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Abacha Loots: FG to Spend $320m Loot on the Masses

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Abdullahi Mohammed

In an attempt to improve the of living of an average Nigerians the federal government has promised to spend the that $320 million stolen funds by former late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, would be spent on the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme of the administration to support the poor.The Presidency made this promise in a statement on Monday.

As the special guest of honour in the official opening of the 8th Commonwealth Conference of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa, Buhari, who was  represented by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said it was one condition given by the Switzerland authorities for the repatriation of the funds.

Buhari said that The Global Forum on Asset Recovery after its inaugural meeting in Washington, DC, in December 2017, had facilitated efforts toward asset recovery and return.

“The GFAR saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria and the Government of Switzerland for the return of an additional USD$320 million of the Sani Abacha loot.

“Included in that agreement is the commitment that the funds would be invested in one of the Nigeria’s flagship social investment programmes, the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme targeted at the poorest and most vulnerable households in our country.”

The President declared that corruption had continued to be one of the greatest challenges in the continent and called for international collaboration to stem the “scourge”.

He quoted a 2014 report by the One Campaign titled: “One Trillion Dollar Scandal”, which claimed that developing countries lost $1 billion annually to corporate transgressions, with most of them traceable to activities of companies with secret ownership.

The President recalled another report in 2015 by the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, which stated that Africa had lost over $1 trillion over a 50-year period.

The report added that Africa had lost more than $50 billion annually to illicit financial flows mostly perpetrated in the extractive sector and through companies with hidden ownerships.

Buhari noted that the cost of corruption imposed on all African countries and governments a moral obligation to fight it with vigour and political will.

He said it should be done by strengthening all institutions and systems involved in law enforcement as well as in promoting a culture of transparency and accountability.

According to him, while public sector corruption is the usual focus, the private sector’s complicity is significant, as when large multinational corporations engage in tax evasion or transfer pricing.

He noted that it was the complex web of public-private collusion and connivance that resulted in proceeds of corruption ending up in foreign countries and especially in their financial institutions and systems.

He said: “Dismantling the conspiracies that facilitate export of stolen assets is probably as important as the theme of this conference: “Partnering towards Assets Recovery and Return”.

“It underscores the fact that fighting corruption is futile if we do not ensure that the proceeds of corruption find no safe haven.

“Recovering stolen assets not only accomplishes the goal of restitution, it also serves as a potential deterrent to future corruption.”

Buhari decried the absence of a legal basis for cooperation in some countries, differences in legal and procedural frameworks, language barriers, bank secrecy, jurisdictional issues, a lack of funding as obstacles to effective mutual legal assistance.

He, however, expressed gladness on the renewed commitment to collectively identifying the most effective means of overcoming all of the existing legal and technical obstacles to asset recovery and return.

The President urged African countries to come together to keep the issue of asset recovery and return on the front-burner of international discourse and also work hard to build cooperation and mutual understanding with global partners.

He said: “We must insist that recovered stolen assets be returned to the country of origin, without any preconditions, in line with Article 51 of United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Buhari said that States should agree to apply the highest standards possible of transparency at all stages not just of the recovery and return process, but also in the management and disposal of recovered and repatriated assets.

He also called on governments of African States to adequately fund their anti-corruption agencies as the fight against corruption was far more sophisticated, vicious and nuanced than ever before.

He said: “We must provide adequate resources to investigate, adequately equip operatives, protect their families, protect whistleblowers and witnesses.

“Let me say to you Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa that you have found yourselves in roles that could change the destinies of your nation if you deliver on your mandates.

“You simply cannot afford to fail; on our part as the Government of Nigeria we are irrevocably committed to the fight against corruption.”

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Senate Presidency: We Have Uncovered PDP Plans to Attack APC Senators

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By Abdullahi Mohammed

Insist on National Assembly Reconvening

In the aftermath of the mass defection and cross carpeting at the Nation Assembly, the All Progressive Congress(APC) revealed that the party has uncovered plans by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to ferment trouble by attacking the members of the APC in the upper chamber.In a statement signed by the Ag. National Publicity Secretary, APC, Mr. Yekini Nabena on Tuesday.

Mr Nabena said the party attention has been drawn to sinister plans by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to attack some All Progressives Congress (APC) Senators as part of the PDP’s desperate bid to ensure that Dr. Bukola Saraki clings to the position of Senate President.

Mr Nabena noted that by this statement, the party called on security agents to protect APC Senators. If any Senator is harmed, the PDP and Saraki should be held directly responsible. We call on security agencies to also closely monitor the activities of some PDP leaders including Saraki because the plan to attack APC Senators is real and imminent.

The party were informed that the plot was hatched in the private residence of a PDP leader in Maitama-Abuja on Sunday night. The meeting was attended by 15 pro-Saraki Senators including the Senate President himself.

“We learnt that the PDP expressed worry over the APC’s Senate majority and considered several options to stop the APC from taking over the Senate leadership among which is attacking some APC Senators to ensure their inability to attend legislative sittings” Nabena said.

“The PDP have recruited thugs for this purpose, we have now learnt “he added.
The APC further revealed further thus

“During Sunday’s meeting, the PDP Senators planned several types of attack, one of which is to lure some of them (APC Senators) out at night in the guise of inviting Senators to a political settlement meeting and thereafter instigate a violent confrontation during the meeting and unleash standby PDP thugs on APC Senators” Our source privy to the meeting informed us.

