again, Sagay has written to the senate a letter titled, ‘Re: Resolution summoning me to appear before the Senate’.

The senior advocate of Nigeria addressed the letter to Bukola Saraki, senate president.

“My attention has been drawn to the well publicised resolution of the Senate, summoning me to appear before it to justify my criticism of the illegal call on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman of the EFCC,” the letter read.

“My criticism was anchored on Section 171(1) of the Constitution, which has empowered the President to appoint any person to hold or act in the office of the head of any extra-ministerial department of the Federal Government.

“Although I have not been served with any summons from the Senate, I deem it fit to take issue with members of the Senate over the threatened violation of my fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“However, the power to conduct enquiries is not at large. Thus, by virtue of Section 88 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution the National Assembly shall have power to direct or cause to be directed investigation into the conduct of any person, authority, ministry or agency of the Federal Government subject to the provisions of the constitution,” Sagay said.

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) cited three instances regarding the power of the national assembly to summon people.

Sagay said the cases of Innocent Adikwu v. Federal House of Representatives ((1982) 3 NCLR 394 at 416), Senate of National Assembly v. Momoh ((1983) 4 NCLR 269 at 29), and Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai v. The House of Representatives, National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & Ors ((2003) 46 WRN 70) showed that the senate lacked the right to summon him.

It reads further: “Applying the principle of law, enunciated in the above cited cases, I am fortified in my submission that the Senate lacks the constitutional power to summon me to justify my condemnation of the illegal actions of its members.

“The Senate cannot be accuser, prosecutor and judge in its own case. However, any aggrieved member of the Senate has the liberty to sue me for defamation in a competent court of jurisdiction.

“Consequently, I urge you to withdraw the resolution summoning me to appear before the Senate. If you fail to accede to my request, I will not hesitate to challenge the legal validity of the summons, once it is served on me.”

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Human waste was last week found in Coca-Cola cans in a bottling factory in Lisburn, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Following the discovery of faeces in the cans, Coca-Cola had no choice but to suspend night-time processing.

The beverage giant said that all the affected cans have been impounded and that the contamination did not affect any products that were on sale.

The police service of Northern Ireland said it had opened an inquiry into how faeces ended up in the cans at the Helllenic Bottling Company factory.

“Detectives are investigating an incident at commercial premises in the Lisburn area following reports that a consignment of containers delivered to the premises had been contaminated,” said a PSNI spokesperson.

“The investigation is at an early stage and there are no further details available at this time.”

Coca-Cola said it values the safety and quality of its products and that it was taking the matter “extremely seriously”.

“We are aware of an incident involving empty cans at our plant in Knockmore Hill, Lisburn. We are treating this matter extremely seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation in co-operation with the PSNI,” said the company.

“The problem was identified immediately through our robust quality procedures and all of the product from the affected production was immediately impounded and will not be sold. This is an isolated incident and does not affect any products currently on sale.”

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Emir Sanusi and President Buhari

Muhammadu Sanusi II, emir of Kano, says the praise singers of President Muhammadu Buhari are the enemies of his government.

He said they could destroy his efforts.

Sanusi’s statement is coming after Isa Misau, senator representing Borno south, had said the enemies of Buhari are within the presidency.

In an Instagram post on Friday, Sanusi said Buhari needs people who would be brave enough to tell him where he may be going wrong.

he emir said people were afraid of speaking out against “evil”.

“The praise singers around the President Muhammadu Buhari are the real enemies of the government who could destroy his efforts,” Sanusi said.

“I feel sorry for the people in government because they are surrounded by enemies. T‎he President needed people who will tell him where he goes wrong. I‎ ‎knew power was transient, I spoke the truth during my time at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), no matter the consequences.

“Some were afraid to speak out against evil because they were afraid of losing their jobs. All the people they were afraid of years ago, where are they today? For those who are still in power, remember that it is transient,‎ If you want to be a true Nigerian, tell the present government where they’re going wrong.”

The monarch added that the “only thing that is permanent is what you do for people when you were alive”.

He said public officer holders would be remembered for their service, not the amount of money they accumulate.

Sanusi noted that he was not surprised when he was asked to resign as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) during the last administration.

“I wasn’t surprised about my suspension; I knew it would happen, because I had been called and asked to resign, and I said ‘no’. I was not going to make it easy for anyone. ‎My answer was simple. You asked me to resign for telling you money has been stolen,” he said.

“Ask the minister to resign first. You forget that the person, either the President or the Governor, is also occupying a transient position. All the people that people were afraid of two, three years ago, where are they today? ‎Power is transient.

“If you’re a governor or a President or a minister, it does not matter how much you have; you will be remembered for service, not the amount of money you have that you cannot even announce.‎”

 

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah

Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie has been named amongst the 50 greatest world leaders in the 2017 Fortune magazine ranking.

 

The ‘Half of a yellow sun’ writer was ranked at number 42 on the list with Chicago Cubs baseball team president Theo Epstein at number one.

 

Business mogul Jack Ma of AliBaba group of companies appears at number two and Catholic leader Pope Francis is in third place for his social integration projects as a clergy.

 

Melinda Gates is number four in recognition of the impact of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which she co-chairs.

 

The list also features celebrated basketball player, LeBron James at 11, comedienne Samantha Bee at 19.

