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EFCC grills Fayemi over N4bn money laundering

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A former governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, is currently being interrogated at the zonal command office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in Ilorin, Kwara State, over an alleged laundering of N4billion.

Impeccable sources privy to the development told our correspondent that Fayemi arrived at the EFCC facility at about 9:40 am on Thursday.

The PUNCH had in May 2023, reported how Fayemi, through his lawyer, Adeola Omotunde, SAN, pleaded with the EFCC to allow him to present a book in honour of the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 19, before honouring the agency’s invitation for questioning over money laundering allegations.

Confirming the development on Thursday, a source said, “Fayemi arrived at our Kwara command office at about 9:40 am today. Our operatives are currently grilling him over alleged misappropriation of N4bn.”

“I’m not sure whether he’d be released today or detained. However, he’s not the only former governor that’s currently being probed by the commission,” another source noted.

When contacted by our correspondent, the spokesperson for the anti-graft agency, Wilson Uwujaren, said he couldn’t speak concerning the development.

“I can’t speak concerning that, please,” Uwujaren said.

Meanwhile, The PUNCH reports that in a letter dated May 12, which was obtained by our correspondent, the EFCC had asked the ex-Ekiti governor to appear before the head of its zonal command office in Kwara, Nigeria’s North-Central, to answer questions bordering on money laundering activities.

According to the letter issued by its zonal commander Micheal Nzekwe, the EFCC requested that Mr Fayemi appears before it on May 18.

The letter reads, “The commission is investigating a case of money laundering in which the need to seek certain clarifications from you has become imperative.

“In view of this, you’re kindly requested to come for an interview with the undersigned through the Head, Economic Governance section. Thursday, May 18, 2023. No. 10 Oko close, off station road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State. Time: 10: 00 hours.”

But in a follow-up letter through his legal counsel, Adeola Omotunde, SAN, dated May 15, which was sighted by our correspondent, Fayemi said he was one of the organisers and reviewer of one of the books published in Buhari’s honour.

“Our client is in receipt of your letter of invitation dated 12th May 2023 for an appointment on Thursday, 18th of May, 2023,” Fayemi’s lawyer noted.

The letter reads, “Our client is engaged on the 18th day of May 2023 as he is preparing for a public presentation and launching of two new books in honour of President Muhammadu Buhari, titled: ‘State of Repair: How President Muhammad Buhari Tried to Change Nigeria For Good’ by Anthony Goldman and ‘The Legacy of Muhammadu Buhari’ by Abu Ibrahim slated for 19th May 2023 at the Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja by 10:00 a.m.

“Our client is one of the organisers of the programme and will review one of the books. Our client has also committed himself to other programs between May 19, 2023, and May 24, 2023, before he received your invitation. We regret to inform you that our client will not be able to honour your invitation on the 18th May 2023 against the backdrop of the foregoing information.”

Fayemi’s lawyer could not be reached by our correspondent on Thursday, as the phone number obtained from his letter was unavailable.

Meanwhile, asides from Fáyẹmí, the EFCC has said it was also investigating the former governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, on allegations of corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70bn.

The EFCC said it was compelled to make the development public following the recent attempt by the outgoing governor to cast aspersions on the integrity of the agency’s fight against corruption.

The Director, Media and Public Affairs, EFCC, Osita Nwajah, who spoke on behalf of the Chairman of the agency, Abdulrasheed Bawa, made this disclosure in May while addressing journalists at the commission’s headquarters in Jabi, Abuja.

Nwajah said, “It is intriguing that Matawalle would want to take on the role of a supervisor, who tells the EFCC whom to investigate. Is this a case of a ‘thief’ saying he must not be touched until other ‘thieves’ are caught?

“The real issue with Matawalle is that he is being investigated by the EFCC, over allegations of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts and diversion of over N70bn.

“The money, which was sourced as a loan from an old generation bank purportedly for the execution of projects across the local government areas of the state, was allegedly diverted by the governor through proxies and contractors who received payment for contracts that were not executed.

“The commission’s investigations so far revealed that more than 100 companies had received payments from the funds, with no evidence of service rendered to the state. Some of the contractors who have been invited and quizzed by the commission made startling revelations on how they were allegedly compelled by the governor to return the funds received from the state coffers back to him through his aides after converting the same to United States dollars.