This revelation has not come to us as a surprise because the Senate President through proxies has made several failed attempts to buy over APC Senators with N100million each.

As a Party, we don’t believe in inducing lawmakers to achieve our legitimate goal of removing Saraki as Senate President. We will get the support of some PDP Senators to get the required 2/3 vote and impeach Saraki. We are already talking to some of PDP Senators who believe and support the direction of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to achieve our legitimate goal.

We reiterate our call for Saraki’s immediate resignation as Senate President. He cannot lead the APC majority Senate. But if he fails to resign honourably, we will impeach him. The PDP’s propaganda and threat of violence cannot save him.

National Assembly reconvening

As Chairman of the 8th National Assembly, Saraki’s decision not to reconvene the National Assembly done with the support of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara further buttresses our position the Saraki is ever ready to pursue his selfish interests over National Interest. This is another brazen display of his penchant for abuse of powers and sabotage of government, however the cost and implication.

While Saraki and his cohorts continue to postpone their doomsday regarding the imminent Senate leadership change, the yet-to-be considered 2019 budget of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is dangerously delayed.

Clearly, Saraki’s actions as Senate President now bother on high treason.

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It will be Difficult for an Igbo Person to Become a President of Nigeria – Okorocha

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By Abdullahi Mohammed

Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha has said it will be hard if not impossible for Igbos to produce a president from their extraction. The governor reportedly stated this while fielding questions from newsmen on Sunday at the Government House, Owerri said this is because of the pull-him-down syndrome the Igbos are naturally made of.

According to Punch Newspaper, he regretted that the Igbo failed to honour their leaders unlike what obtained in the other parts of the country.

“The Igbo do not know how to honour their own. They rather like to run down any of their rising leaders. The pull-him-down syndrome is high in Igbo land. And it is very unfortunate. Anytime I come out to run for the Presidency of this country, I will not suffer pull-him-down from the North or from the South-West or South South, it is only in Igbo land that I will suffer it,” Okorocha said.

“And they engage in this pull-him-down practice without knowing the overall implications on the Igbo. So, it will be out of place for an Igbo Presidential aspirant at any given period to think that the Igbo will make him President because the Igbo do not value their own. They don’t value what they have, but value outsiders. It is in their character. It is in their nature.

“Read the newspapers and go to the social media, all the insults and attacks you get are all from the Igbo. They go to any length to run you down without caring about your good intentions and all the efforts being made to see that things work out fine for the people of the area. It is a problem. It didn’t start today. Go down the memory lane, you discover that the pull-him-down syndrome in Igbo land didn’t start today,” he said.

The governor also declared a two day holiday in the state for the collection of Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC).

Okorocha declared Wednesday, August 15, and Thursday August 16, 2018 as public holidays, “to enable all Imo people qualified to have the PVC, but do not have them to go and collect theirs for elections in Nigeria.”

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Bauchi bye-election : PDP reject results heads to ‎tribunal

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By Ahmed Jada

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Bauchi state chapter has rejected the result of Saturday’s bye-election of Bauchi South Senatorial election which the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC),Yahaya Gumau was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Addressing a press conference at the PDP secretariat in Bauchi on Monday, the state the State Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Hamza Akuyam who was flanked by the party bearer Ladan Saliu described the election as the worst in the history of democracy election in the country.

It was reports that the Independent National Electoral Commission declared APC candidate, Lawal Yahaya Gumau as the winner of last Saturday Senatorial bye-election having pooled total votes of 119,489 to defeat the PDP candidate Ladan Saliu who pooled 50,256.

According to PDP Chairman “The win-at-all cost and by all means attitude of the Bauchi state government poses a clear and present danger of our democracy. It is unacceptable and can be accepted only at our own peril. The party will institute a legal action through the establishment mechanism of the law”.

Akuyam also accused officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies for conniving with the state government to rig the election saying “it is regrettable that the state office of INEC became a theater of Electoral malpractice and manipulation where figures were scandalous re-jigged to favor APC. This was done without any consideration for voters who stood in cues for long, some traveled miles and braved extreme conditions only for officials to disenfranchise them with a stroke of the pen, this is unacceptable.

According to him, the state government perfected the election rigging which was carefully rehearsed and excuted with active connivance of Law Enforcement Agencies and officials of INEC.

He also alleged that vote buying was widespread and conducted in the open noting “the APC-Led government in the state openly lured citizens with cash for their votes, which were sold for anything between 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and in some cases 5000 naira per vote. Simply put thee ballot paper became the most song he-after commodity in the senatorial zone. This shameless act was responsible for the low-turnout of voters, especially women and youth refused to vote until they get paid or settled. In some voting centers security officials chased away voters and agents even before voting process and counting were conducted”.

Akuyam accused police for firing gunshots and roads blockage “taking away a ballot box with agents thereby disenfranchising citizens from casting their votes”

On cancellation of votes, Akuyam lamented over the cancellation of 80,000 votes in an election where only256,763 votes were cast saying “we condemn this charade in strongest terms because it was a hatchet job by INEC officials and Governor MA Abubakar Governemnt to deny PDP victory”,

PDP also alleged that card readers were not used in the larger part of Toro Local Government adding that this explains the so called massive number of bites secured by the APC compared to Bauchi which has more centers and registerd voters.

“The conduct of our law Enforcement Agency and Security Services in this whole saga was to say the least, regrettable, Police vehicles were used in some rural areas of Alkaleri Local government to block roads and deny citizens free movement while officials of the state were given free access to those areas to purchase bites for APC,” he said.

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