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Minister Of Niger Delta, Pastor Uguru Usani Indicted For Fraud In Cross River

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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Mr. Uguru Usani, was indicted for fraud and abuse of office during his tenure as a commissioner in Cross River State, WE learned on Monday.

Usani was the Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources, and Rural Development during the last military administration in the state, which was headed by Col. U. F Ahmed (Rtd). It was Military Administrator Ahmed who handed over to the elected governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke, at the beginning of the Fourth Republic on May 29, 1999.

Our correspondent on Monday obtained a document published in 2000 by the Cross River State Government indicting Mr. Usani for fraud and abuse of office.
In its gazette, the state government concluded in its findings that Usani along with a firm, Gersh Henshaw & Company, defrauded the government of about N16m through a contract for the valuation of the assets of an agency under his ministry.

It recommended that the former commissioner be prosecuted and that details of the transaction be forwarded to the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

On June 21, 1999 Governor Duke inaugurated the Financial Impropriety/Verification Standing Committee to, among others: ascertain the assets and liabilities of the ministries and institutions, all forms of financial impropriety (if any) in government ministries and establishments, the perpetrators of such financial improprieties; and recommend appropriate disciplinary actions to be taken against the culprits including recovery of all such sums.

The committee, which was led by Chief Orok Oyo, included Chief Andy Ikpeme, Ekpe Essien Ita, Otu Oka, Mr. Akomaye Adie and Okoi-Obono Obla (who was later replaced by Mr. Stephen Asuquo).

The recommendations of the committee and approval of the state government were published as Cross River Gazette titled, ‘Views of the Cross Rivers State Government on the Report of the Financial Impropriety/Verification Standing Committee.’

The 37th contract involving Usani and which was investigated by the committee is titled in the Gazette as ‘The Case of Gersh Henshaw & Company.’ It involved “the contract for the valuation of vehicles, workshops/equipment of the Cross River State Water Board”, awarded by Usani as the then Commissioner for Water Resources and Rural Development to Gersh Henshaw & Company, Estate Surveyors, and Valuers.
Usani was said to have paid about N20,750,000 to the company for the execution of the contract. The Head of Practice of the firm, Mr. Gersh Henshaw, was said to have testified before the committee, giving the impression that the firm did the state government a favour by accepting the lump sum of N20,750,000 from the then commissioner for the execution of the job.

But the committee stated that in line with the approved scale of fees for the valuation work done, Gersh Henshaw & Company ought to have been paid only N4,426,850.

The committee recommended that the sum of N16,323,150, being the excess of the payment, be recovered from Usani.

“The then Commissioner, Mr. Usani U. Usani, expressly refused to pay in accordance with the approved scales or fees although that would have meant a lot of savings on the part of government. He rather ended up paying an amount which was N16,323,150.00 higher than the approved scale or fees,” the gazette read in part.

The committee had recommended to the government that a total sum of N17,031,446 comprising N16,323,150 being excess payment on the contract sum and N708,296 as tax deduction should be recovered from Usani.

But the government stated that the N708,296 tax deduction had been waved.

The government approved the recommendation that the particulars of the transaction should be forwarded to the Code of Conduct Tribunal with a complaint of “financial impropriety and abuse of office” against Usani.
According to the document: “The committee found that Mr. Usani and Mr. Gersh Henshaw deliberately failed to apply the approved scale of fees and in order to defraud the government.

“The Government of Cross River State should recover the total sum of N17,031,446.00 made up of N16,323,150 being excess payment on the contract sum for the valuation of the assets of Cross River State Water Board and N708,296.00 being total tax deduction.”

In the comment section, it said: “Government accepts this recommendation and directs that the sum of N16,323,150 only should be recovered from Mr. Usani U. Usani, the then Commissioner for Agriculture, Water Resources and Rural Development being excess payment on the contract sum for the valuation of the assets of the Cross River State Water Board. He should also be prosecuted.

“Government however, waives the payment of N708,296.00 being total tax deduction in view of its comment expressed in paragraph 38 (viii) above. Government shall forward particulars of this transaction to the Code of Conduct Tribunal with a complaint against Mr. Usani Uguru Usani for financial impropriety and abuse of office.”

On the issue that the firm be allowed the sum of N4,426,850 as total Consultancy fee (gross of total), the government accepted the recommendation, saying: “The Government of Cross River State should make a formal complaint against Gersh Henshaw & Company to his professional body, the Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers for unprofessional conduct.”

Noting that recommendation, the government said: “The firm of Gersh Henshaw & Company should be blacklisted from further patronage by the Government of Cross River State.”

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Crime/Security/Safety

Evans The Billionaire Kidnapper Bags 21 Year Imprisonment

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Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Special Offences Court on Monday sentenced kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, also known as Evans, and his co-defendant, Victor Aduba, to 21 years imprisonment for kidnapping one Sylvanus Hafia.

They were accused of conspiring and kidnapping Sylvanus Ahanonu Hafia at about 5:30 pm on June 23, 2014, at Kara Street, Amuwo Odofin in Lagos and were alleged to have captured and detained Hafia and demanded a ransom of $2m.

But they pleaded not guilty to the four charges.

