The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun a fresh probe of a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Godswill Akpabio, over allegations that he gave a gift of N1.4bn to a bank for unknown reasons, Punch is reporting.
The EFCC, it was learnt, had written to the bank to explain why the governor allegedly gave it such a gift.
However, it was learnt that the Akwa Ibom State Government had dragged the commission before the court, challenging its right to investigate state affairs.
A detective at the commission said, “Among several allegations that are already in the public domain, the commission has made some progress in investigating the circumstances in which Apkabio, in 2013, paid N566, 883,728.66; N441,808,081.90; and N392, 631,943.37 as gifts to a new generation bank.”
It was learnt that the state government had ignored seven requests from the EFCC, asking for the release of officials of the government for interrogation as part of the ongoing investigation into the activities of Akpabio, who is now the Senate Minority Leader.
The source added, “On March 7, 2017, the commission wrote to the Secretary to the State Government, asking for the release of Mr Effiong Efiakedoho, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Special Duties, to appear before the EFCC on March 13.
“He was summoned specifically in respect of matters relating to a hotel, Four Point by Sheraton Hotel, Raffia City Plaza, A 342 Highway. There was no response.
“On May 8, 2017, a letter, requesting the Accountant General of the state to appear at the EFCC on May 18, was also ignored.
“The Accountant General was specifically summoned in respect of an aspect of the investigation relating to a company, Sindeng Nigeria Limited.
“The Commissioner for Works was also invited through a letter of May 19, 2017 and asked to report to the commission’s zonal office in Port Harcourt with respect to a road construction contract awarded to Nigturks Civil Technologies Limited. He too failed to honour the invitation.
“A May 26, 2017 letter to the Secretary to the State Government to release the Accountant General of the state for interrogation on June 5, on the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, was also ignored.”
It was learnt that the EFCC, in two separate letters dated June 7, 2017, invited all the aforementioned persons but they failed to show up.
The source told our correspondent that instead of releasing its officials, the Akwa Ibom State Government, through a letter, referenced HAG/MISC/VOL.XV1/164, dated June 28, 2017 and signed by the Attorney General, Uwemedimo Nwoko, stated that it was challenging the powers of the EFCC to investigate states.
Nwoko, therefore, asked the commission to wait till all legal hurdles were crossed before taking action.
A detective said if the matter was allowed to drag, it could affect the case.
Alleged N108bn fraud: EFCC seizes Akpabio’s wife’s school
It was learnt that banks had also failed to provide documents to the EFCC on transactions linked to Akpabio, who has been accused of N108bn fraud during his tenure between 2007 and 2015.
When contacted, Akpabio’s media aide, Mr. Anietie Ekong, said his boss would not want to take issue with anybody since the Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State had clarified the issue.
“We are aware of the issue because someone else called earlier to confirm the allegation. The Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State has responded to the matter and we are not ready to take issue with anybody,” he said.
P&ID: Abuja Court Orders Arrest of British National for Jumping Bail
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Federal High Court In Abuja has ordered the arrest of a British national, Mr James Nolan, for jumping bail.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the order after Mr Nolan, a director in the Process and Industrial Development Limited (P&ID), failed to appear for trial.
Mr Nolan is being tried by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) along with Lurgi Consult Limited and others in a money laundering case to the tune of $9.6 billion.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed said Briton had broken the terms of his bail conditions offered him by the court. He, therefore, revoked the bail and issued a bench warrant for his arrest.
He also ordered Mr Nolan’s surety to appear in court on the next adjourned date to justify why the bail bond should not be forfeited to the court.
The prosecution counsel, Mr Bala Sanga, had earlier prepared to proceed with the cross-examination of prosecuting witness 1, Temitope Erinomo, when the court was informed that the second defendant was nowhere to be found and efforts to ascertain his whereabouts proved abortive.
Mr Sanga expressed dismay with the absence of Mr Nolan in court. He also said the first defendant, Lurgi Consult Limited, has never been represented in court as a corporate body since the matter started.
He told the court that investigations by the EFCC showed that the property given by the surety in Gwagwalada, Abuja, was not worth N100 million and prayed the court to restrain the defence team from further delaying the case.
Responding to the absence of Mr Nolan in court, the defence counsel, Mr Micheal Ajara, claimed that his sudden disappearance was strange.
“My Lord, the defendant in question, has always appeared in court, except for the last adjourned date that he was sick. His medical report shows that he has bipolar, a history of mental illness, and it is uncertain if the defendant is fine. We have notified the police, including the prosecution, and all efforts to ascertain his whereabouts have proven abortive,” he said.
He prayed the court to grant the defence time to ascertain his whereabouts.
However, Justice Mohammed said that the court of law does not act in uncertainty.
“What is clear to the court right now is that the second defendant is nowhere to be found, and there is no justification with a certainty of his whereabouts,” he said.
The judge then granted Sanga prayers for the court to revoke the bail of the second defendant, issue a bench warrant for his arrest and declare his bail bond forfeited.
