Sunday, 21 January 2018
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (743)

Former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo says  his decision to retire 93 top military officers on his assumption of office  in 1999 has gone a long way in  saving  and stabilizing  the nation’s democracy.

Obasanjo branded the move as a kind of engineering in politics, pointing out that the mass retirement was inevitable  on account of the  lavish life style of some  top military men in the corridor of power.

He spoke at his 80th birthday celebration organized by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Abuja at the weekend.

The former president also warned people from referring to him again as Matthew, a name he said he dropped a long time ago.

He said: “If anyone does not want to see my red eyes, don’t call me Matthew again.”

He said that  moving people from one position to another could be a blessing in disguise, citing the examples of former Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Barnabas Gemade .

Oyinlola was military administrator of Lagos during the Abacha regime and was one of those affected by the Obasanjo purge while Gemade lost his position as PDP chairman in a move believed to have been sanctioned by the ex-president.

Obasanjo said the development has not affected his relationship with both men because to him, Nigeria comes first in everything.

He said: “Talking about engineering in politics, when I got into office as elected president, I got 93 officers of the armed forces out of the military because they were used to what is called the chummy chummy life in government house, and if I had left them in the military they would have been the ones that would have created more problems for us and our democratic dispensation would not have lasted as it has.

“Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola was one of the 93 officers, but in everything in life there may be a silver lining. If he hadn’t been out at the time he may never have been governor. If Senator Gemade had not been kicked out as chairman he would never have become a senator, but I’m happy that I was looking for perfection and what is best for Nigeria.

“Gemade is my friend and is still a friend and will remain a friend, but when it comes to Nigeria even with the best of my friends, Nigeria will come first. And for that I have no apology and I will have no apology for that.”

Posted On Saturday, 15 July 2017 23:42 Written by

Nigeria’s ailing president Muhammadu Buhari and the country’s acting president Yemi Osinbajo are meeting in London, the Presidency said on Tuesday.

“AgP @ProfOsinbajo meeting with President @MBuhari in London today, and returning to Abuja immediately afterwards,” the Presidency tweeted. But there was no detail on the subject of the discussion.

The president has spent most of this year in London receiving treatment for an unspecified medical condition. He left for London for a medical check-up on May 7, leaving Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to lead the country. His aides said only his doctors can determine when he can return to the country.

“The length of the President’s stay in London will be determined by the doctors. The government will continue to function normally under the able leadership of the Vice President,” presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement.

Adesina, however, insisted that there was “no cause for worry.”

Buhari had left earlier Nigeria on January 19 for London to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday. He only returned on March 10 after an extended period of medical treatment.

Though he hinted at the possibility of him going back for more treatment and acknowledged that he was terribly sick, he did not disclose the true nature of his ailment.

His office released an audio message during the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations purported to be from him. The message delivered wholly in Hausa angered more than a few Nigerians who accused him of being sectional with the choice of language he conveyed his message in.

Last month, Ekiti state governor Ayodele Fayose advised Buhari to resign but his supporters rejected the suggestion.

Posted On Wednesday, 12 July 2017 01:08 Written by

An investigator yesterday told an Ikeja High Court in Lagos how a former Nigerian Maritime Adminstration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)  Director General and five other officials stole N754 million belonging to the agency.

Mr Chukwudi Orji of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spoke during his testimony in the ongoing trial of ex-NIMASA Director General Patrick Akpobolokemi and six others on a 13-count charge of stealing and fraud.

Akpobolokemi’s co-defendants are: Ezekiel Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche, Governor Juan, Vincent Udoye, Adegboyega Olopoenia and a company — Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd.

Orji told the court: “Vimsat Committee, a committee of NIMASA, opened an account in a bank, which had only two inflows.

“On Aug. 29, 2015, N498.4 million was paid into that account by NIMASA and on May 20, 2015, N318 million was also paid into that account by NIMASA.

“This gave the account a total inflow of N816.2 million. On Sep. 29, 2015, there was a transfer of N11 million into the account of one Lakewood Garden Ventures Ltd from the Vimsat Committee account.

“The money was never used for research work as it was mandated to be. This money was part of the sharing formula of the defendants.”

Orji, explaining the role of Vincent Udoye, one of the defendants in the alleged scam, said:”On March 6, 2015 N7.8 million was transferred from Vimsat account into the another account with Diamond Bank account with number -0020802815 of the fifth defendant (Udoye).

