Corruption: FG Compiles List Of Legislators For Probe Over 2014, 2015 Constituency Projects

The Federal Government has started compiling the list of legislators in both chambers of the National Assembly over constituency projects earmarked for them in the 2014 and 2015 budgets, which were not executed.

The sum of N100bn was earmarked for constituency projects in each of the 2014 and 2015 budgets.

The worth of constituency projects totalled N200bn for the two years.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the compilation was being done by the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.

Though he declined to give details “in order not to pre-empt investigation,” the AGF said the funds, the names of legislators and the constituency projects that were not executed would be made public after investigation.

He said his office and the law enforcement agencies had received complaints of how payments were made for constituency projects that were never executed.

He said, “The money for constituency projects had been taken, but certain allegations prevailed that some constituency projects were not executed after the money had been paid 100 per cent.

“If money is appropriated in the budget, paid and the projects the funds were meant for were not executed, it is only natural to take steps to find out what happened. If neither the money nor the project can be produced, then you must take steps in accordance with the law.

“There are cases that are specific; we are compiling them. I will not want to pre-empt investigation, we have to allow investigation to be concluded before we go public.”

When asked which of EFCC or ICPC was involved in probing the constituency project fraud, the minister responded, “including the police”.

One of our correspondents learnt that the AGF had received petitions against many of the federal legislators, including a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Jibrin had also petitioned the EFCC, ICPC, the police and the Department of State Services, alleging that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers had requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides other projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.

The police are currently investigating Jibrin’s allegations

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Jonathan Formed Avengers Before 2015 Polls — RNDA

The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers says former President Goodluck Jonathan formed the Niger Delta Avengers in 2014 during the build-up to the presidential election.

It threatened that should Jonathan deny being the NDA sponsor, it would reveal more details of their relationship.

According to SaharaReporters, the threat was contained in a statement by the spokesperson for the RNDA, Cynthia Whyte.

The group said Jonathan had initially reached out to the leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta asking them to support his re-election.

Attempts to get the reaction of former President Goodluck Jonathan were not successful as calls sent to his Media Adviser, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze, did not connect. Similarly, an email sent to him had yet to be responded to as of the time of filing this report (8:06pm).

RNDA disclosed that  when MEND endorsed the then presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari, Jonathan became infuriated and called a meeting and then conceived the idea of the Niger Delta Avengers.

Whyte said following a secret meeting between Jonathan and several unidentified persons ahead of the Presidential election campaign of 2015, it was agreed that the Okah brothers should be contacted to reach out to MEND to endorse Jonathan and to work with the group of persons to ensure victory for the Peoples Democratic Party and Jonathan.

MEND was the suggested tool at the time, the spokesperson said, because the NDA as a body has not been formed.

The statement read in part, “The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, and Mr. Gordon Obuah, the Chief Security Officer to President Jonathan, respectively were selected to visit Charles Okah in Kuje prison.

“Mr. Daniel Alabrah was given the assignment to draft an endorsement statement for Charles Okah to go through and pass on to MEND. According to the account, both men reported back that they had visited Okah in Kuje prison at night with the promise of his release along with others should he cooperate to get MEND to endorse Jonathan.

“It therefore came as a shock when MEND did the opposite and endorsed Buhari. Jonathan was livid with anger and swore that the Okahs would rot in prison.”

He said it was also agreed that a show of force be put up in Yenagoa, where ex-militants led by Government Ekpemupolo a.k.a. Tompolo and Kingsley Kuku would threaten war should the electorate vote in Buhari’s favour.

“It was around that period the idea of forming the Niger Delta Avengers was conceived. In fact, the name ‘Avengers’ came from the lips of Goodluck Jonathan.

“As Election Day approached, certain stakeholders were mobilised to form a force to standby and ensure total anarchy in the South-South and the South-East within 24 hours if the election results were not favourable to Jonathan. It took everyone by surprise to learn that Mr. Jonathan had conceded defeat even before the final results were released. The standby force that was supposed to attack specific targets was told to stand down. They were all compensated in US dollars cash.”

The group further alleged that the Avengers then decided that it would be used as a tool to make things difficult for the Buhari government by vandalising oil facilities and causing economic hardship.

“MEND was aware of this plot through a spy that could not be identified, and the group began its campaign to counter every effort of the NDA and the Biafran agitators to this day,” the group said.

All those listed by the group, including Tompolo and Kuku, had in separate statements  denied  membership or involvement in the NDA.

A former Head of Media and Communications of the Presidential Amnesty Office (PAO), Alabrah, also denied allegations linking him, Kuku and others  with the formation of the Niger Delta Avengers.

Alabrah, who was reacting to Wythe’s allegations that he purportedly wrote an endorsement letter to Charles Okah to enable MEND to support Jonathan’s re-election, said rather than the militant group casting aspersion on innocent people, it should go ahead and disclose the true identities of those behind Niger Delta Avengers.

