Friday, 03 April 2020
Headliners

Headliners (2129)

Those behind the plot to remove me from office are those angling for the Presidential seat in 2023, All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman Adams Oshiomhole said on Thursday.

He spoke to reporters at the State House in Abuja after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.

On Wednesday, a Federal Capital Territory High Court Judge granted an interlocutory injunction restraining him from functioning as national chairman of the APC.

Security operatives immediately took over the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

The President also on Thursday met with Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi at the Villa.

Fayemi did not brief reporters after his visit to the Villa but it is believed that he visited to lobby the President on why Oshiomhole should be forced out of office.

Fayemi is one of the arrow heads of the attempt to oust Oshiomhole from office.

Oshiomhole said besides the “blacklegs”, “there are other forces who see me for whatever reason as a threat to them. “He accused those “leading this anti-Oshiomhole campaign” of being weak politicians who cannot boast of winning a councillorship seat let alone “lay a claim to leadership position in our party.”

He added: “I’m proud to say that I have done my best not only when I was a governor, I have done my best as chairman of this party, I have worked not only along members of the party and with support of the good people of Nigeria for the president to be re-elected, for us to have majority in the two chambers of the National Assembly, I also worked hard to deliver my unit, my ward, I worked hard to deliver my local government, I worked hard to deliver my federal constituency three of them in my senatorial zone, I also worked hard to deliver my senatorial district.

“Those fighting me just feel that if they cannot give me orders, then they must do everything to embarrass my person, but I believe that he who God stands with no man born of a woman can bring him down.

“I can’t say more than that. Those who are parading themselves, holding meetings at night, my prayer to my God is that let them meet at night, what they do at night will be destroyed in the day time. I don’t go for night business I do day business. They know themselves, they know me and I know them.

“It is just unfortunate that if you have out of 100, 90 people are happy with you, who will call and say well done, those 10 who are not happy are the ones that will call news conference to denounce you, they are the ones who will hold midnight meetings in a minister’s house to say how do we bring him down.

“They are the ones who will plot how do we get rid of him because they want to be president in 2023 even when their hold on their state at the moment is doubtful If they were to go for referendum in terms of their approval rating.

“But as for me, I live my life as the Christians say live it as if there will be no tomorrow, on day by day basis. But God will see me through, He knows my heart, He knows my conscience and He knows the wishes of the overall majority of our members and to them I remain ever grateful”, he said.

He added: “You see there is an issue in this country. People want strong leadership, the averaged Nigerian want to have a strong leader for Nigeria, they want to have strong leaders in various institutions, they want institutions that are strong enough that cannot be controlled by individuals. That was why President Obama said, what Africa needs are strong institutions not strong persons.

“Unfortunately, very few section of our elite want to weaken institutions so that they can control and if you refuse to oblige them, the misuse of your institution then they go for your jugular, that is the only thing. Otherwise I ask you, remember the confusion we had at the last NEC meeting?

“That meeting took place exactly a week or about 10 days after we had won Kogi election, Bayelsa election before the court took it and donated it to somebody else. Yet in the face of this victory, people said Oshiomhole must be removed, precisely because we won more seats.

“But you see whatever you do, those who want to fight you will fight you. But I know that my tenure will be defined by God not by man. And I worry more about what I will be remembered for when I was chairman rather than how long I was chairman. And I am convinced that I have done my very best, mistakes would have been made and I want to see the one person who will say he has never made mistakes”, he said.

Speaking on the court order obtained against him, Oshiomhole said “just yesterday (Wednesday) morning suddenly I saw in the news that an FCT High Court has suspended me as national chairman. And that one of the persons who went to court was my vice chairmen (Northeast), one Mustapha (Mustapha Salihu APC National Vice Chairman Northeast) and four others. I was taken aback because in the same suit, they joined the APC, the police and the DSS.

“Our lawyers told me that in law when you sue a federal agency, FCT High Court has no jurisdiction to entertain it. Number two, the purported suspension of my person by my ward, first I am going to give you a document to that effect so that you can form your opinion. Number three, I am not an officer of my ward, I am the national chairman of my party, elected at a national convention by over 7,000 delegates, so how could nine persons sit down somewhere and purport that they have removed a national chairman. And the court contrary to all logic, all judicial precedence find comfort in granting an interim interlocutory order to stop me from functioning pending when the matter is determined. In other words, he has given the order without the facts being laid before him and in the process adjourned the case to April 7.

“The calculations are clear that between now and April 7th, my opponents in the system would have had ample time to do all the mischievous plans they have in place to distabilise the APC. Because, some of them have membership of more than one political party. But happily this afternoon (yesterday), a federal high court that I believe that has jurisdictions on federal issues because the DSS, the police are not state institutions but federal institutions, has given an appropriate order to restrain the so-called suspension that was allegedly imposed on me by my ward in Edo State.

