By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Muslims who wish to observe the 2021 Umrah (lesser Hajj) in Saudi Arabia through the Lagos State government will have to pay N1.37 million.
A statement issued by the Lagos State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board disclosed that the amount is the least package fees.
“The first package at a cost of N1.37 million includes stay at a 3-star hotel; Sahur (morning meal) and Iftar (evening meal) in Nigerian delicacies; economy class ticket with a reputable airline; executive and convenient local transportation; five days stay in Madinah, including three days isolation period; COVID-19 tests in Makkah and Madinah; visitation to historical sites and two-to-a-room accommodation,” the Executive Secretary of the board, Mr Rahman Ishola, explained.
Mr Ishola further said the Umrah exercise comes up during the last 10 days of the Holy month of Ramadan and has two different packages that the intending pilgrims can choose from.
For the second package, he said pilgrims would be required to pay N2.7 million and comprises accommodation at the 5-star Ajyad Makareem Hotel in Makkah and Coral Hotel in Madinah.
“This is in addition to other benefits contained in the first package like Sahur and Iftar among others,” he added.
The board scribe explained that the increase in fare was due to the strict implementation of the COVID-19 protocols by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health, emphasising that the Umrah exercise will hold between April 27 and May 15, 2021, and urged interested Muslims to seize the opportunity provided by the agency to make their payment as soon as possible.
He also encouraged those who had already made initial deposits to endeavour to pay up the balance for the package of their choice and forward evidence of payment (teller/bank receipt) and international passport to the board on or before April 18, 2021, for further necessary action.
Mr Ishola stated that it is mandatory for all the intending pilgrims to get the COVID-19 vaccine before embarking on the pilgrimage, stressing that without the vaccination, they would be denied entry into Saudi Arabia.
Sanwo-Olu Promises Justice for Sound Engineer David Imoh
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has promised to ensure that the late Sound Engineer killed by a mob in the Lekki area of the state last week gets justice.
The Governor gave this assurance through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, in a statement issued on Monday night.
Last week, after boarding a commercial motorcycle, an argument ensued between Mr David Imoh and the okada rider over N100 and attracted other riders, who then lynched him.
There have been calls for justice for the deceased and in the statement today, the state governor said this would be done.
He condemned the mob attack and said the police are interrogating four suspects at the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Panti in connection with the incident, while two survivors of the act are in hospital.
According to Mr Sanwo-Olu, the government will address the root cause of this and similar incidents, which have caused public anxiety, appealing to residents to remain calm as police continue to investigate the matter.
“Lagos has no room for savagery and anybody found to have been involved in this barbarism will surely face the law.
“We condemn and will not condone any kind of jungle justice, no matter who the perpetrators are,” the statement stressed.
N80bn Fraud: EFCC Arrests Accountant General of the Federation Ahmed Idris
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Mr Ahmed Idris, is cooling off in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He is having talks with the agency, explaining what he knows about an alleged diversion of N80 billion belonging to the federal government.
He was picked up by operatives of the EFCC on Monday, May 16, 2022, after allegedly failing to honour invitations by the commission to respond to issues connected to the issue.
In a statement issued on Monday night, the anti-money laundering organisation claimed that Mr Idris, through verified intelligence, “raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.”
“The funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja,” another part of the statement disclosed.
The AGF has been in the news lately over an audit report, which indicted some ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the federal government of fraud.
Curbing Illicit Financial Flows Needs Global Framework—Owasanoye
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr Bolaji Owasanoye, has rallied a global action against Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), including a call for a global framework on IFFs similar to corruption.
Mr Owasanoye made this call at a side event of the ongoing hybrid 54th Conference of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) taking place in Dakar, Senegal.
According to a statement issued by the ICPC’s spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, the conference would focus on regional efforts to track, recover and return stolen assets from Africa through the IFFs.
She said that the meeting was attended by representatives of member countries of the Economic Community for Africa, heads of anti-corruption agencies and international bodies.
Addressing the meeting virtually, the ICPC boss emphasised the need for a global framework on IFFs as part of a determined commitment to tackle the menace.
“The challenge we found ourselves today is that the rules have always been skewed in favour of those who export capital and against those who import capital. Corruption is a global issue and we have a global framework for corruption.
“The IFFs is also a global issue but does not have a global framework.
“A way out of the problem is to institute a global framework on IFFs which, among others, will address the huge financial losses suffered by African countries,” the ICPC chairman stated.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war had complicated the financial resources of African countries, hence the need to tackle the IFFs and stop the further haemorrhage of the financial resources on the continent.
Further to the global framework on IFFs, Owasanoye also proffered legal and policy measures that should be implemented by African countries to address the IFFs risk.
These legal and policy measures, according to the ICPC boss include a review of agreements entered into with Multinational Corporations (MNCs), a review of inimical double taxation agreements.
Others are the enactment of laws, rules or regulations on unexplained wealth orders or lifestyle audits, introduction of civil forfeiture of assets and beneficial ownership standards; and design of a framework for trans-digital transactions.
The ICPC chairman also advocated tougher measures against corrupt state officials who collude with the MNCs against their countries.
“African countries must understand that the MNCs split contracts.
“The juicy parts of the contracts with MNCs are domiciled in their home countries while the non-juicy parts of the contracts are domiciled in Africa.
“We need to deal with the MNCs’ collaboration by government officials who look the other way in international agreements,” he said.
In her remarks, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mrs Rebecca Grynspan, said the global economy was under enormous stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia–Ukraine war, and climate change.
She noted that IFFs posed a huge challenge to African countries in realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We are aware of the increasing rates which make it more difficult and harder for African countries to access finance.
“The African economies are also feeling the impact of the Russia – Ukraine war and thereby widening the financing gap.
“Africa requires US$2.45 trillion to meet its SDG financing gap. We can close half of the SDG financing gap for Africa if we are able to curb IFFs.
“We, therefore, cannot continue to allow the billions of dollars of IFFs slipping out of Africa every year,” she said.
She added that “The IFFs and Asset Recovery are more critical to Africa today. Both are required by African Countries to achieve the SDGs.”
She emphasised the need for data and collaboration among African institutions like Customs and Central Banks as a necessary condition for tracking the IFFs.
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