GTBank MD named CEO of the Year at 2016 Africa Investor Awards

Managing Director/CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank plc; Segun Agbaje has emerged the 2016 Ai Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) 30 CEO of the year at this year’s 9th annual Ai CEO Investment Summit which took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Launched in 2007, the Ai Institutional Investment and Capital Market Awards is the only pan-African Awards designed to recognize Africa’s best performing stock exchanges, listed companies, investment banks, research teams, regulators, socially responsible companies and sovereign wealth and pension fund investors.

The investment and business leadership awards aim to reward exceptional business practices, economic achievements and investments across Africa, whilst recognizing the institutions and individuals improving the continent’s investment climate.

According to Hubert Danso, CEO of Africa investor: We are proud to honour a prolific business leader whose contributions across the continent has raised Africa’s profile as a viable international investment destination. In winning this award, GTBank’s CEO, Segun Agbaje, has displayed astute foresight in positioning the GTBank brand at the forefront of the African banking industry by providing alternative approaches to inclusive banking and economic growth across the continent.

Commenting on the award, Segun Agbaje, Managing Director/CEO of GTBank said “I am humbled and happy to be recognized as the 2016 Ai Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) 30 CEO of the year. This award is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of the amazing team of people at GTBank.

He further stated that, “As a Proudly African and Truly International Bank, we will continue to differentiate ourselves by leveraging Africa’s immense opportunities in a way that creates value for all stakeholders.

Under his leadership, Guaranty Trust Bank plc has also received numerous accolades and commendations for exceptional service delivery, innovation, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and management quality. Some of the accolades received by the Bank since his appointment as Chief Executive Officer include Best Bank in Nigeria by Euromoney; African Bank of the Year by African Banker Award;Best Bank in Nigeria by World Finance UK, Most innovative Bank by EMEA Finance; Best Banking Group by World Business Leader Magazine and Best Bank in Nigeria award by the Banker Awards.

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Man Who Named Dog ”Buhari’ Has Named New-born Daughter, ‘Aisha’

Barely few days after he was released from police detention following his arrest for naming his dog ‘Buhari, Joachim Iroko Chinakwe has hit the news again with the naming of his new-born daughter after the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Lawyer/Human Rights Activist, Inibehe Effiong stated in his facebook post that Iroko named his daughter delivered few days after he was released ‘Aisha’.

“Joachim Iroko Chinakwe, the man who named his dog ‘Buhari’ has done it again. He has just called to inform me that he has named his newly born baby/daughter after the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari,” Effiong said.

“He has given his 3-day-old baby two names; Mise and Aisha.”

“According to him, Mise is a native Delta name which means ‘I am doing it’. He said that he also named his daughter Aisha, after the wife of the President and that she will bear the two names concurrently.”

“Sincerely, I am short of words. I never for once contemplated this. As a matter of fact, I deliberately refused to ask Iroko what name he intended to give his daughter when he called last Friday (September 2) to intimate me that his wife had put to birth.”

“I do not know what Nigerians will say about this. It is my prayer that this will not also end him in jail since some names seems to have special protection of the Nigeria Police Force.”

“Let us hope that this is not another “conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace”.

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Ex-Head of State, Others Named In N1.09b Oil Deal

Some prominent Nigerians have been named as beneficiaries of the $1.092b Malabu oil deal.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) is investigating the scandal.

A businessman, who is being grilled by the EFCC over the deal, is believed to have named  a former Head of State, a former Senate President, a former National Security Adviser (NSA), some senators, and some serving and former members of the House of Representatives.

All the suspects may soon be invited for interrogation by the EFCC to determine their level of complicity, The Nation learnt at the weekend.

Besides the businessman, the EFCC has grilled a former Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, and some chief executives of some International Oil Companies (IOCs). The suspects remain unnamed because of what a source described as the “sensitivity” of the matter.

The businessman may serve as a key witness because of his “deep insights”, the source said.

“The list is outside six former ministers who the EFCC was closing in on as at press time.

“We are looking into the accounts of some of those named in line with the timelines of the bribery,” an other source said, adding:

“Preliminary investigation has shown that the nation was shortchanged in the controversial $1.092bbillion Malabu Oil Block deal (OPL 245).

“At the appropriate time, we will begin interaction with all those connected with the Malabu Oil block deal.”