“I thought that I had a duty to brief Mr. President as the overall leader of our party about this development. Incidentally, when I requested for the audience yesterday I wasn’t sure what has happened today will happen. But I had a duty to inform him about the court order. But happily before coming here, the order from a Federal High Court that made nonsense of what the FCT court purported to have done has already settled the question.

“And I showed to the president the resolutions of my ward even though a ward executive does not have the powers to remove a national chairman, just to say that the document that we have says clearly that my ward passed vote of confidence on me.

“How the court can hold vote of confidence and twist it to mean vote of no confidence, only that judge can explain it to himself. But the good news is that this is not a final court or is it the only court, incidentally it is just the court that didn’t have the jurisdiction even to listen to this matter. And our lawyers so pointed it out but the judge was determined to oblige those who want to distabilise the All Progressives Congress”, he said.

Oshiomhole added: “Those behind this plot, the hands you saw which include as you saw yesterday, the Edo State governor and his people jubilating, but that is the irony of life that you will help give birth to a child and the child look for cutlass to want to chop off your neck. It has happened in history, it has happened in this country so I won’t be the only person.

Posted On Friday, 06 March 2020 03:58 Written by

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki has reacted to Thursday’s demolition of his father’s Ilorin, Kwara State house.

The Kwara State Government had on Thursday morning demolished the late Olusola Saraki’s house, popularly called Ile Arugbo (House for old persons), after the state government revoked the title of the landed property.

Reacting to the development, Saraki assured that justice would prevail in no distance time.

“Following the development this morning in Ile Arugbo, I want to commend the women and men, old and young, who displayed their affection, love and staunch support for my late father and the family. I appreciate the genuine support of the women and youths who stood firmly in the face of aggression and naked show of force.

“Your action throughout the night gave full expression to my belief that what Ile Arugbo represents to all of us is etched in our hearts. It goes beyond the physical structure. I am happy that you were not intimidated as you stood your ground.

Saraki’s family house demolished.

“This day will go down as the day you reciprocated the love and affection my father and family have for you. You have displayed a gesture of goodwill and passionate love. We assure you that justice shall prevail in a not too distant future,” he said on his Facebook wall.

Posted On Friday, 03 January 2020 05:34 Written by

A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT AT NEW YEAR NIGERIA’S DECADE

My Dear Compatriots,

Today marks a new decade. It is a time of hope, optimism and fresh possibilities. We look forward as a nation to the 2020s as the opportunity to build on the foundations we have laid together on security, diversification of our economy and taking on the curse of corruption. These are the pledges on which I have been twice elected President and remain the framework for a stable, sustainable and more prosperous future.

Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. I salute the commitment of the millions who voted in peace last February and of those leaders who contested for office vigorously but fairly, submitting to the authority of the electorate, the Independent National Electoral Commission and judicial process. I understand very well the frustrations our system has in the past triggered. I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections. But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year.

As Commander-in-Chief, my primary concern is the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens. When I assumed office in May 2015 my first task was to rally our neighbours so that we could confront Boko Haram on a coordinated regional basis. Chaos is not a neighbour any of us hope for.

We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organised criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.

The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry, and in turn will be held to the highest standards of professionalism, and respect for human rights. We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.

The new Ministry of Police Affairs increased recruitment of officers and the security reforms being introduced will build on what we are already delivering. We will work tirelessly at home and with our allies in support of our policies to protect the security of life and property. Our actions at all times will be governed by the rule of law. At the same time, we shall look always to engage with all well-meaning leaders and citizens of goodwill to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.

We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people. Our policies are designed to promote genuine, balanced growth that delivers jobs and rewards industry. Our new Economic Advisory Council brings together respected and independent thinkers to advise me on a strategy that champions inclusive and balanced growth, and above all fight poverty and safeguard national economic interests.

As we have sat down to celebrate with friends and family over this holiday season, for the first time in a generation our food plates have not all been filled with imports of products we know can easily be produced here at home. The revolution in agriculture is already a reality in all corners of the country. New agreements with Morocco, Russia and others will help us access on attractive terms the inputs we need to accelerate the transformation in farming that is taking place.

A good example of commitment to this inclusive growth is the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the creation of the National Action Committee to oversee its implementation and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to allow us to fully capitalise on regional and continental markets.

The joint land border security exercise currently taking place is meant to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and security. No one can doubt that we have been good neighbours and good citizens. We have been the helpers and shock-absorbers of the sub-region but we cannot allow our well-planned economic regeneration plans to be sabotaged. As soon as we are satisfied that the safeguards are adequate, normal cross-border movements will be resumed.