 

Colombian music superstar Shakira is at 27 for her philanthropic work through her Pies Descalzos (Barefoot) school foundation.

 

Just outside of the top five is Ava DuVernay recognized for her directorial work in Academy Award winning film, Selma and her forthcoming Disney adaptation, A Wrinkle in Time.

 

Chance the Rapper checks in at number 46, the 23-year-old hip-hop star is commended for his willingness to remain an independent artist and release his music for free and his education philanthropy in his Illinois, Chicago hometown.

 

Adichie’s book ‘Americanah’ recently won the “One Book, One New York” campaign from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in partnership with BuzzFeed.

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Customs Boss, Col Hameed Ali (Rtd)

The senate has called for the resignation of Hameed Ali, comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

The senate also declared Ali unfit to hold public office and condemned a letter written by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF).

Malami in the letter told the lawmakers that the comptroller-general could not appear before the lawmakers because the matter of his uniform was in court.

The resolutions of the upper legislative chamber was sequel to prayers moved by Enyinnaya Abaribe, senator representing Abia south.

The resignation demand comes barely 24 hours after the All Progressives Congress (APC) announced its intervention in the row between Ali and the senate.

Ali fell out with the lawmakers after he was summoned to explain the rationale behind customs directive that vehicle owners should pay duty on their cars.

The senate asked him to appear before it in uniform on March 8, but he failed to honour the invitation on the ground that he had a management meeting.

Not satisfied with the reason, the senate issued a warrant mandating Ali to appear on March 16, and he honoured the invitation this time around, but in civilian attire.

This irked the lawmakers who sent him away and ordered him to return in uniform at 10am on March 22.

But, on Tuesday, Ali told state house correspondents that he would not be at the senate, citing advice from the attorney-general of the federation as the reason for his decision.

He said that he had written to the senate on the development, explaining that a case had been instituted in the court on the matter.

He said the AGF wrote to him, asking him and all parties to stay action on his summon to appear at the senate in uniform, pending the determination of an originating summons filed by one Mohammed Ibrahim.

Truly, he did not appear even though he was listed as the fourth item on Wednesday’s order paper.

Prompted by his seeming disrespect, senators went into a closed-door session at exactly 10:32am.

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INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu

As part of its preparations for the 2019 election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cancelled manual transmission of results from polling units.

It will now use e-Collation and Result Transmission System in all the 120, 000 polling units.
The commission opted for the new result transmission system after a three-year trial or test run during by-elections and rerun elections.
But the commission was silent on an important aspect of making the new proposition benefit the country, which is ensuring the method of transmission is captured in the country’s Electoral laws. When in 2015 the commission introduced a new way of accrediting voters with Card Readers, it failed to send a bill to the National Assembly for the laws to recognize the card reading machines. That turned out to be the death of credible elections that year. Nigeria’s professional vote riggers went on to doctor election results and got helped by Supreme Court justices who preferred manual method of accreditation to a technologically enhanced method.

The details on results transmission are contained in a document titled “Towards 2019: Recent technological deployments” made available to stakeholders between March 14 and 21 by INEC.

INEC said the adoption of e-collation followed recurring manipulation of results between Polling Units (Pus) and collation centres.
INEC said: “Observations have shown, over the years that most election malpractices that take place do not happen at the Polling Units (PUs)
“The challenge has been after the polls -between the PU and the Collation Centres, and at the Collation Centres.
“INEC has, therefore, decided to securely transmit election results from all Pus straight to a central database, such that only viewing access  is allowed at the Wards and the LGAs – which ultimately is aimed at eliminating manual collation processes.”
The electoral commission also highlighted the features of the new e-collation system:

•is a robust and well secured platform that collects data from the Polling Units (PUs) and collates the results up to the required level for any set election;

•has the ability to collate and transmit data across the country;

•can collect results from either of the following: Local Government Area (LGA), Ward/Registration Area (RA), or PU;

•works with any election type – Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship or State Houses of Assemblies;

•The portal has a flexible dashboard with a real-time user interface, showing a graphical presentation of the current status of results collated per given time; and

•has been piloted for all bye-elections and re-run elections since 2014.

The document added: “INEC is preparing for 2019, and is further deploying technology to improve its service delivery, make its processes more credible and less prone to manipulations.

“The votes of Nigerians must keep counting, and this is what technology is helping us to achieve. “Continuous Voter Registration is commencing soon, Nationwide – giving an opportunity to those who have recently turned 18 or have not been previously enrolled to vote.

“Operations of the SCRs are being improved to make  the process of voter authentication better.

Result collation process will become better when results are transmitted from the PUs.

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Samuel Galadima, Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development in Plateau State , is dead. He died while jogging this morning with Governor Simon Lalong, at the Rwang Pam Stadium, Jos.

Mr Emmanuel Nanle, Director of Press Affairs, confirmed the incident. “Yes, the commissioner slumped while jogging and was rushed to the Plateau Specialist Hospital, where he died,” he said.

Nanle said that the official was gasping for breath by the time he arrived the hospital.

“Doctors tried to stabilise him but could not. We have lost him,” he said. It was not first time this kind of sudden death had happened. A famous case was that of the former governor of Benue Aper Aku who also died while jogging.