He challenged the spokesperson for the splinter NDA to also produce the letter he wrote for Charles Okah to sign for the defunct MEND to support the ambition of the former President.

Alabrah, a former journalist who spoke on the phone with one of our correspondents, also dismissed the alleged prominent role played by his former boss, Kingsley Kuku, in the formation of the group prior to the 2015 presidential election.

“These allegations are very laughable. There was no time I wrote a letter to be endorsed by Charles Okah prior to the 2015 general elections. The way RNDA are going shows that the same people who run MEND are behind the RNDA.

“If Cynthia Whyte claims I wrote any letter, the group should produce a copy of the letter. I have never met Charles Okah, let alone writing an endorsement letter for him in prison. It has gotten to a point where they (RNDA) if they are actually splinter group of Avengers to unravel those behind NDA.

“Security forces should ask the new group who are the members of the Niger Delta Avengers. This blackmailing game against innocent people won’t work. They should name those who are members of the Avengers rather than blackmailing everybody.

“The only meeting I know which Kingsley Kuku attended with ex-militants was the peace meeting held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. The outcome of that meeting was misquoted in the media until Governor Seriake Dickson who chaired the event made clarification to earlier reports.”

Efforts to speak with Paul Benemibo, the spokesperson for the former MEND leader, Chief Government Ekpemukpolo alias Tompolo were unsuccessful.

Repeated calls made to his line rang without answering even at about 9.50pm when this report was being filed.

  • Punch
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PDP Did Not lose 2015 Presidential Election – Ciroma

The Peoples Democratic Party did not lose the 2015 presidential election, a former Minister of Finance, Adamu Ciroma, said on Monday.

Ciroma said this when he received members of PDP Board of Trustee led by its Chairman, Sen. Jibrin Walid, in Abuja.

According to him, the PDP is dominating political discuss in Nigeria despite the country being an APC-led Federal Government

He said, “Just before the last elections and when we saw the trend of events, I warned members of the PDP to prepare themselves for whatever eventuality that may come.

“Today, PDP didn’t lose and APC didn’t win because APC has a lot to do.

“When you talk about politics, you talk about PDP. When you talk of politics, people talk about PDP as If APC does not exist. So far, APC is not playing the right role?.’’

Noting that any party that got into power must make mistakes, the elder statesman advised fellow party members to prepare ahead of the 2019 elections, “especially as the APC will continue to make mistakes.”

He challenged PDP members to play positive roles in politics as there would always be several parties, hence, they must learn to make the masses the centrepiece of their developmental projects.

“Politics will always be there,’’ he said, adding that “there must be good and bad people who’ll participate in it.

“Everybody who participates in politics does so for good cause and that good cause is of the interest and political stability of all Nigerians.

“There will not be one party; there will always be one political party or the others.

“I insist that people must play the rightful role in politics and that role is to promote the interest of the poor masses.

“Anybody can make a mistake. The beauty of it is that every party that has a chance to rule has the chance to make mistakes.

“APC will make a lot of mistakes and the PDP must be ready to put things right and all of you must be ready to contribute, participate and get involved for the interests of ordinary Nigerians.’’

Earlier in his address, Walid said ?that the visit was “part of strategies mapped-out to visit well-recognized founding fathers and leaders of the PDP to tap from their advice on the way forward for the party.

“We promise you that we shall remain the conscience of our party,’’ he assured.

Members of the BoT on the entourage included former President of the Senate, Adolphus Wabara, former Deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu and Prof. Jerry Gana.

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Why The Fuss about Mo Ibrahim’s 2015 Leadership Prize? By Salome Mohammed

In 2006, Sudanese born British mobile telecommunications billionaire, Mo Ibrahim, created the Mo Ibrahim Foundation with a focus on the critical importance of leadership and governance in Africa.

The foundation in 2007 initiated the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, a prize which awards a $5 million initial payment, and a $200,000 annual payment for life to African heads of state who deliver “security, health, education and economic development to their constituents and democratically transfer power to their successors”.

The prize is believed to be the world’s largest, exceeding the $1.3m Nobel Peace Prize. In 2007, the inaugural prize was awarded to former president of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano, for his role in leading his country from a season of conflict to one of peace and democracy. Former South African President Nelson Mandela, a key player in his country’s anti-apartheid struggle was also made an honorary laureate in recognition of his extraordinary leadership qualities and achievements.

This year the Prize Committee did not select a winner. When asked why no African leader was selected, the Chair of the Foundation while speaking with the BBC News Day said the prize is a “prize for excellence, it’s not an entitlement or a pension”, inferring that no past African leader was worthy of the prize.

But, is this the first time that the prize has not been awarded?

The answer is NO! In the years 2009 and 2010 the Prize Committee did not award the prize. Speaking in 2010, Mr Ibrahim said, “The purpose of the foundation is to challenge those in Africa and the world to debate what constitutes excellence in leadership. The standards set for the prize are high, and the number of eligible candidates small. So it is always likely that there will be years when no prize is awarded.”

