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Buhari/Saraki Relationship: A Partnership That Works…

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Just last week, I reviewed most of the pictures from the Muhammadu Buhari campaign before the March 2015 presidential election that I culled from the newspapers. From my observation, the sitting arrangement was a big surprise. It is as if as at then, those who arranged how the key individuals in the campaign sat had envisaged the eventual ranking. In most of the pictures, Buhari was ensconced between his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and then Senator Bukola Saraki.

As fate will have it, the three men are now occupying the top three positions in the land. Those pictures made me to do a flashback into how Saraki emerged as Senate President. It has always been clear to President Buhari that what Saraki wanted in the emerging new government was to be Senate President and the then Presidential Candidate, seeing the commitment of the man morally, intellectually, physically and financially, was not opposed to it. In fact, both men worked together closely.

This was the situation until some forces who had an agenda to control the National Assembly as a devise to constitute a constant check to the Buhari Government identified Saraki as a threat to their design. They then covertly went to the President and poisoned his mind against Saraki. That was when the claim of being “too ambitious”, “will use the legislature against you” and “he cannot be trusted with such a powerful position” came.

They then encouraged the President to support a candidate who they presented as the party’s candidate. What those power mongers hid from Buhari was their own plan to hold the National Assembly as a means to always checkmate the President. However, even though they succeeded in making the President withdraw his plan to openly endorse Saraki for the Senate Presidency, Buhari chose not to join the fray in a bid to stop him. Rather, he announced his preparation to work with whoever emerged.

However, Saraki created his own coalition to emerge as Senate President. When Saraki upon becoming Senate President refused to accept the list sent to him by the APC National Working Committee, he incurred Buhari’s wrath. The President felt it was an overkill and that the Senate President wanted to do a winner takes all.

The same anti-Buhari group masquerading as his acolytes told Buhari to allow them teach the recalcitrant Senate President a lesson he would not forget. And that was how the Code of Conduct (CCT) and the forgery of Senate rule book trials commenced in September 2015.

The forgery case has since collapsed as the initiator saw that it lacked substance. The CCT case is still wobbling there with its prosecutor fumbling along. The asset declaration case appeared not well investigated and inelegantly drafted. Even the evidence produced by the prosecution has been debunked and made empty by their own witnesses under cross-examination.

Buhari realized the antics of his ‘new friends’, when they moved against the President on the Kogi and Ondo governorship polls. At that time, the friends refused to toe the party position. Rather, they were ready to destroy the party structure to ensure they get their own candidates in. Their anti-party activities in aid of the candidates of the opposition made Buhari to have a re-think on these type of ‘friends’.

Actually, these ‘friends’ had planned to move alongside their loyalist incumbent Governors with their supporters into another party and fight the President. Their plan was foiled when Saraki aligned with the President and mobilized men and materials to ensure their defeat and the victory of APC candidates in the two elections.

After their failure in both Kogi and Ondo States, the group shifted attention to the party and plotted to get Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party’s national chairman, out of the national secretariat. However, the President stood by the party chairman. In defending Oyegun, Buhari enjoyed the support of Saraki. All these defeats and the cold shoulder the ‘friends’ now get from Buhari made them uncomfortable. They quickly beat a retreat and started plotting on how to win the President’s confidence all over again.

In what appeared to be a show of support for Saraki, he and the President began to see very regularly. They share same thoughts on key national issues and presented a common front. This renewed partnership between the President and the Senate President led to the appointment of Saraki’s protege, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, a former Minister of Youth and Sports as the National Publicity Secretary of the party. Today, Abdullahi is one of the young Turks providing cover for Oyegun who continues to enjoy the President’s support.

Another indication of the closeness between Buhari and Saraki is evidenced in the turn of events in the relationship between the President and Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. During the period the President was in London attending to his health, a memo El-Rufai wrote to him several months before became public. The private memo was a damning report on the general situation of things in the government and as it concerns key members of the administration.

Close watchers of government believed the private memo became public because somebody miscalculated that the President might not survive the illness and was therefore eager to remove himself from what the blame that may result from the perceived failure of the government. An African proverb says ‘let us feign death so that we can know those who will genuinely mourn us when we eventually depart’.

However, in the case of Saraki, he led the National Assembly’s three man delegation to London to see the President. At another occasion, he privately saw the President and informed the nation that there was no cause for panic. His statement after the visit contributed in calming down the tension and apprehension over Buhari’s ill-health. Saraki further briefed his colleagues that the President was okay and would soon return home. His message averted the plan by some hawks in the Senate who wanted the President’s health and prolonged absence from the country debated on the floor.

Since Buhari’s return to the country, Saraki has been a frequent visitor to the Presidential Villa without making any noise. On such occasion, he and the President exchanged ideas and Buhari gets briefed on issues in and around the work of the legislature. On many occasions, Saraki served as sounding board to the President on some executive policies and initiatives which if implemented the way it was initially conceived would have led to public outcry or have a backlash.

