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How Diezani Laundered $115m through Fidelity Bank, Gave Belgore, Sulaiman N450m…Bank Officials…

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Mr Timothy Olaobaju, an official of Fidelity Bank Plc has narrated how  former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke deposited a sum of $115,010,000 in the bank with subsequent instruction to change it into naira and distribute it among individuals in the 36 states of the federation.

Among the beneficiaries, Olaobaju said, were a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Dele Belgore; and a former Minister of National Planning, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, who both received N450m.

Olaobaju said this on Monday when he appeared as a prosecution witness before Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos where Belgore and Sulaiman are being tried for alleged money laundering involving N450m.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission charged Belgore and Sulaiman with five counts.

Charged along with the SAN and the ex-minister is Diezani, who is said to “still be at large.”

The EFCC had earlier arraigned Belgore and Sulaiman on February 8, 2017, but they were re-arraigned on Monday on an amended charge which included the name of Diezani.

Upon their re-arraignment on Monday, Belgore and Sulaiman pleaded not guilty to the five charges just as they had earlier done.

Trial commenced immediately after the defendants’ plea with the EFCC calling Olaobaju as its first witness.

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Led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness narrated, “Sometime in April 2014, our MD, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo, gave a directive that certain companies and individuals would pay into an account with our bank some amounts of money. The purpose of the payment was not disclosed.

“Over the period, thereafter, some amounts were paid into the account. The funds were deposited in dollar. The total sum was $115,010,000.

“On the 27th of March, 2015, there was an instruction from the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through our MD, that the fund in the account should be converted to naira and paid to certain individuals of which the list of beneficiaries was sent to our MD and the amount to be paid to them in naira.

“The funds were paid according to Alison-Madueke’s instructions.

“On the list sent to our branch, the names of the defendants (Belgore and Sulaiman) were on that list because the money was paid in about 36 states of the federation.

“The defendants are not customers of our bank.

“The instruction was that the sum of N450m should be paid to Mr Dele Belgore (SAN) and Prof. Abubakar Suleiman.

“They both received the money and they filled the Receipt of Payment as evidence of receipt of the money and acknowledgement of same.”

The witness said Belgore and Sulaiman signed separate Receipts of Payment for the same N450m on March 26, 2015.

The court admitted both Receipts of Payment in evidence and marked them as Exhibits 1 and 1A.

Asked by the prosecutor whether any cheque was issued in favour of Belgore and Sulaiman in respect of the fund, the witness answered in the negative.

Asked whether the N450m was credited into any account, the witness said, “To my knowledge, the N450m was not credited into any account.”

For the cross-examination of the witness, Belgore’s lawyer, Chief Ebun Shofunde (SAN), asked for an adjournment, as he said most of what the witness said on Monday were not in the proof of evidence front-loaded and served on the defence counsel.

Sulaiman’s lawyer, Mr Olatunji Ayanlaja (SAN), aligned himself with Shofunde.

The prosecutor said he would grudgingly concede to an adjournment till Tuesday in view of his respect for the defence counsel.

Justice Aikawa, consequently, adjourned the matter till Tuesday for further proceedings.

In the charges, Sulaiman, a professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Abuja, and Belgore, a former governorship aspirant in Kwara State, were accused of conspiring between themselves to commit the offence on March 27, 2015.

The duo were accused of making a cash transaction of N450m on March 27, 2015, without going through any financial institution.

The EFCC claimed that the defendants paid N50m to one Sheriff Shagaya.

The EFCC said the cash sum was above the lawful threshold permitted by the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

The EFCC claimed that the defendants “ought to have reasonably known that the N450m formed part of proceeds of an unlawful act.”

Belogore and Sulaiman were accused of violating sections 1(a), 16(d), 15(2)(d) and18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

The prosecution said they are liable to be punished under sections 15(3)(4), and 16(2)(b) of the same Act.

Justice Aikawa had earlier granted them bail on self-recognisance.

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Transcorp Group Announces N142 Billion Revenue, N58.8 billion PBT, and Celebrates 10 year’s unbroken Dividend payment, at 18th Annual General Meeting

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Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp Group or the Group), Nigeria’s leading listed conglomerate, announced 57% revenue growth, from N90.3 billion in 2022 to N142.1 billion in 2023, at its 18th Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Monday, May 27, 2024, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

The Company’s outstanding financial results were driven by successful execution across all business lines and demonstrated Transcorp Group’s ability to deliver to all its stakeholders, including shareholders. At the AGM, Transcorp Group confirmed excellent year-on-year growth: the Group’s total assets grew by 20% increase, up from N422.7 billion in 2022 to N529.9 billion in 2023, PBT grew from N30.3 billion in 2022 to N58.8 billion in 2023, and PAT for the Group increased from N16.8 billion to N32.5 billion. This performance was due to the strong results across its subsidiaries: Transcorp Hotels Plc, Transcorp Power Plc, Transafam Power Ltd, and Transcorp Energy Ltd.