In 2012 and 2013, there was no recipient again. So I begin to wonder what the fuss is about that 2015 did not produce a winner. In the prize’s history there have been five winners and five years have produced no winner.

During the same interview Mr Ibrahim was asked why the award was restricted to only former African presidents and not ministers such as Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who ‘single-handedly added value to the financial process in Nigeria’ to which he replied, “We cannot just keep shifting our focus here. There’s no doubt the president is really the focal point for decision-making.”

I would not begrudge Mr Ibrahim’s stance that the president is the focal point of decision-making, however it is sad that the media tried to twist Mr Ibrahim’s response and turned it into an attack against the person of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

It is a thing of pride that Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been recognised by many far and wide as one who did an exceptional job in making Nigeria’s economy viable and suitable for investors. And for her to be singled out from among other ministers across the continent is a major feat.

Till date she remains the only Nigerian to have served as a member of the Mo Ibrahim Prize Committee (2007- 2008).

Her detractors should see this and many other achievements and accolades as enough reasons to steer clear of her and allow her enjoy her time out of public service in peace.

 

Salome Mohammed is a social commentator and she writes from Jos

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Jonathan Shocked Me In 2015 – Buhari

The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday told State House correspondents in Abuja that he was shocked when the former President, Goodluck Jonathan, called him before the 2015 Presidential election was concluded to concede defeat.

He spoke during a Presidential Lunch for State House correspondents at the New Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.

He said: “I underrated the influence of the PDP for 16 years watching from outside. The experience of the staff, their commitment and zeal is different from what it is now. 16 years of development in the life of a developing nation is a long time.

“This is where I pay my respect to former President Goodluck Jonathan. This is actually a privileged information for you. He called me at a quarter past five in the evening. He said ‘good evening your Excellency Sir’, and I said ‘good evening’.

“He said ‘I have called to congratulate you that I have conceded defeat’. Of course, there was dead silence on my end, because I did not expect it. I was shocked. I did not expect it because after sixteen years, the man was a deputy governor, governor, Vice President and was President for six years.

“For him to have conceded defeat even before the result was announced by INEC, I think it was a great generosity, a great patriotism.

“Abdulsalami recognised the generosity of Jonathan to concede defeat and said we should go and thank him immediately and that was the first time I came here.”

The President, however, described his experience in the villa during the hand over, as different from what he envisaged, maintaining that his administration did not meet any money on ground.

He also told the reporters that he would carefully work with the judiciary and the international community in the recovery of looted funds to ensure that all monies stolen by the past administration are fully recovered.

SEE: Historic Audio of President Jonathan’s Call To Congratulate Buhari [Listen]

 

 

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2015 Campaign Fund: I’m Ready For Probe, Says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says he is ready for probe over his 2015 campaign funding or any corruption-related allegations at any time.

And he is not prepared to spare any suspect implicated in the $2.1billion arms deals because the cash was illegally drawn from the public funds in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The President, in a wide ranging interview with select newspaper editors as he concludes his first year in office, vows to deal with militants in the Niger Delta and kidnappers holding the nation hostage.

To him, the National Conference organized by the Jonathan Administration, is nothing more than a waste of N9billion, and admits he has not even bothered to touch the report of the confab.

The report may end up in the archives, he says.

On the fate of the Naira, he says he has been under pressure on how to save the currency.

He prays God to continue to protect him from doing anything that will soil his image and explains that even if he has immunity from prosecution now that he is in office, nothing stops the anti-graft agencies from probing leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) suspected of abuse of campaign funds.

His words: “I don’t know whether I have some official protection. If I don’t have it, why haven’t you started the investigation? I see, very good. But then, it doesn’t extend to all the executives and party leaders and the party leaders are there.

“If anybody has received $100 million to give to the party, I think he should be asked to tell us where he got the $100 million. I know those we would eventually successfully prosecute, they wouldn’t leave it, neither will they let their friends leave it. We do not believe if we were so reckless we would get away with it. I don’t believe it.

“Do you remember the three and half years when I was in charge of the petroleum ministry, have you forgotten the $2.8 billion (issue)? If you have forgotten, I haven’t. Have you forgotten the PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund)?

“In the PTF, at one stage we had more than N53 billion at a time, we planned and spent it. It was investigated subsequently.

“So I assure you that I feel perfectly safe. But nobody is perfect, only God is perfect. But let me tell you, from being governor of the six states (the old North Eastern State) which was only for seven months, to the petroleum ministry, to Head of State, and to PTF, I tried not to expose myself, and I hope God will continue to help me.”

On the $2.3billion arms scandal, the President said his administration will not give up in fighting against graft.

He said: “How can you take $2.1 billion meant to fight insurgency and share among yourselves and think that nothing should happen? Not to talk of when political money is being raised for elections and the Central Bank of Nigeria, NNPC, Customs funds are where the funds are collected from.

