Suspected Front For Ex-Petroleum Minister, Alison-Maduekwe, Arrested

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested Donald Chidi Amamgbo, said to be a cousin to a former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report.

Mr. Amamgbo, who is chief executive of Mezcor Oil and Gas limited, Tridax Oil and Gas Limited, Lynear Energy Limited and Bulk Strategic Reserved Limited, was arrested in Lagos at about 4.20 P.M Thursday.

Investigators told PREMIUM TIMES that evidence gathered so far suggested the oil mogul might have acted as front for Mrs Alison-Madueke, who granted him approval to lo lift Nigerian crude oil without any requisite experience.

“Through his companies, Amamgbo lifted crude oil and gas worth billions of dollars over a period of four years,” an official said.

“A search conducted in the office and premises of Mezcor Oil and Gas Limited at No. 5 Sannar street, Wuse 2, Abuja yielded documents which included payments for the purchase of houses and vehicles.”

Sources at the anti-graft agency said the investigation was continuing.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, said, “I am told there is something like that but I don’t have the details.”

The former minister’s husband was earlier arrested and released on February 18 as part of the investigations into her stewardship at the oil industry.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke herself was arrested on October 2, 2015 in London by the UK National Crimes Agency for alleged overseas corruption and money laundering.

After former Vice President Goodluck Jonathan became acting president, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was appointed Nigeria’s first female petroleum minister in February 2010, a position she held till May 29, 2015 when Mr. Jonathan left office.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke’s tenure as petroleum minister turned out one of Nigeria’s most controversial, amid unending allegations of corruption.

Under her watch, dubious oil marketers stole trillions of naira of oil subsidy money. She retained her position after the House of Representative investigated the scandal and indicted the minister.

Probes by independent audit firms, including the KPMG and Pricewaterahousecoopers, confirmed billions of dollars of oil money were missing, the most notable being $20 billion in 2014.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke also supervised a corrupt NNPC, which shady deals had been exposed by PREMIUM TIMES several investigations and confirmed by government and independent auditors.

Long before her stint in the oil and gas sector, Mrs. Alison-Madueke was investigated by the Nigerian Senate on allegation she paid N30.9 billion to contractors while she held office as transportation minister.

In 2009, the Senate also indicted Mrs. Alison-Madueke and recommended her for prosecution for allegedly transferring N1.2 billion into a private account of a toll company without due process.

Regardless of the mounting criticisms against her stewardship, Mrs. Alison-Maduke got elected in November 2014 as the first female president of oil cartel the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The former minister consistently denied any wrongdoing.

In June, after leaving office, she rejected all allegations of embezzlement, saying she never stole from Nigeria.

Premium Times

Prof. Umar Labdo, Alleged Religious Bigot On Kaduna Commission Of Inquiry Exposed

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria, has exposed an alleged religious bigot sitting as a member of the Kaduna State Commission of Inquiry on the Zaria Massacre.

Recall the Kaduna State government had set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the alleged massacre of over a thousand worshipers belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.

In a statement titled ‘Prof. Umar LABDO Has No Business Being A Member of Kasuna State Commission Of Inquiry On Zaria Massacre’ and released by President of the Group’s Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, the Shiite accused  the professor of harbouring hatred for the group in a dissertation he wrote back in 2004.

The group said his book, ‘YAN SHI’A DA AKIDOJINSU (Shiites and their beliefs) precisely on page 3, he said inter alia: “Nothing will usher in peaceful coexistence in this country like the Muslims acquiring dangerous weapons similar to that of Christians or even superior, and they should train their youth in handling such weapons so that they can use them in times of need.”

“If the Muslims wreck enough havoc just like their christian counterparts do (a case of the dog and monkey fight, spilling each others blood), it is then that peace will reign supreme. But in a situation where only the Muslims are at the receiving end, while the Christians go Scot free, will not bring the much needed peace.” The group said.

It continued, “If this so called Prof. is not a religious bigot, what is he? It is with such similar venomous hatred against our fellow countrymen, the Christians that on page 74 of the same book he recommended the following measures be taken against the Shiites; Shiite schools should be closed because it is from there they spread their deviant beliefs; Shiites should not be allowed to teach in public and private schools including universities.”

The Islamic Movement also accused him of recommending that “their properties should be confiscated, like their houses. There should be investigation on their finances especially from foreign countries like Iran and Lebanon and Nigeria should severe ties with Iran diplomatically.”