“On June 4, 2015 he transferred N5 million from that account into another Diamond Bank account with number 006567038 which was also operated by him.

“The N5 million transferred was fixed on the same day and was liquidated on Sep. 2, 2014 and he was paid an interest of N24,000.

“The N5 million is still in his account as at the time the EFCC asked for his statement.

“He also transferred N2.5million into the bank account of Adegboyega Olopoenia (the sixth defendant).”

The N7.8 million disbursed by the defendants, Orji said, was part of funds from Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd which were originally from the account of the Vimsat Committee.

“All these transfers were done in a bid to conceal the source of the funds,” he said.

Throwing more light on the role of Gama Marine Nigeria Ltd in the alleged fraud, Orji said Adegboyega Olopoenia (the sixth defendant) was a signatory to the account of Gama Marine.

According to him, N10 million was transferred to Vincent Udoye in six tranches from that account by Olopoenia, totalling N60 million.

“It was conceived to be used under the guise of award of contract to Gama Marine but there was no contract.”

The investigator also told the court how another company, Arrow World Consulting Ltd, was used to transfer money from NIMASA by the defendants.

“In relation to Arrow World Consulting, the third (Ekene Nwakuche) and fourth (Governor Juan) defendants were the signatories to the account .

“Our findings were that the accounts of Arrow World Consulting received the bulk sum from the Vimsat Committee account on Feb. 12, 2015.

“They received N230 million and they received another N17 million from the account on May 6, 2015.

“Nwakuche and Juan used fictitious names while operating the Arrow World Consulting account; Nwakuche operated as Philip Emesike and Juan operated as Udoh Emakop.

“When we invited Nwakuche to our office, he confessed to be using the alias Philip Emesike saying he used the name in bank documents.

“He explained to me and my team embers that he used to sign as Emesike and he demonstrated to us how he used to sign the signature.

“N70 million was sent by Nwakuche into the bank account of Dorcas Nwakuche and N70 million was paid into the bank account of Kadice Oil and Gas Ltd.

“The third and fourth defendants also made various transfers to different accounts from the Arrow World Consulting account,” he said.

Orji told the court how the EFCC uncovered the forged documents used to carry out bank transactions by Arrow World Consulting.

“Arrow World Consulting did not do any work for NIMASA, I personally led the team to visit the company’s  address at 1004 Housing Estate, Victoria Island.

“I met the younger brother of the original owner of the company who was residing at the premises, I was told that the owner of the company had travelled out of the country.

“Shakespeare Solicitors, the lawyers to the real owner of Arrow World Consulting, came to the EFCC office with a power of attorney and made a statement.

“The lawyers commenced an action at the Ikeja High Court against the bank in which judgment was given in favour of the real owner of Arrow World Consulting.

“The real owner of Arrow World was awarded N10million damages by Justice F. Bankole-Oki against the bank for opening the account without the consent of the owners — the number of that suit is LD/1872/CMW/2016,” Orji said.

Oyedepo, the EFCC prosecutor, sought to tender as evidence, a letter written by Shakespeare Solicitors on the alleged fraud to the EFCC to which a copy of the judgment was attached.

Mr Seni Adio (SAN), lawyer to Nwakuche, however, objected to the tendering of the letter as evidence, saying it was irrelevant to the charge of the defendants and also not part of the original proof of evidence.

Justice Raliatu Adebiyi, in her ruling, held that the letter was relevant to proceedings and was, therefore, admissible as evidence.

She adjourned the case until today for continuation of trial.

Posted On Tuesday, 11 July 2017 02:42 Written by

•Management pact terminated

Telecoms giant Etisalat International has withdrawn from Nigeria, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Hatem Dowidar said yesterday.

The withdrawal may not be unconnected with Etisalat Nigeria’s indebtedness to a consortium of banks.

The firm has terminated its management agreement with its Nigerian subsidiary, Dowidar said.

Etisalat Nigeria has three weeks to stop using the brand name.

Last week, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervened to save Etisalat Nigeria from collapse after talks with its bankers to renegotiate a $1.2 billion loan failed.

Etisalat, with a 45 percent stake in the Nigerian business, said last month that it had been ordered to transfer its shares to a loan trustee after the failed talks.

Dowidar said all United Arab Emirates (UAE) shareholders of Etisalat Nigeria, including state-owned investment fund Mubadala, had left the company.