“We’ve made some progress in recovering this money, which I promised I will tell the nation in the next two or three days, just to show Nigerians that we haven’t given up and have no intention of giving up. We’re giving the people the opportunity of fair trial.

“They took the money and paid into some persons’ accounts, and there are signatures of some persons who admitted that they had taken the money. Somebody comes and calls another, saying ‘you’re a member of this party?’ The other person responds by saying ‘yes’. Then, he’s told ‘take a N100 million to go and keep,’ and the other person doesn’t ask any questions. You take a N100 million and disappear, and subsequently you complain that you have received money for doing nothing?”

On militants and kidnappers he said: “Nobody would invest in an insecure environment. Those who had been in Nigeria for so many years can conduct feasibility studies. But why do they put money paying militants or paying for corruption? This means with all the goodwill we are winning, we may not be able to benefit in the long run because of the kidnapping and the actions of the militants.

“So it is a top priority for this government to address. Once we settle down to make sure that we deal with militants, we will deal with kidnappers also. We will secure this country.”

On the free fall of the Naira, he said: “I challenged Nigerian economists to tell me what benefits Nigeria has earned from the devaluation so far. How many factories have we built by killing the Naira? I have to reluctantly give up because the so-called Nigerian economists come and talk things to me, and when I raise issues they talk over my head instead of inside my head.

“For us to lose over N300 (every year we’re losing the value of the currency by N100), what for? Let them tell me how many factories they’ve built. I find myself in a very difficult state because the economists cannot tell me why we should continue to devalue our Naira. People say import, and we find out that we are just importing food! We’re now planning to stop importation of rice, wheat, maize in three years’ time.

“On the value of the Naira I’m still agonizing over it, that the Naira should be reduced to such a disgraceful level over the last 30 years. I need to be educated on this. But I’m not ruling this country alone. I’m under pressure and we’ll see how we can accommodate the economists.”

Regarding the report of the National Conference, Buhari said N9billion was wasted by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

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From N18bn In 2015 To N200bn In 2016, Buhari Says Road Projects Prioritised

President Muhammadu Buhari says his administration has prioritised the repair and construction of roads within the country, unlike his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, who earmarked very little for infrastructure.

Mr. Buhari said this in a speech Friday before signing the 2016 budget into law.

“To illustrate our renewed commitment to infrastructural development, the 2016 budget allocates over N200 billion to road construction as against a paltry N18 billion allocated for same purpose in the 2015 budget,” President Buhari said.

The president said his administration earmarked N350 billion for capital construction projects, with the hope that figure ill help stimulate the country’s ailing economy.

“The signing of the budget today will trigger concerted efforts to reflate the Nigerian economy, a key element of which is an immediate injection of N350bn into the economy by way of capital projects,” he said.

The 2016 budget was signed Friday afternoon after months of bickering by the executive and the National Assembly over figures and projects proposed in the document.

At the event, Mr. Buhari thanked all those who worked to make the budget a reality, including leaders of the National Assembly.

“It gives me great pleasure today to sign the first full-year budget of this administration into law. I thank the leadership of the National Assembly, in particular, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and indeed all members of the National Assembly for their cooperation in making this a reality,” Mr. Buhari said.

The president pledged a smoother process for the 2017 budget cycle.

“The budget is intended to signpost a renewal of our commitment to restoring the budget as a serious article of faith with the Nigerian people. This Administration is committed to ensuring that henceforth the annual appropriation bill is presented to the National Assembly in time for the passage of the Act before the beginning of the fiscal year.”

Mr. Buhari said details of the budget will be made available by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma.

“Through the 2016 budget, aptly titled “Budget of Change’’, the government seeks to fulfil its own side of the social contract. The Budget I have signed into law provides for aggregate expenditures of N6.06trn. Further details of the approved budget, as well as our Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget, will be provided by the Honourable Minister of Budget and National Planning.

“I shall be speaking in more details about the Budget, its implementation and the over-all national economic and social policies of the Government in my address on May 29th, God willing,” Mr. Buhari said.

Mr. Buhari said his administration exercised prudence in signing the budget because of falling crude oil prices.

“In designing the 2016 budget, we made a deliberate choice to pursue an expansionary fiscal policy despite the huge decline in government revenues from crude oil exports. This is why we decided to enlarge the budget deficit at this time, to be financed principally through foreign and domestic borrowings. All borrowings will, however, be applied towards growth-enhancing capital expenditures.

“Despite the current difficulties, we will work extra-hard to achieve our revenue projections. Our revenue generating agencies are coming under better management and are being re-oriented. The implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is expected to contribute significantly to improving transparency over government revenues.

“Our determined fight against corruption is resulting in improvements in the quality of public expenditure. The work of the Efficiency Unit, as well as other public financial management initiatives, are also contributing in this regard. The continuing efforts to reduce recurrent expenditures should hopefully free up more funds for capital expenditure in 2017 and beyond,” he said.