The group said that the Prof and his other two fellow travelers in the Commission of inquiry believe they are the only rightly guided people even in Islam.

“In page 74 of the same book there is a sub topic titled THE SHIITES AND THE SUFIS ARE TWINS TO EACH OTHER. Implying that just as the Shiites are deviant according to him, so also are the Sufis who are known as the Dariqa followers.” The group alleged.

“Prof. Umar Labdo is with the above myopic view since when he wrote the book in November 2004. To date he hasn’t refuted his ‘dissertation’.”

The Islamic movement stated that the Kaduna state government should see reason and remove Prof. Umar Labdo, Prof. Salihu Shehu and Malam Salihu Abubakar from its Commission of inquiry, unless it is waiting for a ‘perverted report and recommendation’ after the sitting of the commission.

Zaria Massacre: Shiite Severe Ties With NHRC Panel Of Investigation

The Islamic Movement says it has severed ties with the panel of investigation on alleged attack on convoy of the Chief of army staff by Shiites in Zaria on the 12th December 2015 set up by the National Human Rights Commission.

The Shiite in a statement signed by the President of the group’s Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, the Islamic Movement said it resolved to discontinue its participation, appearance and involvement with the Panel due to the following reasons: At the time of setting up of the Panel, the tenure of the Governing Council of the Commission had expired and under the Rules of the Commission, the Executive Secretary of the Commission is not vested with the power and the mandate to decide on petitions, cases and complaints of violations of human rights received from individuals or other persons or communities.

Secondly, the group said it was uncomfortable with the methodology adopted by the National Human Rights Commission relating to the Complaint filed.

“We find it odd that we are unable to confront the complainant in the petition and test the veracity of all his assertions.” The Islamic Movement said.

The group further said a letter on its decision has already been sent to Tony Ojukwu Esq, Chairman, Panel of Investigation National Human Rights Commission No. 19 Aguiyi Ironsi Street Maitama, Abuja.

It can be remembered shortly after the army’s attack on the Islamic movement, the Chief of army Staff quickly rushed to the NHRC, claiming that an attempt was made on his life.

Later the Islamic Movement tendered its memorandum on the claims made by the army General to the Commission.

However, the group said with the current development, the impartiality and credibility of the investigative panel has been compromised.

“We will therefore cease any cooperation with the panel on this matter.” The group said.

 

Lagos State To Partner With FG To Modernize National Museum

The Lagos State Government is to collaborate with the Federal Government to redesign and modernize the National Museum at Onikan in Lagos to make it an international tourist attraction and historical hub.

In a statement from the office of the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, it was disclosed that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode announced the decision following a request to that effect by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during a courtesy visit to the Governor at the Lagos House, Ikeja, on Thursday.

He said the upgrading of the museum is in line with the overall objective of the State Government to collaborate with the Federal Government in the development of infrastructure and improvement of security to boost tourism in the state.

“I want to also say that just the same way that we have collaborated with the police, we will collaborate with you and ensure that whatever it is that we can do to give a facelift to the infrastructure that the Federal Government has in Lagos, we will do it because it is eventually to the benefit of Lagosians and eventually to the growth of the economy of Lagos.

”So we will be looking into the area of the museum at Onikan to see how we can put up a modern day museum of international standard in that place,” he said.

The Governor said the modernization of the museum would be fast-tracked to showcase the history of the nation and artifacts, as part of the activities lined up to mark the 50th anniversary celebration of the creation of Lagos State next year.

He noted the enviable role that culture plays in creating a unique and distinct identity for Nigerians, saying his administration has mainstreamed culture into the economy of the state to enhance tourism and promote Lagos as a centre of excellence.

The Governor expressed the confidence that the infrastructure put in place, particularly the “Light Up Lagos” project and the security arrangement, would definitely improve investment in tourism, especially the establishment of world-class hotels, entertainment centres and recreation spots.

He disclosed that the Lagos State Government has floated the Employment Trust Fund, into which N6.25 billion would be paid yearly for four years, to create internationally acclaimed arts and recording studios in order to discourage artistes from recording their works abroad.

Nigerians Should Show More Anger Towards Corruption – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says he is surprised that Nigerians are not angry enough about corruption.

Mohammed, who said this when he visited Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos state governor, denied that the President Muhammadu Buhari, in the fighting corruption, witch hunts certain people.

