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Anthony Adewale

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The Permanent Secretary, Delta State Government House and Protocol, Eddy Ogidi-Gbegbaje, has again been enmeshed in another round of financial scandal running into N10.7 million.

Ogidi-Gbegbaje is also involved  in a case of financial malfeasance running into N43,457,922.83 for the renovation of the Delta State Government VVIP Guest House in Asaba, the state capital.

The building, it was gathered, was only repainted while a chunk of the money was allegedly pocketed by the permanent secretary and other government officials.

Reporters reliably gathered that Ogidi-Gbegbaje pocketed N10,750,000 million meant for the purchase of Christmas hampers  for prominent Deltans.

In a memo with No.GHA.782/T18/6 and track file No. 530305 addressed to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa,  which was obtained by SaharaReporters, Ogidi-Gbegbaje quoted the sum N10,750,000 million for the purchase of 30 hampers meant to be presented to some prominent Deltans during the 2019 Christmas festivity.

In the memo, the Permanent Secretary appealed to Governor Okowa to “graciously approve the sum of N10,750,000 million for the procurement and distribution of 30 hampers for 30 prominent Deltans in and outside the state during the Christmas and new year celebrations.”

The memo read, “Permit me to inform Your Excellency of the need for the state government to appreciate prominent Deltans in and outside the state during the upcoming Christmas and New Year Celebration for their support and contribution to the development of Delta State.

“As customary to the directorate, during the festive period, these categories of personalities are provided with giant size hampers on behalf of the state government. Each hamper will contain 35 pieces of golden cutlery, wines, coffee, UK Camel Tea-sets, pens, beverages, champagne, honey assorted tea, and a set of towels.”

Speaking in confidence with Reporters, an official of the state government, said, “The Ifeanyi Okowa led government is known for frivolous requests for funding running into several thousands of millions of naira which always ended up in private pockets.

“The N10,750,000 million purportedly used for the purchase of 30 Christmas hampers by the permanent secretary went the usual way and ended up in private pockets. This was the same way he claimed to have used N43.4 million for the renovation of the government house guest house when it was only repainted.

“Can the Permanent Secretary provide the names of the 30 prominent Deltans  he claimed to have given the 30 hampers? Were the 30 hampers bought and delivered? If yes, can we see the proof and names of the beneficiaries as claimed?”

When asked to react to the allegation, Ogidi-Gbegbaje, said, “It’s a yearly thing; we distribute hampers to senior citizens and senior traditional rulers. The prices of hamper rages depending on the quality of things you have in the hampers.”

The Church of the Brethren, also known as ‘Eklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria’ (EYN), said 8,370 members of the denomination have been killed since the outbreak of Boko Haram violence.

EYN, which is rooted in Nigeria’s northeast, with headquarters in Adamawa State, has about 1.5 million members worshipping in its branches mostly across the North-East.

President of the EYN, Rev Joel Billi, who addressed a world press conference on Thursday, in Yola, the Adamawa state capital, chronicled how insurgency had affected the church.

He said, “Apart from more than 8,370 members and eght pastors of the EYN who were killed by Boko Haram, over 700,000 members were displaced.

“53 of the 60 District Church Councils of the EYN were directly affected by insurgency, with 300 of the 586 branches either burnt or damaged by Boko Haram. An uncountable number of houses of our members were either burnt or looted.”

The EYN President added that many members of the church had been abducted and that 217 of the abducted 276 Chibok school girls belong to the EYN family.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari and governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states to ensure the rescue of the remaining Chibok girls as well as Leah Sheribu, Alice Loksha and hundreds abducted by Boko Haram.

He lamented that many communities, especially communities in Gworza local government area of Borno State, had been deserted after repeated Boko Haram attacks.

The EYN President appealed to Buhari to station a battalion of soldiers there so that residents who fled from attacks and are now in refugee camps in Cameroon or IDP camps across Nigeria could return home.

He also called on the government to reconstruct the houses, schools and worship places destroyed by the insurgents.

One of the major reasons why the Central Bank of Nigeria has prevented financial institutions in the country from paying United States dollars to persons receiving money from friends and family members based overseas has been uncovered.

