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The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria on Thursday morning sealed the Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt premises of Silverbird Galleria belonging to Senator Ben Murray-Bruce.

The Abuja Galleria currently houses the Abuja studio of the senator’s Rhythm FM radio station and Silverbird Television station as well as his other business interests. The one in Lagos hosts the Silverbird Cinema and outfits belonging to other people.

The buildings were sealed by AMCON through the assistance of officers of the Nigerian Police Force at about 8am, following a court order secured by the corporation.

The Federal High Court, Lagos Division, had on Friday, June 17, 2016, granted an interim injunction against Silverbird Productions Limited, Silverbird Showtime Limited, Silverbird Galleria Limited and Ben Murray-Bruce, Guy Murray-Bruce, Roy Murray-Bruce and Jonathan Murray-Bruce on the application of AMCON.

AMCON said in a statement that it had since appointed M. A. Banire SAN as receiver to the companies.

It added that Justice C.M.A. Olatoregun, while granting the order on the application of the counsel for AMCON, restrained Ben Murray-Bruce and other obligors that owed AMCON over N10bn from challenging, interfering with or obstructing or frustrating the receiver appointed by the corporation over the fixed and floating assets of the listed companies.

AMCON added that the senator had been in protracted negotiations with it over the indebtedness.

The corporation added, “Contrary to news making the rounds since the takeover, AMCON did not shut down the concerned companies. We appointed a receiver that took over the companies in the early hours of Thursday, June 23, 2016 as ordered by the Federal High Court and the receiver will be responsible for the companies on behalf of AMCON going forward.

“The court order affects the mortgaged asset located at Central Area, Cadastral Zone, AOO Plot No. 1161, Abuja; the mortgaged asset on Abonnema Wharf Road and Abali Park in Port Harcourt, Rivers State; as well as the mortgaged asset at 133 Ahmadu Bello Way, Lagos where the Silverbird Galleria is located.

“The court also ordered the Inspector General of Police, Assistant Inspectors General of Police, and the Commissioner of Police in charge of Lagos State and all other police officers under them to assist M. A. Banire SAN, the receiver; and the bailiffs of the Federal High Court in the enforcement of the orders of the court.”

Conspicuously written on the fence of the galleria in Abuja as well as other strategic locations was an enforcement notice by AMCON, which read, “Possession taken by court order — 23/06/16.”

AMCON also pasted a copy of the court order that gave it the right to seal the properties.

The court order, pasted on the walls of the property, was signed by the Registrar, Federal High Court, Lagos, Mr. Rasaq Sule.

The court order mentioned Ben Murray-Bruce, Guy Murray-Bruce, Michael Murray-Bruce, Roy Murray-Bruce and Jonathan Murray-Bruce as defendants in the suit.

It stated that AMCON had bought the indebtedness as an eligible bank asset from Union Bank of Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Ben Murray-Bruce, on his Twitter handle, said that the situation was already being resolved.

He wrote, “I have been on an international flight and have only just landed. The situation is being resolved and things will be back to normal.

“In 36 years, Silverbird has grown and like anybody, it will face challenges. Tough times don’t last, but we as tough people outlast them.”

 

WARRI- THE Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, NDLF, Wednesday, revealed that some top Army officers allegedly planning to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari had approached Niger- Delta militants to continue bombing oil installations to give reason and justification for a coup against him.

The militant group in a statement by the Commander, General Duties, Joint Revolutionary Council, JRC, of JNDLF, General Akotebe Darikoro and others, said: “We are constrained to let the cat out of the bag today that President Muhammadu Buhari should be wary about the security of this country as some military men are making move to remove him from power by instigating civil unrest in the country. ” “Some top military men through their civil agents approached us to cause and continue the vandalization of the oil and gas pipelines in the Niger delta region to use as an excuse to take over the government from democracy to military rule in the country,” the group asserted.

