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Emefiele used forged documents to obtain $6.2m from CBN — Boss Mustapha

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During the ongoing fraud trial of the immediate-past CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, before the Federal Capital Territory High Court in Maitama, Abuja, the former Secretary of the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, testified as the fourth prosecution witness.

Mustapha informed the court on Tuesday that a sum of $6.2m was released from the Central Bank of Nigeria in February 2023, using a forged document.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had alleged that on February 8, 2023, Emefiele connived with one Odoh Ocheme, who is now on the run, to obtain $6.2m from the CBN, claiming that it was requested by the SGF “vide a letter dated 26th January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/.

The anti-graft agency also alleged that Emefiele, in January 2023, forged a document titled: “RE: PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE ON FOREIGN ELECTION OBSERVER MISSIONS,” dated 26 January 2023 with Ref No. SGF.43/L.01/201.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), on Tuesday, Mustapha noted that neither the documents came from the president nor his office.

He also denied receiving any amount from the said money.

Mustapha said, “All through my service year as the SGF, I never came across these documents it was claimed that Buhari signed. From the face value of this document, having served for five years and seven months as SGF, this document did not emanate from the president for the following reasons.

“A correspondence that has the seal of the Nigerian president does not carry a reference number. The seal is the authority.

“Secondly, I have looked at it and read, that FEC decisions are not transmitted by letters. They are transmitted through extracts after conclusions are adopted.

“Thirdly, I am the custodian of FEC, the president will not refer executives’ conclusions to me.

“Also, in all the five years and seven months, I have never heard of the terms special appropriation provision referred to. The terms known to me, my lord, are appropriation as provided by the appropriation act normally passed by the national assembly and when the government file drafts it brings supplementary appropriation.

“In all the correspondences I have received from Buhari, it has never had ‘please accept the assurance of my highest regard’. I am his subordinate, my correspondences do not carry that.
And lastly, looking at the signature, it is a failed attempt at reproducing Buhari’s signature. I will leave that to the experts.”

Mustapha also told the court that the Federal Government had no business with foreign election observers.

He said, “Nigerian government has no business with foreign election observers. I have managed two election cycles and I know that for a fact. INEC has the sole responsibility for that.”

Mustapha pointed out that the approval for the fund was never on the agenda of the Federal Executive Council held on January 18, 2023, and could not have been approved.

He said, “My lord, there was a meeting on Jan 18. The Vice President presided over the meeting. My role as secretary was to prepare the agenda of the meeting and on that, there was a 16-point agenda. There was no agenda for payment to foreign election observers. Consequently, if it was not an item on the agenda, it can’t be discussed and it will not appear in the conclusion of the meeting of January 18. There was no such approval, conclusion, or transmission for the payment of the money.”

Oyedepo asked him to confirm if the letter conveying the presidential directives for the approval of the money emanated from him, Mustapha responded in the negative.

He also said Abubakar Jubril who was said to have received the money in cash was never a staff of his office.

Mustapha said, “To the best of my knowledge, this letter did not emanate from the OSGF. I did not sign it. My lord, I said it didn’t emanate from me for the following reasons: I am not privy to the operations of the Central Bank. The heading is defective, it presupposes, that there was a previous correspondence before you will say RE. I am not aware of the content of this letter. There was no FEC approval. Thirdly, there were references where I was said to have introduced a principal officer, I am not aware special task force on logistics set up by government.

“I do not know Jubril Abubakar a principal officer I who was alleged to be the coordinator of this task force. I didn’t introduce Jubril. The letter does not conform to the standard with which we write our letters at the OSGF. The reference number is always very clear so you will know the department the letter is from. We paragraph our letter and number them. I can only end my letter with please accept my assurances if I am writing to a superior officer. I could not have written to the governor of the CBN using that word. I also wouldn’t have addressed him as Dear Sir. ”

Oyedepo further asked if the 6.2m dollars paid to one Jubril Abubakar was to his office and if he received a dime from the money.

“Not one dollar was brought to my office. Not the amount and no part of it was brought to me.”

During cross-examination, the counsel for the defendant, Mathew Bukkaar, (SAN) asked if there was any memo to make payments to any government agency.

Mustapha said, “No my lord, if it is related to this transaction. There could have been others but not this.”

Emefiele’s counsel then asked if it was a practice in the OSGF to send staff to any bank to receive cash for whatever purpose.

Responding, the former SGF denied that was a practice in his office.

He said, “It is not a usual practice. I have six permanent secretaries if there is a need. They would have done that. ”

Earlier, during cross-examination, Ogbu Michael, a Deputy Director at the CBN who was formerly a Branch Controller at the time, told the court that he authorized the payment of the $6.2m after the approval from the banking services department.

He said the money was paid in cash and was expected to be refunded in the second quarter of 2023.

When asked by Burkaa if he authenticated the Identity card used for the payment of the money, Ogbu said, “I went by the payment instruction and did not go beyond the identity card attached to the document. The money was paid in USD cash to Jubril. ”

Bukaar further asked if the identity card presented was either National ID, Driver’s license, International Passport or Voter’s Card, Ogbu stated that none of the identity card was attached to the document.

He said, “The instructions was to pay with the ID indicated.”

Burkaa asked if Ogbu was aware the former SGF, Buhari, and the CBN Deputy governor were standing trial on the matter, he said he was not aware.

The trial judge, Justice Hamza Muazu adjourned the matter till March 7, 11, and 25 for continuation of trial.

 

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Keyamo inaugurates, Anosike, others as members of National Executive Safety Council (NESC)

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The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Professor Charles Anosike, and aviation sector stakeholders, were on Tuesday, 23rd April, 2024, in compliance with ICAO annex 19, inaugurated as members of the National Executive Safety Council (NESC), by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo.

