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AMBODE OPENS JOHNSON, JAKANDE, TINUBU PARK IN ALAUSA

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Wednesday officially unveiled an ultra modern recreational park in Alausa, Ikeja, in honour of three former Governors of the State, Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson Rtd, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Governor Ambode, who spoke at a ceremony to unveil the park known as Johnson, Jakande, Tinubu Park (JJT Park) and located in front of the State House of Assembly and a few metres away from Lagos House, said it was part of efforts by his administration to immortalise heroes who worked hard for the emergence of Lagos as not only the Centre of Excellence, but also one of the most prominent City States in Africa.

He said the three former Governors were outstanding in their contributions to the development of the State and wrote their names in the sands of time, especially during their time in office.

Governor Ambode said: “One of the hallmarks of any progressive society is to always recognise and reward the efforts of heroes who contribute to the growth of that society. In the case of Lagos State, we have so many heroes who toiled and laid a solid foundation for the Lagos we enjoy today.

“Today, we are here to celebrate and honour three past governors of our dear state who were outstanding in their contributions to the development of Lagos Sate. These eminent Lagosians are some of the very few brave men that stood to be counted on the side of justice and even by their performances while in office have written their name in gold for future generations.”

“The roles played by Brigadier Mobolaji Johnson Rtd., the First Governor and Military Administrator of the State; Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the First Civilian Governor of Lagos State; and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor and Architect of modern Lagos; can never be forgotten. They are the true legends of our State, and architects of the Lagos we are proud of today.”

Going down memory lane, Governor Ambode said Brigadier Johnson, laid the foundation as the pioneer Governor of the newly created Lagos State in 1967 and constructed the 60.7-kilometre Lagos–Badagry Expressway linking Nigeria with countries in the West African sub region, the Itoikin Bridge linking Epe and Ikorodu; the Eko Bridge and a network of roads and bridges that opened up the new Lagos.

He said Alhaji Jakande, the first elected Civilian Governor of Lagos State, who held office for four years introduced masses-oriented programmes particularly in the education, housing and health sectors.

Governor Ambode added that apart from the successful implementation of the Free Education Programme, Alhaji Jakande’s administration also established new neighbourhood Primary and Secondary schools, and also constructed over 30,000 housing units indifferent parts of the State for the benefit of low income earners.

“His tenure also witnessed the completion of the General Hospitals in Gbagada and Ikorodu as well as the establishment of about 20 health centres within the State. Alhaji Lateef Jakande conceived and initiated the Metro line transit system that would have provided a solution to the challenge being experienced in the transportation sector today,” he said.

The Governor while describing Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the architect of modern Lagos, said his tenure witnessed the development of a blue print for the future development of the State and which successive administrations have continued to build upon and actualize today.

“One of the remarkable achievements of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration was the reform of the State Tax administration system which resulted in the State attaining the status of the most viable and self sustaining State in Nigeria. He also made huge investments in education and initiated new road constructions, required to meet the needs of the fast-growing population of the State.

“Asiwaju also established the institutional framework which ensured that the State was properly and efficiently run. It was under Asiwaju’s government that institutions like LIRS, LAMATA, LASTMA and many others came into existence,” Governor Ambode said.

Presenting plaques of honour to representatives of the three former Governors, the Governor said his administration decided to honour the trio while they are alive, just as he expressed optimism that the Park would serve as a constant reminder of their sacrifices and the need to protect and preserve their virtues and what they stood for.

“More importantly, it will serve as a reminder and a source of inspiration for leaders who would have the honour and privilege to occupy the seat that was once occupied by these great men of history.

“On behalf of the government and the very appreciative people of Lagos State, I want to say a big thank you to these living legends for their sacrifice, commitment, dedication and passion for the growth and development of Lagos State. You will continue to be remembered and celebrated by men, women, and children, young and old from any part of the world who step into this garden which has been dedicated to you,” Governor Ambode said.

Earlier, in her welcome address, General Manager of the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK), Mrs. Bilikis Adebiyi-Abiola said the park aside being strategically located showcases the State Government’s resolve to make parks available for recreation, for relaxation as well as social events.

She said it was also a testament that Governor Ambode has placed a high premium on the quality of life of Lagosians, adding that the Government was poised to capture more degraded areas for beautification and landscaping projects.

She said the JJT Park, which occupies a total land area of approximately 21,880sqm, among other things, has two waterfalls, a children’s playground and free Wi-Fi access.