According to documents seen, the apex bank, which has refused to disclose the exact foreign remittances it has received from 2016 to 2018, deliberately stocks the US dollars it receives on behalf of Nigerians to trade them off through crooked means.

The CBN, it was gathered, was warehousing the dollar component of remittances in foreign banks, thereby making it impossible for the naira to appreciate against the dollar in the foreign exchange market.

Blowing the lid off this seeming goldmine for the CBN leadership, the Femi Falana chambers through Mrs Funmi Falana on February 10, 2020 wrote to the apex bank, demanding to know the accurate remittances for 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

This request, according to the law firm, became necessary after it was discovered that the CBN had quoted a misleading figure in order to downplay the volume of money sent home by Nigerians in the Diaspora.

For instance, in February 2019, the Nigerian Government disclosed that the remittances received in the country in 2016, 2017 and 2018 were $19.6bn, $22bn and $25bn respectively.

However, the management of the Central Bank of Nigeria faulted the figures, going ahead to claim before the House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora that contrary to the World Bank’s report, the official financial inflow was $2.6bn for 2018.

Therefore, to the clear the air on the matter, Falana chambers in the letter to the CBN said, “At the 2019 National Diaspora Day held at Abuja in July 2019, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, revealed that the remittances received by Nigeria stood at $19.6bn, $22bn and $25bn in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Funmi Falana Vs CBN.pdf

“According to Mr Mustapha, ‘The money is currently utilised as social security funds to families (school fees, feeding allowances, hospital bills and so on). Some of it is invested in housing and estate development, hospital projects, schools and commercial enterprises but are not properly documented and analysed for impact.’

“Springing from the above statement from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, we request to be furnished with the official figures of remittances received by Nigeria from the Diaspora for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“Please be informed that this request is anchored on the Freedom of Information Act, 2010.”

But in a response to the request on June 29, 2020, more than four months after the seven days required by law for FoI requests to be responded to, the CBN in a letter signed by its Director of Corporate Secretariat, Mrs C.E Olonta, said it could not respond because the information sought was already on its website.

Further findings revealed that even though all remittances are recorded by the CBN on a daily basis, the management has refused to disclose the real figures.

“It is pertinent to let the public know that apart from hiding the fact that revenue from remittances are far more than oil revenue, all foreign aids and Foreign Direct Investment, the CBN wants to continue to sabotage the national economy through dubious regulations and that was why it banned banks and other foreign exchange dealers from paying foreign currencies to recipients of foreign remittances.

“Thus, by warehousing the dollar component of remittances in foreign banks, the CBN has made it impossible for the naira to appreciate against the dollar in the foreign exchange market.

“In view of the decision of the Federal Government to mobilise the huge diaspora remittances to serve as a catalyst for economic development in line with the provisions of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Act, the CBN should be restrained from hoarding information on the money sent to the country by Nigerians living abroad,” a financial expert with deep knowledge of the fraud going on in the apex revealed.

In an ironic twist, Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi state, has alleged that politicians are playing games with the lives of Nigerians through COVID-19.

He is one of the two governors denying the confirmed cases of the pandemic in their states — the other being Ben Ayade of Cross River.

The Kogi governor has been accused of playing games with the lives of his citizens.

But speaking on Thursday while hosting the board of trustees of Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation at his office in Lokoja, he turned the accusation against those acknowledging the disease which has infected over 26,000 Nigerians and killed over 600.

The governor, who insisted that Kogi is COVID-free, said the disease is not new in Nigeria and that the country has its own way of treating it.

He said rather than subjecting citizens to hardship through a lockdown, the country should be busy exploring ways of treatment.

Bello said the death of Nasir Ajanah, the state’s chief judge, was natural and should not be attributed to COVID-19.

“Let us stop this game, Nigerians are suffering, instead of the lockdown with its attendant negative effects on the people, why can’t we turn it to employment opportunities, providing clothes for face masks to be imported to those countries who have the disease,” Bello said.

“COVID-19 is not a new disease in our climate, we have our own way of treating it, that is what we should be exploiting rather than subjecting our people to hardship, hunger, and starvation through the lockdown.

