Sunday, 21 January 2018
Headliners

Headliners (1839)

• Ex-minister moves to scale six hurdles
• London trial set to begin soon
• Why she prefers to be tried in Nigeria
• Associate goes underground

 

Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are vowing to resist any attempt by the embattled ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke to scuttle her impeding trial in the United Kingdom (UK).

The ex-minister recently expressed her preference to face trial at home when she pleaded with the Federal High Court in Lagos to order the Federal Government to facilitate her return to Nigeria to face trial.

She asked for an opportunity to defend allegations against her in a charge filed against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dele Belgore and former National Planning Minister Abubakar Suleiman.

The prosecution said Mrs. Alison-Madueke allegedly shared $115,010,000 (about N35billion) to individuals in the 36 states ahead of the 2015 general elections.

However, EFCC officials believe that the ex-minister’s statement is part of a grand delay strategy to escape justice in London.

The Nation gathered yesterday that the fear of getting the ‘James Ibori treatment’ if tried in the United Kingdom was partly responsible for her call to face trial in Nigeria.

Other reasons, according to EFCC sources, include the ‘strict nature’ of the British anti-graft law, and the huge cost of hiring a defence team there which could further drain her already depleted  financial resources.

Ibori, ex-governor of Delta State was jailed by the Southwark Crown Court, London on April 17, 2012 after pleading guilty to ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud.

He was jailed for 13 years and his assets including three buildings in the UK and South Africa seized.

Also confiscated from him were a fleet of Range Rovers, a Bently Continental GT and a Mercedes-Benz Maybach 62.

He was recently released from jail.

Before Ibori’s London trial, he had been discharged and acquitted of a 107 count charge of corruption by a Federal High Court, Asaba.

Sources also said the ex-minister is home sick.

Her trial in London, is expected to commence soon, sources added and EFCC officials are upbeat that the trial will justify the extensive job they did in investigating her.

They are shocked that she wants to return to Nigeria after the ‘massive’ evidence they sent to the UK for her ‘water-tight’ prosecution.

“We see her as making moves to frustrate the course of justice after we have hauled a lot of evidence to the United Kingdom,” one source said.

“If she comes back, she will come up with frivolous applications up to the Supreme Court level to halt her probe. She might take advantage of the law to frustrate investigation and her arraignment in court.

“Intelligence also revealed that she is already afraid that she might face trial before some conservative judges who may strictly apply the UK law against corruption.

“So, she is just afraid of the long arm of the law catching up with her.”

The source said now that the EFCC has seized more than 56 houses from her, she should “face trial in the UK which may further vindicate our findings or otherwise.

“The report of the US Department of Justice has already proved EFCC right on its investigation.

“US Department of Justice through its  Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, is already seeking to recover $144m in assets from some associates of Diezani.

“We want her to face trial abroad in order to recover laundered funds before returning home for further  investigation including the whereabouts of about $15.8 billion NLNG dividends  between 2000 and 2014.”

An audit report sent to EFCC by the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), doubts whether “the entire $15.8 billion due from 2000 to 2014 is still intact.”

NEITI added: “The funds were neither paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation nor the Federation.

“Also, about US$7.85 billion out of the dividends was allegedly withdrawn in 2011 under the guise of funding Brass LNG Project.”

Another source said:”The UK has spent much of public funds on Diezani’s probe. She needs to spend more on the hiring of counsel.

“At the end of the day, if the laundered funds and assets are seized, whatever will have been  expended on her probe will be deducted from forfeited assets.

“She will end up losing part of the looted funds. This is overwhelming her.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “We learnt that Diezani’s trial will soon begin in the UK, we believe she should not jump the gun.”

As at press time, it was learnt that Mr. Kola Aluko, one of the business associates of the ex-Minister, has gone underground.

Aluko was implicated in the wiring of the part of the $1.5billion into a bank in Switzerland.

Sources also said  that Aluko may  have sold most of the 19 choice assets traced to him in some countries.

The source added: “Detectives have been on the trail of Aluko but he cannot hide for long.”

A Federal High Court in Lagos had on June 24, 2016 invoked the Interim Forfeiture Order in the EFCC Establishment Act to seize the properties.

The affected assets are mostly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland and the United States.

