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Senate uncovers $5m fraud in NIMASA, orders arrest of DG, Jamoh

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The Nigerian senate panel on public accounts has ordered the arrest of Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), for allegedly paying $5 million to a legal firm as a professional fee for the recovery of a $9.3bn loss.

The $5m was paid for the intelligence-based tracking of a global movement of Nigerian hydrocarbon and recovery of loss by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the sum of $9.3bn between 2013 and 2014.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhogbide, at a briefing on Sunday, berated the agency over the failure of NIMASA to appear before the panel, saying that the panel had no other option than to issue a warrant of arrest on the DG of NIMASA.

He said, “We have invited NIMASA up to three times, but they have failed to honour our invitations. This committee has no other option than to issue a warrant of arrest against the Director General of the agency. They can come to the National Assembly for fund appropriation, but when it is time to give account they will be nowhere to be found.

“The committee had invited NIMASA up to three times for the explanation on the payment of $5 million as professional fee and details of $9.3bn loss by the Federal government, but the agency declined the invitation.”

The Auditor General’s report showed  that all efforts by the Auditor General of the Federation to get the details of the $9.3bn loss by the Federal government for thorough scrutiny were not granted by NIMASA.

According to AuGF report, the money was paid from Zenith Bank (UK)’s dollar account.

The query read, “Audit observed that the agency engaged the service of a legal firm through a letter with reference number NIMASA/DG/KP/2014/001, dated 24th January 2014 for the intelligence-based tracking of a global movement of Nigerian Hydro-Carbon and recovery of loss by the Federal Government of Nigeria in the sum of $9.3bn between 2013 and 2014, with a start-off cost of $5m and five per cent of all sums recovered.

“Payment instruction with reference number NIMASA/2007/DFS/WJ/5.500/VOL.11/341 dated April 2014 showed that the firm was paid the sum of $4,523,809.52 (Four million five hundred and twenty-three thousand eight hundred and nine dollars fifty-two cents only) net as professional fees from Zenith Bank (UK) Dollar account.

“The naira equivalent of this amount was N741,904,761.28 at an exchange rate of N164 to a dollar as of that date.

“No evidence of recovery of either part or the entire sum of the 9.3 Billion US Dollars was presented at the time of the periodic check-in in February 2018, despite the huge amount of money already paid to this effect.

“It is instructive to note that details of the transaction leading to the loss of $9.3bn to the Federal Government which only came to audit attention through the review of the letter from the agency to the legal firm so as to ascertain what could have transpired, resulting in such a huge loss were not presented for audit.”

“Ordinarily, the firm should have deducted its fees from the amounts recovered for the FGN, and not receive fees in advance in lieu of the recoveries.

It added, “Audit is concerned that payments were made for service not rendered and this may be a deliberate attempt to divert government funds for personal use.

“The Director-General is required to justify the payment for service not rendered, failing which the sum of N741,904,761.28 should be recovered from the legal firm and paid into the CRF, forwarding evidence of payment to the Public Account Committees of the National Assembly and to the Office of Auditor-General for the Federation for verification. Sanctions stated in FR 3104 should apply. He is also required to provide details of the transaction(s) leading to the loss of 9.3 Billion US Dollars for thorough scrutiny.”

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Despite his “expulsion”, ADC presidential candidate, Kachikwu, makes INEC list

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Mr Kachikwu was expelled from the party last Friday by the Ralph Nwosu-led NWC.

The embattled presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Dumebi Kachikwu, has been named among candidates validly nominated by political parties for the 2023 presidential election despite his “expulsion” from the party.

Mr Kachikwu was among the 18 presidential candidates approved by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday.

The Ralph Nwosu-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party announced the expulsion of Mr Kachikwu from the party last Friday for alleged anti-party activities.

He was expelled along with seven other key party leaders following the recommendation of a seven-member disciplinary committee earlier set up by the ADC NWC. The NWC had earlier on 2 September placed the presidential candidate on suspension.

Mr Nwosu, in a statement issued late Friday, said the disciplinary committee found Mr Kachikwu guilty of allegations of gross misconduct, and gross violations of its constitution, among others.

But in its reaction the following day, the interim leadership of the ADC dismissed Mr Kachikwu’s purported expulsion.

