Saturday, 25 January 2020
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (966)

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari says he will be stepping down when his second term in office ends in 2023.

In a New Year message, Mr Buhari said he would not attempt to exceed the constitutional mandate.

The president said he was determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, and cited his primary concerns as the security of the nation and the safety of Nigerians.

A BBC correspondent says speculation that Mr Buhari planned to remain in power has been rife in recent days.

Posted On Friday, 03 January 2020 05:44 Written by

The Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers are set to square off in a Pacific Division matchup at 10:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday at the Staples Center in the final game on the New Year’s Day NBA schedule. Los Angeles is 26-7 overall and 11-4 at home, while Phoenix is 13-20 overall and 7-8 on the road. The Lakers have the second-best record in the NBA. Los Angeles is looking for its third consecutive win after getting past a four-game losing streak. The Suns have won two straight after snapping an eight-game losing streak. Los Angeles is favored by 11.5 points in the Lakers vs. Suns odds, while the over-under is set at 226.5. Before entering any Suns vs. Lakers picks, you’ll want to see the NBA predictions from the model at SportsLine.

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Los Angeles wrapped up 2019 with a 108-95 victory over Dallas. Anthony Davis had 23 points along with nine rebounds. The Lakers held the Mavericks to a season low in points and limited Dallas to 36 percent shooting from the field.

LeBron James had 13 points and 13 assists against the Mavericks. He leads the league in assists with 10.8 per game.

Phoenix didn’t have too much breathing room in its game with Portland on Monday, but still walked away with a 122-116 win. They overcame a 19-point first half deficit and outscored Portland in the final quarter, 39-27.

Devin Booker scored 33 points to go with seven assists and made all 15 of his free-throw attempts. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 29 points, hitting a career high seven 3-pointers. Ricky Rubio had 18 points and 13 assists.

Deandre Ayton returned from a five-game absence because of an ankle injury and grabbed 12 rebounds. The Lakers won the first meeting between the teams,123-115 on Nov. 12.

The Lakers enter the contest with a 48.2 field goal percentage, good for second best in the league. Less enviably, Phoenix has allowed opponents to shoot 47.8 percent from the floor on average, which is the fourth highest shooting percentage allowed in the league.

Posted On Wednesday, 01 January 2020 20:24 Written by

The UK and US considered a navy-backed oil embargo against Nigeria, following the 1995 execution of writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, a document released by the UK government reveals.

Saro-Wiwa and eight other campaigners from the Ogoni ethnic group were hanged on 10 November 1995.

They had been found guilty by a secret military tribunal of the murder of four Ogoni chiefs by a mob.

The nine denied the charge and said they had been framed.

Saro-Wiwa led mass protests against oil pollution in Nigeria's Ogoniland.

The protests were seen as a major threat to Nigeria's military ruler at the time, Gen Sani Abacha, and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell.

The executions led to Nigeria suspension from the Commonwealth.

The UK's then Prime Minister, John Major, called it a "fraudulent trial" and described the executions as "judicial murder".

Notes of a meeting between Mr Major and US President Bill Clinton, nearly three weeks after the executions, show the steps the leaders contemplated to isolate Nigeria.

The two men met while Mr Clinton was on a visit to the UK.

Human rights activists with black masks and hangman's nooses around their neck demonstrated 10 November,outside Shell India's headquaters in South BombayImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe hangings caused caused global outrage

According to the notes, the UK believed that an oil embargo would "only be effective" if done through the UN Security Council and "could only be made to work by a naval blockade".

Such steps would result in "wrecking Nigeria's economy" as it was heavily reliant on oil exports.

'Sycophants surround Abacha'

Mr Clinton agreed, but said the US would only implement an embargo if "all other parties" were willing to do so, pointing out that sanctions would be vetoed by China if brought before the UN Security Council.

There had been pleas from across the world for Nigeria's military leader at the time, Sani Abacha, to exercise clemency, but Western governments had struggled to reach the leader.

Mr Clinton's special envoy to Nigeria, Donald T McHenry, had been unable to see Abacha and concluded that he was "almost wholly insulated from the outside world" and "information was filtered by sycophants: they had no idea of genuine opinion within Nigeria or internationally".

Media captionPM John Major: The executions were judicial murder

The hanging of the Ogoni campaigners took place just as Commonwealth heads of state were meeting in New Zealand for their biennial gathering.