The EFCC is seeking the whereabouts of $1,092,040billion paid by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Nigeria Limited (SNEPCO) and Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (NAE) into an escrow account.

By the terms of Block 245 Resolution Agreement, Shell agreed to the release of the outstanding Signature Bonus and to appoint an escrow agent for paying the Federal Government $1,092,040billion.

It was learnt that NAE contributed $982,040,000 to the settlement. SNEPCO contributed $110,000,000 to make up the required $1,092,040billion for the Federal Government to settle all claims over OPL 245 in accordance with the agreement.

There were fears that the $1,092,040billion in an escrow Account was “used for the settlement of the FGN-Malabu Oil Limited agreement on OPL 245.”

The EFCC is trying to find out whether or not the cash was paid to the government or if the appointed escrow agent managed the $1,092,040billion and shared the cash to some beneficiaries for the settlement of dispute between the government and Malabu Oil Limited.

A former Permanent Secretary, who was quizzed by the EFCC, has been quoted as saying: “I did not benefit from Malabu Oil in cash or kind. The memo I wrote was only in line of duty as a civil servant based on the directive of the supervising Minister. Some of us can beat our chest any day that we served this nation selflessly.

“Beyond the official memo, I had no contact with any person or group in whatsoever manner. Any action taken was in the best interest of this nation.

“The Minister also acted on a judgment by an international court in directing that a request for approval for payment to Malabu Oil Nigeria Limited be made to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.”

The controversy over OPL 245(Malabu Oil Block deal) started in April 1998 during the administration of the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.

But it spread to the governments of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

Besides the judgment of a  Federal High Court, the Federal Government  of Nigeria(FGN)  faced the challenge of  an ICSD Arbitration instituted by Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited(SNUD) in which the company was claiming in excess of $2billion damages from the FGN for wrongful revocation of OPL 245 previously granted to it.

There were agreements between FGN and other parties on the oil block  on  November 30, 2006 and April 29, 2011.

Following fresh issues, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan on June 17, 2013 directed that  the complaints of Malabu Oil and Gas be looked into.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari developed interest in Malabu Oil deal following the ruling of a London Court judge, Justice Edis of the Southwark Crown Court, London, on December 14, 2015.

The judge stopped payment of N17billion to Malabu Oil and Company.

The judge said he was “not sure that the Goodluck Jonathan administration acted in the interest of Nigeria by approving the transfer of the money to Malabu.

He said: “I cannot simply assume that the FGN which was in power in 2011 and subsequently until 2015 rigorously defended the public interest of the people of Nigeria in all respects,” the judge ruled.”

Credit: The Nation

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Ex-president Jonathan, Tompolo, Akpabio, Wike, Dokpesi, Others Named As Sponsors Of Niger Delta Avengers

By SaharaReporters

A group that recently split from Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), a militant organization that has claimed responsibility for bombing numerous oil facilities, has claimed that former President Goodluck Jonathan was the grand patron of the NDA.

In a statement issued today by Cynthia Whyte, an alias for a male spokesman, the splinter group also named several former and serving governors as sponsors of the Niger Delta Avengers. Those named as “sponsors” included Governors Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Seriaki Dickson of Bayelsa.

Mr. Whyte also identified Senator Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, ex-militant turned contractor, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo), Raymond Dokpesi, the founder of African Independent Television (AIT), the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Kingsley Kuku, Kimi Angozi, and Patrick Akpobolokemi as other sponsors.

The splinter group, which renamed itself Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA), had recently declared its opposition to NDA’s destruction of oil infrastructure in the region, warning that it would disclose the names of individuals and groups backing the militant group.

Mr. Whyte’s statement revealed that the NDA’s sympathizers included Edwin K. Clark, Tony Uranta, Daniel Alabrah, Ms. Annkio Briggs, and Olisa Metuh, a former spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The Reformed Niger Delta Avengers named Oyege Nimi Brown, VIP Timothy, Joshua Macaiver, Paul Bebenimibo and others as the main operatives of the NDA, adding that Udengs Eradiri, the president of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), also known as Brigadier General Murdoch Agbinibo, serve as the NDA’s chief spokesman.

Following the release of the list, a source close to former President Jonathan told SaharaReporters that there was “no iota of truth to the claim that former President Goodluck Jonathan has a hand in the violence in the Niger Delta.”

