UAE Deports Shafiq Egyptian Presidential Hopeful

Ahmed Shafiq, former vice-president of Egypt and a presidential hopeful in next year’s election has been deported by UAE, back to Egypt.

Shafiq had been living in the Gulf country, along with his family, since 2012. He served under Hosni Mubarak.

His deportation came after he announced his candidacy in upcoming elections and that he was being prevented from leaving the country.

His Emirati hosts were said to have been angered by the remark, according to the AFP

Shafiq landed in Cairo airport on Saturday evening and quickly left to an unknown destination, an airport official said.

The UAE state news agency WAM had reported that Shafiq left the country for Egypt, while his family stayed behind, but did not mention that he had been deported.

Shafiq, a former army general appointed as prime minister by Hosni Mubarak, had narrowly lost an election to Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2012, a year after Mubarak’s overthrow.

He was placed on trial after the polls on corruption charges and acquitted, and one of Shafiq’s lawyers said last year that he was free to return to Egypt.

One aide said she witnessed officials arriving at his Abu Dhabi house and was told that Shafiq, seen as a main challenger to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, would be deported to Egypt on a private plane.

“They took him from the house and put him on a private plane. They said he would go back to Cairo, because they can deport him only to his home country,” she said.

Another aide confirmed to AFP that he would be deported to Cairo, and his lawyer Dina Adly wrote on Facebook that Shafiq had been “arrested” to be sent home.

An aide had previously said Shafiq would leave the UAE over the weekend for France and other European countries before returning to Egypt.

After he announced his candidacy on Wednesday, pro-government media and some officials assailed Shafiq, who is seen as the only challenger to Sisi with even a remote chance of winning a large number of votes.

Another tentative candidate, leftist Khaled Ali, is facing legal troubles that may prevent him from registering, while a hitherto unknown army colonel has also announced his candidacy.

Sisi, a former army chief who toppled Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist, won an election in 2014.

He is certain to run in next year’s election, although he has not formally announced his candidacy yet.

The authorities under Sisi had launched a bloody crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group that extended to secular and non-Islamist dissidents as well.

Sisi has undertaken tough economic reforms that saw the Egyptian pound lose more than half its value while inflation sky rocketed, supported by an IMF $12 billion loan.

Yet he remains popular with many Egyptians who, wearied by years of tumult that decimated tourism and foreign investment, say the country needs a firm leader.

Egypt is also battling a deadly Islamic State group insurgency that the army has struggled to put out.

Last month, suspected Islamic State group gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers in a Sinai peninsula mosque, provoking outrage in Egypt but also questions on why the Sufi-associated mosque had been unguarded after receiving threats from the IS extremists.

Dubai Launches Self-Flying Taxis

Dubai has launched the world’s first self-flying taxi at the Jumeirah Beach Park in Dubai, United Arab  Emirates today. The Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT) of Dubai was the brainchild of  Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA).

According to Dubai Media Office, the two-seater AAT, capable of transporting people without human intervention or a pilot, has been supplied by Volocopter, a Germany-based specialist manufacturer of automated air vehicles.

The AAT, expected to be put into use in the fourth quarter, is powered by electricity and is highly safe. Its design comprises 18 rotors to ensure secure cruising and landing in case of any rotor failure, said RTA.

“It is environment-friendly as it is powered by clean electricity, and it has very little noise. It has a maximum flight time of approximately 30 minutes at a speed of 50 km per hour, and a maximum air speed of 100 km per hour,” according to RTA.

“After the remarkable success of the first driverless metro in the region, we are glad to witness today the test flight of the Autonomous Air Taxi,” said Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

“This is another proof of our commitment to positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society,” he added.

Emirate Aspire To Sponsor PSG Till 2019

Dubai’s Emirates airline confirmed Thursday it would sponsor the shirts of Qatar-owned Paris Saint-Germain until 2019, despite a regional crisis which has seen the UAE cut ties with Doha.

Emirates’ announcement comes less than a week after Brazilian football phenomenon Neymar transferred from Barcelona to the French club for a world record 222 million euros ($264 million), paid for by Qatar.

“Emirates has a sponsorship contract with the French football club PSG until 2019. So far the club has fulfilled its full obligations and we see no reason to terminate the contract,” a spokesman for the airline told AFP.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut all ties with Qatar over allegations the Gulf emirate bankrolled Islamist extremists and was too close to Shiite Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional archrival.

Qatar has denied the allegations.

Analysts have said the transfer of Neymar may aim to divert public attention away from the political crisis engulfing Qatar.

PSG players have worn jerseys sponsored by Emirates, which is owned by the Dubai government, since 2006.