It added: “We said no, as such plan will not work and not in conformity with our genuine desire of agitation. The military want to disgrace him now and let him quickly look into the issues and make pronouncement for his administration to be in peace.” JNDLF asserted: “Let the President analyze certain memo from the military concerning Niger Delta region before taking action or otherwise the military will use that as a platform to remove him”. “We know the issue of Niger Delta is political and we prefer political solution to resolve it, but if the president refuses, we strongly advise the President to take a holistic approach to solve the Niger Delta problem.

 

The Presidency has dismissed as laughable, the desperate attempt by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State to link President Buhari’s wife Aisha to US Congressman William Jefferson’s bribery scandal for which the American lawmaker was convicted in 2009.

Reacting to Fayose’s allegations in a press statement, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said ordinarily the presidency would have ignored Fayose because he is a man “childishly obsessed with the desire to grab the headlines and insulting people at will because of his incurably boorish instincts.”

Malam Garba explained however that the presidency chose to respond on this occasion for the sake of innocent Nigerians who might be misled by Fayose’s shameless and blatant distortion of facts.

He said ignoring Fayose carries the risk of giving traction and credibility to outright and brazen falsehoods inconsistent with the status of anybody that calls himself a Governor or leader.

According to Shehu, Aisha had no direct, indirect or the remotest connection with William Jefferson’s corruption scandal in the United States.

He challenged Fayose to tell Nigerians if the so-called Aisha whose pictures he proudly, but ignorantly shared, was the same Aisha married to President Muhammadu Buhari, or if the Aisha of his idle imagination had any relationship by blood or any relationship in whatever form, with President Buhari’s wife.

Shehu also challenged Fayose to produce evidence from the records of investigation and subsequent trial of Jefferson to prove that Buhari’s wife Aisha was in anyway linked to that scandal. He explained that common names alone are  not enough to automatically link innocent people to crimes or scandals, especially in an era of identity thieves.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 11:42

EFCC freezes Gov Fayose’s account

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ADO-EKITI — The personal accounts of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and those of some of his associates have been frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The action immediately prompted diverse reactions with a large majority of lawyers and Nigerians contacted affirming the validity of the commission freezing a governor’s account, but only upon the orders of a court.

Governor Fayose, who opened up on the EFCC’s action while speaking at the premises of Zenith Bank, Ado-Ekiti, where he has his personal account, claimed that he got notice of plans by the Presidency to freeze his account some days earlier. A source in the bank told the visibly surprised Fayose that his account was allegedly frozen on the orders of the anti-graft agency. The governor said he had earlier issued a counter cheque to make a withdrawal, which was rejected by the bank located in Onigari , GRA in Ado Ekiti,  describing the action as criminal and illegal. Citing Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, Fayose said he enjoys immunity as a sitting governor, urging the Federal Government to fight corruption within the ambit of the law.

He said: “I got wind of the fact that the EFCC had placed restriction order on my personal account and that of my associates. I came here today (yesterday), and I have been able to see it. This action shows that this government has no respect for the constitution because I enjoy immunity under Section 308. “I support government fighting corruption, but it has to be within the ambit of the law. You can investigate me; it is their right, but they have to wait till 2018 because I will be done by then. They should not be in a hurry because I will personally come to them for investigation. “I have become a public figure in this country that I don’t have anywhere to run to. This rascality of EFCC must stop. If they like, let them investigate the whole world. Is it because they are the sitting government now that nobody can ask them questions? We will take every legal procedure to get things right. “I am not leaving this bank until they give me a statement of account. They must put it into writing because EFCC has no right under the law to freeze my account. They did not communicate with me. They want to destabilize the state, and we will use all legal means to make them obey the constitution. They can investigate me, but they can’t coerce me.”