The source, who asked not to be identified, said he was in touch with Mr. Jonathan, adding that the former president was considering issuing a formal statement to dismiss the claims made by Mr. Whyte.

“If former President Jonathan wanted chaos in Nigeria and the Niger Delta, he would have refused to concede the election to General Buhari and the APC,” the source said.

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Shekau Reappears Hours After ISIS Named New Boko Haram Leader, Says He Was Deceived

Thee erstwhile  leader of Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad popularly known as Boko Haram,  Abubakar Shekau has released a recorded message a few hours after the news of his successor was made public by ISIS via its magazine.

The Islamic State militant group on Wednesday announced Abu Musab al-Barnawi as its West African affiliate ‘Boko Haram’s new leader.

Shekau in the 10-minute 23-second audio message in Arabic and Hausa said he was deceived, but he will never stray from the ideology of the Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad which he said had a basis in the Quran.

Shekau in the recorded message said nothing would deter the sect from pursuing it’s cause even if they are called ‘kwawarij’ meaning those that opposed arbitration as a means to chose a new leader.

The new Shekau message coming after one year of silence has clearly confirmed the ideological differences and friction in Boko Haram hierarchy and failure to resolve their differences which might have led to the IS declaring Abu Musab al-Banawi as the new leader of the deadly sect.

Authoritative sources have also confirmed that Shekau has been against IS advisors sent to train his fighters, he is also accused of hoarding food, ammunition and recklessly killing Muslims, allegation denied by Shekau in his taped message.

Shekau is said to be high-handed, killing off his fighters under the slightest excuses without recourse to in-depth findings of their misdemeanors, to completely derail these his adversaries to derail completely from the ideology of the sect as prescribed by the principles of Jihad.

The idealogical uprising in the sect in another premise is said to hinge on attacks targeted at Internally Displaced Persons, Mosques and other places of worship some Boko Haram fighters considered impure.

Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the purported new leader according to a famous journalist, Ahmed Salkida who has been following Boko Haram since its emergence said al-Bernawi is the son of late Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram who was extra-judicially murdered by the Nigerian police in 2009.

As at the time of this report, there is high indication that al-Banarwi will equally reply Shekau with his version of events.
Book Haram continues to hold several high school students kidnapped from Chibok hostage at an unknown destination.

Below is excerpts of Shekau’s  words in Hausa:

“All blessings be to Almighty Allah, and his His Prophet SAW. I am Imam Abubakar Shekau

“This is the message to the world, to those who can understand Hausa and any other languages it can be translated for a clear understanding of the message, which is why we are sending this message to the world.

“The content of my message goes thus. We have heard news going round and attributed to people we had earlier pledge allegiance to. Even though we are not against them base on the message we heard in the world radio but we are still onour ideology.

“We know those we differ with, and I have written on this long ago. All we wrote have been documented with me, some eight pages and some nine pages stating their kind of ideology.

“Because I stated it clear that I am against the principle where someone will dwell in the society with the infidels without making public his opposition or anger against infidels publicly as it is stated in the Quran. Anyone doing such can’t be a real Muslim thick and thin. This is what our ideology proved. And that is where I am, to them, a Muslim can dwell in the society and do his marketing compromising core foundations.

“I want the world to know that we are still holding our ideology and tied with the Quran, we will not derail and will not revolt but will continue to remain in the cause of Allah. Following Prophet SAW is compulsory for us, and we will follow it to the end.

“This is our stand, and we are still in the cause of Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad and Allah will help us. May Allah strengthen us to remain in this cause.

“We are still members of Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad, no matter what they call us, we remain what we are. No matter what we have our basis in Quran. No matter what they call us, what we aspire is to justify our ideology in the Quran which is ultimate because we have not derailed. We are on and in the future, we will not accept any emissary except the one we can attest he is sincere and truthful for Allah and His cause.

“In the first place, we sat and I was deceived, they said I should write my ideology to be taken if there is a mistake they will point out and bring back.  They now deceive me, and it is base on some authorities and today I found out that there is one who is following principles of infidel which they want me to follow, and Prophet has stopped us against such. We are still in the cause of Allah and will never depart in the struggle to establish an Islamic caliphate and standing by Islam. We will continue to work for the cause of Allah no going back.

“Anyone that caused this, no problem, if it’s possible may Allah show him the correct path and if it is not so may Allah protect us from his mischief.”