He said in an interview with Reuters that talks were ongoing with Etisalat Nigeria on technical support, adding that it could continue to use the brand for another three weeks before phasing it out.

“There’s a new board and we are not part of that company. We have sent our termination letter for the management agreement,” he told Reuters

Etisalat Nigeria is the biggest foreign-owned victim of the foreign exchange (forex) caused by lower oil prices and recession.

The telco took a $1.2 billion loan with 13 local lenders in 2013 to refinance an existing loan and fund expansion, but struggling to repay four years later.

Dowidar said Etisalat International had written down the value of the telco on its books, adding that transferring its 45 per cent stake to the lenders after loan renegotiation talks failed had no impact on the group.

Asked whether Etisalat would consider entering Nigeria again, Dowidar said: “The train has left the station on that one. Being in that market as an investor … are we willing to risk more money compared to the reward for the long-term?”

The CEO said Etisalat had been unsuccessful at converting some of its dollar debt to the  Nigerian currency. He also said the group might exit or merge with a local rival in markets where it was not one of the top two players. He did not specify which markets.

Etisalat is among the top two in markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Afghanistan, he said.

“(Nigerian) lenders may try to continue to operate the company until they find a buyer (or) they may merge the company with the existing players in Nigeria, he said, adding that it was tough to say what lenders would do.

“The brand agreement in either of these two scenarios won’t be a long-term thing, so we take out the brand; in the long term Etisalat won’t be in Nigeria.”

But Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services Ltd. (EMTS), trading as Etisalat Nigeria, yesterday said it is aware of reports regarding Etisalat Group’s withdrawal of the right to the continued use of the Etisalat brand in Nigeria by EMTS.

Its Vice President (Regulatory and Corporate Affairs), Ibrahim Dikko, in a statement, said EMTS had a valid and subsisting agreement with the Etisalat Group, which entitles EMTS to use the Etisalat brand, notwithstanding the recent changes within the company.

The statement said: “Indeed, discussions are ongoing between EMTS and Etisalat Group pertaining to the continued use of the brand, and EMTS will issue a formal statement once discussions are concluded. The final outcome on the use of the brand in no way affects the operations of the business as our full range of services remain available to our customers.”

“EMTS launched its opration in Nigeria in 2008 with “0809ja” to affirm the “Nigerianness” of our origin and sphere of influence.

“In our nine years of operation, we have remained a prime driver and avid supporter of the Nigerian spirit of excellence, and we will continue to stay true to our “Naijacentric identity”. This notion is strongly reflected in our core messages and depicted in major projects and initiatives which we have been known to support. All these initiatives have their foundation embedded in supporting key aspects of the Nigerian fabric: building Nigerian businesses and empowering Nigerian’s with a focus on the youth.

“Nigeria remains the soul of EMTS’ business and we have made the brand alluring to our teeming subscribers who see a piece of the spirit and character of Nigeria in everything we do. EMTS is here to stay and we wish to assure our esteemed customers that our core values of youthfulness, customer-centricity and innovation will remain the pillars on which we operate. We thank our esteemed customers for their abiding faith in us.”

Posted On Tuesday, 11 July 2017 01:41 Written by

A former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, revealed on Saturday that the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha wanted him, the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and the June 12 hero, the late Moshood Abiola, dead while in prison.

He stated this at a dinner programme organised by an inter-denominational Christian organisation, Christ The Redeemer’s Friends International of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lagos Province 39 Chapter.

The former president alleged that Yar’Adua was poisoned by Abacha’s killer squad, adding that he was to be next victim, but that he was saved by God’s divine grace.

Obasanjo said, “Two people had earlier told me Abacha promised that three of us would not come out of prison or detention alive; myself. Shehu Yar Adua and MKO Abiola. And two of them did not come out alive. So, that I came out alive, maybe God has a purpose. And therefore if the purpose is for me to serve the people and by so doing,  serve God, then so be it.

“Abacha claimed that I was plotting a coup. I wasn’t the first to be arrested. When Shehu (Yar’Adua) was arrested, I tried to plead for his release. When Abacha said he didn’t know about Shehu’s arrest, I said to him, ‘the number two man in this country cannot be arrested without you knowing.’ He then said he would go and find out.

“In Abacha’s plan, he left God out of it and because he left God out of his plan, it (his government) eventually failed. There is God’s hand in the life of each and every one of us and every institution. I believe that very well.