They are a plot of land in Mont Tremblant (Canada) and some houses in the United Arab Emirates including 4100 Le Reve Dubai Maria, Dubai; Unit 1402, PS 14th Floor located at Metro TECOM near Internet City Metro Station, Dubai; Unit 712, ES 7th Floor located at First Central, Off Sheikh Zayed, TECOM, Al-Barsha 3 Dubai; and Unit 512, 5th Floor located at First Group Marina Hotels, Al-Seba Street, Plot 394-426, Dubai AE-AJ.

Those in Switzerland are at Colina D’Oro Montagnola, Switzerland; Via Magio 6 Montagnola 6926 Switzerland; and Vila Floridiana via Cantonale 17, 6948 Porza Lugano, Switzerland

Others located in the United States and the United Kingdom are 755 Sarbonne Road, Los Angeles, California 90077USA; 952 North Alpine Drive Beverly Hills, California 80210 USA; 157 West 57th Street New York 10028, USA; 1049 Fifth Avenue New York 10028, USA; 815 Cimal Del Mundo Road Santa Barbara, California 93108, USA; 1948 Tollis Avenue Santa Barbara California 93108; 1952 Tollis Avenue Santa Barbara California 93108, USA; 807 Cimal Del Mundo Road Santa Barbara, California 93108, USA; 32 Grove End Road, London NW8 9LI UK; and Flat D.03.01 One Hyde Park 100 Knight Bridge SW1X 7U, UK.

Capping the list is the €63m Galactica Star which the US Department of Justice in the United States claimed that the ex-Minister had warned Aluko against buying.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami( SAN) penultimate Wednesday told State House correspondents that the return of Diezani to Nigeria for trial might  jeopardize the ongoing investigation in the UK.

He said: “Steps have been taken by the United Kingdom authorities on issues bordering on corrupt practices involving Nigerians.

“If Nigeria feels strongly that there is need to bring Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke here to face charges of corruption, government will not hesitate to do that.

“As things stand now, there is no need for that since the UK Government is already investigating her. Government will not take any decision that will jeopardize what the UK government is doing.

“Mrs Deziani Allison-Madueke is facing charges of money laundering and acquisition of properties in the United Kingdom.

“So it is more important to face the charges there than for her to come as a mere witness in a case in Nigeria.’’

Posted On Sunday, 15 October 2017 00:51 Written by

Manchester City maintained their blistering start to the season as the Premier League leaders demolished Stoke 7-2, while champions Chelsea crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat at lowly Crystal Palace on Saturday.

With second placed Manchester United settling for a drab stalemate at Anfield earlier in the day, it was their Manchester rivals who provided the thrills as City moved two points clear at the top.

Pep Guardiola’s free-scoring side struck three times in the first 27 minutes at Eastlands, securing their sixth successive league win in swashbuckling style.

City took the lead through Gabriel Jesus in the 17th minute and Raheem Sterling doubled the advantage two minutes later with a tap-in that capped a flowing move.

David Silva got City’s third with a simple finish after another incisive raid in the 27th minute.

Stoke’s Mame Biram Diouf reduced the deficit with a deflected effort in the 44th minute and City’s defence was breached for just the fourth time in the league this season when Kyle Walker scored an own goal two minutes after the interval.

But Jesus’s second goal in the 55th minute restored order and his compatriot Fernandinho put the result beyond doubt five minutes later.

City reached six goals in a game for the second time this season as Leroy Sane netted in the 62nd minute.

Bernando Silva’s first City strike, in the 78th minute, made it 24 goals in his team’s last five league games.

Bottom of the table Palace had lost their opening seven league games without scoring a goal, the worst start to a season in English top-flight history.

But stunningly it was Chelsea who were the victims as they finally ended that goal drought at Selhurst Park.

Palace took the lead in the 11th minute when Yohan Cabaye’s effort was deflected in for an own goal by Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta.

Tiemoue Bakayoko equalised for Chelsea seven minutes later as the France midfielder headed his first Premier League goal from a Cesc Fabregas corner.

However, Chelsea were already without injured duo Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante and they suffered another setback when Victor Moses limped off in the first half.