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Abu Musab al-Barnawi Named As New Leader Of Boko Haram

The Islamic State (IS) militant group has announced that its West African affiliate Boko Haram has a new leader.

Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who was previously spokesman for the Nigerian-based Islamists, is featured in the latest issue of an IS magazine.

It does not say what has become of the group’s former leader Abubakar Shekau.

He was last heard from in an audio message last August, saying he was alive and had not been replaced – an IS video released in April said the same.

Boko Haram, which has lost most of the territory it controlled 18 months ago, is fighting to overthrow Nigeria’s government.

Its seven-year insurgency has left 20,000 people dead, mainly in the country’s north-east.

Mr Shekau took over as the group’s leader after its founder, Muhammad Yusuf, died in Nigerian police custody in July 2009.

Under his leadership Boko Haram became more radical, carried out more killings and swore allegiance to IS in March 2015.

In numerous videos, Mr Shekau taunted the Nigerian authorities, celebrating the group’s violent acts including the abduction of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls in April 2014.

Nigeria’s army has claimed to have killed him on several occasions.

Boko Haram appeared to be on the back foot following a military campaign by the Nigerian army and its allies from neighbouring countries. This raised questions over whether the IS link had been of any benefit.

But recently the group has stepped up its attacks against regional security forces. A UN convoy was also ambushed last week in north-eastern Nigeria. Even on social media, the jihadist group has resumed its propaganda campaign.

The increase in attacks could worsen the humanitarian situation around the Lake Chad region, where tens of thousands of people remain in miserable conditions in overcrowded camps.

Aid agencies also warn that children are dying there in large numbers from malnutrition.

BBC

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GTBank CEO, Segun Agbaje named 2016 African Banker of the Year

Foremost African financial institution; Guaranty Trust Bank plc has once again reaffirmed its position as a leading global brand with the recent recognition of its Managing Director/CEO; SegunAgbaje as African Banker of the Year during the 2016 African Banker Awards that took place on the sidelines of the AfDB annual meeting on Wednesday, 25th May, 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia

Now in its 10th year, The African Banker Awards is internationally recognized as the landmark finance event to reward achievements, commend best practices and celebrate excellence in African banking. The award provides a platform to bring together industry leaders from across Africa and celebrate the achievements of those driving economic growth in Africa.

Speaking at the exclusive Gala Dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel attended by over 400 financiers, business leaders, and influential personalities and policy makers, Omar Ben Yedder, Group Publisher of African Banker magazine said “Over the years, I have been privileged to honour some truly exceptional individuals who have left an indelible mark on the industry. Today, we honour a man – Mr. Segun Agbaje – who has redefined the African Banking landscape and built an institution that is Proudly African and Truly International. Since assuming office in 2011, Mr. Agbaje has led the bank to become one of the most profitable banks in Africa with a well defined CSR strategy that continues to give back to its host communities through its many philanthropy initiatives

Commenting on the award, SegunAgbaje, Managing Director/CEO of GTBank said “I am humbled and happy to be recognized as the African Banker of the Year. For me, winning this award for the second time in 5 years is a testament to a great team of passionate and committed people, spurred by a vision to create an oasis in Africa where things are done properly, in line with global best practices. He further added that “we remain resolute in our goal of building a franchise that is not just African but truly international. As a dynamic and driven team, we are determined to achieve more and consolidate our leading position in the banking industry by aggressively pursuing innovative solutions and maintaining a high standard in creating sustainable value for all stakeholders.

Under his leadership, the Bank has maintained its dominance of the industry by continually recording significant and enviable financial and non-financial performance. His profundity and vivid understanding of diverse financial landscapes has been critical in ensuring the Bank’s successful foray into various financial markets across West & East Africa while maintaining a presence in Europe through its UK Subsidiary. In due recognition of his visionary leadership, Mr. Agbaje is the recipient of several international accolades such as 2015 CEO of the Year from Finance Monthly, 2015 West African Business Leader of the Year from All Africa Business Leaders Award (AABLA) and 2015 Banker of the Year from World Finance.

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FG May Prosecute Nigerian Public Officials Named In #PanamaPapers Leak

There are indications that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), may prosecute Nigerian public officials named in the Panama Papers leak.

So far, four Nigerians namely Senate President Bukola Saraki, his predecessor David Mark (pictured), former minister of defence Theophilus Danjuma, and former governor of Delta state James Ibori have been named in the leaks with more named expected in the coming days.