The president said Nigeria was experiencing perhaps the toughest economic times in its history.

“As I said in my New Year message, living in State House does not in any way alienate me from your daily struggles. I read the newspapers and listen to the TV and radio news. I hear your cries. I share your pains.

“We are experiencing probably the toughest economic times in the history of our Nation. I want to commend the sacrifice, resilience and toughness of all Nigerians young and old who have despite the hardships continued to have hope and confidence of a great future for Nigerians. But permit me to say that this government is also like none other. We are absolutely committed to changing the structure of the Nigerian economy once and for all.

“We are working night and day to diversify the economy so that we never again have to rely on one commodity to survive as a country. So that we can produce the food we eat, make our own textiles, produce most of the things we use. We intend to create the environment for our young peoples to be able to innovate and create jobs through technology,” Mr. Buhari said.

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2015 Polls: How Jonathan’s Men Offered Us N2 billion Bribe – Transition Monitoring Group

The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of over 400 civic organizations on Friday, disclosed that sources in the Presidency under Jonathan’s administration offered a bribe of N2 billion to the organization which it rejected.

In a press statement issued Armsfree Ajanaku, Media Manager TMG and signed by Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, Chairman, TMG, the bribe offer came weeks ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Excerpts

Specifically, some errand boys from the Presidency at the time came to us with a dubious proposal that 50,000 agents of PDP be fielded as TMG observers.

In financial terms, the errand boys expressed the Presidency’s readiness to fund the fraud with the sum of N2billion Naira.

But with the realisation that a good name is better than silver and gold, we stoutly rejected the Greek gift, just as we held our head high in defence of the truth and the best interest of Nigerians.

TMG noted that it has been vindicated by the latest revelations from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) about how some INEC chiefs and election monitors shared froma N23.3 billion slush provided by former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezzani Allison Madueke.

The participants in this grand scale bazaar had only one objective; to subvert the electoral process, undermine the votes of the Nigerian people, and rig in their paymaster.

It is utterly shocking that people entrusted with the sacred and heavy responsibility of superintending the electoral process would descend so low to stake the credibility of a critical democratic institution on the altar of quick enrichment.

In any case, TMG had always known that the day of reckoning would come for all those who sought to exchange the sacred position they occupy for a mess of pottage.

The bigger tragedy is the case of so-called civil society organizations, which threw the very basis of their credibility as election observers to the dogs, by allowing themselves to be bought over by desperate politicians, who make no qualms about the fact that they do not give a damn about what becomes of the country.

We cannot mince words about the fact that these indicted INEC officials and their monetized co-conspirators masquerading as election observers have betrayed the nation. They are the unscrupulous elements who give the nation a bad name in the international community.

It is, therefore, imperative for the EFCC to do a clinical investigation and ensure all those culpable are named, shamed and jailed.

It is pertinent to recall that in the buildup to the 2015 elections, TMG kept on announcing that there were anti-democratic forces heavily funded by filthy lucre from the immediate past Presidency, which wanted to undermine the electoral process.

We repeatedly warned all stakeholders to be on their guard in order to wade off all machinations bent on subverting the express wishes of Nigerians.

It is also worthy to note that TMG itself was not spared the excruciating pressure and inducement aimed at pushing us to compromise our position.

For daring to turn down what the enemies of democracy termed, a “juicy” offer, TMG was repeatedly vilified and persecuted by institutions of the State.

It is on record that the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) under its infamous former Director-General, Mr. Sola Omole, banned coverage of all TMG activities on the NTA network.

Even after the elections, TMG Chairman, Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi was severally trailed by unknown men, who obviously had sinister intentions.

In the end, TMG as an organization chose not to travel on the path of least resistance.

As the chickens come home to roost with these weighty revelations from EFCC, it is time to separate the patriots from the chaff both in civil society and in INEC. For us, INEC as an institution should immediately set up a far-reaching and transparent disciplinary process to make a public example of all those rotten elements who descended so low to drag the institution in the mud.

It is only by implementing this process of thorough cleansing that INEC can begin the process of restoring public confidence.

As for those weak characters in civil society, who decided to sell their conscience and shirk their responsibility to the Nigerian people, it is time to account.

And because our vindication as a civil society coalition rings clear, all we can say is: let the music play and let the traitors who attempted to toy with the nation’s destiny, face the melody.

Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi
Chairman, TMG

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Revealed: INEC Chiefs Got N23.3b From Ex-minister Diezani’s For 2015 Polls

There seems to be more trouble for embattled former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is probing her involvement in a $115m (N23, 299,705,000billion) 2015 election bribery scandal.

The anti-graft agency has detained two bankers in connection with the scandal.

The agency has launched a manhunt for Ugonna Madueke, the former minister’s son.

Besides, four companies implicated in the bribe-for-results scandal during the 2015 general elections are under probe.