“They confirmed that they did not render any service to Zamafara State but were allegedly directed to convert the money paid to them into United States dollars and return to the state governor through some of his commissioners, notably the commissioners in charge of Finance and Local Government Affairs.”

According to Nwajah, one of the contractors involved, a popular Abuja property developer, collected N6bn on an N10bn contract without rendering any service to Zamfara State.

He noted that another contractor collected over N3bn for a contract for the supply of medical equipment, but the commission traced a payment of N400m from his account to a Bureau de Change operator. The contractor confessed the payment was to procure the dollar equivalent allegedly for the state governor.
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“As part of the extensive investigation of contracts awarded by the Matawalle administration, especially for phantom projects in the local government areas, the commission has recovered a sum of N300m from a company, Fezel Nigeria Limited. The funds were traced to the Zamafara Investment Company.

“The EFCC investigation is the source of anxiety in Government House, Gusau, with the governor in mortal dread of his fate once he steps down as governor on May 29.

“In Nigeria, state governors and their deputies enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, a reason the EFCC has yet to arrest Governor Matawalle,” he added.

The EFCC is also probing a former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, for alleged corruption over 14 properties both in Nigeria and abroad, and N400 million, among other allegations.

“The properties, including Hotel Apartment Community, Burj Khalifa lying, being and situate at, Plot 160 Municipality NO 345-7562, Sky View Building No 1, Property No 401, Floor 4, Dubai U.A.E., were reasonably suspected to have been derived from unlawful activity,” the anti-graft agency said in a statement obtained by our correspondent in May.

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 Chinese supermarket where Nigerians are not allowed to shop sealed

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has sealed the Abuja-based Chinese supermarket located within the China General

On Monday, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) sealed a Chinese supermarket located within the China General Chamber of Commerce in Abuja, following allegations of discriminatory practices against Nigerians.

The FCCPC officials interrogated Nigerian workers at the supermarket before sealing up the premises.

According to facilities workers at the store, the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled the premises with her family on Monday at 8:26 am, as captured on Closed-Circuit Television camera footage.

The workers, who are mostly Nigerians, disclosed this information to the FCCPC officials when they stormed the supermarket. As a result, the commission shut down the supermarket in question.

According to The PUNCH, the supermarket had implemented a controversial policy restricting entry solely to Chinese nationals, excluding Nigerians from patronising the establishment.

This policy sparked widespread condemnation across various social media platforms, as Nigerians voiced their concerns over the discriminatory treatment.

But visiting the premises on Monday, the commission officials led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, said the mission of the commission is in response to the viral video when Nigerians were allegedly being discriminated against and denied access to a supermarket located in Abuja.

Speaking at the end of the enforcement exercise, Adeyinka affirmed that the owner of the supermarket, Cindy Liu Bei, fled on Monday at 8:26 am with her family as confirmed on the Closed-Circuit Television camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound will remain sealed.

“Now the summons of course since she’s not around and the place is locked, is to serve notice on her to appear before the federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission by Wednesday

“There are other regulatory tools to be deployed, if she fails to attend to this summon. The summons means that on entering into these premises they must see the summon because that is how they gain access to it”, she said.

She added that if the Chinese owner fails to attend to the summon which is a lawful inquiry, the mandate of the commission under its powers will seal the premises until she comes to the commission, meaning that the place will remain locked until she appears before the commission.

The FCCPC officials subsequently sealed the supermarket.

 

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‘We have found him’- Kenyan police arrest Binance executive who escaped from Nigeria

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The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves

The Kenya Police Service has arrested fleeing Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, as the International Criminal Police Organisation moves to extradite him to Nigeria within the week.

Government sources familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on the matter confirmed the development to our correspondent on Sunday night.

One of the sources said, “Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, has been arrested by the Kenya Police Service, and he would be extradited to Nigeria this week by INTERPOL.”

Another source noted, “As we had said before that Anjarwalla would be extradited, he has been arrested in Kenya, and he’ll be extradited to Nigeria this week.”

The PUNCH had exclusively reported that the Federal Government had traced Anjarwalla to Kenya, following his escape from lawful custody in Nigeria.

Following the development, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the International Criminal Police, the Nigeria Police Force, and the Kenyan Police Service have deepened talks to quicken Anjarwalla’s extradition.

In the earlier report, Saturday PUNCH reported that Anjarwalla, whose cover has now been blown, went into hiding immediately after he landed in Kenya.