The UK issued a statement condemning the executions, but it was South African President Nelson Mandela who led the international criticism.

He called for Nigeria to be suspended from the Commonwealth "at once" and that the suspension should not be lifted until the country had shown "much quicker" progress in returning from military to civilian rule. All political prisoners should be released, he argued.

In this, Mandela was backed by his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe and Kenya's Daniel arap Moi, but the suggestion was criticised by a number of other African leaders, including Ghana's President Jerry Rawlings.

Mandela outspoken

The Commonwealth went ahead with the suspension, but Mandela was determined that the measures should not end there.

He continued his international engagement, making phone calls to Mr Clinton and keeping in touch with Mr Major by phone after the Commonwealth summit ended.

In demanding strong action Mandela appeared to have been isolated from the rest of his government.

Newspaper reports at the time indicate that then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki and the Deputy Foreign Minister, Aziz Pahad, had been reluctant to pursue sanctions against Nigeria.

Ken Wiwa, son of condemned Ogoni human rights activist Ken Saro-WiwaImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionKen Saro-Wiwa's son, Ken Wiwa, appealed to the Commonwealth to take action after his father's execution
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The UK, together with the European Union (EU), took a number of steps.

Ambassadors to Nigeria were recalled, military training and aid were suspended and an EU-wide arms embargo was instituted.

While Mr Major was willing to consider wider economic sanctions, he was unwilling to do so alone.

The UK accounted for just 1% of Nigeria's oil exports, while the US took 40%.

As a result, Mr Major told Mr Clinton, "we were not well placed to press for [sanctions]".

The UK also had a good deal to lose if Nigeria retaliated.

Pressure from Shell

There was a considerable British expatriate community in Nigeria and UK investments in the country totalled between $3.9bn and $6.5bn (£3bn and £5bn).

This included Shell, which extracted half of the country's oil and was contemplating building a major natural gas project.

The Shell chairman at the time, Cornelius Herkströter, wrote to Mr Major at the height of the controversy, pointing out just how important these investments were.

He argued that the gas liquefaction plant would "make a major contribution to environmental improvement in the region" since it would reduce the need for the flaring of gas.

In the end, the problem of getting UN Security Council approval for an oil embargo appeared to have blocked progress on wider sanctions.

Nigeria was only re-admitted to the Commonwealth in May 1999, on the day on which the country's new civilian government assumed power - ending three-and-a-half years of isolation.

Posted On Tuesday, 31 December 2019 03:51 Written by

Members of a group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) have executed four Nigerian hostages held since July, the French aid group Action Against Hunger said on Friday.

The four victims were among the six hostages held by the armed fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group in Nigeria, the Paris-based NGO said, adding that one of its staff and two drivers were among those killed.

"The armed group responsible for the kidnapping of humanitarian workers on July 18, have murdered four hostages," the Action Against Hunger said in a statement that did not identify the victims.

Another of the hostages was killed in September.

The French aid group called for the immediate release of the last hostage, saying it is "extremely concerned and calls for the immediate release of its staff member, Grace, who remains in captivity."

The six, an Action Against Hunger employee, two drivers and three health ministry personnel were kidnapped while delivering humanitarian aid to vulnerable people near the town of Damasak in Borno State.

Their driver was killed in the kidnap ambush carried out by ISWAP group, which is said to be a splinter group of the armed group, Boko Haram.

ISWAP fighters have repeatedly attacked military bases and previously targeted aid workers in northeast Nigeria.

"Action Against Hunger condemns these latest killings in the strongest terms and deeply regrets that its calls for the release of the hostages have not been acted upon," the group said in its statement.

On Thursday ISWAP fighters killed 14 pro-government fighters and a police officer in northeast Nigeria, militia leaders told AFP on Friday.

The militia comprised local hunters across the northeast along with the state-funded Civilian Joint Task Force, an armed vigilante group.

The decade-long armed uprising has killed 35,000 people and displaced about two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.

The violence has now spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition against the fighters.

Action Against Hunger said it is currently providing food assistance every month to approximately 300,000 people in northeast Nigeria, as well as helping thousands more with life-saving health and nutrition services.

Posted On Sunday, 15 December 2019 16:47 Written by

Nigeria's Punch newspaper says it will henceforth prefix President Muhammadu Buhari’s name with "Major General", his rank when he led a coup in the 1980s, because he is acting like a "military dictator".