The companies are: Northern Belt Gas Company Limited; Auctus Integrated; Midwestern Oil and Gas; and Leno Laitan Adesanya.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State, Gesil Khan  and four others are undergoing interrogation over the N681million the allegedly got from the bribe.

She allegedly got N185, 842,000 from the deal.

The other suspects  and the alleged bribe against their names are Fidelia Omoile (Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000; Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director  of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC in Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.

During its preliminary investigations, the EFCC discovered that the N23.29billion was shared to INEC officials in all the 36 states, some individuals and Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs), which deployed election monitors.

Arrested by the EFCC are Fidelity Bank Managing Director Mr. Nnamdi Okonkwo and the bank’s Head of Operations, Mr. Martin Izuogbe.

The list of all beneficiaries, who received funds through Fidelity Bank branches nationwide, was being compiled last night.

A source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent,  said: “We are looking at a case of conspiracy between Fidelity Bank and the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to bribe INEC officials to rig the 2015 presidential election nationwide.

“There was a time Diezani invited the MD of Fidelity Bank Nnamdi Okonkwo and told him that the owners of the four companies will come and drop some money and the MD should keep the money separately and await instructions on what to do.

“The companies gave these  amounts to the MD of Fidelity Bank as follows: Northern Belt Gas Company Limited ($60m); Auctus Integrated ($17,884,000); Midwestern Oil and Gas ($9.5m); and Leno Laitan Adesanya ($1.85m).

“On her part, Diezani sent $25.77million(approximately $26m) to the MD with all the funds totaling $115million (N23, 299,705,000billion).

“A day or two before the presidential election, she gave  a distribution list to the  Fidelity Bank Plc MD and instructed that the $115million be changed into Naira and shared to INEC officials  in the 36 states, some individuals and NGOs.

“The MD said there was no way the bank could meet up with the conversion of the $115million into Naira and distribute at the same time. Diezani pleaded with the MD to use the Naira in the bank’s vault. She said if the bank changed the dollars later, it could make Naira replacement. That was how the money was distributed to INEC officials in 36 states, some individuals and NGOs.

“The MD instructed the bank’s Head of Operations, Martin Izuogbe, to communicate with all Fidelity Bank branches to effect the distribution of the cash to alter the presidential election poll results.”

The source added: “We have arrested and detained the MD of Fidelity Bank since Monday. But we picked up the Head of Operations on Wednesday.

“They are undergoing intense grilling and we may not release them until we have completed investigations.

“About N681million out of the funds was disbursed to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Cross River State and four others.

“It is obvious that more Resident Electoral Commissioners and INEC officials will soon be invited for interrogation.”

On the manhunt for the son of the ex-Minister, the top source added: “Ugonna Madueke was at the meeting in her mother’s house when everything was perfected with the MD of the bank. He allegedly gave some instructions too.

“We are looking for him for interaction.”

The EFCC shocked the embattled Resident Electoral Commissioner for Cross River State, Gesil Khan, with the video evidence which was retrieved from  the CCTV tape showing how the transactions were carried out in a bank.

She allegedly got about N185,842,000 from the deal, which she denied.

The development has set the stage for the grilling of the REC and four others, The Nation learnt.

About a fortnight ago, the EFCC arrested some top INEC officials in connection with massive bribery during last year’s elections.

The other suspects  and the bribe against their names are Fidelia Omoile( Electoral Officer in Isoko-South Local Government Area of Delta State)—N112,480,000 ;

Uluochi Obi Brown( INEC’s Administrative Secretary in Delta State)—N111,500,000; a former Deputy Director  of INEC in Cross River State, Edem Okon Effanga—N241,127,000 and the Head of Voter Education in INEC, Akwa Ibom, Immaculata Asuquo—N214,127,000.

Besides, some sensitive election materials meant for the 2015 presidential and senatorial polls were retrieved from the homes of some of the suspects.

EFCC operatives also recovered also many documents on financial and landed properties from the homes of the embattled  INEC officials .

Some of the documents include receipts of payments made into their accounts.

The suspects allegedly got the bribe in Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.

There are indications that many INEC officials and ad hoc workers benefitted from the bribe.

A top EFCC source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The actual amount involved  in the deal was N681million. When we began investigation, the REC denied involvement in any transaction relating to the scandal.

“Each time we questioned her, she refused to own up. We had no choice but to confront her with a CCTV clip of how she went to a bank to identify one Peter Popnen (who is on the run) to collect N185, 842,000.

“At this stage, she had no choice but to admit. She is still in detention pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation. If she hadn’t wasted time in owning up, the investigation would have reached a convenient bend to admit her to bail.

“The truth is that with modern technology, there is no hiding place for anybody again.”

The EFCC yesterday released a former Minister of Finance Mrs. Nenadi Usman on health grounds.

Her movement is, however, restricted to the country ahead of her appearance for more grilling next week on the over N4billion in her company’s accounts for the 2015 campaign.

But she has signed an undertaking to refund about N140million credited to her personally out of the slush funds, which were transferred to an account titled “Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited”.

