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US Accused Of Romancing Gilbert Chagoury, A Nigerian Businessman With Criminal Record

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The United States Government has been accused of being in cahoots with one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men with criminal records, Gilbert Chagoury, a Nigerian-Lebanese developer. It would be recalled that in May 2019, the US Mission in Nigeria revealed that it had acquired 50,000 square feet of land at the Eko Atlantic, the four-square miles of land in Lagos reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean and features residential and commercial properties, to build the largest consulate in the world. Last month, it laid the foundation of the consulate.

The US mission revealed that it will spend more than half a billion dollars on the gigantic building which was designed by Ennead, a New York architectural firm. It also added that at completion, it will employ 2,500 Nigerian citizens in various roles.

What is more interesting about the consulate is the fact that its location is owned and funded by Chagoury who is well known for being associated with money laundering, fraud etc. Like his Nigerian counterpart, President Muhammadu Buhari, whose mantra, upon assuming office, was war against corruption, which is now being called to question, the relationship between the US and Chagoury has now raised concerns about President Joe Biden’s pledge or lack thereof, to tackle international corruption.

Born in Nigeria to Lebanese immigrants, Chagoury co-founded the Chagoury Group in Lagos in 1971 with tentacles spread in some of the most viable sectors of the economy. Chagoury owns the Eko Hotel & Suites, HITECH Construction Company and ITB Construction Ltd among several others.

The 76-year-old has spent the past 40 years building political connections both in the US and Nigeria. He flourished in the 1990s through his close association with the late Sani Abacha. In 2000, he was convicted by a Swiss court for laundering some of the funds Abacha looted from Nigeria. He agreed to pay a fine of about 1 million Swiss francs (about $600,000) at that time to get his Swiss conviction expunged and handed back $66 million to the Nigerian government but denied knowing the funds were stolen.

Since the 1990s, Chagoury cultivated a friendship with the Clinton family, in part by writing big checks, including an estimated $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, this is despite being a non-citizen forbidden by law to make donations to the campaigns of US politicians. But Chagoury flouted that law with his numerous donations. By the time Hillary Clinton became secretary of State, the relationship was strong enough for one of Bill Clinton’s closest aides to push for Chagoury to get access to top diplomats and thus began the US exploring a deal to build a consulate at the Eko Atlantic city. Between 2012 and 2016, he sought to help fund election campaigns of some US politicians. He donated to the Republicans and was listed as a sponsor for a 2014 art exhibit at the George W Bush Presidential Center. One other campaign he funded which recently came to light was that of Jeff Fortenberry, a US lawmaker, in 2016. Fortenberry was last month convicted of concealing information and making false statements to US federal authorities who were investigating illegal contributions made by Chagoury, a foreign national, to his re-election campaign. Fortenberry resigned from office after his conviction.

But in 2019, Chagoury reportedly paid $1.8 million in fines to resolve the investigation when it began. Chagoury currently lives in Paris. He initially made the US his abode, while his younger brother, Ronald held forte in Nigeria. He then shuttled between London, Beirut and Dubai until he finally settled for Paris as his new base after he allegedly fell out of favor with the President Muhammadu Buhari led government after having allegedly, bankrolled the election campaign of then President Goodluck Jonathan who lost the election.Since the 1990s, Chagoury cultivated a friendship with the Clinton family, in part by writing big checks, including an estimated $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, this is despite being a non-citizen forbidden by law to make donations to the campaigns of US politicians. But Chagoury flouted that law with his numerous donations. By the time Hillary Clinton became secretary of State, the relationship was strong enough for one of Bill Clinton’s closest aides to push for Chagoury to get access to top diplomats and thus began the US exploring a deal to build a consulate at the Eko Atlantic city.

Between 2012 and 2016, he sought to help fund election campaigns of some US politicians. He donated to the Republicans and was listed as a sponsor for a 2014 art exhibit at the George W Bush Presidential Center. One other campaign he funded which recently came to light was that of Jeff Fortenberry, a US lawmaker, in 2016. Fortenberry was last month convicted of concealing information and making false statements to US federal authorities who were investigating illegal contributions made by Chagoury, a foreign national, to his re-election campaign. Fortenberry resigned from office after his conviction. But in 2019, Chagoury reportedly paid $1.8 million in fines to resolve the investigation when it began. Chagoury currently lives in Paris. He initially made the US his abode, while his younger brother, Ronald held forte in Nigeria. He then shuttled between London, Beirut and Dubai until he finally settled for Paris as his new base after he allegedly fell out of favor with the President Muhammadu Buhari led government after having allegedly, bankrolled the election campaign of then President Goodluck Jonathan who lost the election.

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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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