Those named so far held public offices at different times.

According to TheCable, presidency sources said that the attorney-general will consider the next line of action as more facts emerge.

“For now, no government official is going to comment because it is too early in the day,” the official said, adding that prosecution is a “possibility”.

Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana in an interview with the cable said that while there is nothing wrong in owning offshore investments, Nigerian public officials named in the leaks will have to explain their source of wealth.

“It is not a crime to move your wealth to tax havens, we must be clear on that,” he said.

“However, Nigerian public officers named in the leaked papers will have a lot of explaining to do.

“One, they have to justify the assets traced to them in these offshore investments. Did they earn the money legitimately? Two, did they declare those assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau when in public office as required by the law? The Code of Conduct Act came into operation in the 1980s, so it is not a recent law.”

Falana said under the law, there is neither statute of limitation nor exemption for any public officer.

“The issue of trusteeship or blind trust does not arise because it is not known to the code of conduct law. The law also makes it clear that you cannot operate a foreign account,” he said.

 

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N116b Contract Fraud: Dasuki, Fadile, Matawalle, Yuguda, Others Listed To Refund Cash

Barely three days after the Presidency claimed that 300  persons and companies were implicated in N116billion “curious” contracts issued by  the Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA), details of the cash some of those indicted will refund have emerged.

Also at the weekend, it was learnt a former Director of Funds in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mohammed Dikwa, admitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC) that the controversial $2.billion released to ONSA under ex-NSA Sambo Dasuki were based on either presidential or ministerial orders.

The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, on Thursday  claimed that the ONSA committee had recovered over N7billion from those indicted.

The indicted companies are to refund N41 billion.

The investigating agencies, including the EFCC, will determine whether N75 billion should be recovered from some of the companies.

The Special Committee in the Office of the NSA found some persons and companies “guilty” of some infractions.

Some of the alleged infractions:

  • breach of contract terms;
  • non-execution of contracts;
  • haphazard or partial completion of contracts;
  • collection of funds for unexecuted contracts;
  • diversion of funds for political purposes; and
  • sheer mismanagement of contract funds.

The 300 persons and companies have been referred to investigating agencies, including EFCC, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) and the police.

Amounts to be refunded by some of the persons and companies are as follows: Acacia Holding Limited – (N600m and  N650m); Reliance Referral Hospitals Limited – N750m (16/4/2015); African Cable Television Limited -N350million; Dalhatu Investment Limited(N500m) -20/12/13 and N200m on 17/3/15;,Duchy Concepts Limited RC392281(N70m) – 17/3/15; Wehsec Farms Limited RC 713258(N200m); Stellavera Dev Company – N250m; Stellavera Dev Company- N250m; Societe d’Equipments internationaux – $6,954,000(21/4/2015), $30m(9/5/15); $50m(9/3/15); €1, 395, 346.84(11/12/13); €1,401,869(2/10/13); €2, 252,252.25; $16m (20/5/14); $38m(20/5/14); $36m(20/5/14); $5m(4/6/14); $10m(11/7/14).

Some of the expected refunds from individuals are Dr. Bello Matawalle – N300m; Bello Fadile -N100m and Bashir Yududa N1.5 billion.

A source in EFCC said: “Some of those indicted have outstanding cases under investigation by our agency. These allegations are intertwined and we may have to improve on a few clues.

“The latest assignment is to recover the sums against these 300 persons and companies. A few of them had written to  the commission to refund some money illegally collected for jobs undone.

“ In line with the mandate of the Presidency, we will get to the root of the allegations against those already referred to us. We will also collaborate with other investigating agencies.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “Of course, some of these persons and companies will be prosecuted.”

 

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Udenwa, Fani-Kayode, Goodluck Group, Falae Named In Alleged N3.1b Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has uncovered how N3.145b was paid into the accounts of six chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) and Goodluck Support Group (GSG) by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

The beneficiaries include a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and leader of the Social Democratic Party, Chief Olu Falae; a former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman; a former Imo State Governor, Achike Udenwa; a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Viola Onwuliri and Mr. Okey Ezenwa.

According to  a source in the anti-graft agency, the cash was paid by the CBN into the account of the Ministry of External Affairs Library, from where it was moved into the account of Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited.