“We have found him. We know where he is; he is in Kenya, and we’re working with the authorities to bring him back to Nigeria.

“All hands are on the deck, the government and all the security agencies are working hard in conjunction with the Kenyan authorities and INTERPOL, to ensure his return to Nigeria to face the charges brought against him,” the report had quoted a source as saying.

Meanwhile, the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, had in the March edition of its bulletin titled, “EFCC Alert,” onfirmed that the commission was working in conjunction with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya to extradite Anjarwalla.

Olukoyed said, “The takeover of the prosecution of Binance chiefs by the commission is no less a strong message in the direction of EFCC’s resolve to hedge in distortions and disruptions in the country’s forex market.

“Tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000 and are at the foundation of the Commission’s five counts against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the company’s chief executives.

“While Gambaryan is currently in the Commission’s net, the process of extraditing the fleeing Anjarwalla is revving in full swing. Involved in partnership with the EFCC to nick Anjarwalla in flight are the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the governments of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Kenya as the clock winds down to his arraignment in absentia alongside the company and Gambaryan.”

 

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Six army killed in ambush by terrorists in Niger

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Six Nigerian Army personnel, including two officers and four soldiers, have lost their lives during an ambush by terrorists in Niger State.

Six Nigerian Army personnel, including two officers and four soldiers, have lost their lives during an ambush by terrorists in Niger State.

The incident occurred as troops from the 1 Division Nigerian Army engaged in a fighting patrol to Karaga Village in Shiroro Local Government Area.

According to a statement from the Nigerian Army Headquarters signed by Maj.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations, the troops fell into an ambush set by terrorists, leading to a fierce firefight.

Despite their bravery and efforts to fight back, six personnel were tragically killed in action.

Part of the statement read: , “Troops of 1 Division Nigerian Army deployed at Allawa and Erena, while on a fighting patrol to Karaga Village in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State had an encounter in an ambush staged by terrorists on 19 April 2024.

“Troops gallantly fought through the ambush and eliminated several of the terrorists as well as captured some of their equipment.

“Sadly, the troops suffered a temporary setback as six personnel comprising two officers and four soldiers paid the supreme price.

“We urge the general public, particularly the good people of Niger and contiguous states, to continue to avail the Nigerian Army and other security agencies with actionable and timely information to enhance the operations of the troops.”

The statement said the General Officer Commanding 1 Division and Commander, Operation Whirl Punch, Maj.-Gen. Landers Saraso, on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja sympathised with the families of the deceased personnel and promised them that the troops would avenge the unfortunate setback.

He said the troops were on the trail of some of the terrorists who survived and fled after the encounter.

The Nigerian Army headquarters further stated that in line with customs and traditions, the Nigerian Army had contacted the next of kin of the fallen heroes, while burial had been conducted for the deceased Muslim personnel with the consent and approval of their family members.

It said the Chief of Army Staff was represented at the burial, which took place at Minna Military Cantonment Cemetery, by Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Maj.-Gen. Kelvin Aligbe.

 

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How to apply for N50,000 federal govt grants, loans for Nano business

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The Federal Government of Nigeria under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, is rolling out two

The Federal Government of Nigeria under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, is rolling out two initiatives – the Presidential Conditional Grant Programme & the Presidential Palliative Loan Programme.

The minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite said the programmes aim to alleviate the effects of the fuel subsidy removal.

Nano businesses will receive N50,000 grant, while MSMEs and manufacturers will access loans up to N1 million and N1 billion respectively.

The target beneficiaries are 70% women and youth, 10% people with disabilities, and 5% senior citizens, while the remaining 15% is distributed to other demographics.

Who Can Apply?

Businesses that fall into the six categories below can apply.
1. Traders
2. Food services
3. ICT
4. Transportation
5. Creatives (makeup artists, fashion designers and dry cleaners.)
6. Artisans (vulcanizers, shoemakers, painters, repairers).

Grant Eligibility Criteria

1. Own a nano business.
2. Operate a business with progressive economic potential, and desire to grow the business.
3. Be willing to engage at least one additional staff member if turnover increases
4. Be willing to provide proof of residential/business address in the Local Government Area
Provide relevant personal and bank account information, including Bank Verification
(BVN) for verification of identity
5. Meet the application submission deadline.

Eligible applicants should visit the website fedgrantandloan.gov.ng and click ‘apply for grant.’