“We know his medical history, he was my brother, we know we have been managing him since 2016 but this time, he was completely isolated, no one was allowed to even speak to him until he passed away, we cannot afford to be playing games with lives of Nigerians, this must stop.”

The Kogi government has repeatedly accused the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) of perpetrating illegality through COVID-19.

Two patients who were transferred to Abuja from the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Lokoja, Kogi, tested positive for COVID-19 in the nation’s capital, but the Bello administration still insisted that there is no coronavirus in the state.

On Wednesday, doctors at FMC, Lokoja, declared indefinite strike over the poor response of Kogi government to COVID-19.

Gunmen had broken into the hospital, attacking doctors and other health workers ahead of a media briefing on COVID-19.

The government later blamed the incident on aggrieved patients, a claim some doctors who spoke to reporters, refuted.

They had said the briefing was disrupted to stop a protest on the status of some COVID-19 patients who were being treated in the hospital.

Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wife of Ondo state governor, has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a source at the Ondo government house.

The source said the state’s first lady has gone on self-isolation.

The development comes two days after the governor announced that he had contracted the disease.

The source added that Oluwatoyin Adegbenro, wife of the late commissioner for health, has also tested positive for COVID-19.

It was earlier reported that Wahab Adegbenro, the late commissioner, died of COVID-19 complications on Thursday.

She is said to be receiving treatment at the hospital of her late husband in Akure, the state capital.

It was reported how four out of the 19 members of the state house of assembly who followed Akeredolu to Abuja for the submission of his re-election nomination form fell ill but refused to undergo COVID-19 test.

The results of the test conducted for commissioners, senior special advisers, top political office holders in Ondo and other aides attached to the governor’s office are yet to be released.

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the renewal of appointments of 12 non-career ambassadors.

Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, broke the news in a statement on Thursday.

The appointments of George Oguntade, high commissioner to the United Kingdom, and Sylvanus Nsofor, ambassador to the United States, were not renewed.

Oguntade, 80, is from Ogun while Nsofor, 85, is from Imo state.

The president congratulated those whose appointments were renewed, asking them to keep upholding and promoting the values of stewardship to Nigeria, while bridging good relations with other nations.

He also assured Nigerians of fairness in representation and inclusiveness in all matters of governance.

“The assurance from the president became necessary following recent complaints after the announcement of 41 non-career ambassadors that some states were not captured,” the statement read.

“The renewal of the appointments followed a performance evaluation, which necessitated an approval for continuation in office of the ambassadors, & the President will still decide if they will remain in their current postings.”

Below is the list of the ambassadors whose appointments were renewed:

                     NOMINEES                      STATE
Uzoma Emenike Abia
Yusuf Tuggar Bauchi
Muhammad Madugu Bauchi
Baba Jida Borno
Uyigue Oghogho Edo
Eniola Ajayi Ekiti
Deborah Iliya Kaduna
Mohammed Rimi Katsina
Tijjani Muhammad-Bande Kebbi
Modupe Irele Lagos
Adeyinka Asekun Ogun
Goni Bura Yobe

 

The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) says its management remains operational, despite being suspended by Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment.

In a letter dated July 1, 2020 and addressed to Adebayo Somefun (pictured), managing director of NSITF, Ngige said President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the suspension of the management Somefun heads over “misappropriation and other gross misconduct”.

Somefun was instructed to hand over to the most senior official in the board, and face a panel that would investigate procurement dealings of the agency from 2017 to 2020.

But reacting in a statement on Thursday, NSITF said the president has not given such a directive.

“We wish to state that President Muhammadu Buhari has not suspended the management of NSITF and has not made any such announcement, anywhere,” the statement read.

“For clarity, we received a letter from the Hon Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige, stating that he is carrying out a procurement audit of NSITF, and that Management is suspended.

“We had noted that the Minister’s action is against President Buhari’s directive, through the Secretary to the Government of the Federations that no minister should suspend, or purport to sack any head of agency appointed by the president.

“The memo stressed that ministers should follow laid down procedures, by going through the governing board of the agencies, to make recommendations to the SGF, ahead of any action, if necessary.