There was even worse to come for Chelsea as Wilfried Zaha restored Palace’s lead with a fine curling strike in first half stoppage-time.

Infuriated
Fabregas hit the crossbar but Chelsea were unable to avoid a second successive league defeat after their damaging 1-0 loss to Manchester City before the international break.

Antonio Conte’s fouth placed side, beaten three times this term, are now nine points behind City.

At Anfield, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was left infuriated by United boss Jose Mourinho’s ultra-cautious game-plan.

Mourinho’s team had just six touches in Liverpool’s penalty area as United goalkeeper David De Gea made a superb save from Joel Matip to maintain the visitors’ unbeaten start to the season.

Klopp’s spluttering side have only one win in eight games in all competitions.

“I think Man United came here for the point and they got it,” Klopp moaned.

“I’m sure if we played like this, you could not do this at Liverpool. Obviously for Man United it is OK.”

Inevitably, Mourinho had no regrets, saying: “Their midfield today was stronger than my midfield. I had (Ander) Herrera and (Nemanja) Matic and nobody on the bench to make it different.

“The second half was a bit of chess, but my opponent didn’t open the door for me to win the game.”

Tottenham finally won for the first time at Wembley in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Bournemouth.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side had failed to win their first three league games since moving into Wembley while White Hart Lane is redeveloped, but Christian Eriksen’s deft 47th minute finish ended that frustrating streak.

Chris Wood’s 85th minute equaliser rescued Burnley in their 1-1 draw against 10-man West Ham at Turf Moor.

Michail Antonio gave West Ham the lead in the 19th minute, but Hammers striker Andy Carroll was sent off after catching Mee with an elbow less than two minutes after being booked for the same offence.

Swansea climbed out of the relegation zone as Tammy Abraham’s brace sealed a 2-0 win against Huddersfield.

Abraham put Swansea in front three minutes before half-time at the Liberty Stadium and the on-loan Chelsea forward struck again with his fifth goal of the season in the 48th minute.

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 21:13 Written by
A group, known as Concerned Professionals Initiative for Good Governance (CPIGG), is asking the Nigerian Senate to "totally and overwhelmingly reject the nomination of Aisha Ahmad as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the grounds that she is not qualified  to hold that office since she is lacking in experience and  integrity.
 
The CPIGG, with its headquarters in the North-Central city of Jos,  is just one of the many voices that have so far spoken against last week's appointment of Mrs. Ahmad, a former staff of Diamond Bank Plc by President Muhammadu Buhari, for the position of deputy head of the country's apex bank.
 
"As responsible and law abiding citizens of Nigeria, who are fully conscious of the powers of the Senate as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, we are writing to draw the attention of the Senate to the abnormality surrounding the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN)" and  "to appeal to  the Senate, through your good offices, to reject the nomination forthwith," it told the Senate President, Bukola Saraki in  protest letter submitted on Wednesday.
 
In the petition, titled "Wrongful Appointment of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad for the position of Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN): Appeal for intervention of the Senate,"  the group explained that as an organization committed to the promotion of good governance, equity, justice and fairness and the fight against corruption in the administration and governance of the country,  "we  are compelled to   seek the intervention of the Distinguished  Senate to reject the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad  pending before  Senate for confirmation as Deputy Governor of CBN."
 
According to the group, the petition, dated 10th October, 2017 and signed by its Convener/Chairman, Ebah A. Idikwu, Esq, was anchored on "the obvious aberration, fraud, injustice and abuse of office, which the  nomination of Mrs. Ahmad represents."
 
Outlining the "facts of the matter" for consideration by the Senate, the petitioners alleged that the nominee was not qualified for the exalted office of Deputy Governor of CBN because "less than a week before the announcement was made, the nominee was Head of Consumer Banking at Diamond Bank on the substantive rank of Deputy General Manager(DGM). The CBN Act however provides that to be appointed Deputy Governor of CBN, the candidate must have attained the rank of at least an Executive Director in a reputable financial institution. In the past, those appointed Deputy Governors were Managing Directors/ CEO of Deposit Money Banks. One example is Mr.  Tunde Lemo who until his appointment as Deputy Governor, of CBN was Managing Director of Wema Plc."
 