Already, we are making key infrastructure investments to enhance our ease of doing business. On transportation, we are making significant progress on key roads such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja – Kano highway. 2020 will also see tangible progress on the Lagos to Kano Rail line. Through Executive Order 007, we are also using alternative funding programmes in collaboration with private sector partners to fix strategic roads such as the Apapa-Oworonshoki Express way. Abuja and Port Harcourt have new international airport terminals, as will Kano and Lagos in 2020. When completed, all these projects will positively impact business operations in the country. These projects are not small and do not come without some temporary disruption; we are doing now what should have been done a long time ago. I thank you for your patience and look forward to the dividends that we and future generations will long enjoy.

Power has been a problem for a generation. We know we need to pick up the pace of progress. We have solutions to help separate parts of the value chain to work better together. In the past few months, we have engaged extensively with stakeholders to develop a series of comprehensive solutions to improve the reliability and availability of electricity across the country. These solutions include ensuring fiscal sustainability for the sector, increasing both government and private sector investments in the power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions maximise service delivery.

We have in place a new deal with Siemens, supported by the German government after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited us in Abuja, to invest in new capacity for generation, transmission and distribution. These projects will be under close scrutiny and transparency – there will be no more extravagant claims that end only in waste, theft and mismanagement.

The next 12 months will witness the gradual implementation of these actions, after which Nigerians can expect to see significant improvement in electricity service supply reliability and delivery. Separately, we have plans to increase domestic gas consumption. In the first quarter of 2020, we will commence work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.

While we look to create new opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and other long neglected sectors, in 2020 we will also realise increased value from oil and gas, delivering a more competitive, attractive and profitable industry, operating on commercial principles and free from political interference. Just last week, we were able to approve a fair framework for the USD10 billion expansion of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, which will increase exports by 35 percent, restore our position as a world leader in the sector and create thousands of jobs. The Amendment of the Deep Offshore Act in October signalled our intention to create a modern, forward-looking industry in Nigeria. I am confident that in 2020 we will be able to present a radical programme of reform for oil and gas that will excite investors, improve governance and strengthen protections for host communities and the environment.

We can expect the pace of change in technology only to accelerate in the decade ahead. Coupled with our young and vibrant population, this offers huge opportunities if we are able to harness the most productive trends and tame some of the wilder elements. This is a delicate balance with which many countries are struggling. We are seeking an informed and mature debate that reflects our rights and responsibilities as citizens in shaping the boundaries of how best to allow technology to benefit Nigeria.

During my Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2019, I promised to lay the enduring foundations for taking a hundred million Nigerians out of mass poverty over the next 10 years. Today I restate that commitment. We shall continue reforms in education, health care and water sanitation. I have met international partners such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who support our social welfare programmes. I will continue to work with State and Local Governments to make sure that these partnerships deliver as they should. Workers will have a living wage and pensioners will be looked after. We are steadily clearing pensions and benefits arrears neglected for so long.

The new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will consolidate and build on the social intervention schemes and will enhance the checks and balances necessary for this set of programmes to succeed for the long term.

I am able to report that the journey has already begun with the passage and signing into law of the 2020 Appropriation Act. As the new decade dawns, we are ready to hit the ground running. Let me pay tribute to the Ninth National Assembly who worked uncommonly long hours to make sure that the 2020 budget scrutiny is both thorough and timely. The close harmony between the Executive and Legislature is a sharp contrast to what we have experienced in the recent past, when the Senate kept the previous budget for 7 months without good reason just to score cheap political points thereby disrupting the budgetary processes and overall economic development plans.

Our policies are working and the results will continue to show themselves more clearly by the day. Nigeria is the most tremendous, can-do market, offering extraordinary opportunities and returns. Investors can look forward with confidence not only to an increasing momentum of change but also to specific incentives, including our new visa-on-arrival policy.

They can also be certain of our unshakeable commitment to tackle corruption. As we create an environment that allows initiative, enterprise and hard work to thrive, it is more important than ever to call out those who find the rule of law an inconvenience, or independent regulation an irritation. We are doing our part here in Nigeria. We will continue to press our partners abroad to help with the supply side of corruption and have received some encouragement. We expect more funds stolen in the past to be returned to us and they will be ploughed back into development with all due transparency.

This is a joint initiative. Where our policies have worked best, it has been because of the support of ordinary Nigerians in their millions, numbers that even the most powerful of special interests cannot defy. I thank you for your support. Transition by its very nature carries with it change and some uncertainty along the way. I encourage you to be tolerant, law abiding and peace loving. This is a new year and the beginning of a new decade – the Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa.