“We are not witch-hunting any person. We are not out to vilify any person. What bothers us is that Nigerians are not angry enough,” he said. “Last Sunday, it was reported that N381 million was recovered from the account of the wife of a former service chief. It is surprising that Nigerians have shown no anger about it.

Mohammed expressed the determination of the current administration to stop corruption and appealed to Nigerians to help the government achieve its aim. “In other climes, you will see people talking about it (corruption) or doing something about it. We must understand that until we kill corruption, we are not going to make any headway.”

He explained that by explaining how resources were allegedly mismanaged in the past, government intends to inform the people the extent of havoc created by past leaders and the cost of corruption. “The government wants Nigerians to know what we are suffering. When we had a news conference in January and disclosed that 55 people stole N1.343 trillion between 2006 and 2013, what we wanted to emphasise was what one-third of the money would have done to Nigeria,” he said. “We said the money would be able to redevelop Lagos-Ibadan expressway. It will be able to give us one ultra-modern hospital in each state of the federation. “In addition, that money would have given 20,000 units of two-bedroom flat. The remaining will still sponsor 3,954 students from primary schools to tertiary level. In addition, it will build 183 state-of-the-art schools.”

Mohammed said corruption prevents development in Nigeria. “We lose 40% of our infants before they are five years old. It is because of corruption. It is because of corruption we are in darkness all the time. It is because of corruption we needlessly lose lives to road accidents today,” he said.

Adeosun, Emefiele Should Have Resigned Over Weak Naira- Ubah

The Managing Director of Capital Oil and Gas, Ifeanyi Ubah, on Thursday, said that government officials saddled with fiscal responsibilities should have resigned their appointments amid the current foreign exchange crisis facing the nation.

Ubah, who by implication was referring to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, also accused the Ministry and the apex bank of applying only academic fiscal policies rather than practical ones.

Ubah, had earlier in the week, threatened to unmask those behind Nigeria’s current foreign exchange crisis.

The businessman, while speaking on a programme on Raypower FM, which was monitored by our correspondent, also alleged that some people have been exploiting the situation to their benefits.

The Punch

Buhari Seeks Help From OIC On IDPs

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, said the Federal Government will welcome support from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the country’s ongoing efforts to rehabilitate parts of the country affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

He made the remark while speaking at a meeting with the Secretary General of the OIC, Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani.

President Buhari, in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, urged the organization to send a fact-finding mission to the ravaged states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa sin order to see the damage done by terrorists.

The President told Mr. Madani that the fact-finding visit will help the OIC to determine the scope of assistance it can offer to Nigeria for the rehabilitation and resettlement of internally displaced persons.

He challenged the OIC to act urgently in support of the restoration of peace, law and order to Libya which, he said, had been breeding the terrorists causing mayhem in West and Central African countries following the fall of the Muammar Gaddafi regime.

President Buhari also agreed with Mr. Madani that Islam has been wilfully misrepresented by terrorists.

Buhari Welcomes IDB Finance Offer

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Mecca, Saudi Arabia,welcomed an offer by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to organize a financing roundtable in Abuja to mobilize more funds for investment and development of infrastructure in Nigeria.

According to a statement issued by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President of the IDB, Dr Ahmed Mohammed Ali, made the offer at a meeting with President Buhari who is currently on an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Ali assured Buhari that the IDB will work with its traditional partners such as the Saudi Fund, the Kuwait Fund, Arab Bank for Development in Africa and the Abu Dhabi Fund, to increase the quantum of funding available to Nigeria.

Welcoming the offer, President Buhari restated his government’s determination to revamp and diversify the Nigerian economy rapidly.

Buhari said: “The days of Nigeria as a big oil producer with plenty of money are gone. We need all the support we can get to diversify our economy as quickly as possible.

“We also need to rehabilitate our infrastructure, develop the domestic capacity to feed ourselves and export the surplus.”

He welcomed the plan by the IDB to fast track the take-off of the Bilingual Education Program, aimed at integrating the Almajiri system of education with Western education in Nigeria.

The IDB has already provided $98 million for the Bilingual Education Program in Adamawa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Osun and Yobe States.

The bank plans to support similar projects in other states of Nigeria.

Reps To Pass 2016 Budget In March – @SpeakerDogara

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara, has assured Nigerians that the House would pass the 2016 budget in March.