"Aware that Aisha Ahmad was not qualified for appointment as Deputy Governor, CBN, her sponsors hurriedly caused a highly fraudulent and unusual promotion to be made catapulting her from DGM Status to Executive Director on October 6, 2017by 5.22 PM, the same day her purported appointment was announced  by the Presidency (See attached circular marked Annex A). It means therefore, that the promotion was made after her appointment was made public, an after-thought to salvage a bad situation," the petitioner noted.
 
The petitioner further argued that the Diamond Bank Annual Report for 2016 contained the names and pictures of all Executive Directors on P. 32. "However, Mrs Aisha Ahmad’s name was conspicuously missing, which confirms that she was not an Executive Director of Diamond Bank and therefore, not qualified for the position of Deputy Governor of CBN for which she has been nominated."
 
"Our checks on the organogram of the Diamond Bank have revealed that apart from the seven superior officers of the bank, there are other seven Heads of Units and Departments placed in order of relevance and seniority out of which Mrs. Aisha Ahmad is the sixth. Therefore, it is unthinkable for Mrs Ahmad to overtake six other senior officers to be promoted to the rank of Executive Director. If the question must be asked, what special feat did she accomplish that merited her such an unusual promotion?," they added.
 
The petitioners further informed the Senate that Mrs Aisha Ahmad’s astronomical promotion at Diamond Bank was not approved by the CBN as required by law. "This evident is the circular announcing her appointment was fraudulently silent on CBN approval just as it was silence on whether the board of Diamond Bank sanctioned the applicant as required by the best corporate governance procedures."
 
"Most Importantly, the nomination of Mrs. Aisha Ahmad amounts to a gross violation of the Federal Character principle as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria since Niger state where Mrs Aisha Ahmad hails from produced a Deputy Governor of the CBN in the person of Mr Maiyaki who served for 10 years. In addition, Mrs Aisha’s Mother comes from Kwara state which also produced a Deputy Governor of CBN in the person of  Mrs Sarah Alade, who also held the position for ten (10) years. Going by the Federal Character principle therefore, the other North Central states of Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and FCT should also have the opportunity to produce a Deputy Governor of CBN," the petitioner posited.
 
The petitioners contended that from the foregoing, "it is clear that Mrs. Aisha Ahmad’s appointment as Deputy Governor of CBN was fraudulently conceived and made for purposes that are clearly far from the objective of ensuring the good management of the nation’s economy."
 
They warned that as a beneficiary of the skewed process of her promotion to qualify for appointment into the CBN, there was every reason to believe that Mrs. Aisha Ahmad would be morally unsound to defend skewed or corrupt process if allowed to function as Deputy Governor of CBN, saying, "she will be dangerous to the integrity of the CBN and the highly sensitive functions carried out by the apex Bank for the good of the economy."
 
"From the facts above, there are obviously very powerful interests behind the nomination of Mrs Aisha Ahmad as Deputy Governor of CBN. If the powerful interests could influence her abnormal promotion at Diamond Bank to pave way for her nomination as Deputy Governor of CBN, the same interests would work though her to compromise economic policies. To put it succinctly, Mrs. Aisha Ahmad will be an economic Saboteur. Nigeria can do without her," the petitioners said.
 
Insisting that  te appointment of Mrs. Ahmad was illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and must not be allowed under whatever circumstance, the petitioners warned that it would be a negation of the anti-corruption stance of the Federal Government if Mrs Aisha Ahmad is allowed to manipulate her way to attain the high office of Deputy Governor of CBN, and that it would  not only set a bad precedent, it will destroy the integrity of the CBN and by extension destroy the nation’s economy.
 
 
 
 
Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 11:42 Written by

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday responded to allegations that the Igbo were under-represented in his government, saying that the South East region was not marginalised in appointments into his cabinet.

Receiving some leaders from the region who visited him at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, President Buhari said there are “four substantive ministers” from the South East region while seven states in the North only got appointments as ministers of state.

Buhari said: “I gave the South-East four substantive ministers in the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology and Labour.

“Seven states in the North got ministers of state. And of the two ministries headed by your sons, I cannot take any decision on foreign policy and investments without their input.”

President Buhari also assured stakeholders from the South East, who were led by Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, that the region would benefit more from roads and coastal rail projects, which he said are of critical importance to the economy.

