NND Special Report: Nigeria

MTN, $3.9bn fine, $2.1 billion arms deal, EFCC, Military chiefs, Unpaid oil royalty, Jide Omokore, Metuh, Supreme Court, Bristow helicopter crash . . .

MTN . Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, new interim chairman

MTN hires top U.S. lawyer to help fight $3.9 Billion fine

Telecommunications giant MTN has hired a former United States Attorney General Eric Holder to help challenge the $3.9 billion fine imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to disconnect unregistered users, the Financial Times reported yesterday.

Citing people familiar with the situation, the newspaper said Holder, the immediate past U.S. top law officer, pleaded with Nigerian officials last month on behalf of the telecoms company.

Africa’s largest mobile phone company was handed a $5.2billion penalty last October, prompting weeks of lobbying that led to a 25 per cent reduction to $3.9 billion.

MTN, however, was still not prepared to pay the fine and launched a court challenge in December, saying the Nigerian telecoms regulator had no legal grounds to order the penalty.

A Federal High Court judge sitting in Lagos last month gave MTN until March 18 to try to reach a settlement over the fine, which equates to more than twice MTN’s annual average capital spending over the past five years.

MTN spokesperson Chris Maroleng was not immediately available to comment.

Holder, who led the US Justice Department from 2009 to2015, was one of President Barack Obama’s longest-serving cabinet members. He returned to the law firm Covington & Burling, where he was previously a partner from 2001 to 2009.

Abia & Akwa Ibom . Govs. Okezie Ikpeazu & Udom Emmanuel

Supreme Court upholds Akwa Ibom, Abia governors’ election

The Supreme Court has affirmed the election of Udom Emmanuel, as the Governor of Akwa Ibom and that of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu.

In judgments  that lasted less than 30 minutes, the court said Governor Emmanuel and his Abia counterpart, Ikpeazu, having won the lawfully cast votes, are duly elected as governors of their states. A seven-man bench presided over by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, unanimously affirmed the governors’ elections after upholding their separate appeals against the judgments of the Court of Appeal which had ordered their removal from office.

The Supreme Court by the judgment, set aside the judgments of the two lower courts, saying that its reasons for the verdicts would be given on February 15 and 26.

PDP . Dr.-Temitope-Aluko

I’m not aware of any warrant of arrest issued against me – Tope Aluko

The former Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, Dr. Temitope Aluko, has declared that he is not aware of any warrant of arrest issued against him by an Ado Ekiti Chief Magistrate’s Court or any court for alleged perjury.

Dr. Aluko said the “rushing to the court by Governor Ayo Fayose and his cronies was part of a grand plan to hold him down and poison him after two attempts have been made on his life in the last 96 hours”.

He also revealed that he had uncovered an alleged plot to set his houses in Ekiti ablaze. He also defended his integrity while in the employ of the Ekiti State University (EKSU) denying the government’s allegation that he was involved in certificate racketeering.

Speaking in a telephone chat Wednesday night, Dr. Aluko said he made the revelation on the Ekiti governorship poll as a patriotic Nigeria who wants democratic structures strengthened.

The whistleblower drew the attention of Nigerians to the fact that “Fayose and his henchmen are just attacking the messenger and not addressing the message”.

Oyegun . APC National Chairman

WIKE’S VICTORY: Oyegun calls for probe of S-Court Judges

National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief John Oyegun, has called for the investigation of Supreme Court judges.

Oyegun made the call against the backdrop of his party’s loss of Rivers State governorship seat to the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

“We have lost very important resource-rich states to the PDP. No matter how crude oil prices have fallen, it is still the most important revenue earner for the country.”

It will be recalled that the supreme court last week affirmed the election of the state governor, Nyesom Wike, and dismissed the prayers of the APC governorship candidate, Dakuku Peterside who prayed for cancellation of judgment of the state election petition tribunal.

But speaking in a meeting with a delegation of the party from the state, led by Peterside, Oyegun, who expressed shock over the ruling of the supreme court, said there was “something fundamentally wrong in the judiciary.”