The paper also said it would refer to his administration as a "regime", until members of his government purged "themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law”.

In a scathing editorial, published both online and its print version, the newspaper said the government's "actions and assaults on the courts, disobedience of court orders and arbitrary detention of citizens reflect its true character of the martial culture".

Last Friday's dramatic arrest in court of Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of online newspaper Sahara Reporters - a day after his bail was upheld by a high court - was cited by the paper in a long list of alleged "violations of rights".

The president was also accused of failing to release the leader of a banned Shia Muslim group, Ibrahim el-Zakzakky, and his wife, and the country's former security adviser Sambo Dasuki - all have been granted bail by different courts but remain in detention.

Mr Buhari is serving his second term in office as a civilian president - having won elections in 2015 and 2019.

One of his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, has taken to Twitter to make light of the editorial, saying the president had earned that rank while serving in the military.

But the editorial has struck a nerve at Aso Rock, as the official presidential complex is known.

Another presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, denied the allegations of human rights violations and described the newspaper's decision to label Mr Buhari a "dictator" as politically motivated.

After his election in 2015, Mr Buhari announced that he was dropping the title of "general" to reflect his new role as an elected president.

Many Nigerians saw it as a bid to whitewash his image as he faced criticism for his 20-month stint as a military leader - a time marked by a brutal clampdown on press freedom and human rights abuses.

The Punch is one of Nigeria's oldest and most respected newspapers and has been known for its hard-hitting editorials.

Many are watching to see what effect its stance will have on other Nigerian news outlets, especially newspapers, which have been known to bond together when challenging the authorities.

Twenty-six male cross-dressers have been arrested at a birthday party in Kano state, northern Nigeria, the Islamic police say.

Deputy commander Tasiu Ishaq said the young men, who were dressed as women, were detained on Sunday.

“It is a shame that men and good citizens can put up such a behaviour and act like women,” he said.

Commander Ishaq said the men had been “preached to” about the spiritual consequences of their actions and would be released to their parents.

One of the accused men told the BBC that a friend had invited him to the party and that the person whose party it was escaped when the Islamic police arrived.

“They have preached to us and we have prayed since they arrested us. I regret what happened and I will stop this behaviour by God’s grace,” he said.

Kano is one of the states in northern Nigeria that enforces Sharia, Islamic religious law, which has been in place since 2001.

The Islamic police have the power to arrest people they believe are carrying actions that are contrary to Islamic laws.

Posted On Thursday, 12 December 2019 04:09 Written by

The United States authorities have frozen about $14.2 million in bank accounts linked to companies registered by Allen Onyema, the chairman of Air Peace Limited.

Mr Onyema and Ejiroghene Eghagha, Air Peace’s head of finance and administration, were indicted 19 November for alleged money laundering and bank fraud in the United States.

Both suspects strongly denied the allegations and said they looked forward to proving their innocence in court.

The charges were first made public by the United States Department of Justice on Friday night.

The charges said Mr Onyema used several companies he set up in the U.S. to launder funds and commit bank fraud through issuance of counterfeit letters of credit.

Some of the companies’ bank accounts in the U.S. and Canada had been frozen with their substantial balances as part of the investigation, court documents showed.

The documents showed that $4,017,852.51 was seized from JP Morgan Chase Bank account number ending in 5512 held in the name of Springfield Aviation Company, LLC.

Another $4,593,842.05 held in Bank of Montreal with account number ending 7523 in the name of Springfield Aviation Inc. was also seized.

The American government also traced and seized $5,634,842.04 held in Bank of Montreal with account number ending in 515 in the name of Bluestream Aero Services, Inc.

American law enforcement authorities indicated in the charge document that efforts had commenced to secure final forfeitures of the funds.

In an earlier statement Saturday, Mr Onyema said he was innocent.

“As the press statement clearly stated, these are indictment (sic) that only contain charges,” the statement said.

“I am innocent of all charges and the US government will find no dirt on me because I have never conducted business with any illegalities.

“Be rest assured that I also have my lawyers on this and these mere allegations will be refuted. I never laundered money in my life, neither have I committed bank fraud anywhere in the world. Every Kobo I transferred to the US for aircraft purchase went through the Central Bank of Nigeria LC regime and all were used for the same purpose.

“The American companies that received the funds are still in business. I never took a penny from any US bank or Nigerian bank. I am willing to defend my innocence in the US courts,” the AirPeace CEO stated.