Fresh trouble for Senate President Bukola Saraki is on the way with the resolve of the Federal Government to press forgery charges against him and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. The suit against the two presiding officers of the Senate, which flow from last year’s Senate leadership election, is coming more than a year after police investigations into the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Rules 2015. The move was, however, being interpreted in quarters as another dimension in the quasi-battle between the presidency and the legislature directed at paralysing the Senate with the simultaneous prosecution of the two presiding officers. Saraki and Ekweremadu 


Also charged with the two presiding officers are the immediate former Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa and his deputy, Mr. Bennedict Efeturi. The police report on the issue exclusively reported by Vanguard on July 27, 2015, had referred the case to the Attorney General of the Federation for further advice whether the case should be treated as a criminal case or part of the internal affairs of the Senate. The case against the quartet marked CR/219/16 between the Federal Government of Nigeria (Complainant) and Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki, and Ike Ekweremadu (Defendants), has been assigned to Justice Yusuf Haliru of the Federal High Court, Abuja. It was further gathered that the suit borders on a two-count charge of “Criminal Conspiracy, contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code Law” and “Forgery contrary to 362 of the Penal Code Law,” against Ekweremadu and others.

Yesterday aides of Senator Saraki and Ekweremadu denied formal knowledge of their principals being under investigation even if they claimed to have sensed the impending case against them. Specifically, an aide of Senator Saraki said yesterday: “We are aware of the new case, but he (Saraki) has neither been invited nor questioned on the case.” In the affidavit attached to the case file, which was filed on June 10, 2016, the investigative police officer swore that the investigation into the case had been concluded, a development associates of the two presiding officer queried asserting shock that the two presiding officers were not questioned before the conclusion of the investigation. An invitation letter dated June 6, 2016, said to have been written to the two men was as at yesterday yet to be delivered, Ekweremadu, his special adviser on media, Uche Anichukwu said yesterday. The case followed a petition written to the police by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, APC, Kaduna North, on behalf of the Senate Unity Forum, SUF in which he alleged that the Senate Standing Rule, 2015 used in the election of Senators Saraki and Ekweremadu as presiding officers was forged. The petition prompted police investigations led by Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG Dan‘Azumi Doma.

In the course of the investigation, the police team quizzed several senators all of them associates of Senator Hunkuyi and some Senate bureaucrats, however, neither Saraki, nor Ekweremadu were questioned on the issue. Those questioned were Senators Suleiman Hunkuyi, Secretary of the Senate Unity Forum who wrote the petition to the police, Ahmad Lawan, Abdullahi Gumel, Kabiru Marafa, Gbenga Ashafa, Robert Boroffice and Abu Ibrahim. Also questioned were Senator Ita Enang, who served as chairman of the Business and Rules Committee in the 7th and is presently special assistant to the president, Senate, Senator Babafemi Ojudu, who is now a Political Adviser to the President, and Solomon Ewuga, all of whom are members of the APC. No member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP or member of the Likemind Group associated with the Senate President were questioned according to the police report.

The report on the investigations obtained by Vanguard and exclusively published on July 27 did not mention Saraki or Ekweremadu or their offices or being among those that the police spoke to in the course of the investigation. Maikasuwa, who was the CNA at the time of the election and who presided over the election, was quoted in the report to have said that “he did not refer to any Senate Standing Order/Rules but used the normal procedures for the opening of a new parliament.” Efeturi, his deputy had said that the production of the 2015 Standing Rules was in line with convention, saying that the same procedure was used in the production of the Standing Rules in 2003, 2007 and 2011. In the suit against the quartet marked CR/219/16 between the Federal Government of Nigeria (Complainant) and Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki, and Ike Ekweremadu (Defendants), the Federal Government charges them of “Criminal Conspiracy, contrary to Section 97 of the Penal Code Law” and “Forgery contrary to 362 of the Penal Code Law.”