To recapitulate, some of the projects Nigerians should expect to come upstream from 2020 include:

  • 47 road projects scheduled for completion in 2020/21, including roads leading to ports;
  • Major bridges including substantial work on the Second Niger Bridge;
  • Completion of 13 housing estates under the National Housing Project Plan;
  • Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and Enugu international airports to be commissioned in 2020;
  • Launching of an agricultural rural mechanisation scheme that will cover 700 local governments over a period of three years;
  • Launching of the Livestock Development Project Grazing Model in Gombe State where 200,000 hectares of land has been identified;
  • Training of 50,000 workers to complement the country’s 7,000 extension workers;
  • Commissioning of the Lagos – Ibadan and Itakpe – Warri rail lines in the first quarter;
  • Commencement of the Ibadan – Abuja and Kano – Kaduna rail lines also in the first quarter;
  • Further liberalisation of the power sector to allow businesses to generate and sell power;
  • Commencement of the construction of the Mambilla Power project by the first half of 2020; and
  • Commencement of the construction of the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos pipeline in the first quarter of 2020.

Thank you very much!

President Muhammadu Buhari,

State House, Abuja.

January 1, 2020

Posted On Wednesday, 01 January 2020 19:35 Written by

Will former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Adoke be granted bail from the Custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)?

Justice O. A Musa of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court will on Tuesday hear Adoke’s application for bail. The EFCC is opposed to the application.

The ex-minister is being investigated with other suspects, over the $1.09billion Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245) deal.

Adoke, on December 23, filed the bail application on account of ill-health.

He urged the court to grant him bail on self-recognizance having voluntarily returned to the country from, the United Arab Emirate(UAE) Dubai.

He frontloaded his medical records as exhibits to guide the court’s decision.

But the EFCC said mere allegations of ill-health will not be a sufficient justification for admitting him to bail.

It said Adoke had not exhibited any sign of ill-health that should warrant the EFCC to transfer him to a well-equipped government hospital.

The anti-graft agency said some of the exhibits tendered by Adoke were received on December 23, after the EFCC had obtained a remand warrant from the court.

The EFCC alleged that Adoke might jump bail and escape in addition to the likelihood of interference with witnesses the EFCC might wish to contact.

The EFCC on December 20 secured an order from an FCT High Court to keep Adoke in custody for 14 days, which will expire on January 2, 2020.

The ex-minister sought a declaration that his prosecution by the EFCC on account of his carrying out the lawful directives and the implementation of the approvals of the President while he served as the minister of the Government of the Federation is illegal, null and void and inconsistent with the intendment of Section 5(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.”

He asked the court to restrain the EFCC from further investigating him on the $1.06 billion Malabu Oil Block (OPL 245).

He also pleaded with the court, through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), for bail on health grounds.

Ozekhome, in the Motion on Notice, made the following points:

“That the applicant was a former attorney-general of the Federation and minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 6th April, 2010 to 29th April, 2015.

“That he has his family and business resident and situate here in Nigeria.

“That the applicant had actually left Nigeria voluntarily before May, 2015, not because the 2nd Respondent wanted him, but to pursue a master’s degree (LL.M) in Public International Law, in the Netherlands.

“That the applicant returned voluntarily to Nigeria vide Emirates Airline, after his initial arrest by the Interpol/UAE authorities which later released him as shown in his attached ticket which he voluntarily purchased by himself, and has signed statement, instead of running from justice to other places.

“That the applicant has complicated health issues which necessitated his journey to Dubai, UAE, for treatment, from where he was illegally arrested and detained in the UAE/Dubai facilities.

“That the applicant is presumed innocent under section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as altered, until proven guilty.

“That the charge against the applicant has not been served on the applicant till date, contrary to the order made by Hon. Justice D. Z. Senchi, on 25th October, 2019.

“That a letter written by the court the Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, dated 20th September, 2017, and addressed to the Acting Chairman of the Complainant/Respondent (EFCC), had also clearly exonerated the Applicant from any criminal liability in the Malabu Oil and Gas cases.

“That the applicant’s warrant of arrest upon which his arrest and detention in Dubai was anchored, had been set aside in a well- considered judgment delivered on the 25th October, 2019, by Hon. Justice D. Z. Senchi of the FCT High Court, Abuja, who had issued the earlier warrant of arrest in April, 2019.

“That the applicant has no previous criminal record against him.

“That the applicant will not flee from justice, or attempt to influence, interfere with or intimidate/witness, or the course of justice.

“That the applicant undertakes to attend trial on all days the charge comes up till final determination thereof.”

The written address of the EFCC’s four-man team is signed by Bala Sanga (a former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Adamawa State, Aliyu Yusuf, Offem I. Uket and M.S. Abubakar.

The EFCC lawyers said: “The court in Ofolue v F. R. N. (Supra) held that an applicant must present a convincing medical report by an expert in the relevant field. And in addition, the applicant must show that the applicant or those holding him have no access to such medical facilities as are required in treating him.