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SETRACO OWNERSHIP CRISIS: LEBANESE PARTNER, SAID FAYEZ KHALAF PLOT TO FREEZE COMPANY’S ACCOUNT EXPOSED

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Shocking details of the questionable financial dealings by the Lebanese partner of Setraco Nigeria Limited (SNL), Engineer Said Fayez Khalaf, which were allegedly calculated to shortchange his Nigerian partner, the late Alhaji Inu Umoru, have emerged.
They form the grounds of the suit instituted by the family of the late construction mogul against Engineer Khalaf.
In a related development, Khalaf and his proxies have allegedly made moves to obtain an ex-parte order to freeze the bank accounts of SNL in order to disrupt the company’s businesses and operations, moves that the management was said to have urged the judiciary to reject. The management, as learnt, would want Khalaf and his proxies to approach the court by way of a Motion on Notice.

One of the questionable financial wrongdoings that have emerged concerned the subcontracting of civil engineering works to one of Engineer Khalaf’s shell entities, Foundation Tech Limited (FTL).

According to the record, FTL has received contracts up to the value of N1, 167,000,000:00 and USD10, 620,785:00 through a non-competitive bidding process with payments made through dummy names.

Khalaf is also alleged to have assigned contracts won by SNL to other companies in which he has interests without the consent of the board of SNL and also without proceeds shared with SNL.

Listed among the other entities are Setramech/Levant Construction Company Limited and Rockbridge Construction Limited.

SETRACO

Khalaf is said to unilaterally fix a charge ranging from 7-15% of contract fees on all revenues (including unearned revenue like mobilization for awarded contracts) of SNL as “service fees”, thereby earning double compensation for his role as a director.

According to the claim before the court, the total of such fees earned from February 18, 2008 to July 6, 2015 when it was discontinued, following the intervention of the son of the late Chairman, Alhaji Inu Umoru, who is the new chairman, Engineer Abu Inu Umoru, amounted to approximately USD27 million.

Another sore point was the use of SNL’s assets to realize the objectives of Engineer Khalaf’s other business interests without paying for such use. Cited as an example was Sunrise Estate Development Limited being one of such entities that enjoy a pre-financing privilege from SNL and which today exceeds N1.2 billion with some of the certificates past due by over five years.

It was claimed that SNL got four road contracts from the Kwara State Government from 2004 to 2012 totaling a contract sum of N8.43billion, which were seconded for execution to Setramech/Levant without the knowledge of the partner, Alhaji Inu Umoru (deceased). Khalaf was accused of deploying SNL’s funds, equipment and personnel in executing these contracts.

When one of the Nigerian staff members started asking questions about how the expenses were to be reported, Khalaf ordered that Setramech/Levant personnel be made signatories to the SNL’s GT and Diamond Bank accounts opened for the projects, thus keeping the SNL personnel in the dark; but records have it that Khalaf was the sole beneficiary of the proceeds of the contracts.

According to available records, the initial funds amounting to N779m spent on the first two contracts by SNL were never recovered back to the coffers of company.

Going by the claims before the court, SNL built a metallurgical fabrication workshop at Mpape to aid in the production of formwork and other ancillary fabrications, but that Said Khalaf floated a company then called Global Equipment Solutions (GES) Limited and instructed that the new company should take over the assets of SNL workshop in June 2009.

According to further claims, the value of the workshop (aside the building) was N82.6 million, and that without revaluation of the assets and consent of Alhaji Inu Umoru, Khalaf caused SNL to cede the entire workshop to GES at a paltry sum of N54 million.

Furthermore, it was claimed that GES started fabricating for SNL without a contract but forwarded debit notes at will without proper accounting procedures.

SNL, as claimed, paid N2.53 billion to GES from 2009 to 2017 for mostly unverifiable jobs; in addition to the claim that the liquidated GES in 2017, when SNL’s financial situation could no longer support the pilfering, sold all the equipment including the restaurant furniture and fittings, which had nothing to do with the workshop, without paying their net indebtedness to SNL, which is currently in excess of N379 million.

The other claims, among many more, are as follows:

· That Said Khalaf incorporated over 25 different companies within and outside Nigeria in the last 41 years to do business solely with SNL without informing his partner and without approval of the board of SNL. The total sum, owed by these companies to SNL with verifiable evidence, is in excess of N4.0billion while those with inconclusive evidence are in excess of N5.0billion

· That he (Khalaf) engineered a kangaroo technological support deal by which he claimed to be rendering technical support via Setraco International Holding (SIH) to SNL; and, that the deal was non-existent on ground but only on paper with a view to siphoning SNL’s funds to Lebanon.