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Yahaya Bello steps on big toes in presidency – Source

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Investigation has revealed that embattled former Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello has stepped on big toes at the presidency and that is one

Investigation has revealed that embattled former Kogi state governor, Yahaya Bello has stepped on big toes at the presidency and that is one of the reasons why the anti-graft agency opened his crime file as a means to tackle the former governor.

Sources revealed that the former governor reached out to President Bola Tinubu for urgent intervention but all efforts proved abortive, as the president also interested in the case.

“Yahaya Bello has stepped on toes in the presidency, he’s plotting against the presidency. But I can reveal to you that President Tinubu is aware of everything, and Yahaya Bello must be try, no going back,” said the source.

Mr. Bello Yahaya is alleged to have misappropriated over ₦85 billion naira and has been currently declared wanted by the EFCC after several attempts to have him arrested failed including the recent incidence in Abuja where the current Governor of the State and his loyalist was accused of breaching the security cordon to whisk the accused away.

Meanwhile, A coalition of Kogi Youths under the banner of Network of Professional Kogi State Youths has called on the former Governor of Kogi State Alhaji Yahaya Bello to immediately vacate the Kogi State Government House where he’s currently hiding from the clutches of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a press release signed by Comrade Abdulquadri Shuaibu and distributed to journalists in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital on behalf of Network of Professional Kogi Youths over the weekend, the group frowned at the former Governor’s disregard for the rule of law including evasion of a lawful arrest, describing it as regrettable, disgraceful and embarrassing.

According to the release, “as a former Governor, we expected some degree of decorum and respect for the rule of law from him. The recent confrontation between the EFCC and Governor Yahaya Bello at his Abuja residence is a regrettable episode that is an embarrassment to Kogi people and Nigerians at large. We unequivocally condemn the former Governor’s conduct and insist that justice must take its course.

“As a united Coalition representing the citizens of Kogi State, we issue a 24-hour ultimatum to Governor Yahaya Bello to vacate the Government House and surrender to the EFCC or the nearest Police Station. Failure to comply, we will occupy the Government House in a mega protest to ensure Governor Bello’s accountability and safeguard the integrity of our judicial system.

On the role played by Alhaji Usman Adodo, the current Governor of the State who is also an associate of the former Governor in aiding his continuous evasion of arrest, the Coalition called on his immediate resignation, failure of which, the State House of Assembly will be compelled to commence impeachment proceedings against him.

“By choosing to shield an alleged criminal who squandered the commonwealth of Kogi people, Governor Usman Adodo’s immediate resignation is imperative. Failure to do so within 14-day period, we will compel the Speaker of the Kogi House of Assembly to initiate impeachment proceedings against him for obstructing law enforcement and undermining the administration of justice”, the statement added.

The youth group also hailed the efforts of individuals, law enforcement agencies and state institutions in ensuring that justice is done and the looted funds belonging to the good people of Kogi State are returned to facilitate the development of the state.

“We commend the EFCC for declaring Governor Yahaya Bello wanted and express solidarity with the Attorney General of the Federation’s unwavering commitment to combatting corruption. Indeed, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s steadfast dedication to this cause is commendable, and we implore him to persevere in his efforts.

“Furthermore, we applaud the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for withdrawing police protection from Governor Bello. While this is commendable, we urge the IGP to do everything within his powers to ensure that Yahaya Bello is arrested and handed over to the appropriate authorities for investigation and prosecution”, the statement concluded.

 

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Tinubu appoints SEC chairman, board members

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President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of seven persons to the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission. ⁣

President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of seven persons to the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission. ⁣

The Presidency announced the appointment on Friday in a statement signed by Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled ‘President Tinubu appoints board of Securities and Exchange Commission.’ ⁣

They include Mr Mairiga Katuka (Chairman of the Board), Mr Emomotimi Agama as Director-General, Frana Chukwuogor as Executive Commissioner (Legal and Enforcement) and Mr Bola Ajomale as Executive Commissioner (Operations).⁣

Others are Mrs. Samiya Usman as Executive Commissioner (Corporate Services), Mr. Lekan Belo and Mr. Kasimu Kurfi as Non-Executive Commissioners. ⁣

Ngelale said the President anticipates that all members of the Board will “bring to bear their wealth of experience and competence in advancing the commission’s core mandate of developing and regulating a capital market that is dynamic, fair, transparent, and efficient, to bolster investor confidence and contribute immeasurably to the nation’s economic development.”

 

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