The two count charges read thus: Count One reads: “That you Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu on or about the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arm Zone, Abuja within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, conspired amongst yourselves, to forge the Senate Standing Order, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed the offence of Conspiracy, punishable under Section 97 (1) of the Penal Code Law. Count Two reads: “That you Salisu Abubakar Maikasuwa, Benedict Efeturi, Dr. Olubukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu on or about the 9th of June, 2015, at the National Assembly Complex, Three Arm Zone, Abuja within the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with fraudulent intent forged the Senate Standing Order 2011 (as amended) causing it to be believed as the genuine Standing Order, 2015 and circulated same for use during the inauguration of the 8th Senate of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when you knew that the said Order was not made in compliance the procedure for amendment of the Senate Order, you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 364 of the Penal Code Law”.

The fresh trouble for the Senate President is coming against the background of his ongoing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over allegations of false declaration of assets when he was governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011. 

A former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, for allegedly diverting N40bn from the coffers of the NCS.

Dikko, it was learnt, had been on the radar of the EFCC for several months but his whereabouts had remained unknown.

However, the former Customs boss arrived at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency around 10am on Thursday where he remained until press time.

A detective at the commission, who did not want his name in print, said, “You will recall that we have been looking for Dikko for quite some time. He turned himself in around 10am today (Thursday) and he is being quizzed over  two key allegations bordering on  criminal conspiracy, diversion of public funds, theft, abuse of office and living above legitimate means.

“There is also a further allegation that he diverted over N40bn from the Customs’ coffers. The funds were drawn from the proceeds of the seven per cent cost of collection and one per cent comprehensive import supervision scheme.

“He is being grilled over the source of the funds with which he acquired the mansion valued at over N2bn located at 1, Audu Ogbeh Street, Jabi Abuja.”

The EFCC operatives had on January 8, raided the residence of the ex-Customs boss.

Dikko is also being investigated over a N3bn vote spent by the NCS a few days to the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.

The said cash, which was allegedly spent on the directive of the Presidency, was regarded as “unjustifiably used” by the Customs’ management.

There are also issues bordering on the alleged diversion of Customs revenues to fund the campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 and 2015.

After oil and taxes, the NCS is the third highest revenue generating agency of the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, the EFCC has arrested a former governor of Adamawa State, Mr. James Ngilari, for his alleged role in the sharing of N450m in his state during the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

The money was said to be part of the $115m (N23bn) which was allegedly distributed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

The EFCC had last week arrested the PDP chairman in Adamawa State, Joel Madaki, over the Diezani fund.

The chairman was said to have told investigators that the money was handed over to Ngilari who was the governor at the time.

A source at the commission, however, told our correspondent that Ngilari had denied receiving the N450m from Madaki.

The detective said, “Ngilari is being grilled at our Gombe office. He denied authorising his former aides to take custody of the funds. We have obtained a detention order and he will spend the night in custody.”

The EFCC also grilled a former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hassan Adamu, for his alleged role in the sharing of the Diezani bribe.

It was learnt that Adamu, who was once Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, arrived at the office of the commission around 9.30 am, and was grilled for several hours before he was allowed to return home.

Adamu was abroad when his name appeared as a co-signatory to the collection of the share of Adamawa State.

An EFCC source said, “He (Adamu) admitted his involvement at that level but said that the money was taken to the government house in a bullion van by officials of Fidelity Bank.

“The ambassador added that the chief of staff to Ngilari, one Alhaji Hamman, and the accountant to the Adamawa State Government House, Mrs. Aisha Waziri, counted the money and confirmed the figure. The duo became custodians of the funds based on the directive of their boss, the governor.

“He said he left at that point and did not know how the money was shared neither did he personally benefit from it. Adamu promised to appear at the commission whenever he was in the country to explain his role.”

Thursday, 16 June 2016 01:17

Breaking: Finally, CBN floats the Naira

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Wednesday announced what it termed the “automatic adjustment mechanism of the exchange rate” in a flexible foreign exchange regime aimed at reducing the pressure on the Naira. CBN has been under immense pressure to devalue the Naira for a while, which has been resisted by both the monetary and fiscal authorities, claiming that past devaluations did not benefit the economy- which is import dependent.