Also, the EFCC yesterday invited some aides of former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode, and  coordinators who worked with him at the Presidential Campaign Organisation.

Fani-Kayode allegedly got about N840million from the cash which was withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but wired through Mrs Usman’s company.

Details of how the cash was shared are: Fani-Kayode (N840million); Goodluck Support Group (N320million); Achike Udenwa and Viola Onwuliri (N350million); Nenadi Usman (N140million); and Okey Ezenwa (N100million).

Another EFCC source added: “Nenadi was released on health grounds but she has to come back next week for another round of interrogation. Her passport has been seized and her movement restricted to the country.

“Already, she has signed an undertaking to pay back N140million, being the personal sum credited to her out of the cash under investigation.

“She has made two houses available in Abuja in respect of the remaining sums being probed in her company’s account.

“We have, however, not concluded investigation. For instance, some aides and coordinators who worked with one of those implicated, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, were summoned to Lagos for interaction.

“Some of these suspects are undergoing grilling, which involves funds remitted into their accounts and disbursement.

“We will recover every kobo from the beneficiaries of these slush funds.”

TheNation

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Fifty-five People Stole A Quarter Of 2015 Budget – Minister

Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, has decried the level of corruption during the reign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying it was so bad that 55 people stole an amount that was equivalent to a quarter of the 2015 budget.

He was speaking in Lagos at a town hall meeting organised by the federal government.

Despite widespread criticism that the government has been concentrating on its war against corruption at the expense of other crucial sectors of the economy, he argued that nothing else would work in the country unless corruption is fought to a standstill.

“On the issue of corruption, I’ve heard many commentators say that this administration is fighting corruption without paying attention to the economy. Of course, this is not true,” Mohammed said.

“But even if it was, it is patently justified. Why? Unless we fight corruption to a standstill, nothing else we do will yield positive results.

“It was corruption that prolonged the war against Boko Haram and sent many soldiers and civilians to their early graves. It was corruption that ensured that while oil was selling for over $100 per barrel, we had nothing to show for the windfall.

“It was corruption that gave us darkness instead of light when we supposedly pumped millions of dollars into the power sector. I can tell you today that we are squarely fighting corruption and we are winning. The situation is serious and no government can fight the battle alone. That explains why we have launched a nationwide sensitization campaign to make Nigerians to join the anti-graft war.

“We launched the campaign in January and we released what some people call a bombshell, that between 2006 and 2013, just 55 people allegedly stole a total of N1.34trn, an amount that is more than one quarter of the 2015 national budget.

“Even if just one-third of the stolen fund is recovered, it will provide us with 6 Lagos Ibadan express ways and in addition, it will build 183 schools to educate 3,974 children from primary to tertiary education, also 36 modern hospitals. The money that was originally stolen represents the total earning s of four African nations.

“The funds meant to buy arms and ammunition for our soldiers to fight Boko Haram was shared out by few people for political purposes. What is remarkable in all of this is that no one who has been named to have shared in the money has denied it. All they have done is give very ridiculous excuses for what they did. All of must be part of the war; its not Buhari’s war, its not APC’s war, its Nigeria’s survival war.”

Mohammed also spoke about the government’s spirited efforts to rescue the economy, expressing confidence that better days are ahead.

“Our nation’s economy or whatever is left of it poses a great challenge to all of us for one. We have lost a sizable chunk in the price of oil,” he said.

“Think about it, if you lose about 70% of your salary, your life can never be the same again. Oil crashed from about $100 to $30. For an economy like ours, this is nothing short of a disaster but this government has decided to turn this disaster into a blessing by working assiduously to diversify our economy from oil. Agriculture, solid minerals, culture and tourism are some of the sectors that we are working to rejuvenate.

“By these efforts and all, the administration has decided to block all financial loopholes with the treasury single account (TSA), into which a lot of money has accrued so far. Funds, which would have ordinarily found their way into private pockets, are now piling their way into the public treasury account to be used for the benefit of all of us. Over 30,000 ghost workers have been discovered and weeded out, saving the government of billions of naira.

“This budget has recorded a first, with the capital expenditure increased to 30%. Beyond that is the social intervention areas that will reach millions of citizens and leave them out of poverty.

“The first is the employment of 500,000 unemployed graduates who will be trained and employed as teachers and deployed to our primary schools, employment of 370,000 graduates and artisans, cash transfer to the most vulnerable Nigerians – not to the unemployed youth – school feeding programme targeting 4.5 million children in the 2016 budget, and lastly bursary for those studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

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2015 Election: Presidential, National Assembly Results From South South Inflated – Report

The results of the 2015 Nigeria’s Presidential and National Assembly elections from the South-South region of the country were probably inflated by officials of Independent National Electoral Commission, a report released by a civil society coalition, Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, says.

TMG is Nigeria’s foremost election observation group.

The report titled “TMG Quick Count Report of the 2015 Presidential Election” was launched in Abuja on Friday.