“It was from the Joint Dimension’s account with Zenith Bank that the money was shared to various individuals and organisations for purposes that are not stated,” the source said.

The details of how the money was shared are: Fani-Kayode (N840million); Goodluck Support Group (N320million); Achike Udenwa and Viola Onwuliri (N350million); Nenadi Usman (N36.9million);and Okey Ezenwa(N100million).

Giving an insight into how the funds were remitted into the recipients’ accounts, the source said: “Fani-Kayode allegedly received N840million, paid in three tranches into his Zenith Bank, Maitama branch account with No.1004735721.

“The first tranche of N350million hit the account on February 19, 2015; N250milion was also paid into the account on February19, 2015 while N240million was paid on March 19, 2015.

“The balance on this account as at 31st December, 2015 was N189, 402.72.

“The Goodluck Support Group allegedly received N320million

” Chief Falae allegedly received N100m through Marreco Limited, a company where he is chairman. The fund was credited into the company’s United Bank for Africa Plc account No. 1000627022 on March 25, 2014.

“Both Achike Udenwa and Viola Onwuliri got N350million in two tranches. The first tranche of N150million was paid into their joint account with Zenith Bank on January 13, 2015. The second tranche of N200miilion was credited into their account with Diamond Bank.

“Nenadi Usman was paid N36.9billion through her Zenith Bank account no. 1000158311 on 7, Kachia Road, Kaduna. Ezenwa was paid N100million.”

Investigators are probing why the PDP leaders got the cash.

The source said: “Detectives are trying to decipher the motives for the payments.

“But as things stand, the fact that most of the payments were made in the weeks preceding the last presidential election leaves very little to the imagination.”

“One knotty question that confronts the investigators is the figure behind Joint Trust Dimension Nigeria Limited, the account where the fund was warehoused before being wired to the beneficiaries.

“The shadowy figure could help unravel the mystery surrounding the payments, once the veil is lifted.”

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Jonathan, Alison-Madueke, Ex-ministers, Others Named In Abuja Land Grab

The Senate is exploring ways and means of invoking sanctions against former President Goodluck Jonathan and some former ministers for allegedly appropriating reserved plots of land in Abuja.

According to the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the plots acquired by Jonathan and his ministers were designated as green areas, flood drains, city buffers, recreation centres, sewage lines, urban farming and city monuments.

At a briefing yesterday, the chairman of the Committee, Senator Dino Melaye, said the illegally acquired areas fall within the highbrow Maitama District.

Describing the action of Jonathan and his ministers as “satanic”, Melaye blamed the immediate past former Minister of the FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, for the “indiscretion”.

Besides Jonathan, the committee listed other beneficiaries of the “land grab” to include former Petroleum Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke and former Justice Minister Mohammed Adoke.

Other beneficiaries include former Trade and Investment Minister Olusegun Aganga; Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus and FCT Executive Director Ismaila Adamu.

Some of the beneficiaries have started erecting structures on the plots, which were “hurriedly allocated” in the twilight of the last administration. Certificates of Occupancy were hurriedly issued for the plots, the committee alleged.

Melaye said: “Senator Bala Mohammed, in his bid to satisfy some powerful Nigerians before the end of his tenure, disregarded the wisdom of his predecessors and the vision of the founding fathers of Abuja.

“He went ahead to implement Messrs Fola Consult Limited’s recommendation by allocating these important features/endowments, including the Maitama Hills, to these powerful Nigerians.

“It is pathetic to state that one of the allottees has erroneously burst a sewage conduit pipe and the entire area messed up with offensive odour which could trigger off serious epidemic within that location.”

Faulting Mohammed’s defence of the allocations, Melaye said the former minister’s action amounted to maladministration, adding that “it is satanic “.

He added that the committee plans to put a Stop Work Order on the various construction sites on the plots. Besides, the beneficiaries are to replace all the trees they felled during construction.

But Mohammed said the committee was misinformed on the allocations.

In an advertorial published in some national dailies, the former Minister said he never acted outside the limits of his powers.

In the advertorial, signed on his behalf by his Media Consultant, Mr. Emma Agu, Mohammed insisted that the Abuja Master Plan had never been inviolable.

According to him, the Abuja Master Plan is a dynamic road map for the city’s land use and infrastructure development, guided by the demands of change and time.