Mr. Emefiele said, “The Central Bank of Nigeria has always maintained that it would continue to monitor situations on the ground and ensure that the Bank’s policies reflect these facts and developments rather than the sentiments of any groups or sectors. Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele “It is in light of this principle that we now believe that the time is right to restore the automatic adjustment 

mechanism of the exchange rate with the re-introduction of a flexible inter-bank exchange rate market. “The workings of this market will be consistent with the Bank’s objectives of enhancing efficiency and facilitating a liquid and transparent Foreign Exchange Market. Highlights of the flexible regime Under the new regime, Governor Enefiele said that the market would operate as a single market structure through the inter-bank/autonomous window Below are the highlights of the new regime: *The Exchange Rate would be purely market-driven using the Thomson-Reuters Order Matching System as well as the Conversational Dealing Book. *The CBN would participate in the Market through periodic interventions to either buy or sell FX as the need arises.

*To improve the dynamics of the market, we will introduce FX Primary Dealers (FXPD) who would be registered by the CBN to deal directly with the Bank for large trade sizes on a two-way quotes basis. *These Primary Dealers shall operate with other dealers in the Inter-bank market, amongst other obligations that will be stipulated in the Foreign Exchange Primary Dealers (FXPD) Guidelines, which would also be released immediately after this Press Briefing.

*There shall be no predetermined spread on FX spot transactions executed through the CBN intervention with Primary Dealers, while all FX Spot purchased by Authorized Dealers are transferable in the inter-bank FX Market. *The Forty-One (41) items classified as “Not Valid for Foreign Exchange” as detailed in a previous CBN Circular shall remain inadmissible in the Nigerian FX market. *To enhance liquidity in the market, the CBN may also offer long-tenored FX Forwards of 6 to 12 months or any tenor to Authorized Dealers In addition:

*Sale of FX Forwards by Authorized Dealers to end-users must be trade-backed, with no predetermined spreads; *The CBN shall introduce non-deliverable over-the-counter (OTC) Naira-settled Futures, with daily rates on the CBN-approved FMDQ Trading and Reporting System. This is an entirely new product in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market, which would help moderate volatility in the exchange rate by moving non-urgent FX demand from the Spot to the Futures market;

*The OTC FX Futures shall be in non-standardized amounts and different fixed tenors, which may be sold on any dates thereby ensuring bespoke maturity dates; *Proceeds of Foreign Investment Inflows and International Money Transfers shall be purchased by Authorized Dealers at the Daily Inter-Bank Rate; and *Non-oil exporters are now allowed unfettered access to their FX proceeds, which shall be sold in the Inter-bank market. Timelines

*Selected FX Primary Dealers would be notified by Friday 17th June 2016. All other non-Primary Dealers would remain valid and eligible to participate in the market *Inter-bank trading under the new guidelines will begin on Monday 20th June 2016; and

*The tenors and rates for the OTC Naira-settled FX Futures will be announced on Monday, June 27, 2016. Depleted foreign reserves The CBN, the governor said, had to take the measures sine the nation “witnessed a significant decline in our Foreign Exchange Reserves from about US$42.8 billion in January 2014 to about US$26.7 billion as of 10th June 2016. “In terms of inflows, the Bank’s foreign exchange earnings have fallen from about US$3.2 billion monthly to current levels of below a billion dollars per month.” He blamed the poor foreign exchange receipts on the over 70 percent drop in the price of crude oil, which contributes the largest share of our Foreign Exchange Reserves; Global growth slowdown and geopolitical tensions along critical trading routes in the world; and Normalization of Monetary Policy by the United States’ Federal Reserve.

The CBN boss explained, “the interplay between reduced FX Supply and rising FX demand accounted for a substantial reduction in our foreign exchange reserves.” Mr. Emefiele, assured, however, that “Our Reserves, despite having fallen, is still robust and is able to cover about 5 months of Nigeria’s imports as against the international benchmark of 3 months.” He said that his team at the CBN would ensure transparency in the new regime and that there would be no place for speculators.