The President, according to a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, declared that the 2nd Niger Bridge, the East-West Road and the Coastal rail project were receiving utmost attention from his administration.

He said that counterpart funding from the Chinese government would substantially fund the projects, which when completed would improve the welfare, well-being and economy of the people in the region.

The President said: “I know the Chinese are very competent in handling such projects and we will ensure that we get the money for the projects to take off.

“I thank you for articulating your demands, and I want to assure that we are doing our best for the country.

“If we can stop people from stealing, then there will be more resources to put into projects that will create employment for Nigerians.”

The President also promised the leaders, comprising governors and ministers from the region, the President of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo and representatives from the National Assembly, that he will visit the states in the zone soon.

“I want to assure you that I came into government with a clear conscience and I will also leave with a clear conscience,’’ he said.

Earlier, the President of Ohanaeze, while articulating the demands of the zone to the President, highlighted the issue of state creation, restructuring, federal projects in the South East, namely Enugu-Onitsha Road, Enugu-Port Harcourt Road and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene Road, among others.

Nwodo also demanded urgent presidential interventions on the Enugu Airport, reticulation of the gas pipelines in the South East and the standard gauge plan for railway construction.

Commending the President’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, Nwodo said: “We are ready to work with you. We are determined to work with you. We know you are a decisive leader and we know God will continue to give you the wisdom to govern Nigeria.’’

Also speaking, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State expressed satisfaction on the outcome of their discussions with the President on critical issues and topics affecting the region.

“You have no hatred for any state. You have treated all states with equality. What one state gets in the north, the other gets in the south,’’ the governor said, referring to budget support facility and stabilisation fund released to states and local governments since the inception of the administration.

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 01:22 Written by

The Commissioner of Police in Abia, Mr Anthony Ogbizi, has said that lethal weapons, including petrol bombs and one double-barrel gun, were recovered during last Sunday’s raid on the residence of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Ogbizi said this on Thursday during an interaction with newsmen in Umuahia, adding that the items were recovered during a joint operation by security personnel in the state.

He said that the petrol bombs were found in buckets and incriminating documents and letters, concerning IPOB’s activities and plans, were also recovered during the raid.

He said that the raid was carried out based on an intelligence report, regarding the continued activities of some members of the group.

Ogbizi said: “We recovered many of Biafra’s insignia, staff of office and some of those items are being analysed.”

The police boss said that the operation also led to the arrest of one suspected member of IPOB.

He said that the team also discovered the telephone numbers of the group’s zonal coordinators adding that all the communications between the leadership of the group and their collaborators would be thoroughly analysed.

Ogbizi said that a Biafran flag was also found hanging on a telecommunications mast in the area.

According to him, the police will ask the Nigeria Communications Commission to sanction any telecommunication company that allowed its mast to be used to hoist Biafran flags.

He said that the activities of IPOB in the Southeast were “stirring insurrection” and that security agencies would not fold their arms and watch the group foment violence in the country.

He said that members of the group allegedly set a police station and van ablaze in Aba, and also attacked a military patrol team in Umuahia.

The police chief said that similar joint operations would be carried out intermittently in Kanu’s residence, anytime they received intelligence report that offensive weapons were brought to the place.

He said that it was wrong to say that the military was taking over the duties of the police rather the action should be seen as a synergy between the two organisations to check security challenges.

Ogbizi said that he would not hesitate to invite the army anytime the security situation in the state grew beyond the capacity of the police.

Posted On Thursday, 12 October 2017 19:52 Written by

The war of integrity between Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director (GMD) Dr. Maikanti Baru got more intense yesterday.

The oil giant faulted the Minister’s claim that he was not consulted on $10billion Crude Term Contracts.

The NNPC said Kachikwu made an input into the shortlisting of 40 off-takers for the Crude Term Contracts by recommending seven companies, which were engaged.

Also, the minister was said to have nominated two companies for the alleged Direct Sales, Direct Purchase (DSDP) transactions, which Kachikwu claimed were worth $5billion.

The corporation said while the Minister was its GMD, he sent a memo to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) seeking clarification on the status of the NNPC Tenders Board.