Performing the inauguration, the Minister informed the members of their terms of reference. According to the Minister, the National Executive Safety Council (NESC) shall meet once every quarter or as emergencies require and its activities shall ensure the SSP remains relevant and appropriate to Nigeria.

The Terms of Reference of the NESC are; Endorse the priorities and ensure that appropriate resources are allocated to drive the desired improvements in safety performance, based on risk assessment, and give strategic direction to the Safety Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC). Ensure the development, periodic review and decision and policy making pertaining to SP activities, such as safety policy, safety indicators, enforcement policy, safety data protection and sharing, SMS regulatory requirements, and internal SSP review and findings, are carried out in an integrated and coordinated manner.

Monitor safety performance against the Nigeria’s safety policies and objectives. Assess and accept the picture of the aggregate risk within the aviation industry. Identify new and emerging strategic safety risks. Direct and monitor the effectiveness of the SIAC.

Ensure the effectiveness of the safety oversight of regulated organisations and personnel. Review and sign off major policies, rules and interpretation changes. Handle escalated issues identified by the SIAC. Approve Terms of Reference as recommended by the SIAC for projects, new entities and other safety activities as determined by the SIAC. Ensure the effectiveness of the organisation’s safety management processes.

The NESC comprises key aviation sector stakeholders, including the Director of Air Safety Administration, NSIB Director General, and heads of FAAN, NAMA, NiMET, NCAT, NCAA, representative of Nigeria Air Force (NAF), and technical advisers. The SSP Coordinator will serve as the National Executive Safety Committee Secretary.

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Record-breaker Tunde Onakoya returns to heroic welcome

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Nigerian chess master Tunde Onakoya is leveraging his skills to raise $1 million for Chess in Slums Africa (CISA), an initiative he

Chess-in-Slums Founder, Tunde Onakoya, was on Wednesday warmly welcomed back to Nigeria after breaking the record for the longest-ever chess marathon with a time of 60 hours.

He was greeted with a heartwarming reception, singing and dancing at the airport.

Onakoya broke the record of Norwegian players, Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, who played for 56-hour, 9-minute in 2018.

The Nigerian Chess Master on April 17 began his attempt to set a 58-hour chess marathon record at Times Square in New York, United States.

The new record holder said he attempted to raise funds and awareness for providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children across Africa.

 

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Buhari’s minister, Sirika to be arraigned for alleged N8 billion fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it will prosecute a former Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, over alleged money laundering, contract fraud in the ministry and Nigeria Air debacle.

The EFCC Spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, disclosed this on Wednesday in a phone conversation with Nairametrics.

When asked if the anti-graft plans prosecuting the former minister, he responded in the affirmative.

“He (Sirika) is going to be charged to court, but it may not be able to be either now or…but definitely, he is going to be sued. He may be arraigned very very soon. That is the information I’ve got,” he said.

Sirika served under former president Muhammadu Buhari as Minister of Aviation.

Another source familiar with developments within the commission but chose not to be named also told Nairametrics that the anti-graft agency’s ongoing probe would lead to prosecution.

“The EFCC is planning to prosecute him, but I don’t know the details except that he was arrested,” the source said.
Several media outlets claim the ex-minister is being interrogated over alleged contract scam under his purview and knowledge.

A reliable source said the arrest is also linked to the botched Nigeria Air. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, had cancelled the Nigeria Air deal on August 31, 2023. He had revealed on January 31, 2024, that “the whole composition and totality of the deal is merely Ethiopian Air flying the Nigerian flag.” He also admitted that the EFCC was investigating the whole deal.

Backstory
Three months ago, the EFCC said its operatives arrested Abubakar Ahmad Sirika, the brother of Hadi Sirika, over an alleged contract fraud in the aviation ministry.

Abubakar was picked up by the anti-graft agency on Sunday, February 4, following an investigation in the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development.

During his tenure as minister, Sirika faced allegations including conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, contract inflation, criminal breach of trust, and money laundering totaling N8,069,176,864.

The commission had revealed that the funds in dispute related to four aviation contracts awarded by the former minister to a company called Engirios Nigeria Limited, which is owned by his younger brother.

The EFCC is empowered by law to track financial crimes.

Every accused person remains innocent until found guilty by a competent court.

Sirika served as Aviation Minister from 22 August 2019 to 29 May 2023.

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Tinubu approves 20% palliative for traditional, religious institutions

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Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food

Vice-President Kashim Shettima has disclosed that President Bola Tinubu has approved that 20 per cent of palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through religious and traditional institutions.

Mr Shettima made this known while delivering the keynote address at a High-Level Dialogue of Faith Leaders on Nutrition in Nigeria, held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.

“The Imam of Bayero University (BUK) mentioned about the exclusion of the traditional and religious leaders in the distribution of palliatives.

”The President has approved that 20 per cent of the palliative in terms of food intervention be routed through our religious organisations and the traditional institutions.

“The Tsangaya schools, the mission schools will be specially targeted for such intervention,” Mr Shettima said.

The Vice-President said that government was working out logistics through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to ensure smooth implementation of the intervention programme.

“This intervention will be anchored in the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Sen. Abubakar Bagudu, and he is going to anchor the programme.

“We are going to provide the overall supervision towards the implementation of the programme.

“Also 20 per cent of the funds for the School Feeding Programme is going to be channeled through the office of the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning to the religious bodies.”

Mr Shettima stated that government had already commenced engagement and working out modalities for the intervention to ensure a very transparent disbursement, taken into cognisance of all tendencies in our system.

He added that the intervention would include Tsangaya and Mission schools.

NAN

 

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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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