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FG Files Fraud Charge against Innoson CEO

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ibrahim magu efcc

By Dipo Olowookere

A fraud charge has been filed by the Federal Government, through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Mr Innocent Chukwuma, alias Innoson, his company, Innoson Nigeria Limited and his brother Charles Chukwuma.

The charge was dated November 30, 2017 and filed at a Lagos High Court.

In the case, the EFCC is accusing Innoson of obtaining containers of motorcycles spare parts by false pretences between 2009 and July 2011 in Lagos, ‘with intent to defraud’.

The goods, said to be property of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, were allegedly obtained from Mitsui O.S.K Lines Limited in Apapa.

The anti-graft agency claims that Innocent Chukwuma and Charles Chukwuma, “with intent to defraud induced the staff of Mitsui O.S.K and Maersk Line Limited to deliver”, to them through their clearing agents, the motor cycle spare parts, moulds of spare parts and steel structures and raw materials called polyvinlchlorid, imported from China.

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The charge said the accused falsely pretended that they were authorised by GTB to clear the goods and take delivery of them.

EFCC had last week arrested Innoson in Enugu, stirring some controversy that the arrest bore some ethnic motive and that the agency should not have waded into a dispute between GTB and the businessman.

Central to this was the story that the parties were locked in a dispute over illegal deductions from Innoson’s accounts by the GTB, with Innoson claiming that the bank was indebted to him and his company to the tune of billions of naira.

In press and TV interviews, he said he had gotten judgement at both lower and appelate courts and that the GTB has an appeal at the Supreme Court.

GTB responded tersely that it would not join issues with the businessman as the issues between them are in the court.

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The EFCC, in releasing Innoson on bail Wednesday, explained that he was arrested after he refused to honour invitations by the Commission. He had been arrested by the commission before and granted administrative bail. But he reneged on the bail and his surety could also not be found.

The agency said Innoson and his brother, Charles Chukwuma (who is still at large), were being investigated by the Insurance and Capital Market Fraud Section of the Commission’s office in Lagos over matters bordering on N1.47billion fraud and forgery and other infractions. He was also alleged to have used forged documents to secure tax waivers.

“Unfortunately the industrialist resisted arrest and stirred controversy by bringing six truck-loads of thugs to block the entrance to his Plot W1, Industrial Layout, Abakaliki Road, Emeni, Enugu, home.

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“This was after he initially misled the Police Command by informing them that his home had been invaded by armed robbers and kidnappers despite the fact that operatives of the Commission duly identified themselves to policemen guarding his home.

“His unruly thugs encircled and manhandled operatives of the Commission who had gone to effect the arrest.

“Consequently, a distress call was sent to the Commission’s Enugu Office for reinforcement.

“In all of this, the Commission’s operatives acted with decorum and civility.

“No one was manhandled or assaulted by the EFCC team, and not a single shot was fired, despite the provocation.

“No one was manhandled or assaulted by the EFCC team, and not a single shot was fired, despite the provocation,” it said.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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ECOWAS Court Restrains Nigeria From Imposing Sanctions On Twitter

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ECOWAS Court

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice in Abuja has restrained the federal government from imposing sanctions or harassing, intimidating, arresting or prosecuting Twitter.

It also restricted the government from carrying out such actions against any other social media service provider, as well as media houses, pending the hearing and determination of a suit challenging the government’s suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

The court gave the restraining order following the suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians.

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In the suit, the applicants argued that the suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government was illegal

The federal government on June 4 said it has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria as its operation threatened national security.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued by his office in Abuja.

The statement cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

According to the statement, the Minister said the federal government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.

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The suspension came a few days after Twitter deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s official account.

The tweet had referenced the Nigerian civil war as the President threatened to treat Nigerians “misbehaving” in “the language they understand”.

It sparked reactions from many Nigerians who interpreted the statement as a threat to commit human rights violations.

On Tuesday, the federal government set up a team to engage with Twitter over the recent suspension of the operations of the microblogging and social networking service in Nigeria.

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The approval was announced in a statement in Abuja today by Mr Mohammed, who will chair the team.

The committee comprises the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Works and Housing, Minister of State for Labour and Employment as well as other relevant government agencies.

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Buhari Constitutes Team to Engage Twitter Over Ban

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Twitter Fake news

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

A team has been put together by President Muhammadu Buhari to engage Twitter, popular social media platform, over the suspension of its operations in Nigeria.

Twitter was banned in Nigeria by the federal government in early June after it deleted a tweet of President Buhari for violating one of its rules.

The President had posted a series of tweets and in one of them, he threatened to treat those fomenting trouble in the South-East in a language they understand.

He had earlier said those agitating to leave the country were too young to know about the losses the region suffered in the Nigerian Civil War that last 30 months between. Millions of Igbos were said to have died during the war.

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A few days before Mr Buhari’s tweet, the heroes of the war were honoured on May 30 across the region and there was a stay-at-home order given by the Indigenous People of Briafra (IPOB), which was strictly adhered to.

So, when the President posted about dealing with people from the region in a language they understand, it was taken to be a genocide threat, which Twitter frowns at.

The federal government, which was angered by the action of the microblogging website, retaliated by suspending operations of the company in Nigeria, making it impossible for residents of the country to have access to the platform.

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The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, who announced the ban, has been going around to explain the reason for the action.

He had said the indefinite suspension was because the platform to undermine the “corporate existence” of Nigeria. He later said Twitter has approached the government for talks.

On Tuesday, his media aide, Mr Segun Adeyemi, disclosed in a statement that Mr Buhari has “approved the composition” of a team to have discussions with Twitter over the issue.

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He said the team is to be led by Mr Mohammed with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola; the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo; as well as other relevant government agencies as members.

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Second Niger Bridge to be Ready 2022—FG Assures

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Second Niger Bridge

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has reaffirmed its determination to complete the construction of the Second Niger Bridge next year.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, gave this assurance at a forum of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday, June 20, to mark the sixth year anniversary of the present administration.

According to Mr Fashola, the bridge, which will serve as a major link between South-East and South-West Nigeria, will be delivered between the second and third quarter of 2022.

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Records show that construction of the bridge commenced on September 1, 2018, with construction cost put at N336 billion when the contract deal was signed.

The minister, however, made no mention if the construction cost of the facility had changed since the commencement of work.

He said that the project would facilitate the influx of investments to the South East when completed, noting that the construction work had gone beyond the water level, explaining that most bridge works were done underwater.

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“So, what you see currently is the final work. The sub-structure which entailed building cement structures underwater often costs a lot of money.

“We should finish the bridge next year between the second quarter and third quarter,” he affirmed, saying that construction time was lost because of COVID-19.

The bridge is 1.6 kilometres long and furnished with other ancillary infrastructure, including a 10.3 kilometres highway and an inter-change expected to be completed next year.

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The bridge spans from Asaba in Delta State to Ozubulu, Ogbaru, and other communities in Anambra State.

The existing Niger Bridge linking Onitsha and Asaba was completed in December 1965. It was built by the French construction giant, Dumez.

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