NNPC’s position is contained in a fact-sheet apparently prepared against the backdrop of the six posers raised by loyalists of Kachikwu for GMD Baru. The Nation published the posers exclusively yesterday.

Besides the posers, the minister had in an August 30 memo to President Muhammadu Buhari alleged that he was being sidelined by the GMD.

He said: “As in many cases of things that happen in NNPC these days, I learn of transactions only through publications in the media. The question is, why is it that other parastatals which I supervise as Minister of State or Chair of their Boards are able to go through these contractual and mandatory governance processes and yet NNPC is exempt from these?”

Sources, who spoke with our correspondent, with a fact-sheet said the “posers amounted to mere academic exercise and sheer deceit by the minister”.

They claimed that the minister was consulted on most of the transactions he listed in his memo to the President, including Crude Oil Term transactions, Direct Sales, Direct Purchase (DSDP) contracts and Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) Gas Pipeline contract.

The fact-sheet said: “For record purposes, Nigerians should be aware that Kachikwu single-handedly superintended and approved the off-takers of Nigerian Crude Oil and gas for 2016/ 2017. There were no issues then.

“As for the off-takers for 2017/2018, the minister was consulted by the GMD. Out of a list of 40 off-takers, Kachikwu recommended seven firms, which were accepted by NNPC management without any issue. He initially nominated three and later added four. His judgment was respected, accepted and approved by NNPC management alongside 33 others.

“The seven off-takers he recommended are as follows: North-West Petroleum; Setana Energy; Emo Oil; Litasco Supply and Trading Company;   Voyage Oil and Gas; Levene International  and Cespa Trading. Since the Minister strongly recommended all these companies, we concurred with his recommendation which was based on a professional judgment. We also did not find any of the companies wanting and they met the criteria for crude lifting.

“On DSDP, the Minister also nominated two companies, Messrs Falcon Bay Energy Limited and Rain Oil Limited. The NNPC avoided all these details in its statement on Monday in order to protect the interest of these companies doing legitimate business. But Nigerians can appreciate that Kachikwu’s input was sought.

“Regarding AKK Pipeline contract, NNPC has explained that it is still in the works; it has not been awarded by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

“There was this $9.2billion Escravos Gas Pipeline Project which the GMD did not touch  in his memo to the President. Apart from discussing and reviewing it with the Board of NNPC, the GMD wrote a June 29, 2017 memo to the Presidency and after official process and consultations with the Minister, it was approved. In fact, the Minister gave the final approval in a memo of August 22, 2017, although with some reservations.

“Concerning sections 130(2) and 148(1) of the 1999 Constitution, the Minister only alluded to the powers of the President. The NNPC GMD made it clear that he obtained the approval of the President on these transactions. If the President, as the senior Minister of Petroleum Resources, has exercised his constitutional powers, what else is the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources after?

“It should be noted that NNPC and its GMD are only following the standards put in place by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources on Crude Oil Term Contracts and other transactions. NNPC is following the same rules which the Minister put in place. But the Minister is now criticising the same rules. The only thing that has changed is that Kachikwu is not the substantive GMD of NNPC again.’

“Nigerians need to know that the Minister (while he was the GMD of NNPC) wrote a memo to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to seek clarifications on the financial limit of NNPC Tenders Board. And the BPP put the limit at $20million. This is what the NNPC management has been adhering to.”

When contacted, a top source in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, who is in the position to know, said NNPC was lying.

The source said: “All of the above are lies. No official documentation backing this. This and possibly more to come are vain efforts to discredit Kachikwu and cover up the damning allegations he made.”

Posted On Thursday, 12 October 2017 01:36 Written by

Nigerian pop artist Davido has been invited again by the Lagos State command of the Nigerian police in connection with the death of his friend Tagbo Umeike.

The autopsy that was done on the deceased revealed that he died of suffocation.

The Acting Lagos Police Commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, stated at a briefing that Davido has been reinvited for questioning.

According to Edgal, the information Davido gave them was different from what was found after their investigation.

Apart from the autopsy report revealing that Tagbo died of asphyxia or suffocation, investigations also revealed that he was abandoned in his car at the hospital by Davido’s driver and two of his friends: Agbeje Olaoye and Idris Busari.

