N3.1bn Fraud: EFCC Arraigns Kogi Governor’s Wife, Nephew
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
On Wednesday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Mrs Rashida Bello, the wife of Kogi State Governor, Mr Yahaya Bello, before Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Governor’s wife, who is at large, was brought before the court alongside Mr Bello’s nephew, Mr Ali Bello, and three others over allegations of N3.1 billion fraud.
The EFCC, which brought Mr Abba Adauda, Mr Yakubu Siyaka Adabenege, and Ms Iyada Sadat to court today, filed an 18-count charge bordering on criminal misappropriation and money laundering against the suspects.
According to the agency, the defendants, sometime in June 2020 in Abuja, procured E-Traders International Limited to retain the aggregate sum of N3.1 billion believed to be part of the proceeds of unlawful activity.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the organisation said the defendants in November 2021 in Abuja also procured E-Traders International Limited to transfer $570,330 to account number no; 426-6644272 domiciled in TD Bank, United States of America, “which sum they reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful activity to with: criminal misappropriation, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.”
However, they pleaded “not guilty” to all the charges preferred against them, which prompted the prosecuting counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN) to urge the court to give a trial date to enable the prosecution to prove its case.
But the defence counsel, Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), prayed the court to grant his client bail pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Justice Egwuatu adjourned the case till February 13, 2023, and ordered that the defendants be remanded in a correctional centre pending the determination of the bail application.
NDDC Seeks Partnerships to Reduce Dependency on IOCs, FG for Funding
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has disclosed plans not to rely on oil multinationals and the federal government to raise funds for development projects in the region but instead pursue Public-Private Partnerships arrangements to drive development in the Niger Delta region.
According to the NDDC Managing Director, Mr Samuel Ogbuku, this PPP model would ease the financial burden of the central government.
Mr Ogbuku, speaking during an Executive Management and staff meeting at the commission’s headquarters in Port Harcourt, announced that a summit was in the offing to enable stakeholders to explore opportunities for collaboration.
He stated the NDDC would not relent in its PPP campaign to bring sustainable development to the Niger Delta region.
“We intend to leverage our PPP initiative during the summit, which will take place in April. It will help us to showcase what we can offer and show the world the future of NDDC.
“We cannot continue to rely on international oil companies and the federal government to raise funds for development projects. We intend to show the world that NDDC has been rebranded.
“We will take the campaign to all relevant organisations. Last week, we were at the meeting of the Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS, of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lagos. Henceforth, NDDC will be attending the OPTS quarterly meetings.”
The NDDC boss further stated that the commission would also focus on capacity building for youths in the region.
“We are going to focus on youth development programmes; we have come up with a new concept of working with the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce in the training of our youths and young entrepreneurs.
“We will show the world that we have young entrepreneurs. The various Chambers of Commerce will help us to make the programme sustainable. We will focus on empowering young people because the government cannot employ everybody.”
On NDDC’s commitment to its contractors, Mr Ogbuku affirmed that the Commission was engaging them to arrive at practicable ways of liquidating the debts saying, “We have been meeting with the contractors, and gradually, all legitimate debts will be defrayed.”
The NDDC boss said there was a need for reform within the Commission in order to bring it in line with the NDDC Establishment Act. For instance, he said, “we are reorganising the directorates to bring the number to only 13 provided for in the Act.”
Aremu Tasks CBN, NLC on Dialogue Over Cash Scarcity Strike
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Director-General of the Michael Imoudu National Institute of Labour Studies (MINILS), Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr Issa Aremu, has advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to engage the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in a social dialogue to avert the planned strike over the continued cash scarcity.
Mr Aremu made the call on Thursday in Ilorin on the sidelines of the Interfaith Prayer organised to mark the 40th anniversary of the institute.
Recall that Business Post earlier this week reported that the president of the NLC, Mr Joe Ajaero, directed affiliate unions of the group to be on standby for a picketing exercise across all branches of the CBN nationwide.
The directive, according to the trade unionist, became imperative following the expiration of a one-week ultimatum given to the apex bank to make cash available for Nigerians.
Speaking on the development, the MINILS head said it was unprecedented that the labour union is threatening to picket the CBN, tasking the apex bank to use every means at its disposal to ensure monetary stability in the country.
The DG, who was once a labour leader, noted that depositors had been subjected to a lot of hardship in recent times over the CBN financial policy.
Mr Aremu said that CBN must be more transparent and engaging and look at the overall policy’s impact on the growth and development of the nation’s economy.
He said that this would ensure the confidence of Nigerians in the banking system.
Mr Aremu explained that such a cashless policy should be gradually introduced after the appropriate infrastructure had been put in place.
“It also requires mass sensitisation and awareness, and there is a limited time for implementation of the policy for Nigerians,” he said.
The institute’s head lauded the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, saying it “provides loans (in kind and cash) to smallholder farmers, which had boosted agricultural production, especially rice”.
He, therefore, insisted that picketing of the apex bank by labour leaders was avoidable and preventable, advising CBN to address all concerns by organised labour.
On the 40th anniversary of the institute, Mr Aremu said, “This gathering is all about appreciation to Almighty God in the Holy Month of Ramadan, in which Catholic lent also runs. Both Christianity and Islam stress gratitude. Gratitude pleases Allah, while ingratitude displeases Him.”
“Glory to Almighty for sparing our lives to continue the institutional building that started with President Shehu Shagari’s formal inauguration in 1983,” he said.
Nigeria to Get 25,000 Tonnes of Wheat from Ukraine
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria will get about 25,000 tonnes of wheat from warring Ukraine, with the federal government designating Port Harcourt as the target location for the grains.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Mohammed Abubakar, disclosed this on Wednesday during a briefing after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja.
Mr Abubakar revealed that the Rivers State capital had been selected as the hub for the 25,000 metric tonnes of wheat expected from Ukraine, as Russia also extends its supply of grains to the country through a United Nations arrangement.
He explained that the wheat consignment from Ukraine is on the high sea.
The agriculture minister stated that the hub would create economic activities in the area.
As part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Ukraine exported 6.9 million tonnes of wheat, 20 per cent of which was sent to African countries. Out of this, Nigeria will get about 1.8 per cent.
Some 2.67 million tonnes of wheat, or 43 per cent, was transported to the poorest countries and those with incomes below the average.
The grain initiative will allow Ukraine to remain a top agrarian nation and will allow Ukrainian farmers affected by the Russian war, which started more than a year ago, to sow and be able to receive income from their harvest.
The grain initiative was launched on July 22, 2022, with the first bulker carrying Ukrainian food commodities leaving the port of Odesa on August 1.
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