Recall that P&ID, a firm based in the British Virgin Islands, won a $9.6 billion arbitration award against the Nigerian government after the collapse of a 2010 gas project.
Meta, NAPTIP Launch Scheme to Help Find Missing Children in Nigeria
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A programme aimed at helping to find abducted children in Nigeria has been launched by Meta and National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
Meta is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Through this initiative called AMBER Alert, security officials can use these social media platforms to inform people of missing children.
The scheme was unveiled on Wednesday and Meta disclosed that it was designed to increase the chances of finding missing children by putting more people on the lookout for them.
When an AMBER Alert is activated by law enforcement, it will appear on the Facebook and Instagram Feed of users within the designated search area, enabling them to share the information instantly with friends or contact the authorities if they have leads.
AMBER Alert is designed to include important information about the missing child such as a photo description, location of the abduction, and other relevant and available information to aid in immediately identifying the missing child.
How AMBER Alert Works
The decision to declare an AMBER Alert is made by NAPTIP when investigating a suspected abduction case, they must first determine if the case meets their Amber Alert criteria, which include:
- The abduction is of a child age 17 or younger
- NAPTIP must have a reasonable belief that there has been an abduction.
- NAPTIP believes the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or exploitation.
- There is enough descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in recovering the child
Once these criteria have been met, NAPTIP will then notify Meta’s Global Security Operations Centre, which operates 24/7, that a verified AMBER Alert is active. Meta will then send the alert to the News Feeds of people located in targeted search areas in Nigeria.
“Already available across 28 countries globally, we are proud to partner with NAPTIP to make AMBER Alert available in Nigeria – the second African country to join this programme.
“When there is a reported case of a missing child, the most valuable thing one can do is share information as quickly as possible. By working with law enforcement in helping to share the right information with the right people, we hope that missing children will be safely reunited with their families faster,” Meta’s Director of Trust and Safety, Emily Vacher.
In emphasising the importance of this launch, Adaora Ikenze, Meta’s Head of Public Policy, Anglophone West Africa, said: “This partnership with NAPTIP is another important milestone in reinforcing our ongoing commitment to Nigeria. We know our apps can be used as a force for good, and the AMBER Alert launch across Instagram and Facebook highlights this.”
The Director General of NAPTIP, Dr Fatima Waziri-Azi, also said, “Today, we are partnering with Meta to launch the AMBER Alert Programme on Facebook and Instagram to help ensure faster response in finding missing children.
“With these alerts, more people can be on the lookout for kids reported missing in their vicinity and report all leads to relevant authorities. NAPTIP cherishes every aspect of the intending collaboration and we are indeed glad to be on board with Meta”.
AMBER Alert Programme launched on Facebook in 2015 and since then has assisted in hundreds of successful child endangerment cases in the US and around the world.
One of such cases happened in 2020 when Amanda Disley and her husband helped rescue 11-year-old Charlotte Moccia of Springfield, Massachusetts, after seeing an AMBER Alert on Facebook. Before that, a four-year-old girl was recovered after Kaytlin Brown saw an AMBER Alert issued on Facebook on her lunch break and quickly took action.
In June 2022, Meta added Instagram to the AMBER Alerts Programme across the world by making it available in 28 additional countries, and now, in Nigeria. As part of the launch of AMBER Alerts in Nigeria, Meta and NAPTIP will be educating users in Nigeria on how to identify AMBER Alerts on their feeds and what to do when they see an alert.
Watchtower Christian Assembly Rolls Out Drums for 10th Anniversary
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The leadership of Watchtower Christian Assembly, Ikeja, Lagos, rolled out the drums on Sunday, September 25, 2022, to celebrate the existence of the church for a decade.
The senior pastor of the church, Samuel Adeleke Olayinka, expressed gratitude to God for taking the ministry to greater heights, and helping the church to expand to Ogun State, where it currently has three other branches.
During the service, the church’s men, women, youths, and children were beautifully dressed, dancing to songs from the choir as they worshipped God.
The church was filled up such that some congregants had to remain standing for the duration of the celebration service themed My Help.
Besides singing and dancing, the anniversary was celebrated with different activities that those who attended will not forget in a hurry.
Pastor Sam informed the congregation that the celebration was not just about singing the church’s praise but reflecting on God’s benevolence, goodness and mercies within the 10 years of its establishment.
He further noted that the purpose of the church was to contribute its quota to the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom by getting men “breaded, buttered, bettered, bolstered and boosted.”
“We achieve this purpose and mission by evolving a system of hunger for the Word. We believe the Word of God is the ultimate mechanism to get life work and drive it into success and fulfilment. So, we mobilise souls and apply both conservative and modern creative techniques to execute the great commission, to get their hearts open to their ultimate need,” he added.
He also said life was interesting and worthwhile when God is given the driver’s seat. This is appropriated if His ideas, principles and ways are fully embraced (Job 22:23-30).
On his part, the guest minister, Pastor Tokunbo Oshokoya, a popular tele-evangelist, in his sermon, stressed the need to leverage God’s help, which is ever available, to secure all-round rest, peace and prosperity in every Christian’s life.
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