· That through the deal, SNL supposedly owes about N3.5billion. This is outright fraud.

· That bank accounts were opened in the name of SNL in Bank of Beirut and Lebanese Swiss Banks in Beirut, which only Engineer Khalaf and his family members/surrogates operate without accountability. All signatories to the accounts are Lebanese and non-resident in Nigeria.

· That bank statements of account are never sent to Nigeria at their instruction but only excel worksheets from the Lebanese Finance Director to the Chief Accountant for reconciliation purposes; and, that the implication of this is that drawings from the accounts are shrouded in secrecy.

It would be recalled that having failed in their alleged ploy to stop bankers and vendors from doing business with the company, Khalaf and his proxies issued a public notice in ThisDay, The Guardian, Daily Trust and The SUN from 17th to 22nd September, 2019, claiming to be majority shareholders and that they shall not take responsibilities for any liabilities created by the current management of the company because of the ongoing litigations in Court.

The management’s disposition to their action was that it was clearly sub judice.

A top source in the company said “Unfortunately, they have yet again failed woefully to achieve their objective.”

The source confirmed that “their (Khalaf and his proxies) next cause of action is to go to a remote court to procure an expert interlocutory injunction restraining banks in Nigeria from doing business with the Company.

“Since the implication of such an order will have devastating effects on the activities of the Company, the management urges that no Nigerian Court should entertain such a bizarre request except it is coming by way of a Motion on Notice.”

“The fact is that the other stakeholders in SNL, aside the shareholders, are much more numerous and far more important to be ignored by some aggrieved shareholders who are hell bent on killing the Company because they can no longer carry out their dubious and fraudulent activities.”

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News and Report

Oyedepo, Mbaka: A Terrible Day for Religion(Must Read)

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It was a terrible day for religion in Nigeria this past week as the overseeing Bishop of the Living Faith Churches, David Oyedepo, and the man at Adoration Ministries, Enugu, Fr. Ejike Mbaka, made various gaffes in their sermons that caught the attention of Nigerians. What might have been more tragic about these statements was that these popular charismatics ministers may not have realized the mistakes in their statements. Instead their followers have stood with them, while the pastors utilize age old silence to subdue their critics who have drawn their attention variously to these matters.

David Oyedepo, while ministering to members of his church at Otta, Ogun State, spoke of the growing rumour among Nigerians that an impersonator has taken the place of Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian President, at the nation’s seat of power in Abuja. To lend credence to his position, Oyedepo quotes Olatunji Dare article of 27th November, 2018, titled “Buhari’s Double”. Oyedepo, reading from a script, said:

“This disturbing information came from the Nation Newspaper of Tuesday, 27th November 2018, written by one Olatunji Dare, exploded with ‘authoritative assertions’, he said, claiming among others: That President Buhari had died in the U.K. in 2017, whilst he was undergoing medical treatment. HOW? That the entrenched cabal in Aso Rock had procured ‘President Buhari’s double’ in Sudan and pressed him to serve as Nigerian President. What? That the representatives of the ‘Jubril’ family having discovered the gigantic swindle, suddenly showed up in Abuja and demanded to be compensated with power-sharing arrangement at the Federal level in perpetuity plus 50% of Nigerian oil revenues for 10 years in the first instance.”

What the Bishop read was precisely what Mr. Dare wrote. What the revered minister failed to see in the write up was the satire in the whole piece. Olatunji Dare had been discussing the matter of Nnamdi Kanu and his propagating of the “Buhari Double” rumour. Mr. Dare, in his bid to make Kanu’s position sound even more ridiculous, went further to say that the family of Buhari’s impersonator, Jibril, were blackmailing the Nigerian government on the whole matter. Dare made up the satire to make Kanu’s position sound preposterous. This is what David Oyedepo read to his congregation as news!

The other gaffe that made the news in the past week was the one from Fr. Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministries, Enugu. The revered Catholic Charismatic pastor did not conceal his love for money when he took the Nigerian president through his legendary caustic tongue. Mbaka said that he had prayed for the recovery of President Buhari and in return the President should have come to Adoration Ministries to “thank God”. He said no one cheats God and goes free. He warned that Buhari’s illness may return if the President did not come to him and offer thanksgiving.

While many where still in the dark as to the nature of the gratitude the President should offer, Mbaka embarks on a tirade of other political figures. He says that Peter Obi is stingy. That all he could offer his ministry was a miserly half a million naira. He said:

“(Gov. Dave) Umahi (of Ebonyi State) donated 1,000 bags of rice and 1,000 tubers of yam to us, but it meant nothing to me until he handed N10 million cheque to me and promised to build a project for the ministry. This is the type of gesture we require from Obi.”