“When I was arrested, they took me to a house in Ikoyi (Lagos) and that became my abode (I was) in isolation, for three months.

“In the meantime, there were national and international pressures for my release, (former US) President Jimmy Carter was one of the world leaders that came to ask for my release. Some African leaders like Yoweri Museveni and Robert Mugabe came. I believe it was because of those pressures that I was released from isolation in Ikoyi where I was under house arrest.”

Obasanjo described the day he was court-martialled and sentenced as one of the ‘worst days in his life.’

He said, “I must say that, that day, in a split second, it felt like the worst day in my life. What flashed through my mind was that I was forever ruined. I asked myself, ‘What did I do to deserve this? Is this what I get for serving Nigeria?’ But then, I told myself again that this was not done to me by Nigeria, but that one man did it for me.”

Obasanjo said he and Yar’Adua were detained in Jos and Port Harcourt prisons because they were the best prisons in the country at the time.

He said, “I was to go to Jos (prison) and Yar’Adua was to go to Port Harcourt (prison). In Jos, I was visited by my colleagues, including Yakubu Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, many of our colleagues, and then family members and friends.

“Then a decision was made that I was becoming too popular in Jos prison and I had to be transferred to. Yola prison which is a native authority prison and I don’t need to tell you what life was there.

“In Jos prison, before I was transferred to Yola prison, they had decided that Shehu Yar’Adua and myself should be poisoned. So, they took him from Port Harcourt prison to Abakaliki. In the process, he was injected with the virus that killed him. The same was supposed to be done to me. The man who came took me from the prison to a guest house in the GRA in Jos,  said, ‘We know you have problem with cholesterol so I have to take your blood for a test.’ Then I said, ‘Not on your life, I don’t have any problem of cholesterol.’

“I was slightly diabetic. But God had taken care of it because I was checking my blood sugar almost on a daily basis and it had become better than normal. So, I refused him (the man) touching me with anything. So, they took me to Yola and he said, ‘when you get to where you are going, we will come again.’”

The former president said he was saved from being poisoned by a doctor and specialist in the prison.

“The doctor was a professional man in charge of the General Hospital in Yola. He listened to my case that I needed special food because I was diabetic. He said the specialist would come to see me. The specialist turned out to be somebody from Okeogun in Oyo State. Two, he was a Baptist, and three, he had heard about me and knew me. So, he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t let anybody touch you with anything.’

“Within three weeks the man that came to me earlier returned again and said he wanted to take my blood. I said, ‘No, you have to get my doctor to come and take my blood for you.’ That was the arrangement between me and the doctor. And my doctor came and he brought a syringe and he took my blood and gave it to him. He now asked the man, ‘When would we have the result?’The man said, ‘Within 24 hours of my getting to Abuja.’I haven’t heard the result till today.”

Obasanjo said after his release from prison, he gave into pressure to contest for the presidency and he ended up becoming president for two terms by the grace of God. “Nigeria that was a pariah state became a darling (of the world).

“What is the lesson for me? I developed in prison but unfortunately I was not able to sustain it. Maybe because there was nothing else to do in prison except to pray and fast. I used to fast a lot. On three occasions, I fasted for seven days, no water, no food… a unique power was given to me by God.

“In all these, God did not leave me alone, and I know that.  I say to people that God has never let me alone nor disappointed me in spite of all. I am a sinner. It is not because of my goodness, but because of the grace of God, and the grace of God continues to abound.”

Posted On Sunday, 09 July 2017 14:10 Written by

Manchester City and Super Eagles striker Kelechi Iheanacho is close to making move worth £25 million (about N1.25 billion) to former English Premier League champions Leicester City.

According to media reports on Thursday, the 20-year-old is in advanced talks with the Foxes and is thought to be well interested in making the switch.

Iheanacho, who has been very impressive for the Super Eagles and since making his debut for Manchester City in 2015, has scored 21 goals in 64 games in all competitions.

He signed a new contract last August, which is to end in 2021, but saw his playing time limited by the arrival in January of Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus.

Posted On Friday, 07 July 2017 03:32 Written by

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday arraigned two suspects – Ejere Chris and Edoma Omagha  before Justice A. M. Nicol-Clay of the Lagos State High Court, Igbosere, on 10 charges bordering on conspiracy and forgery to the tune of N7.3bn.

The accused persons were charged alongside Kehinde Ogbor, Danium Energy Services Limited, Sibet Oil Services Limited, Loveth Ogbor and Rhombi Energy limited, who are all at large.