Posted On Monday, 25 November 2019 04:33 Written by

Renowned professor of virology, activist and former minister of petroleum, Tamuno David-West is dead.

He died Monday at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan at the age of 83 years.

David-West was born in Buguma, Kalabari, Rivers State.

He worked as lecturer and became a professor at the University of Ibadan where he lived and died. He joined the university in 1969 and became professor of virology in 1975.

David-West served in Nigerian government as commissioner for education and a member of the Executive Council of Rivers State from 1975 to 1979.

He was a member of the 50-person Constitution Drafting Committee for the Federal Military Government in 1979.

He served as federal minister of petroleum and energy under General Muhammadu Buhari from 1984 to 1985 and as minister of mines, power, and steel under General Ibrahim Babangida in 1986.

He was eventually removed as minister and arrested by the Babangida regime for allegedly contributing to the economic adversity of the country. He was discharged and acquitted of these charges by Nigeria’s Special Appeal Court on 8 August 1991.

A strong supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, David-West will be remembered for his strong views on national issues and how he brought historical perspectives to proffer solutions to national crises.

Posted On Monday, 11 November 2019 17:47 Written by

A university don has raised alarm that the country loses over $100 billion annually to exposure of lead, which occurs as a result of unregulated and indiscriminate use of lead substances by faceless producers in manufacturing of paints and other domestic and industrial products as well as smuggled substandard paints and printers’ inks.

Babajide Alao, a professor of Chemistry, University of Lagos, who disclosed this in Lagos recently at the 2019 Coating s Show of the Paint Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMA), a sub-sector of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), with theme “Future Trends in Coatings Technology” noted that West Africa paint market losses between $100 – $237 billion annually on consumption of poisonous lead paints.

He pointed out that Nigeria being the largest market in the region consumes more than half of the total worth of the market as it losses over $100 billion, adding that the global lead paints would be faced out by 2020 as agreed by the United Nations.

Alao explained that lead affects the intellect of children and adults, stressing that cancer, high blood pressure and other related health challenges are caused by the inhalation of lead substance from the air as it is emitted from walls and every item coated with the lead paints in the environment.

“The Nigerian coating industry is at a cross-road to adopt innovative global technologies. Eliminate lead compounds in paints and coatings are now imperative. Alternatives are now widely available as global raw material manufacturers are gradually phasing out leaded ingredients. Examples in some other developing country – Philippines shows that it is feasible and indeed increases the net-worth and profits of manufacturers, as it leads to environmental sustainability, it also increases the manufacturers CSR and image with consumers,” he stressed.

Earlier in in welcome address, the Chairman, PMA Mr. Sunday Babatunde, regretted that the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) has not been able to tackle adulteration and faking of its members premium brands of paints, stressing that it remains a big challenge to them.

Babatunde said; “Adulteration and faking of our members premium brands of paints is still a big challenge to us. This has negatively affected the volumes/profitability and of course returns on investments of the companies whose products are prune to the menace. Even with the introduction of Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has not been able to tackle the problem due to inadequate monitoring and enforcement. The paint industry is a peculiar industry because of the low entry barrier.”

Posted On Saturday, 02 November 2019 23:31 Written by

US Federal prosecutors said an Atlanta, Georgia-based Nigerian, Olufolajimi Abegunde has been sentenced to more than six years in prison for his role in an internet fraud scheme that stole an estimated $15m through computer and wire fraud.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Memphis, Tennessee, said on Thursday that the 32-year-old Abegunde was sentenced Tuesday for wire fraud, the second Nigerian to be sentenced in less than a week. Last week in Missouri, another Nigeria, Segun Prosper Otaru was also jailed for cyber fraud.

After his arrest last year, Abegunde lied to Nigerian officials that his arrest was based on mistaken identity and asked for help to get him out of the FBI jaws.

But court documents showed otherwise.

Prosecutors said the Atlanta resident and several other people created fake business emails and profiles on dating websites to trick victims into sending money to bogus bank accounts. Funds were laundered and wired to destinations in Nigeria, Ghana and some other West African countries.

The scams caused about $15 million in losses for victims.

Abegunde’s role was that he helped launder money through a compromised business email of a land title company located in Bellingham, Washington, and a real estate company in Memphis, Tennessee.