The Lagos police chief said a CCTV footage from the General Hospital where Tagbo was dumped revealed that Davido’s escort Hilux vehicle driver, Tunde Usutu, and his two friends took him to the hospital and abandoned him there.

Davido, according to Edagal, had stated earlier, during a pre-investigation meeting with the police, the deceased’s family, friends and Caroline Danjuma, that he had left Shisha bar where he had been drinking with the deceased for DNA nightclub in Victoria Island and was only informed by mutual friends of his demise.

Before his demise, Tagbo was said to have consumed a huge amount of alcohol. The bartender and CCTV footage confirmed that Tagbo had drunk as much as 40 shots of Tequila and exhibited signs of drunkenness.

Two of Davido’s other friends, DJ Olu and Chime, were found dead in a BMW Saloon car in an underground garage days after Tagbo’s demise. The autopsy done on them to confirm the cause of death is yet to be concluded.

Posted On Wednesday, 11 October 2017 22:00 Written by

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe kachikwu, on Tuesday met the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru at the 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja.

Baru and kachikwu 1 Baru with Kachikwu Baru-Kachikwu-shake-hands2 Baru-Kachikwu-shake-hands3

Posted On Tuesday, 10 October 2017 21:44 Written by
  • NNPC on oil deals: no process breached

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu’s future was hanging in the balance yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari is said to be weighing options on Dr Kachikwu’s fate, following his allegations against Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.

Specifically, Kachikwu alleged that Baru

  • awarded $25b contracts unilaterally;
  • ran a bravado management; and
  • made appointments without consultations.

It was learnt that having found Baru not guilty of corrupt practices, the Presidency gave the GMD the clearance to release a fact-sheet in the matter to the public.

Kachikwu is said to be consulting his associates, stakeholders and colleagues on his next move. He has been cautioned against any act capable of being seen as confrontational, according to a source, who pleaded not to be named because of “the sensitivity of the matter”.

Kachikwu’s associates, it was learnt, cited the travails of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources Prof. Tam David-West’s rough deals with the military administration of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida.

One of the alternatives being suggested by his friends is the possibility of voluntary exit from the cabinet “to preserve his integrity”. It was not clear last night the step Kachikwu would take after it was clear that the Presidency might have backed Baru.

The GMD of NNPC described the $25billion contract figure raised by Kachikwu as “humongous” because “no money was lost and no process has been breached.”

The President, The Nation learnt, felt scandalised by “unfounded allegations of corruption bordering on phantom $25billion contracts”.

The allegations allegedly attracted concerns from other nations and some oil producing countries.

President Buhari, who is said to have felt hurt, by the development, “refused to act on the spur of the moment because his image and the reputation of his administration were involved”.

A top government source said: “The Presidency directed the GMD of NNPC to provide facts and figures, which it got from Baru.

“Thereafter, the NNPC Act, the NNPC Handbook and Public Procurement Act were consulted on the responses of Baru to find out if infractions were committed by the corporation.

“Having been convinced that there were no infractions, the Presidency then directed NNPC to lay the cards on the table for Nigerians to see and judge.

“What was uppermost in the responses of the GMD was the fact that ‘there was no evidence of sharp practices, bribery, looting of funds and diversion of transaction cash’.

“The allegations of Kachikwu were rated as ‘wild, intentional and political in nature’ against the administration he is serving.”

It was learnt that the President met with Kachikwu last Friday to “be fair to the Minister and for record purposes”.

A Presidency source, who  spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The President has not spoken on the next action. No one knows his mindset.”

Yesterday’s statement by the NNPC, which  was described as  an “assault” on Kachikwu by some of his associates, fuelled minister’s thoughts on his Option B which he did not state.

Some of Kachikwu’s confidants have, however, cautioned against any “hasty” decision, given the travails of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof. Tam David-West, during the military regime of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida.

A highly-placed stakeholder said: “I am aware that the minister has been holding consultations and telling some vital players in the oil sector what transpired.

“Of importance to him is the allegation of alleged plot to sabotage the government of President Buhari with the leakage of the August 20 memo. He has maintained his innocence that he did not leak the letter.

“But it is tragic that no one believes Kachikwu’s story anymore in the Presidency.”