The interim National Chairman of the Party, Patricia Akwashiki, in a statement, described the action of the erstwhile chairman, Mr Nwosu, as the antics of a sinking man clutching at straws.

The crisis rocking the ADC has its genesis in the call for the resignation of the national chairman by 27 state chairmen of the party, having spent 17 years in the office.

At the time of filing this report, we could not confirm if the party’s leadership had made formal or legal requests to the commission to remove the candidate from the list.

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Stella Obasanjo’s brother, John Abebe, arraigned for fraud

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Dr. John Abebe, the younger brother of a former First Lady, Stella Obasanjo, was on Monday arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday before the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja over allegations of fraud.

Abebe was arraigned alongside a former Head of Firstbank Plc, United Kingdom Correspondent Office, Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, before Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe on six charges of conspiracy, stealing, and obtaining money under pretence.

Part of the counts against the defendants read: “That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing the sum of N120 million worth of property of Arsenal Technologies Limited.”

“That you, Dr. John Abebe and Kamoru Alade Oladimeji, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; obtaining by false pretence the sum of N120 million property of Arsenal Technologies Limited under the pretence that your property lying being and situate at 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos State, which you pledged as the security to the Arsenal Technologies Limited was unencumbered, which representation you knew to be false.”

“That you Dr. John Abebe and Inducon Nigeria Limited, on or about the 4th day of June 2013, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud and to gain for yourself the sum of $1,000,000.00 or its Naira equivalent from Arsenal Technologies Limited by false pretence to procure the execution of valuable security to wit; a deed of assignment between Inducon Nigeria Limited and Arsenal Technologies Limited, wherein you falsely claimed that the property lying being and situate at No. 9, Magbon Close, Ikoyi-Lagos was unencumbered and that you have full powers to assign and transfer the said property to the assignor; Arsenal Technologies Limited.

According to EFCC, the offences committed are contrary to Sections 280(1), (12), 8 (7), 285(1) and 278(1)(b) of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.

The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following their plea, the prosecutor, Sulaimon urged the court to fix a trial date and to remand the defendants in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services until the hearing and determination of the charge.

However, the defense counsel, Anthony Popo and Sam Etaifo urged the court to grant their clients bail in the most liberal terms.

While moving the bail application on behalf of Abebe, Popo told the judge that the matter before her is a commercial transaction between the first defendant and the nominal complainant, which he is ready to settle out of court.

He also claimed that Abebe had paid back the sums of $100,000 and N30 million to the complainant and had also deposited the title document of 26 acres of land and the documents of a property in London to show his seriousness to resolve the matter.

The lawyer further submitted that the defendant would not jump bail since he never violated the terms of the administrative bail granted to him by the EFCC.

The prosecutor did not oppose the application but urged the court to impose stringent terms that will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court for their trial.

In her ruling, Justice Abike-Fadipe granted the first defendant bail in the sum of N20 million with one surety in like sum.

She directed that the surety must be a resident of Lagos and must deposit the title document of a land property whose value must not be less than N20m

The judge also admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N10m with one surety in like sum, who must be a resident of the state.

Justice Abike-Fadipe further ordered that the defendant shall continue to enjoy the administrative bail earlier granted to them by the EFCC but if they failed after seven days to perfect the terms of the bail she granted them, they shall be arrested and remanded in prison.

She adjourned the case to December 6 for commencement of trial.

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HIGHGARDEN CELEBRATES WORLD CLEANUP DAY

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The Eleko Beach stretching over 5km was cleaned on the 17th of September 2022 by Volunteers from HighGarden Private Beach Club to celebrate the world Cleanup day.

World Cleanup Day is an annual global social action program aimed at combating the global solid waste problem, including the problem of marine debris. It is coordinated by the global organization Let’s Do It! World.

 

According to the MD of Highgarden Mr Wale Ewedemi “Environmental cleanliness and awareness is key to our values as a lifestyle brand, so we use the world Cleanup day to indoctrinate our customers and friends into one of our core lifestyle values”

 

The event that started at 9am rounded up about noon. Plastics and debri Collected were separated and marked for pickup.

 

The HighGarden Private Beach Club in Eleko boast of the first Glamping site in Nigeria.

@highgardenprivatebeach

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