The case against Abegunde by US Department of Justice:
A citizen of Nigeria residing in Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to 78 months in prison yesterday for his role in an international cyber fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant of the Western District of Tennessee.

Olufolajimi Abegunde, 32, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sheryl L. Lipman of the Western District of Tennessee who also ordered Abegunde to pay $57,911.62 in restitution to the victims of his offense. Abegunde and Javier Luis Ramos-Alonso, 29, were convicted in March after a seven-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Ramos-Alonso previously received a 31-month sentence for his role in the scheme.

Abegunde and Ramos-Alonso participated in a criminal organization in which members “spoofed” emails and created fake profiles on dating websites in order to fool victims into sending money to bogus bank accounts under the control of members of the conspiracy. The proceeds would be laundered and subsequently wired out of the United States to destinations including West Africa. The organization as a whole is believed to have caused more than $10,000,000 in damage to U.S. citizens and businesses.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Abegunde, who received an MBA from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, engaged in black-market currency exchanges over the life of the conspiracy. Purporting to hold himself out as a legitimate businessman, Abegunde claimed association with a business entity that was not yet operational in late 2017, so for his primary source of income he relied on his off-the-book currency exchanges. Through this network, Abegeunde played a key role, along with Ramos-Alonso, in laundering fraud funds from an Oct. 3, 2016, business email compromise (BEC) of a land title company located in Bellingham, Washington. The proceeds of another BEC perpetrated in July 2016 upon a real estate company in Memphis, Tennessee, also moved through parts of the same criminal organization.

Abegunde, who faced numerous account closures from banks in the United States, used a complicated network of third-party bank accounts to disguise his illicit activity. The proof at trial established that Abegunde told people that he could not receive payments into accounts that could be “tracked,” and that he preferred to engage in cash transactions because they were easier to clean and “eliminated the risk.”

In addition to his financial activities, Abegunde also engaged in a conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Abegunde was married during his studies at Texas A&M, but divorced his wife in 2016 to marry a U.S. service member through whom he could obtain immigration and health care benefits and also open new bank accounts. He continued to live with his first wife in Atlanta while his U.S. service member wife was deployed to South Korea. While incarcerated and awaiting trial in the Western District of Tennessee, Abegunde continued his conspiratorial activities, trying to convince his fake spouse, who has since filed for divorce, to refuse to testify against him. Abegunde also engaged in witness tampering by sending a self-written Motion to Dismiss bearing his former attorney’s name and professional attestation. The evidence at trial established that Abegunde drafted and sent the motion, which his attorney expressly did not authorize, to his faux spouse in an effort to deceive her into not testifying against him.

Five other individuals have pleaded guilty to being involved in the scheme. Additionally, several foreign nationals are awaiting extradition to the United States to face trial. Others are still at large.

Accomplices of Abegunde:

Alexander Duimont
Andrew “Andy” Jackson
Ayodeji Olumide Ojo
Babatunde Martins
Benard Okorhi
Brianna Lee
Brianna Morrison
Carolina Nkomo
Christian Hinds
Dana Brady
Daniel Elya
Daniel Roberts
Dennis Miah
Dr. Dennis Brown
James Dean
James “Jim” Roy
James Yorke
Javier Luis Ramos Alonso
Joey Hammond
Jon Bunyan
Marc Richards
Maxwell Peter
Olufolajimi (FJ) Abegunde
Peter Maxwell
Rob Phantom
Sandra Lin
Sherry Jupiter Martinez
Sual Derrell
Sumaila Hardi Wumpini
Tammy Dollan
Tammy Henry
Victor Daniel Fortune Okorhi

Posted On Friday, 25 October 2019 00:30 Written by

Aisha Muhammadu Buhari has now returned to the country from the UK, closing a chapter of rumour mongering and speculations.

The First Lady, beaming with smiles, arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at 4.30am on a British Airways flight.

Aisha said she was happy to be home after a well-deserved rest.

Spokesman, Suleiman Haruna said she was away since August on a long holiday in the UK.

Aisha speaks with journalists at the airport. L-R are (l-r) Barrister Mary Eta, Joy Nunieh and Dr. Mairo Almakura

She said she was fully rejuvenated to continue the work of improving the health and well-being of women, children and other vulnerable Nigerians.

She thanked her husband, family and well-wishers for their support and encouragement.

On hand to receive her were wives of present and former governors and many associates.

Posted On Monday, 14 October 2019 19:41 Written by
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