”My Lord, we submit that the various illnesses listed in Exhibit 11 were diagnosed in 2018, and were appropriately treated.

“There is no evidence before the court to show the defendant/applicant has suffered a relapse from any of sicknesses again to entitle him to rely on ill-health as a ground for this application. Moreover, the cases cited on ill-health cannot avail him as exhibits 11 and 12 did not prove that the applicant is currently ill.

The anti-graft agency faulted Adoke for claiming to have returned to the country voluntarily on December 19, 2019.

The lawyers added: The EFCC said: “Finally, relevant paragraphs of our counter affidavit indicate that the defendant/Applicant was forced to return to Nigerian after his arrest and detention by INTERPOL in Dubai.

“So, it is not correct for the defendant/applicant to state that he voluntarily submitted himself for arrest by the police in paragraph 3.6 of his written address.

“Indeed, he was aware of the criminal charges filed against him before this Honourable court and the Federal High Court between 2016 and 2017, yet refused to return to Nigeria until he was arrested and detained in Dubai.

The EFCC said: “Concerning the gravity of the case my Lord, we have deposed to the fact that the Applicant is involved in not just the Malabo case but also the P&ID cases which involves a massive $9.6b financial implication against Nigeria. This is in addition to other matters like the Halliburton and CONTEC.

“We submit that the gravity of these matters and the resultant implication on Nigeria are serious and weighty enough for this Honourable Court to exercise its discretion against granting bail.”

”In conclusion, My Lord, it is our humble submission that the Defendants/ Applicants’ separate applications are unmeritorious and ought to be dismissed.

“We humbly urge your lordship to refuse same and order that the matter proceed to trial without delay in the spirit of section 19(2)(b) of the EFCC (establishment) Act, 2004 and section 397(3) of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 as well as our readiness for a day-to-day trial. We are most grateful for the indulgence of the court.”

As at press time, it was gathered that there had been pressure on the Federal Government to admit Adoke to bail.

A top source said: “Some forces have been mounting pressure on those in government to admit Adoke to bail because it is very, very strange to put a former AGF on trial.

“Once you are an AGF and Minister of Justice, you are a custodian of sensitive security matters which he can never de-classified unless he is forced to under this circumstance.

“Those who know better are saying that since all Adoke is asking for his bail reprieve to stand trial, his rights should be protected.

“They are saying that Adoke’s trial might be a precedent for those who will leave office in 2023. And it appears some government officials are already buying the bail idea for Adoke.”

Posted On Tuesday, 31 December 2019 03:47 Written by

Nigeria’s government is reviving old habits from its authoritarian past to stifle criticism.

Evoking memories of Nigeria’s three decades of military rule, the repression risks undoing progress Africa’s top oil producer has made since the restoration of multiparty democracy in 1999. Governance and other reforms have helped more than double average annual foreign investment since then -- a pace President Muhammadu Buhari needs to sustain to help reduce the world’s largest number of people living in extreme poverty.

Known for disregarding human rights and introducing protectionist economic policies during his dictatorship from 1983 to 1985, Buhari won a popular vote in 2015 claiming to be a “converted democrat,” and was reelected in February. That assertion has been eroded by crackdowns on civil-society organizations, increasing arrests of journalists and planned laws to regulate social media.

The measures affect “the international community’s perception of our appreciation for democracy and the rule of law,” said Michael Famoroti, a partner at Lagos-based Stears Business. “Investors are less keen on venturing into regions that are considered to be within the grip of erratic strongmen.”

In his five years in office, Buhari has disobeyed at least 40 court orders, according to human-rights advocacy group Amnesty International. He’s also been accused of being too quick to resort to security crackdowns when faced with dissent.

Adversarial Media

Those inclinations clash with Nigeria’s traditionally adversarial media, which has responded with more criticism of the government. The Lagos-based Punchnewspaper declared on Dec. 11 it will no longer address Buhari as president, but by his military rank of major-general in recognition of the martial tendencies of his government.

Last week, Omoyele Sowore, a prominent critic of Buhari, was detained by intelligence agents, 24 hours after the secret police belatedly submitted to a court order to release him on bail. The publisher and former presidential candidate was first arrested in August, after calling for revolution, and charged with various crimes including treason.

There’ve been at least 61 cases of attacks or harassment of journalists in Nigeria this year, more than any year since 1985, according to a report published by the Lagos-based Premium Times newspaper last month. The authorities have failed to investigate the “indiscriminate arrest, detention and prosecution of journalists,” Amnesty International said in a report in October.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Amnesty International have leapt to Sowore’s defence, while the U.S. government said it’s “deeply concerned” about the consequences for the rule of law and media freedom in Nigeria. The presidency has described Sowore as an agitator committed to “fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.”