At the end of the tirade, it was clear that pecuniary reasons were the factors that were engendering the latest statement from the popular Enugu reverend father.

These two incidents have quite unexpectedly revealed certain realities about popular figures in Nigerian religious life. Speaking on the incident, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju gave this advice on her Facebook wall: “…Good education is sweet! Read classics, great biographies & good fiction. You can’t achieve depth by reading; Rich Dad, Poor Dad…” She was saying, in other words, that if David Oyedepo was adept in reading, beyond the prosperity/faith jargon he writes, he would have recognized satire from what Olatunji Dare wrote.

The fact of the matter is that some of the least informed set of people in the country today are Pentecostal Pastors and their followers. Beyond whatever professional career they may be involved with, Pentecostals do not read anything but Prosperity/Faith theological books. At the end, they are usually wholly uninformed when it comes to dealing with other matters in the real world.

On the other hand, and quite unfortunately, Fr. Ejike Mbaka has revealed what many of us have long suspected is the underlying motive for his kind of ministry: MONEY. Mbaka spoke from the abundance of his heart, and since Catholic Charismatics are usually not the object of criticism in the religious sphere, he felt free to speak about the pecuniary undertone of his ministry. Unfortunately for him, he revealed too much.

In November this year, I was in Enugu to market my book Victor Banjo. My friends, who were taking me around to see the city, pointed out to me that Mbaka’s bottled water Aqua Rapha was the leading bottled water company in Enugu and environs. In fact it was initially named Healing Waters. But NAFDAC had a running battle with Mbaka and forced him to change the name, so that the public are not deceived to using the water for healing purposes.

Yet, the bottled water is all that Enugu folks drink. Why? They hold that Mbaka’s healing powers are in the water. Besides, the term “Aqua Rapha” is still “healing water” in Greek. That experience with Aqua Rapha remains the only let down to my wonderful experience while visiting the beautiful city of Enugu.

What is my point?

For too long we have centred our attention on Pentecostals and their use of God to make money in ministry. Very few people are commenting on Catholic Charismatics. The fact, as revealed in the latest Mbaka gaffe, is that there is practically no difference in all of them. Mbaka is in this thing for the money; just like his Pentecostal counterparts.

The lesson is simple: men’s hearts are revealed from the multitudes of the words they proclaim. The wise speak little so as to reveal less folly. The foolish utter it all to his own disgrace. It was a terrible day for religion in Nigeria with these various gaffes from David Oyedepo and Ejike Mbaka.

By: Deji Yesufu, the author of the book Victor Banjo. He can be reached on newdejix@gmail.com

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Fashion and Style

DUBIOUS DESIGNER PT 2 Encounter of another Bride-to-be With Maryam Elisha

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A wedding day is one of the biggest events in the lives of most ladies and they go to all extents to make the day a memorable one. From picking the right dress to whom to invite, details and timing is often of the essence.

For one soon to be bride, her dream wedding looks troubled, as the dress she ordered for her big day hasn’t arrived days to her wedding.

She claims that she ordered a wedding dress from Maryam Elisha (Rikaoto by ME), a popular Nigerian fashion designer on Instagram, but she never received her dress.

According to her, she sent Maryam Elisha $600 for the dress and later sent another $50 , which the designer requested as a charge for shipping.

In spite of making payments via a Bank of America transaction to the designer, the bride-to-be did not received her dress. After pushing for the designer to send the dress, the bride-to-be rather got blocked on Instagram and Facebook by the designer.

Out of desperation, the bride-to-be has shared details of her dealings with the designer with hopes that she can find answers or at least get her money back.

According to wikipedia, Maryam Elisha (born Maryam Rikoto Elisha) is a Nigerian model, beauty queen, and fashion designer. She founded the Rikaoto by ME fashion brand in 2009, two years after being crowned Miss Valentine. Elisha was also named one of the 20 most influential pageant personalities in Nigeria.

Also read: DUBIOUS DESIGNER:HOW MARYAM ELISHA SOLD CUSTOMERS WEDDING DRESS TO ACTRESS MERCY AIGBE

Elisha is from Kebbi state but was born in Kano state to a now retired police officer father and a businesswoman mother. She had her primary and secondary school education in Kano state before relocating to Lagos state to study English Language at the University of Lagos. After graduating from the university, she proceeded to the New Jersey Fashion School, in the United States, where she trained for eight months in fashion designing.

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