He added that his actions were informed by the need to ensure full utilisation of available resources and that the allocations were made in compliance with the Land Use Act.

According to him, construction was approved after the allottees had obtained building plan approvals from the Department of Development Control of the FCT.

He urged the Senate committee to seek adequate information from the FCT administration, stressing that the allocations could only be reversed by an incumbent Minister of the FCT.

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Ex-finance Minister Okonjo-Iweala Named In N1.17b ‘Suspicious’ Transfer

Reps probe how ex-minister dumped Jonathan’s directive

A House of Representatives ad hoc committee is probing the “suspicious” transfer to another account of N1.17bilion approved for a Federal Government agency.

The committee is seeking answers to why the immediate past Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, reversed a presidential directive which approved the money for the Sokoto Rima River Basin Development Authority (SRRBA).

Besides, the committee is seeking to establish:

  • Who applied for the withdrawal since payment was initiated through an application by the SRRBDA?
  • How a ministerial directive can override a presidential approval;
  • Where the money was returned to after it was withdrawn from the account of the Authority; and
  • Whether the withdrawal was politically motivated given the time of the withdrawal

The committee has hinted of the likelihood of inviting the ex-minister.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is at the centre of a storm over her release of $330m Abacha loot to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), without appropriation. The money, which she said was meant as a loan for arms procurement, later turned out to be part of the cash being shred to politicians and friends of that government before the last general election.

President Goodluck Jonathan, in a letter, approved the release of the money to the River Basin Authority. The approval was conveyed to the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) by the (then) minister of Finance, according to the office of the AGF.

The payment was made into the accounts of the SRRBDA on March 9 but withdrawn in two tranches within a week, two months later in May.

The first withdrawal of N784m was made on 6th May, 2015. The second, N90m, was effected on 12th May 2015 but executed on 16th May 2015 by the CBN.

Only N874.6million was withdrawn by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the account of SRRBDA because the agency had started spending the money.

The investigative hearing by the ad hoc committee was told how the CBN credited and reversed the payment on the directives of the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).

The Committee, it was learnt, would request from the CBN records of tranfer and reversal of the money from the Natural Resources account and other accounts.

SRRBDA’s Managing Director (MD) Mukhtar Anka said the agency made an appeal to (then) President Jonathan, knowing that the agency had some outstanding funds with the Federal government, “Because all our previous budgets were never fully released since 2012.

“We could no longer meet our projects and contractual obligations while our contractors were bothering us.That was why we made the appeal,” he said.

The representative of the CBN, Suleman Barau, told the committee that the bank carried out its duties based on approved and duly-signed mandates from the OAGF, who owns all accounts of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA).

Mr. M Dikwa, Director, Funds, who represented the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, said the reversal of the fund was carried out through a ministerial memoranda, unlike the approval that was effected through a presidential approval.

He also disclosed that the OAGF will recover the balance from the SRRBDA when there is enough money in its account since it had already spent out of it.

When the Committee asked the AGF why the withdrawals were made, Dikwa said some discrepancies were discovered after the payment.

He said the one-page approval letter had no attachment detailing the purpose of the funds. It was also discovered that the Federal Government had already paid the said amount by way of budgetary allocations.

The committee wondered if the reversal was politically-motivated, considering the period of reversal and the 2015 general elections.

The Evelyn Oboro-led Committee regretted that many of such payments may have been made by the AGF in the past only to claim to have made new discoveries later.

When the committee asked the AGF to produce the application for the withdrawal, the AGF could not produce any.

Also, the AGF had no response when asked by the committee to justify effecting the withdrawal with a ministerial directive while the approval for payment was by a presidential directive .

The committee faulted the AGF for failing to conduct needs assessment and due diligence before effecting payment of funds to MDAs.

Oboro said: “Conduct of post mortem after payments does not seem to promote transparency and accountability.

“We are interested in who applied for the withdrawal since payment was initiated through an application by the SRRBDA.

“More importantly, there is a need to know how a ministerial directive can override a presidential approval.

“We also want to know where the money was returned to after it was withdrawn from the account of the Authority.

“We are only interested in how to make agencies of government can be responsive to the people.

“This is an organisation that can bring a whole lot to the agricultural sector in that region and the country as a whole, yet through whatever what we are yet to understand, it was being deliberately starved of funds. We are determined to get to the bottom of the matter.”

The investigation continues.

TheNation

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