Contract Risk

The detention of Sowore, despite a bail order, “doesn’t send a favorable signal to investors concerned about contract risk,” said Adedayo Ademuwagun, an analyst at Lagos-based Songhai Advisory LLP. “The more the government demonstrates that it doesn’t respect its own laws and legal institutions, the less faith investors will have in the system.”

In addition to the attacks on journalists, lawmakers are promoting new legislation opponents say will target detractors of Buhari’s government.

Two bills -- one designed to regulate “internet falsehoods,” the other to rein in “hate speech” -- are being scrutinized by the Senate. Under the former, individuals found guilty of creating or transmitting “false” information online face fines of up to 300,000 naira ($824) or three years in prison. An early version of the latter sought life imprisonment for anyone convicted of stirring up ethnic hatred and the death penalty if the offense causes loss of life.

“If these bills become law, we will see the political class and the security services move rapidly to use them to stifle dissent,” said Cheta Nwanze, head of research at Lagos-based SBM Intelligence. Legislation already on the statute books has been used to justify a recent raid on a leadingnewspaper as well as the imprisonment of journalists.

Such concerns are unfounded, according to Mohammed Sani Musa, the senator sponsoring the so-called “social media bill.” The law “is not an attempt to stifle free speech,” but a means of tackling “fake news,” which has led to deadly outbreaks of violence. While the government “is not against free speech,” leaving social media unregulated “could result in more lawlessness, violence and deaths,” the presidency said.

Posted On Monday, 16 December 2019 00:39 Written by

After defeating numerous beauty queens, at Eko Hotels & Suites, on November 30, to clinch the 43rd Miss Nigeria crown, Beauty Etsanyi Tukura speaks on the good, the bad and the ugly of emerging Miss Nigeria and how she deals with men who make unwanted advances towards her.

The beauty queen says in an exclusive interview, with The Sun that she never hesitate to say no and stand by it…

“I thank God for one thing about me, and that is the fact that I don’t hesitate to say no and stand by it. If I don’t want something, I’ll say it respectfully and politely. I always tell them, ‘thank you very much for the admiration but I humbly decline’. She revealed.

And when asked to describe her ideal man, and the potentials he must possess, she replied…

“I like men in suits. I like my man to look astonishing and gorgeous. His complexion and height is not an issue for me, what matters to me is his personality. If he is responsible and decent, it’s fine by me. I don’t like men that sag their pants and wear bold chains around their necks. The basic potentials I desire from my ideal man would be: attentiveness – he must give me maximum attention. I want a man who understands other people’s feelings and respects people, because how he treats people is really who he is. I’m very conscious about that because that is a representation of who he really is. And finally, I want a man who is God fearing.”

Read full interview

How do you feel emerging the new Miss Nigeria?

It’s an obvious fact. I mean, after the rigorous processes in camp, and at the end of the whole struggle, I emerged winner. It’s a dream come true and I am super excited for the fact that I had contested for this crown three good times, and now I made it. The excitement is out of this world!

How did your journey to the crown begin?

It’s been a question of the good, the bad and the ugly. Nothing good comes easy.. I went to camp prepared with so much optimism, enthusiasm and positive expectations. And while I was in camp, a lot of things happened, other contestants tried to upset me; I met disappointments, different things tried to throw me off balance. But I thank God for the grace to remain determined on achieving the real goal which was winning the crown. So, yes, the process was the good, the bad and the ugly. But I enjoyed every moment in camp and I’m grateful.

What would be your first project as Queen?

That would be to join and support the ‘Risen Girl’ summit. The Miss Nigeria pageant already has an office that comes with responsibilities; so most of my projects would be in line with the agenda of that office so I don’t deviate from the ready made agenda. It’s a legacy that we are trying to build and it’s expected of us to maintain that legacy. There are various projects to focus on; there are health, sexual abuse, environmental sensitization, empowerment and so on. But one project dear to my heart is impacting human development. I am really passionate about learning; so I want to see how I can get scholarship for at least one girl-child, sponsor her to any level of her education before the end of my reign. I attended good schools, I intend to further by obtaining my Master’s degree, have a PHD, and so, I would love to see another girl live-out her dreams through my education sponsorship scheme.

As a law graduate, what spurred you into participating in the Miss Nigeria pageant?

I happen to be someone who has love for fashion and beauty. More importantly, I love to do professional things. So, my profession as a lawyer is interesting for me because it gives me an area of almost everything. You know, there’s law in virtually everything we do. So, I felt like it was a perfect course for me since it gave me knowledge about everything in life. My interest in beauty and fashion is just a natural phenomenon.

Okay, what happens to your career since you are now a beauty queen?