“We respect the president’s commitment to due process, and are assured we shall be protected by it. Meanwhile, the NSITF management remains open to any form of investigation by the appropriate agencies, as it has nothing to hide.”

NSITF said it had received many letters and petitions from the minister and that it would make communication available to the public and relevant authorities, if necessary.

It added that the “management of NSITF is still discharging its duties, as appointed by Mr President, and we ask all stakeholders to remain calm and focus, as all is well.”

In a similar manner, Sale Mamman, minister of power, in 2019 had asked Marilyn Amobi, managing director of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Limited (NBET), to step down, but the president later overruled the minister’s directive.

In May, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), had also said ministers can’t remove head of agencies.

For the first time in weeks, the number of persons discharged in one day exceeded the figure of new cases recorded across the country.

This is the highest rate of recoveries recorded in Nigeria with 649 people discharged within 24 hours.

The new figure was given by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its update for July 2, 2020.

Published just before midnight on Thursday, the update showed that 626 new samples tested positive for the coronavirus in 19 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

Thirteen more people were confirmed to have died of COVID-19 complications on Thursday.

Out of a total of 27,110 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 35 states and the FCT, 10,801 patients have recovered while 616 deaths have occurred.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to increase testing capacity, the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19 has explained the steps to take in order to get tested.

Speaking at the press briefing on Thursday, Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the PTF, gave a breakdown of what to expect when getting tested for COVID-19.

“Throughout the country, every state has an emergency operations centre. Most states will have a hotline. You can get the details of the helpline, the telephone number, from the NCDC website,” he said.

“Or if your state does not have a helpline, you can call the NCDC helpline directly to provide you with additional information on the next steps to take.

“Once you call, you will be asked for your address and either of two things could happen. If you’re not very symptomatic, you’ll be asked to go to a testing centre.

“After you’ve had your sample taken, you will be asked to self-isolate if you’re having symptoms until you receive your result.

“By self-isolation, we mean keeping away from the public as well as household members where possible; wearing a face mask properly to cover both your nose and mouth; maintaining physical distancing; avoiding mass gatherings and frequently disinfecting your hands with soap and water or a disinfectant, as well as disinfecting any surfaces that you may have worked on.

“You’ll be contacted with your result. If your result is positive and you have mild symptoms, you will be asked to isolate. If you have severe symptoms, you will be taken into a hospital setup. Otherwise, the isolation centre may not necessarily be a hospital setup, depending on the arrangements in your state.”

He urged persons with moderate to severe symptoms to “report to hospitals immediately for urgent care”.

house in Rockville, Maryland, United States, purchased by a former governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, in 2016 for $1,347,200m — N522,713,600m (N388 per USD) — has been uncovered.

The residential building located at 10821 Symphony Park Drive, which attracts an annual tax of $18,198 — N7,060,824m –was purchased by Ajimobi during his second term in office as governor of the state in 2016.

According to findings by SaharaReporters, the purchase of the house in America is in gross violation of the code of conduct laws of Nigeria, which forbids serving public officials from operating bank accounts and purchasing property outside the country.

It was also gathered from sources at the Code of Conduct Bureau that the property was not listed among assets declared by the former Oyo governor until his tenure in office elapsed in 2019.

Also, checks with top real estate players in the US indicated that the Maryland property of Ajimobi was now worth at least $1.6m — N620,800,000m.

The revelation comes days after Ajimobi died at the First Cardiology Hospital in Ikoyi, Lagos, as a result of Coronavirus complications.

Before his demise, the late former governor had been embroiled in a bitter feud with the Oyo State Government headed by Seyi Makinde over the revocation of 48 plots of land belonging to him.

 

According to the state government, the revocation became necessary after the property violated its land administration laws.

Unwilling to lose the choice property without putting up a brave fight, Ajimobi took the matter to court where it remained until he died last week.

Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has been appointed as Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Campaign Council for the September 19 Edo State governorship election.

Deputy National GandujePublicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, in a statement in Abuja on Thursday said the appointment of the governor and 48 others followed the approval of the Chairman of the party’s Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni.

The council chaired by Ganduje has four other state governors, the Deputy Senate President and two former National Chairmen of the party among others as members and Abbas Braimoh to serve as Secretary.