Bristow Helicopter

11 persons escape death after Bristow helicopter crashed into the Atlantic Ocean

Eleven persons yesterday escaped death after a Bristow 5B BJQ helicopter en-route Lagos from an off-shore location in Port Harcourt ditched into the Atlantic Ocean.

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the helicopter was carrying nine passengers and two crew members when the incident happened.

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) confirmed the incident.

Mr Sam Adurogboye, spokesperson of NCAA, in a text message, said there was no casualty as the 11 persons on board were rescued after the chopper ditched into the Atlantic Ocean.

“It happened 70 nautical miles off Lagos. They were returning from their off-shore location called ERA. Nine passengers and two crew on board were all rescued,” he said.

The AIB, in a statement also confirmed the crash.

According to the statement; “A S76 C++ helicopter marked 5N-BQJ belonging to Bristow Helicopters, which departed ERHA Platform en-route Lagos was ditched into the Atlantic Ocean 95 nautical miles into destination at about 10:20 am local time.

“All the eleven peoples on board, including two crew members were rescued alive.

Benin City

Security agencies deny Boko Haram role in Benin explosion

Security agencies including the army and police in Edo State yesterday dispelled rumours that the explosion that rocked Zomi Zomi area in Upper Sokponba Road on Tuesday afternoon was an attack from Boko Haram.

The Brigade Commander, 4 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in Benin City, Brig.-Gen Faruk Yahaya told journalists when he visited the scene yesterday that: “We heard of the explosion here and I came for an on-the-spot assessment to know what happened, so that you can brief appropriately.

“By my assessment and by that of others, it is obvious that it is not a terrorist attack. It is not an attack on this place. The people around here can bear witness; we don’t think it is an attack. Perhaps, you can describe it as an accident or something that was buried there that exploded.

“We are grateful to God that when the thing happened, there were no people very close by. The incident would have been bigger; what happened to nearby houses is as a result of vibration from the explosion.

“What I will only urge all of us to do is to be vigilant. Security is everybody’s business. When you see something you do not understand, you suspect, report to the security agencies. People are living in communities; when there is somebody alien to them, they know.

EFCC logo

$2.1 billion arms deal: EFCC finds huge cash in the accounts of military chiefs’ wives, kids

Some of the $2.1 billion arms contracts cash have been traced to the accounts of wives and children of some former and serving military chiefs,

The Economic and Finanacial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which is probing how the money was spent, may restrict access to all the identified accounts “this week”, a source said yesterday.

Also yesterday, a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, reported to the EFCC.

But his invitation was rescheduled for Monday ”because of operational reasons”.

It was learnt that the EFCC may interrogate Air Chief Marshal Badeh alongside some military officers who have also been invited.

A source close to the investigation said some of the former and serving officers under investigation acquired properties in the names of their wives, children and relations “to hide their loot”.

The source said: “Our investigators have uncovered that some of these military officers under probe stashed their shares of the $2.1billion arms cash in the accounts of their relations, especially wives and children.

“We have traced such slush funds and we may freeze these accounts until we have screened the inflows and expenditures. The legitimately operated accounts will be freed after thorough screening.”

Besides, some houses belonging to the children and relations of some military chiefs have been identified as products of proceeds of financial crimes. “We have already marked the properties of one of the children of a top military brass. We have invoked Temporary Assets Forfeiture Clause in EFCC Act,” the source said.

Alison-Madueke . Olajide Omokore arrested by EFCC

EFCC recovers over $14million in unpaid oil royalty from Jide Omokore’s firm

The Nigerian government has succeeded in compelling the Chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, Jide Omokore to cough out over $14m, being crude oil royalty which his company failed to remit to the federal treasury, administration insiders have told PREMIUM TIMES.

High ranking federal officials familiar with the development told this newspaper that the funds were supposed to have been paid between 2011 and 2012 by Atlantic Energy which was, in controversial circumstances, awarded oil assets by the Goodluck Jonathan government shortly after it was incorporated in 2010.

Our sources said the money was finally paid into the Federal Government’s account with JP Morgan Chase on January 29, after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission waded into the matter of recovering taxes due to the Federal Government.

“The investigation of tax defaulters in the dollar-soaked oil industry is continuing,” a source at the EFCC said Wednesday. “Those who failed to willingly pay up stand the risk of arrest and prosecution for tax fraud.”