I haven’t gone to law school yet, and I haven’t done my NYSC yet. So, there’s still a long way for me to go after my reign. Your personality illustrates beauty and brainsv, so tell us who is the man that has been there for you all this while?

There’s no man in my life. I am very much single but not searching for now. It’s work, work and work for me until the end of my tenure as a beauty queen.

How would you describe your ideal man, and mention three potentials you will like him to possess?

I like men in suits. I like my man to look astonishing and gorgeous. His complexion and height is not an issue for me, what matters to me is his personality. If he is responsible and decent, it’s fine by me. I don’t like men that sag their pants and wear bold chains around their necks. The basic potentials I desire from my ideal man would be: attentiveness – he must give me maximum attention. I want a man who understands other people’s feelings and respects people, because how he treats people is really who he is. I’m very conscious about that because that is a representation of who he really is. And finally, I want a man who is God fearing.

As a beautiful lady, how do you handle advances from the opposite sex?

I thank God for one thing about me, and that is the fact that I don’t hesitate to say no and stand by it. If I don’t want something, I’ll say it respectfully and politely. I always tell them, ‘thank you very much for the admiration but I humbly decline’.

Posted On Sunday, 15 December 2019 19:30 Written by

Toni-Ann Singh has won the 69th Miss World beauty pageant.

It's the first time in history that black women hold the titles for Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe and Miss World.

The 23-year-old student was born in St Thomas, Jamaica, and plans to study medicine and become a doctor.

She tweeted on Saturday: "Please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams... you have a PURPOSE." To that little girl in St. Thomas, Jamaica and all the girls around the world - please believe in yourself. Please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. This crown is not mine but yours. You have a PURPOSE.

Toni-Ann impressed judges at the event in ExCel London after singing Whitney Houston's I Have Nothing, and answering a variety of questions.

She said: "This feels like a dream, I'm so grateful."

"Whatever it is you see in me, thank you. I'm ready to get to work."

She beat 111 other contestants representing different countries, to be the fourth Jamaican winner of the title since the competition began.

When asked by judge Piers Morgan if she would consider a singing career, she said: "If the door is open I'll walk through it."

Toni-Ann receiving her crown.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionToni-Ann was crowned by the Previous Miss World, Vanessa Ponce de Leon

The runners up included Ophély Mézino from France and Suman Rao from India.

One moment that caught people's attention online was Miss Nigeria's reaction to Toni-Ann's win.

Nyekachi Douglas, who placed fifth, jumped and screamed with Joy when the winner was announced.

Posted On Sunday, 15 December 2019 16:30 Written by

The budget assumes a deficit of 1.52 percent of estimated GDP, to be financed with foreign and domestic debt.

Nigeria's parliament passed a record 10.59 trillion naira ($35bn) budget for 2020 on Thursday, paving the way for the country's likely return to the international debt market next year as it struggles to shake off the impact of a recession.

The budget passed by lawmakers assumes a deficit of 1.52 percent of the estimated gross domestic product - representing around 2.18 trillion naira ($7.2bn) - to be financed through foreign and domestic borrowing.

In 2019, the debt office said it did not tap the international debt market because of time constraints before the end of its budget cycle. The West African country held its last Eurobond sale in 2018, its sixth outing, where it raised $2.86bn.

Nigeria emerged from a 2016 recession in 2017, but has struggled to boost growth. Ratings agency Moody's downgraded the country's outlook to negative from stable on Wednesday, citing an increased risk to government revenue.

Nigeria's Senate, parliament's upper house, passed the plan. It was also approved by the lower house a few hours later.

The budget assumes crude production of 2.18 million barrels a day and an oil price of $57 per barrel. Nigeria is Africa's top oil producer.

The spending plan includes a value-added tax increase from five percent to 7.5 percent. The budget is also up from the 8.83 trillion-naira budget for 2019 and tops the previous record spending plan, the 9.12 trillion-naira budget for 2018.

President Muhammadu Buhari last week asked parliament to approve a request for $23bn in foreign borrowings for infrastructure projects. It was not immediately clear if that sum was included in the budget passed by lawmakers on Thursday.

A central goal of Buhari's tenure has been to increase non-oil revenues to reduce Nigeria's dependence on crude oil sales.

In the president's first term, he was embroiled in a power struggle with the legislature, leading to months of delays in the implementation of spending plans.

But loyalists in his ruling party now occupy key parliamentary roles, which has sped up the passage of legislation.

"I hope we continue to work together as colleagues to ensure the 2020 budget is fully implemented," said Senate President Ahmed Lawan after passing the budget.

Lawmakers increased the budget from the 10.33 trillion-naira ($31.3bn) spending plan that Buhari presented to them in October. The president must agree to the revised plan before signing it into law.