His words, “Let me note that the Central Bank is strongly determined to make this market as transparent, liquid, and efficient as possible. Therefore, we would neither tolerate unscrupulous behaviour nor hesitate to bring serious sanctions on offenders. “The CBN expects all authorized dealers particularly to display the highest level of professionalism. We expect them to understand the spirit and letter of this transition to a market based system. The CBN will not allow the system to be undermined by speculators and rent-seekers.

*Permit me to emphasize that any attempt to breach any aspect of this new framework will be heavily sanctioned by the CBN and this may indeed result in the suspension or withdrawal of the FX dealing license of an offending Authorized dealer.” The governor explained that the Primary Dealers would be about eight or ten and banks with the capacity to go to the market with as much as $10 million.

An operative of EFCC, DSP Ibrahim Galadima, on Tuesday told an FCT High Court, Gudu, that ex-Taraba governor, Jolly Nyame, deposited N180 million to buy a house in Abuja.

 

Galadima said this while being cross-examined by Nyame’s Counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo.

Nyame is standing trial on a 41-count charge of money laundering, criminal breach of trust and gratification of N1.64billion of Taraba state funds.

Galadima, who headed the investigation team in 2007, also said that the actual figure was N20 million signed by Nyame for the purchase of stationeries for the state.

He said that his team discovered that N200 million was paid by Taraba government to Ibrahim Abubakar, the Managing Director of Salman Global Ventures Ltd.

The witness said that the company was into property business and the managing director was Nyame’s friend.

“Out of this amount, N180 million was deposited for a house in 8 Yaounde Street, Wuse Zone 2 in Abuja where Nyame intended to buy.’’

Galadima also revealed that N20 million was shared between the then Commissioner for Finance, Mr Tutare and eight million naira was given to the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Education, Mr Asabe.

This all happened in 2005.

He said that they were all invited by the EFCC and they all testified to this.

Galadima confirmed that another N165 million was again released by the governor for the same purpose and N16 million was given to Baba Garba to purchase these equipments.

He also said that N101 million earmarked for the presidential election in 2005 was diverted, adding President Olusegun Obasanjo never reached Jalingo where he was supposed to be entertained.

“Obasanjo took a helicopter to Mambila village and from there he left, he did not get to Jalingo where he was to be entertained,’’ Galadima said.

The DSP replied that there were memos and approvals in all as discovered in his investigations into Taraba government house.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has seized a terrace house belonging to a former acting Governor of Adamawa State, Umaru Fintiri. The house is located on No. 7, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja.

One of our correspondents, who visited the house, was told that the property was worth about N500m.

The house had painted at its entrance the inscription, ‘EFCC, under investigation’.

Fintiri was arrested by the anti-graft agency 10 days ago following a petition by former members of his cabinet that he embezzled N1.9bn during the three months he acted as governor.

The suspect, who was the Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, became acting governor after the impeachment of the substantive governor, Murtala Nyako, and his deputy, Bala Ngilari, in 2014.

He acted as the state governor from July 15, 2014 to October 8, 2014.

A source at the EFCC told one of our correspondents that Fintiri allegedly diverted the fund that was meant for the construction of the Faculty of Law at the Adamawa State University.

He said, “Before his impeachment, Nyako left a balance of N1,957,045,82 in the state government’s project account with the Yola branch of Zenith Bank, with account number 1011325467. Out of the money, N497m was meant for the construction of a law faculty at the university, which was to be sited at the former Teachers’ College, Yola.

“However, when Fintiri took over as acting governor, he transferred the proposed faculty from Yola to the Mubi campus of the ADSU and later laid the foundation; but after that, the project never took off.