The Group’s power subsidiaries, which together with its strategic investment in OPL281, form the basis of its integrated energy strategy, also achieved significant growth, achieving a profit increase of 63%, from N17.7 billion in the previous year to N28.9 billion in 2023. Transcorp’s power businesses, Transcorp Power Plc and Transafam Power, provide over 20% of Nigeria’s installed power capacity and the Group recently entered the distribution sector, through its investment in Abuja Electricity Distribution Plc.

The Group’s hospitality business achieved record average occupancy of 81%, with profit increasing by 105% from N4.6 billion in the previous year to N9.5 billion in 2023; while revenue grew by 36% from N30.4 billion in 2022 to N41.5 billion.

President/Group CEO, Dr. Owen D. Omogiafo, OON, highlighted the Group’s strategic growth plans, including the multipurpose, world-class 5,000-capacity event centre at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja, opening this year, as well as the ambition to increase available power generation capacity. She said: “The reward for success is more work, and across our Group, we are not relenting. We are focused on maximising our strengths and opportunities for vertical growth, to deliver more value and achieve sustainable growth. We are confident that the coming year will bring even more value to our shareholders.”

Tony O. Elumelu, CFR, Group Chairman, explained: “Transcorp Group has not only recorded unprecedented growth, the Group has demonstrated its potential to deliver much more value to stakeholders and to our country. The sustained success of all our businesses reflects our resolute stance on corporate governance, our commitment to improving lives and transforming communities, and the priority we place on our people. Despite the current macro-economic challenges, the future remains an exciting one”.

“Government has a critical role to play. We remain committed to creating more value and appreciate the policies already implemented. However, we call on the Federal Government to prioritise the crippling issues in the power sector. The challenges in the power sector should be uppermost in our nation’s transformation agenda. The private sector cannot thrive without improved access to electricity. Fundamentally reforming the power sector is essential to our national economic transformation.”

Shareholders at the AGM approved a dividend of 10 kobo, a 100% increase over the previous year. The financial year 2023 is the 10th consecutive year of consistent dividend payment by Transcorp Group.

Shareholders also lauded Transcorp Group’s commitment to growing shareholder value and strong corporate governance, as well as its consistency in paying dividends year-on-year. The Group’s commitment to community and social responsibility, inclusive of its sustainability and CSR projects, was also commended at the AGM.

About Transnational Corporation

Transnational Corporation Plc (Transcorp Group) is one of Africa’s leading, listed conglomerates, with strategic investments in the power, hospitality, and energy sectors, driven by its mission to improve lives and transform Africa.

Transcorp’s power businesses, Transcorp Power Plc and Transafam Power, provide over 20% of Nigeria’s installed power capacity. Transcorp is committed to developing Nigeria’s domestic energy value chain, through its investments in OPL287. The Group’s hospitality business, Transcorp Hotels Plc owns the iconic Transcorp Hilton Abuja, Nigeria’s flagship hospitality destination, and has launched the digital platform Aura by Transcorp Hotels.

www.transcorpgroup.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anxiety as CBN sacks 200 employees

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No fewer than 200 officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria were on Friday relieved of their duties, adding to the long list of ongoing disengagements in the apex bank, Saturday PUNCH reports.

This adds to the list of 117 staff sacked by the bank between March 15th and April 11, 2024.

The termination of appointments affects directors, deputy directors, assistant directors, principal managers, senior managers and lower-ranking staff.

Impeccable sources who are staff of the bank confirmed the sacking to our correspondent on Friday, adding that the sacked persons were more than 200 but not less than 200.

They revealed that the new move included older directors who were not affected by the last round of retrenchment.

One of the sources in a 20-second call with our correspondent simply stated, “It is true and confirmed.”

The staff who could not disclose further details for fear of being tapped added that the move had caused palpable apprehension amongst staff of every cadre as the management had not specified any standard criteria for the decisions.

Another undeniable authority confirmed the information, indicating that additional dismissals are expected in the months ahead, spread out across staggered phases.

The official said, “It is real and is even more than 200 officials but the actual number is unconfirmed yet. The sacking is coming in staggered phases and that is why we can’t confirm the number yet.