As Senate President, Saraki has led his colleagues to confirm the nominees of the President, even when some of the lawmakers have objections. These nominees include ministers, ambassadors, heads of parastatals and many others.

However, it is obvious that those who feel they have something to lose when it becomes obvious that Saraki and Buhari are getting on fine have continued to invest so much resources and efforts in propaganda stuff to create tension between some members of the executive and the legislature while presenting it as if there is a rift between the President and the Senate President.

It should be restated that it is in the interest of Nigeria if these two leaders, against all odds, maintain their good relationship and co-operate to deliver the good times that their party, APC, promised Nigerians, irrespective of the intrigues spawn by the power mongers around them.

 

Leadership NG

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Nigerian Bank MD’s colluded with government officials to re-loot recovered Abacha loot – EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has accused commercial banks of colluding with government officials to re-loot recovered loot of the late dictator, Sani Abacha.

In December 2017, the Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Switzerland on the return and monitoring of the $322 million Abacha loot.

The proceeds were intended for Conditional Cash Transfer under the Social Investment Programme which began in December 2016, under ex-president Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

The looted funds were meant to provide N5,000 monthly stipends to the most vulnerable Nigerians across the country.

However, on Sunday, a spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, said that the anti-graft agency opened investigations into other alleged financial malpractices from the ministry; involving the COVID-19 funds and the World Bank- assisted loan coordinated by the Humanitarian Ministry to assist poor Nigerians.

The EFCC said, “Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving COVID -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.’’

The commission also revealed that N32.7 billion and $445,000 had been recovered from both past and suspended officials of the humanitarian ministry.

It added that the commission initiated investigations into the affairs of the humanitarian ministry inviting former minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and her successor, Beta Edu, suspended by President Bola Tinubu in January for alleged abuse of office.

 

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EFCC recovers N32.7bn, $445,000, faults Betta Edu, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, Halima Shehu

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has faulted suspended Humanitarian Minister, Betta Edu, her predecessor, Sadiya Umar-Farouq, and the Coordinator of the National Social Insurance Programmes Agency, Halima Shehu, while revealing that a combined total of N32.7bn and $445,000 has been recovered so far from ministry.

The commission made the development known on Sunday via its official X handle in response to rumours concerning the progress of its investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

The statement signed by the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, read, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate. Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices. Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions. Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly.

Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily. The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far. Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life. These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira. Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024. However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the Commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter. The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

 

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CAC Places First Bank Records On Caveat Over Litigation

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The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking…

The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking the board of the bank as a result of multiple court cases filed by aggrieved directors.

The crisis rocking the bank stemmed from protests by shareholders who were kicking against the bank’s internal governance and shareholding structure, as a result of which some of them have taken their grievances to the court.

One of such is the case of Olusegun Samuel Onagoruwa v. FBN Holdings Plc in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/1271/2022), which is challenging the capacity of the Board of Directors of FBN to appoint new persons to fill vacant slots.

Onagoruwa in his suit is seeking “an order setting aside, nullifying, annulling and/or quashing the appointments and approvals of Mr. Olusola Adeeyo, Mr. Viswanathan Shankar, Mrs. Remilekun Adetola, Mr. Anil Dua and Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim as Non-Executive Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited made on the 20th day of March, 2024, by FBN Holdings PLC during the pendency of this action and in defiance of the subsisting order of this Honourable Court made on the 15th day of July, 2022.”

The motion also seeks an order restraining the above-named non-executive directors from acting or taking any steps as non-executive directors of the bank.

The current court case follows similar four other cases pending at the Federal High Court in Lagos and Abuja challenging the internal governance of FBN Limited, in addition to existing court injunctions restraining the bank from holding the last two Annual General Meetings which the bank went ahead to hold.

In a new twist to the crisis, the Corporate Affairs Commission in a letter entitled.

“Re: notification of pendency of suit no. fhc/l/cp/1575/23 against FBN holdings plc, and subsisting interim orders of the Federal High Court made on the 9th day of August 2023 restraining FBN holdings plc from holding or proceeding with its annual general meeting purportedly held on the 13th day of August 2023”, weighed in on litigations threatening to tear the old generation bank apart.

Signed on behalf of the Registrar General of CAC by Chidimma Maureen Nwite, the Commission in a letter to lawyers to some of the parties in court against FBN Holdings said: “This is to inform you that the record of FBN Holdings PLC RC: 916455 has been placed on caveat pending the determination of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1575/2023.”

A shareholder, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, said “it is imperative for the authorities to find a solution to this lingering crisis as Nigeria cannot afford another major bank’s collapse at this critical time

He called for urgent resolution of all court cases in the overall interest of depositors, shareholders and other stakeholders of the bank before further damage is done to the oldest Nigerian bank.

 

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