“Investigations revealed that on Fintiri’s orders, part of the N1.9bn was released to the Ministry of Works and a contract was awarded to a construction company, Mayim Construction Limited, for the construction of roads in Mararaba Garta and Kamale in the Michika Local Government Area of the state. The company, we believe, is owned by Fintiri, which is illegal.

“The roads in question have not been constructed.”

The source added that Fintiri also purchased Highland Tea, a tea manufacturing company located on the Mambilla Plateau and jointly owned by Adamawa and Taraba states. The tea company owed N600m to the Bank of Agriculture, which Fintiri paid promptly and became its sole owner.

The source alleged that Fintiri, through his company, bought the assets of a firm, S M Nguroje Nigeria Limited, through the Bank of Agriculture for N650m

The property is a tea plantation and processing plant located in Taraba State.

“We believe that part of the N1.9bn was used in buying the tea plantation,” the source added.

The EFCC is also investigating a loan of N5bn taken by Fintiri as acting governor. It was alleged that the suspect took the loan without following due process.

Fintiri, the source said, would soon be charged to court.

However, a spokesman for Fintiri, who did not want his name in print, said the allegations were baseless, adding that all the contracts were awarded in accordance with the laws of the state.

He said Fintiri’s house was not seized but was only put under investigation.

He said, “The bids for the contracts were transparent and the ministries concerned duly advertised the projects for pre-qualification tender, which was not opened before Fintiri’s tenure ended.

“I think what you as a journalist should do is to find out why a suspect will be held for over 48 hours without being charged to court.”

Meanwhile, the Presidency on Saturday said efforts by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to recover funds stolen by former government officials as well as other individuals were a continuous exercise.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.

Adesina was reacting to the criticism that trailed the release of the amounts so far recovered from suspected looters by the Federal Government.

The government said it had recovered a total of N115.7bn in cash, while assets worth over N1.9tn had been frozen in the last one year.

In a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government said the recoveries were made between May 29, 2015 and May 25, 2016.

The government gave the breakdown of the loot as N78,325,354,631.82; $185,119,584.61; £3,508,355.46 and €11,250.

A conversion of the funds using the official exchange rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that the recovered loot added up to N115,792,760,499.

But some individuals and groups alleged that the amount declared as having been recovered was not the actual amount returned by the suspected looters.

Adesina, however, said this was why the President made it clear that there would be regular updates on the recovered funds by the minister.

“Recovery of loot and declaration of same is a continuing process. The President made it clear in his May 29 broadcast that the Minister of Information would give continuous updates,” the presidential spokesman said.

Saturday, 11 June 2016 21:37

Robert Mugabe, 92, hints at retirement

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Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, one of the longest serving heads of state, has hinted about his possible retirement but declined to state when.

The 92-year old president hinted about retirement when he warned veterans of the 1970s independence war against trying to influence the choice of his successor when he eventually leaves office.

Mugabe on Friday in Harare said leaders of the influential Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association had indicated their willingness for his retirement.

Mugabe said he would have considered their opinion, if they had asked him directly.

He, however, warned that that the veterans should stick to looking at the welfare of men and women who fought against colonial rule and not dabble in ZANU-PF’s succession politics.

“War veterans must know that it is the politics that leads the gun, not vice versa, as the war veterans are not bosses of the party.’’

Mugabe, a war veteran himself, warned that the war veterans have no business to talk about succession in the party.

Meanwhile, the president has previously said his successor must be chosen democratically and no automatic ticket for his wife Grace.

Mugabe said the veterans, who have publicly accused some ZANU-PF members of trying to manipulate the president by rallying behind his wife, were behaving like dissidents.

He recalled that in Zimbabwe, that term revives memories of a 1980s crackdown against Mugabe’s political rivals by an elite North Korean-trained brigade in which rights groups say some 20,000 civilians, most from the minority Ndebele tribe, were killed.

“Are we seeing another dissident rise and activity again?

“The dissidents tried it and failed,’’ he said.

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