Operatives of the EFCC had on January 27 questioned Mr. Omokore, an ally of former President Jonathan in connection with a series of multi-billion dollar crude export deals.

Mr. Omokore could not be reached for comments Wednesday. But his company recently issued a statement saying it was getting back on course after submitting its plan to settle outstanding financial commitments to the Nigerian authorities.

Olisa Metuh in handcuffs

Ex-presidential aide confesses to collecting N25m from Metuh

A witness on Thursday told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he received the sum of N25 million from National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Olisa Metuh.

Abba Dabo, a former Special Adviser to the President in the office of the Vice President, testified that he got the amount on December 5, 2014 for publicity for the PDP and the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Dabo is a former editor of Sunday New Nigeria and Gashiye Tafikwabo, an Hausa newspaper, stated that to carry out the publicity, he set up platforms such as ‘Whatsapp Nigeria’ and ‘Media Support’.

The witness, who was led in evidence by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) counsel Sylvanus Tahir however explained that he returned the money to the commission in 2015 after he read in the newspapers that it might have been sourced from ‘a botched arms deal’.

Under cross examination by Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), Dabo admitted that he did not ask Metuh the source of the money.

Metuh was arraigned by the EFCC on charges of money laundering after he allegedly received the sum of N400 million from the office of the former National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Col. Sambo Dasuki.

Buhari . PMB's Cartoon. Guardian 04.02.16

Presidency lists Buhari’s achievements in first 7 months

he Presidency has countered claims in some quarters that President Muhammadu Buhari has not achieved anything in the seven months of his administration.

Photo cartoon above: TheGuardian.

The Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement on Wednesday highlighted some achievements of President Buhari who took over on May 29 last year.

Shehu was reacting to a recent report by the Centre for Democracy and Development which claimed that Buhari had only achieved one out of his 222 tracked electoral promises, representing 0.5 per cent of the promises.

Shehu said, “He (Buhari) is making good strides towards improving governance by tackling corruption. Till date, a good number of persons believed to have collectively stolen billions from taxpayers have been arrested and are facing the courts.

“We are working with our allies across the world from Britain and America to France and Germany to China and the UAE to source, locate and repatriate misappropriated funds.

“So far, an escrow account has been opened for money that is being returned. This is only the start. The return of stolen funds is important, but it is just as critical to ensure that those who seek to steal realise that no longer will there be such impunity in Nigeria.”

He said Buhari’s war against corruption and terrorism had become a template for Africa and the rest of the world.

Buhari . PMB addresses European Parliament

Buhari addresses European Parliament

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday addressed the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, France, where he discussed challenges toppling Nigeria, such as Boko Haram insurgency, migration of Nigerians to Europe, job creation, oil theft among others.

Buhari . PMB addresses European Parliament 2

Kashamu seeks Senate cover over fresh extradition plot

Drugs  . Buruji Kashamu. Accused of drug offences

The Senate on Wednesday ordered the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to henceforth stop the persistent harassment of Senator Buruji Kashamu (Ogun East) over drug-related offences he allegedly committed in the United States (US).

Senate’s order was spurred by a petition to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions by Kashamu’s lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, over alleged planned abduction of the embattled senator by the US through the agency.

Senator Buruji Kashamu (PDP, Ogun East) yesterday raised an alarm over fresh plots to extradite him to the United States over issues bordering on drug trafficking.

Kashamu had written a petition to the Senate through his counsel Barrister Ajibola Oluyede on the matter.

Speaking when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Oluyede said the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had gone far in fresh plans to “export my client to USA.”

According to him, he has it on record that the NDLEA plans to extradite Kashamu.

Oluyede said: “There are some of them who are giving us information and till today,  there are still people in the NDLEA who have conscience. When they see any bad thing going on they want to be whistle blowers but we know there is a problem with being a whistle blower in Nigeria.”

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, asked the NDLEA to maintain the status quo on the issue pending the outcome of the panel’s investigation.

He said: “It is obvious that when we make our investigation we will put down our report to the entire Senate. We have to invite the parties involved and not in representative capacity to answer to the allegations.”

NND

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