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

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)The founder of a major airline in Nigeria has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for allegedly moving more than $20 million from foreign sources through American bank accounts and using it, in part, to pay for living expenses, luxury cars and high-end shopping, according to US officials and federal court documents.

Allen Onyema
Allen Onyema, 56, the chairman and founder of Air Peace, is accused of moving the money from Nigeria and other sources through US bank accounts in a scheme that involved organizations he founded in his home nation and false documents related to the purchase of airplanes, the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced Friday.
"Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud," US Attorney Byung Pak said in a news release. "We will diligently protect the integrity (of) our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business."
Nigerians return home, fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa
Onyema, who earned praise this year after dispatching planes to offer free flights to Nigerians facing xenophobic violence in South Africa, denied the allegations in a statement issued to local reporters. He said he is "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," Onyema said. "I never laundered money in my life, neither have I committed bank fraud anywhere in the world. Every Kobo (of Nigerian currency) 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," he stated. "I never took a penny from any US bank or Nigerian bank. I am willing to defend my innocence in the US courts."
Attorneys for Onyema later sent a statement to CNN via a public relations firm in Atlanta.
"On behalf of Allen Onyema, we hereby state that he strongly denies and will vigorously defend himself against the allegations made against him by the US Attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, in relation to purchase of aircraft, aircraft spares and aircraft maintenance," the statement said. "None of the allegations involve any third party funds but relate to his funds utilized in the airline business. There is no allegation that any bank (in the United States, Nigeria or elsewhere), company or individual suffered any financial or any loss whatsoever. The allegations are unfounded and strange to him. Allen Onyema has a track record built on honesty and integrity and will take all necessary steps to clear his good name and hard earned reputation. He looks forward to an opportunity to rebut these allegations in Court."
Onyema faces 27 counts of money laundering, three counts of bank fraud, three counts of credit application fraud and two conspiracy charges.
A warrant was issued Tuesday for his arrest, the court record shows. CNN could not immediately reach Onyema for comment.

US accounts were 'alleged fronts for his scam'

About a decade ago, Onyema, a Nigerian citizen, started traveling frequently to Atlanta, where he opened personal and business bank accounts, federal prosecutors' statement said.
Between 2010 and 2018, about $45 million "was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources," they said. The sum included several instances of "hundreds of thousands of dollars transferred directly" from accounts for four organizations Onyema founded to promote peace in his home country to a personal bank account he shared with his wife, according to an indictment filed Tuesday.
Onyema used money in those accounts during the period to pay for "personal living expenses," including an armored Lexus LX570, a Rolls Royce and a Mercedes, plus for purchases at Prada, Neiman Marcus, Macy's, Louis Vuitton and Apple stores in Atlanta, the indictment states.
In 2013, Onyema founded his airline and in the following years traveled to the US and bought planes, the statement says. More than $3 million used for those purchases allegedly came from bank accounts of four of his organizations, which "purport to promote peace across Nigeria," the news release states.
Then in 2016, Onyema and an associate allegedly used fake letters of credit and supporting documents to get banks to transfer more than $20 million to Atlanta-based bank accounts that he controlled, then "allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts," the US attorney's office says.
"Onyema setup various innocent sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam," said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer.
Posted On Monday, 25 November 2019 02:27 Written by

Adoke's lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, said Adoke was arrested by Interpol on Monday, November 11, 2019, after travelling to Dubai for a medical appointment.

The investigation by Nigeria's anti-graft agency relates to the $1.3bn sale of a Nigerian offshore oilfield known as OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas in 2011.

The agency obtained arrest warrants in April for Adoke, former petroleum minister Dan Etete, and an Eni manager.

Eni and Shell jointly acquired the field from Malabu, which was owned by Etete.

The oilfield sale has spawned legal cases across several countries, involving Nigerian government officials and senior executives from ENI and Royal Dutch Shell. Shell and Eni, and their executives have denied any wrongdoing.

Etete has also denied wrongdoing.

In an Italian case, prosecutors accuse former and current executives of Eni and Shell of paying bribes to secure the licence, and allege roughly $1.1bn of the total was siphoned to agents and middlemen.

"We have written to Dubai authorities, the EFCC (anti-graft agency), and the Nigerian authorities to free Adoke to allow him to go on with his medical treatment in Dubai," Ozekhome said.

He added that the arrest warrant had, in fact, expired after being nullified by a court in October, because Adoke was not served with the charges before the warrant was issued.

A government communication office in Dubai did not respond to an email seeking comment. Nigeria's EFCC and Interpol were not immediately available for comment.

Ozekhome said Adoke has appeared in court in Nigeria in the past over the OPL 245 case and was exonerated.

Posted On Thursday, 21 November 2019 03:36 Written by
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