Emirates Airlines has partnerships with AC Milan, Real Madrid and Arsenal.

AGF, EFCC Chair Jet To Dubai To Complete Repatriation Of Stolen Loot

All seems set for the repatriation of loot stashed away by some former governors, ex-ministers and other public officers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it was learnt yesterday.

Some mansions belonging to some former Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and their cronies or fronts may also be seized, a source said.

Under the searchlight for stashing away cash or acquiring properties in the UAE are seven former governors, six former ministers, a fleeing presidential aide implicated in the $2.1billion arms deals, ex-military chiefs under probe, agents / fronts of some of these public officers and five chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP).

A Federal Government team, comprising the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu and crack detectives from the anti-graft agency, yesterday started comparing collated intelligence notes on the PEPs with their UAE counterparts.

The EFCC officials arrived in Dubai on Saturday. The Minister left Abuja yesterday to join the team.

It was learnt that the AGF had barely returned from an official assignment when an urgent travel arrangement was made for him.

The delegation went to UAE in line with an agreement with the Federal Government.

President Muhammadu Buhari in January signed a “Judicial Agreement on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which includes the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth”.

Seven former governors, six former ministers and a fleeing Presidential aide implicated in the $2.1billion arms deals, ex-military chiefs under probe, agents / fronts of some of these public officers and about five chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) have either stashed away funds in Dubai or acquired properties.

A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The Federal Government team has met with those from the UAE on intelligence sharing, the list of those on EFCC radar, the number of highly-placed Nigerians with fat accounts in UAE and those with choice properties in Marina (Dubai), Bur Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

”Some of the former governors include one from the South-South, two from Northcentral, two from the Northeast, one from the Northwest, and one from the Southwest.

“A former-governor had made botched attempts to transfer about $517million loot to Dominican Republic because UAE law is now strict.

“More than six ex-ministers and a former presidential aide, who is on the run over the $2.1billion arms deals, were said to have acquired choice mansions and malls in UAE. One of the former ministers, who was alleged to own two houses in Dubai, was said to have served as a front for a former First Lady.

“Another ex-minister had bought some malls through a few cronies in Dubai. The list of such agents is being screened.

“Certainly, the anti-graft agency has tightened the noose on these former public officers and there is no hiding place for them.

“The success of the collaboration between the Federal Government team and the UAE Government will determine when EFCC will release the concessions on some of these PEPs. Very soon, we will unveil these ex-political office holders.”

According to sources, the government delegation discovered that many highly-placed Nigerians, including a few ex-governors and money laundering fronts, have fled from Dubai to Singapore, Casablanca in Morocco, Dominican Republic and some islands in the UK and in the Caribbean.

Another source said: “From the trip so far, many big Nigerians have already ran away from Dubai to escape being arrested by the UAE authorities.”

“Some of the ex-governors have also avoided visiting UAE until the coast is clear. They do not want to experience the same fate like ex-Governor James Ibori.

“The frequency at which highly-placed Nigerians fly to Dubai for parties has considerably reduced because they are under watch by the UAE authorities.

A source in the government last night said: “Yes, the AGF and the EFCC chairman with some top officials of the anti-graft agency are in Dubai for a follow-up technical session on the Mutual Legal Assistance between Nigeria and the UAE.

“I can confirm the official trip and it is meant to recover looted funds.”

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Domestic Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, said over $200 billion had been hidden in UAE.

He said: “Over $200 billion is stashed away from Nigeria in Dubai alone. This may be monies stolen in the past 20 years. I am not talking about estates and bonds and other securities bought with Nigeria stolen money.”

The anti-money laundering policy of UAE Central Bank reads in part: “Any person who commits, or attempts to commit, a Money Laundering offence shall be punished by imprisonment of up to 10 years and or a fine of between AED 100,000 and AED 500,000.

”In cases of multiple perpetrators, the Court, subject to its discretion, may exempt a perpetrator from the imprisonment penalty if he takes the initiative and reports the crime to the competent authorities prior to the knowledge of such authorities and if his actions lead to the arrest of the other perpetrators or seizure of the laundered money.

”Any establishment that commits an offence of money laundering, financing of terrorism or financing of any unlawful organisations, shall be punished by a fine of AED 300,000 and AED 1,000,000.

”Failure to report a suspicious transaction shall be punishable by imprisonment and /or a fine of between AED 50,000 and AED 300,000.

”Tipping off a person being investigated regarding a suspicious transaction shall be punishable by imprisonment of up to one year and/ or a fine of between AED10,000 and AED 100,000.

”Violation of the requirements of Airport Declarations shall be punishable by imprisonment and or a fine.”

The Nation