The EFCC said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, that Danium Energy Services Limited allegedly approached the petitioner, Fidelity Bank Plc, between January 17 and February 9, 2017, to finance three different purchase orders for the sale of Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) to Total Nigeria Plc.

Thereafter, the bank allegedly financed two of the purchase orders to the tune of N7.3bn, after due confirmation from Total Nigeria Plc.

The products were allegedly supplied by Sibet Oil Services Limited and Rhombi Energy Limited and discharged at the Ibeto Tank Farm, Apapa.

The bank was said to have engaged an independent surveyor, International Logistics and Fulfilment Services Limited, which confirmed the existence of the products at the Ibeto Tank Farm as well as the Department of Petroleum Resources.

However, when the bank approached Total Nigeria Plc for repayment, it was discovered that the purchase orders were forged by the accused persons.

One of the counts reads:

“That you, Ejere Kelvin Chris, Edoma Omagha, Kehinde Eliot Ogbor (at large), Danium Energy Services Limited (at large), Sibet Oil Services Limited (at large), Loveth Miyemi Ogbor (at large) and Rhombi Energy Limited (at large) sometime between the months of January, 2017 and February, 2017 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to dishonestly convert and steal the cumulative sum of N7.3bn.”

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the counts.

In view of their pleas, the prosecuting counsel, George Chia-yakua, asked the court for a date to commence trial and prayed that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody.

Counsel for the accused persons, through oral application urged the court to admit their clients to bail, but was opposed by Chia-yakua, who insisted “they must file written applications.”

Justice Nicol-Clay adjourned to July 11, 2017 for hearing of the bail applications and ordered the accused persons to be remanded in the EFCC custody.

Posted On Friday, 07 July 2017 01:29 Written by

The Senate on Tuesday demanded that the acting President Yemi Osinbajo must obey the resolutions of the Senate, including the immediate removal of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

It also suspended all confirmation of appointments until compliance with its resolution.

Recall that the Chairman of the EFCC, who was appointed in Acting capacity by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 9, 2015, has consistently been rejected by the Senate.

Upon his appointment, Magu said he was committed to the anti-corruption war, drawing a connection between the economic challenges facing the country and the endemic corruption in the country.

 
Posted On Tuesday, 04 July 2017 15:04 Written by

A former Minister of National Guidance, Amb. Maitama Sule, is dead.

Reports said Sule died on Monday morning in Egypt.

The deceased, a hugely respected orator and diplomat, was a former Federal Commissioner of Public Complaints.

He was also a presidential candidate of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1979 but lost to former President Shehu Shagari in the party primaries.

Sule was later appointed Nigeria’s representative to the United Nations after the inception of democratic rule in 1979.

While there he was picked as chairman of the UN Special Committee against Apartheid.

After, Shagari’s re-election in 1983, Sule was made the Minister of National Guidance, a portfolio designed to assist the President in tackling corruption.

Posted On Monday, 03 July 2017 11:52 Written by

The wife of ailing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has left the country to visit him in London after first attending an African Union event, her office said.

Aisha Buhari’s office said late on Sunday that she was first heading to the AU summit in Addis Ababa for a “symbolic appearance” at a leaders’ wives meeting.

She will then head to Britain on Tuesday, a statement said, adding: “”She will convey to the president the best wishes of Nigerians and their fervent prayers for his quick recovery.”

Aisha Buhari first visited her 74-year-old husband in London on May 30 and returned to Nigeria on June 6, saying he was recovering fast.

The head of state of Africa’s most populous nation has spent most of this year in London receiving treatment for an unspecified medical condition.

In January and February, he spent almost two months in Britain and on his return in early March said he had never been as ill.

He left for the British capital again on May 7 for a second round of medical treatment. No date was given for his return.

The presidency has repeatedly rejected rumours that Buhari is terminally ill or even dead but has refused to disclose his illness or what treatment he is having.

Last week, opposition Ekiti state governor Ayodele Fayose advised Buhari to resign but his supporters rejected the suggestion.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has been acting on his behalf in accordance with the constitution.

Buhari’s absence has brought forward behind-the-scenes jostling for position for the 2019 presidential election at which the ailing leader is unlikely to stand.

In 2010, Nigeria was plunged into months of political turmoil after president Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in office following months of treatment abroad.

Posted On Monday, 03 July 2017 11:38 Written by
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