The Speaker gave the assurance when he received a delegation from the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in his office on Thursday according to a statement issued by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan.

He said that although the budget as it is has some imperfections, the legislators would ensure that it impacts positively on the lives of its citizens when passed. According to him, the lawmakers are aware of the responsibilities placed on them in ensuring that they scrutinise and ensure a good budget, and are liaising with heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to produce a good document.

“Hopefully by next month, we will have it ready”, he said.

The Speaker also said that failure to diversify the economy in the past was responsible for the economic challenges bedeviling the country. According to the Speaker, the House of Representatives will soon begin sectoral debates where Ministers and other Heads of Agencies would be called upon to address the members on the prospects and challenges of their organisations, with a view to improving on their services.

Dogara further stated that the House has commenced debate on some laws earmarked for review, adding that the country needs to have very competitive laws that would boost business, like is obtainable in other countries.

The president of the association, Chief Bassey Edem, appealed to the legislators to look into the challenges facing businesses such as infrastructure – with special emphasis on power and transportation – with a view to addressing them.

Chief Edem commended the House of Representatives on the work so far done on the 2016 budget, and also reminded the House of Nigerians’ expectations. He urged the House to enact laws that would encourage business growth.

House Of Reps Moves Against ASUU Strike

…Asks FRSC to Delay Introduction of Compulsory N36,000 Speed-Limit Device

The House of Representatives, on Thursday, adopted a motion by Hon. Shekarau Hassan (Kaduna) on the urgent need to intervene to halt an impending strike by the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU).

The planned strike, he said, is in reaction to the recent suspension of the Vice Chancellors of various institutions.

The Speaker, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said the motion was important and that “all hands must be on deck to ensure that it [the strike] does not happen”.

The Committee on Tertiary  Education was then mandated to investigate the situation and present a report within two weeks.

Speaker dogara and members of the house

The House also passed a resolution mandating the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to delay the planned introduction of the mandatory speed-limiting device.

The FRSC had previously announced plans to make the technology – which would attract a cost of N36,000 – compulsory, but the legislators argued that the proposed cost was not in line with current economic realities, and asked that the plan by the FRSC be put on hold until the House Committee on FRSC had presented its findings.

Other urgent matters which the House will act upon include ruptured pipeline in Delta State, and the displacement of people in Benue state as a result of attacks on over 25 villages, which claimed many lives.

It was also proposed that bills relating to social welfare – with emphasis on widows, dependent children and orphans, and the unemployed, people with disability, the elderly and youths – be merged. Bills were also debated and presented for second reading.

Two new members were also sworn in today, following their victory at the by-elections in their respective constituencies. They are Talatu Yohanna, representing Numan, Demsa and Lamurde Federal Constituency (APC, Adamawa state), and Ismaila Mu’azzu Hassan, representing Akko Federal Constituency (PDP, Gombe state).

Talatu Yohanna and Ismail Hassan swearing in at the house

I Am Not Against All Lawyers, Magu Clarifies

The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu has clarified that he is not out to rubbish the Nigerian judiciary after recent comments attributed to him in recent media reports regarding the conduct of lawyers and judges were misinterpreted as an attempt to impugn their integrity.

He said his comments and activities of the EFCC should not be interpreted to mean a blanket indictment of all lawyers and judges but, rather directed at a few bad eggs within the system.

Magu, who made the clarifications in a statement issued the EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, however said few corrupt lawyers and judges few will not be spared.

He said: “There is no way one can make a blanket statement on the integrity of lawyers and judges. Nigeria is blessed with some of the best lawyers and judges on the African continent.

“My worry is that the bad ones amongst them are giving the good ones a bad name.

“There is no blanket condemnation of lawyers and judges, but the corrupt few will not be spared.”

He said the EFCC deeply “appreciates the support of most conscientious, upright and patriotic members of the bar and bench (including defence counsels), leading to the commission’s unbeaten prosecution and conviction record.

Magu added: “Mindful of the fact that judges are constrained from publicly responding to criticism against them, the commission only employs legal and administrative procedures, including investigation of errant judicial officers and laying complaints against them before the National Judicial Council (NJC).

“In the same vein, the commission has charged to court and secured convictions against a number of lawyers.”

The EFCC chairman called on all patriotic members of the bar and the bench to “join the renewed campaign against corruption and money laundering, while exposing the corrupt ones among them.”