The GMD yesterday dismissed the allegations of award of contracts without regard to due process as “unfounded” and “unfortunate”.

He described the $25billion contract figure raised by Kachikwu as “humongous” because “no money was lost and no process has been breached”.

He explained that as a former chairman of the NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee, he would be the last person to breach the procurement process by disregarding extant laws and rules.

The GMD said the NNPC Act and the Public Procurement Act vested procurement powers in the NNPC Tenders Board, the President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC), depending on the cost threshold.

He said the NNPC Board had no role whatsoever in the process.

He said: “I know for those of you who are following what we are doing here, you know that there’s no money lost and no process has been breached.”

Baru made his views known while receiving the National President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Francis Johnson, PENGASSAN members and members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).

The leaders of the unions were on a solidarity visit to Baru.

The unions’ visit came on the heels of the controversy sparked by Kachikwu’s letter to the President alleging non-adherence to due process by the Management of NNPC in some contract administration.

Baru said: “Our contracting process is perfect and we will continue to follow the process. The NNPC Board has no role, I repeat, has no role as far as the contracting process is concerned.

Baru said the NNPC Tenders Board was made up of the GMD as Chairman and the Group Executive Directors as members.

On the crude term contract and the DSDP agreements, he said: “These are not contract as such; they are essentially pre-qualification of off-takers of crude oil and in the case of DSDP, of those that will take crude and give us products in return. So there is no value to them.

“But humongous figures have been put forward mainly to incite the public, it is most unfortunate”.

On the allegation of lop-sided promotions, the GMD asked the union leaders if their members felt disenchanted to which the unionists chorused a resounding “no”.

He urged the union leaders to enlighten their members on the facts and encourage them to go about their duties without distraction.

Comrade Johnson said the unions’ support for the GMD was based on his ability to walk his talk since assuming office last year.

“The National body of PENGASSAN and all the NNPC in-house unions are here today to show our support for you. You have brought stability to the NNPC and we are happy today that staff morale is high. You were Chairman of NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee for over five years and that was what informed your appointment as GMD of NNPC. Today, all the bullets you are taking are on behalf of members of staff. We will continue to pray for you, God will continue to guide and shield you,” Comrade Johnson assured.

The PENGASSAN President called on Nigerians to be cautious of their comments on the controversy, adding that any wrong information was capable of discouraging investors from the oil and gas industry which is the highest foreign exchange earner.

The NNPC Group Chairman of PENGASSAN, Comrade Sale Abdullahi, who also spoke during the visit to the GMD, stated that their concern had to do with the need to protect not only the GMD but the NNPC as an institution.

He noted that Dr. Baru had streamlined the processes and procedures in the Corporation leading to the full restructuring which was beginning to yield positive results.

“Today, the GMD and NNPC Management receive input from staff and this gesture by Dr. Baru has given members of staff a sense of belonging. Today, our input are being implemented and we are highly motivated,” Comrade Abdullahi stated.

Supporting these positions, the Group Chairman of NNPC NUPENG, Comrade Udofia Odudu Benjamin, said the unions would continue to pray for divine guidance for Dr. Baru and the entire NNPC management

Earlier, the Chairman of NNPC Corporate Headquarters Chapter of PENGASSAN, Comrade Mathew Duru, reiterated the continued support of the unions for the Dr. Baru-led management.

“We just want to tell the GMD from the bottom of our hearts that we are with him and the Top Management; that we are behind the GMD who has done very well in turning the fortunes of the Corporation around”, the union leader said.

He said since Baru assumed office, he had succeeded in clearing the air of uncertainty that prevailed in the corporation because of visionless reforms that left NNPC on the brink of collapse.

He also said the GMD succeeded in resolving the NNPC Pension challenge that had led to disenchantment among staff.

He added: “We are with you. We want to let you know that you are not an orphan.”

Posted On Tuesday, 10 October 2017 04:24 Written by

A former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Victor Malu, is dead.

Malu, who was Army chief  during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s  administration died on Sunday in a Cairo hospital in Egypt.
 
A relation of the deceased, Ben Adoor, who confirmed the development, said on the phone  “Yes, General  passed away  yesterday at the age of 70 in a Cairo hospital.”
Posted On Monday, 09 October 2017 16:36 Written by
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