TMG said it deployed approximately 4,000 citizen observers to carry out representative observation of polling units across the 774 Local Government Areas.

Although the report showed that estimates by TMG’s Quick Count correlated with official results finally released by INEC, the group however said the number of accredited voters was inflated during the collation exercise, suggesting a way of creating room for inflated results.

“In verifying the official results of the 2015 presidential election, the Quick Count estimates strongly suggested that turnout was inflated during the collation process in the South-South geopolitical zone,” the report said.

“Quick Count estimates for the South-South geopolitical zone was 40.6% (+/-4.5%) while the official result the zone was as released at 55.9%. Thus official turnout was likely inflated during the collation exercise by at least 10.8%. The official results of the other five geopolitical zones consistent with TMG’s Quick Count estimates.”

Former President Goodluck Jonathan of Peoples Democratic Party recorded sweeping victory in the South-South, his base, while President Muhammadu Buhari who was the candidate of All Progressives Congress swept poll across in the North West, his zone.

But TMG said its estimates in the North West and the other zones, apart from the South-South, ran consistent with INEC’s official release.

TMG said its observers reported on the poll, accreditation, voting, counting processes and collected voting results at the polling units.

“At the heart of the Quick Count is a sophisticated database and text messaging communication systems by highly trained data managers and data clerks to ensure that complete and accurate data is received from all observers and analysed … to form highly accurate estimates of the overall poll conduct of the election, including party vote counts and voter turnout,” TMG’s Program Manager, Lazarus Apir, explained.

The report said the deployment party agents by the APC to the polling units in South-South and South-East was and 85% and 80% respectively. But in the two regions, PDP deployed agents to 93% of the polling units.

The report showed that the APC perhaps deliberately de-emphasize focus on the South-South and South-East, two strongholds of PDP, concentrating on other zones where it deployed more agents to polling units than PDP did.

Quick Count reported the presence of security personnel in 88% of the polling units. But this was poor when compared with 94% security presence across all polling units during the 2011 elections, TMG said.

By 11:30am of March 28, 2015, only 68% of the polling units had opened for accreditation exercise and in 96% of the polling units no voter was accredited without permanent voter’s card.

What counted as upside of Nigeria’s 2015 election widely acclaimed as example for Africa, according to the Quick Count report, was that observers reported there were no incidents of harassment against voters, poll officials, party agents and observers during voting in 96% of the polling units.

At 95% and 91%, respectively, of the polling units, APC and PDP agents signed the result sheets (INEC Form EC8A).

In 91% of the polling units, results were publicly pasted. By regional breakdown, results were publicly pasted in the North West, 93%; North East, 96%; North Central, 92%; South West, 88%; South East, 90%; and South South, 89%.

To improve Nigeria’s electoral process, TMG recommended that political parties and candidates restrict their campaigns to Nigeria’s development issues.

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WAEC Allegedly Demands N1.85m To Process List Of 2015 Best Students

The West African Examination Council, WAEC, has allegedly demanded N1, 850, 000 to process the list of best outstanding students for 2014/2015 May/June Senior Secondary School Examination.

This was contained in a letter by the Council to a non-government organisation, Edubox, which requested for the list in order to reward the students.

Edubox letter

In a letter dated 8th December, 2015 sighted by Vanguard, the Chief Executive Officer of Edubox, Mr. Sanusi Tosin, wrote WAEC, requesting for the list of the students.

EDUBOXThe letter read: “The above named organisation (EDUBOX) hereby request, from your establishment the list of the best outstanding students in the May/June West African Examination Council for the year 2014/2015 Academic session in each of the states in Nigeria”

“It is the aim of the organisation to reward these students, with the purpose of inspiring the younger generation. This platform also, will be used to empower youth that are aspiring to go further in their educational pursuit.”

WAEC’s response

The examination body in a letter dated 20th January, 2016, asked the organisation to draw a bank draft in the sum of N1, 850, 000 in order for it to process the data of the students. WAEC’s letter reads

“Please refer to your letter dated 8th December, 2015 on the above subject”

“This is to inform you that the cost of processing the data is N1, 850, 000.00 (one million, eight hundred and fifty thousand naira) only.

“Kindly draw a bank draft in this sum in favour of the West African Examinations Council to enable us process your request”.

The letter was signed by Dr.O.F. Dacosta, the Officer-in-Charge (Test Administration).

WAECMeanwhile, in a telephone interview, Mr. Sanusi said that his body was disappointed by the request of the examination council. He said that an officer of the Council called him, few days, after submitting his letter, asking him if the organisation needs the hard or soft copy of the result.

“I told the officer that we will be glad if we can have both. We were shocked to receive the letter from WAEC demanding this sum of money,” he said.

He added the demand has hindered his organisation in executing the project as WAEC is yet to furnish it with the names because it has not paid the money it (WAEC) demanded.

Efforts to get the reaction of WAEC proved abortive as at the time of filing this report.

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