“But it is not less than 200. The sacked persons include directors and other cadres but the ones that are easily known are the directors. Some of the old directors that were not affected during the last round of sacks are now affected.”

The sack letter obtained by our correspondent and issued by the Human Resources Department on May 24, 2024, indicated that the policy was to reorganise the organisation for effective operations.

The letter, lacking a signature, read, “The new strategic direction of the bank has been widely publicised. In line with our new mission and vision, the bank is currently undergoing a significant organisational and human capital restructuring process.

“As a result of this review, I have been directed to notify you that your services will not be required with effect from Friday, 24th May 2024. Your final entitlements will be calculated and paid to you in due course. Thank you”

In February, at least 1,500 members of staff of the apex bank of Nigeria were redeployed from the headquarters located at Central Area to its Lagos office.

At the time, the CBN said the action was necessitated by several factors, including the need to align the bank’s structure with its functions and objectives and redistribute skills to ensure a more even geographical spread of talent.

It added that it was also in compliance with building regulations, as indicated by repeated warnings from the facility manager, and the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Decongestion of the CBN Head Office.

Efforts to get the reaction of the Director of Corporate Communication, Hakama Sidi Ali, was not successful as she did not respond to several calls sent across to her or reply the text messages to her line.

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Paris-bound bizman arrested with 111 cocaine wraps

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has arrested a 48-year-old businessman, Emmanuel Orjinze, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine.

The suspect, who claimed to be a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on May 21 during the outward clearance of an Air France flight to Paris, France.

This was made known in a statement signed by the agency’s Director of Media and Advocacy, Femi Babafemi, and shared on the agency’s website on Sunday.

The statement read, “Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency have arrested a 48-year-old Paris, France-bound businessman, Emmanuel Okechuku Orjinze, for ingesting 111 wraps of cocaine, which he excreted after days of observation in the agency’s custody following his arrest at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

“Okechukwu, who also claims he is a professional footballer in Europe, was arrested on Tuesday, May 21, during the outward clearance of Air France flight AF 878 from Abuja to Paris, France.

“After a body scan confirmed he ingested illicit drugs, he was taken into custody where he excreted a total of 111 pellets of cocaine that weighed 1.603 kilograms over three days. The suspect claimed he did business in the maritime sector while still scouting for any European football club to engage him. ”

In the same vein, the NDLEA officers operating at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos hinted that they had dismantled another drug trafficking syndicate at the airport.

This, they said in a statement, followed the arrest of four members of the network and the seizure of a total of 8kg of methamphetamine and 7.60kg of Loud, a synthetic strain of cannabis imported from South Africa.

The statement added that a drug trafficking syndicate was busted at the airport when an official was caught with illicit substances in their backpack and bag.

On May 21, 2024, the NDLEA officers, supported by aviation security, intercepted the official at Terminal 1 and discovered the drugs during a search, blowing the lid off the syndicate.

“A swift follow-up operation at the Ajao Estate area of Lagos led to the arrest of two other members of the syndicate: Chris Nwadozie and Chinedu Nwaosu. Further investigation led to the arrest of another member of the cartel working within the airport system on Saturday, May 25,” the statement added.

In a related development, the agency also arrested a freight agent, Sonubi Abiodun, for attempting to export eight parcels of cocaine concealed in paint buckets to the United Kingdom.

Additionally, the NDLEA operatives arrested suspects producing and distributing skuchies, a mixture of black currant and illicit drugs, in Lagos, and recovered 2,480 litres of the psychoactive substance.

In Cross River State, a suspect, Ogar Emmanuel, was arrested with 2.5kg of cannabis, while 290kg of cannabis was recovered from the warehouse of Usani Ikpi, who is still at large. Additionally, three suspects – Sa’adu Sule, Mukhtar Nura, and Hamza Nura – were arrested in Katsina State with 70kg of cannabis, which originated from Ogun State.

The statement added, “No fewer than five suspects including Ezekiel Munda, 30; and Sule Mustapha, 21, were arrested by the NDLEA operatives on Thursday, May 23, during raids at the Karu Abattoir, Jikwoyi and Tora Bora hill area of the FCT, Abuja, where 95.01kg of cannabis and different quantities of opioids were recovered from them.

“In Edo State, operatives arrested a physically challenged notorious drug dealer, Zekere Sufianu, 45, at Auchi town on Wednesday, May 22. At the time of his arrest, he was found with 751 grams of Loud, 178 grams of tramadol, and pills of swinol,” the statement concluded.

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