The judge held that the sentence would serve as a deterrent to other aspiring kidnappers

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Business

China and Russia Gets Biden warning on Hedges on Seeking Reelection

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US President Joe Biden arrives at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022, for the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. – Leaders from around the world will attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The country’s longest-serving monarch, who died aged 96 after 70 years on the throne, will be honoured with a state funeral on Monday morning at Westminster Abbey. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

President Joe Biden issued forceful warnings to China and Russia on Sunday and expressed optimism over the US economic rebound, but surprised many by hedging on whether he’ll seek reelection.

In a rare, wide-ranging interview with the CBS “60 Minutes” program, Biden went back on repeated assertions by the White House that he is sure to run in 2024.

Biden, who turns 80 in November, told interviewer Scott Pelley that reelection is his “intention.”

“But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen,” he said.

“It’s much too early,” Biden said, calling himself “a great respecter of fate.”

Surveying the state of the world’s largest economy, Biden was optimistic.

He declared the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States “over” and predicted that his administration would tame inflation — the main reason for his weak approval ratings and the reason Republicans believe they can take control of Congress in the upcoming November midterms.

“We’re going to get control of inflation,” he said.

– Troops to Taiwan? –
In another surprise moment, Biden once again appeared to challenge decades of US policy on Taiwan with a vow that he would send troops to defend the self-ruled island if China tried to invade.

“Yes,” he said, adding that this would happen if there was “an unprecedented attack” — possibly referring to something beyond the frequent saber rattling conducted by Chinese military forces around Taiwan.

While Washington does arm Taiwan, it has long maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily if Beijing were to invade. The policy is designed to dissuade both China from invading and Taiwan from formally declaring independence.

The White House said that Biden’s latest remarks did not indicate a change but Beijing condemned the comments on Monday during a daily foreign ministry press briefing.

“The US remarks… severely violate the important commitment the US made not to support Taiwan independence and sends a seriously erroneous signal to Taiwanese separatist independence forces,” spokesperson Mao Ning said.

However, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “sincere gratitude” for Biden’s support.

“In the face of China’s military expansion and provocative actions, our government will continue to strengthen self-defence capabilities to firmly resist the expansion and aggression of authoritarianism, and at the same time deepen the close Taiwan-US security partnership,” the ministry said in a statement.

– ‘Consequential’ nuclear response –
In another tough message to the United States’ biggest economic and geopolitical rival, Biden said he had warned President Xi Jinping not to support Russia militarily in its invasion of Ukraine.

He said he told Xi that US and other foreign investments in China would be disrupted and to think otherwise would be “a gigantic mistake.”

He also said that if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses nuclear or other non-conventional weapons against Ukraine the US response will be “consequential.”

When asked what he would tell Putin if the Russian leader was mulling such a move, he said: “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t.”

Biden praised the Ukrainians for their gritty fight against the huge Russian invasion and said “they’re defeating Russia.”

Asked how to define victory for Kyiv, he said “winning the war in Ukraine is to get Russia out of Ukraine completely.”

– ‘More to give’ –
Despite his poor ratings and polls showing Democrats likely to lose control of at least one chamber of Congress, Biden said he is upbeat.

Noting that employment is booming and the economy is strong, Biden said “we hope we can have, as they say, a soft landing.”

On whether at his age he is physically and mentally able to continue in the gruelling job, Biden said: “watch me.”

“It’s a matter of, you know, that old expression — ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating.’”

When asked his source of inspiration when times get tough, Biden mentioned his son Beau who died in 2015 but also his parents’ exhortation to “just get up.”

Biden said he had “a lot more to give.”

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News and Report

Poverty, Hunger in the Country, Okowa Blames APC

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…says Delta healthcare will curb medical tourism

Delta State Governor and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Ifeanyi Okowa, weekend, said that poor management of the nation’s economy by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) caused the rising hunger and poverty in the country.

He stated this at an empowerment programme for the people of Ika Federal Constituency at Boji-Boji Owa, Ika North Council by the member representing the constituency at the House of Representatives, Mr. Victor Nwokolo.

The governor, who commended Nwokolo for his gesture, described the event as “empowerment programme with a difference. He said Nigeria was troubled because people were hungry and out of job due to mismanagement of the nation’s economy.

He added that even students were having lots of challenges because their parents could not meet their needs owing to the level of poverty resulting from ineptitude of the APC-led Federal Government.

He, therefore, urged Nigerians to support the PDP, saying it was the only party with clear understanding of the nation’s challenges and had clear solution to rescue the nation.

Earlier, Nwokolo said his motive for the empowerment was to restore hope to the hopeless amid rising hunger and poverty in the land.

MEANWHILE, Okowa, also at the different forum, said the huge investment being made by his administration in the health sector was to improve healthcare delivery and reduce medical tourism in the country.

He disclosed this in an interview with journalists shortly after inspecting facilities at the Advanced Diagnostic Medical Centre and Mother and Child Hospital, Owa-Alero in Ika Council of the state.

He said the twin medical facilities would, on completion, reduce medical tourism as it would provide first-class medical services to people who would have sought medical treatment abroad.

“I am glad we have gotten to this stage. I had high hopes that by today, we would have inaugurated these projects.

“The equipment are fully on site and we are trying to get things fully sorted out and I am sure that in the next one month, it should be ready and opened to the public for use.

“The two projects are obviously very important. The Mother and Child, as it is so stated, is supposed to take care of every illness concerning our women and children,” he said.

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