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Presidential Panel: Interest On Recovered N550billion Was Re-Looted Under Magu

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An audit panel has raised questions on the whereabouts of the interest accruing from N550 billion recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from treasury looters.

The panel has also queried what it perceives as discrepancies in the EFCC records of recovered funds.

The questions are contained in the final report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) covering May 29, 2015 to Novembr 22, 2018.

The panel is different from the Ayo Salami Presidential Investigation Committee which is currently probing allegations against the suspended Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mallam Ibrahim Magu, by the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Sources said yesterday that none of the assets seized by the EFCC had been sold, except the 244 trucks which a Federal High Court ordered to be disposed of by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the FHC in conjunction with the Department of Petroleum Resources and the commission.

The proceeds of the sales were remitted into the Federal Government Recovery Account, it was gathered.

PRACA in a report on saturday says it was “quite disturbing that conflicting figures are being circulated in the public space by EFCC as the amount of recovered funds.”

Citing foreign currency recoveries as an example, the audit panel said: “EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.

“These inconsistencies cast a serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.

“While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgments were N543,511,792,863.47. These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgment exceeded its reported recoveries by N39,357,608,119.43.

“It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than thirty nine billion naira does not include interest accrued in this account since it was opened.

“It therefore casts serious doubt on the credibility of the figures and means that substantial amount of money has not been accurately accounted for.

“Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgments clearly establishes that interest element of over N550 billion has been re-looted relating to the period under review.

“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner, and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts,’’ the report stated in part.

The PCARA alleged acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.

It said: “The NFIU reports established that the Acting Chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases collecting bribes from suspects.

“The report has shown that a particular Bureau de Change based in Kaduna has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of funds,” the PCARA report said.

The panel was tasked to audit the Assets and Finances of the EFCC as a legal entity from 2015-2020, with a view to establishing compliance or otherwise with procurement procedures of the EFCC in line with the provisions of the Procurement Act.

Fresh facts however emerged yesterday that none of the assets seized by the EFCC has been sold except the 244 trucks which the Federal High Court ordered to be disposed of by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court in conjunction with the Department of Petroleum Resources and the EFCC.

After selling the trucks, the proceeds were remitted into the Federal Government Recovery Account.

Sources also said there was allocation of vehicles to some government agencies through special auction with Presidential approval.

Assets under interim forfeiture order were also rented by some Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

It was learnt that recently the EFCC secured a presidential approval to dispose of 450 forfeited vehicles in Abuja and Lagos.

But the sale of the vehicles is yet to commence.

Despite his travails, the suspended Acting Chairman of EFCC has ruled out a court action against the Federal Government.

He told his relations and lawyers that he has faith in President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure fairness and justice for him.

These details are contained in an investigative fact-sheet on the assets forfeited to the Federal Government.

The suspended EFCC chairman had been accused of selling assets to cronies and relations.

The fact-sheet was already made available to some MDAs and government officials.

Although Magu has denied the allegation, the Presidential Investigation Committee has directed all sectional heads, including the Director in charge of Assets Forfeiture, to submit their reports from 2015 to 2019 on or before Thursday.

Sources said “not a single recovered or forfeited property has been sold and the proceeds fraudulently converted.

“Also, there is a Presidential approval to dispose of 450 forfeited vehicles but no sale/ disposal has been conducted yet.”

One of the sources said: “In the coming days, the comprehensive list of these assets will be defended by the relevant units and Magu.

“It is important to clarify that some MDAs were involved in all the processes on how to dispose of assets; the EFCC or Magu was never unilateral.”

Some of the MDAs which benefitted from the forfeited assets after Presidential approval are the State House; the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management; the North-East Development Commission; the National Directorate of Employment( NDE); Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD); Voice of Nigeria (VON); the National Commission for Refugees and Displaced Persons and Lagos State Government.

Those who have sought to rent properties under interim forfeiture are the National Council for Arts and Culture and the National Human Rights Commission.

Other beneficiaries are the Nigerian Army, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Magu is said to be not disposed to challenging the Federal Government in court under any guise.

His counsel, Mr. Wahab Shittu, made the clarifications in a chat.

He said: “Magu will not take the Federal Government to court because of his faith in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his respect for the person of the President.

“He also believes that notwithstanding the campaign of calumny, justice will prevail.

“Magu is convinced that there are sufficient documentary materials in the custody of various government agencies that will exonerate him.”

The Ayo Salami panel is expected to continue its investigation on Sunday.

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Gunmen Kill Five Police Officers, Two Civilians In Rivers

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Gunmen have killed at least five policemen and two civilians in Rivers State.

The attack which occurred on Friday night was launched at a police station in Rumuji community, Emohua LGA, and a police checkpoint, known as C4i at the entrance of Emohua from Port Harcourt.

Emohua is a Local Government Area along the East-West road, connecting Rivers and Bayelsa state.

During the attack security vehicles were also burnt.

In another attack, a police station in Elimgbu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was attacked and three police officers were said to be beheaded.

One of the officers who was beheaded had his head taken away by the gunmen.

Although the Police are yet to confirm the attacks, a youth leader in the Local Government Area, residents of the communities confirmed the incidents to Channels Television.

This attack comes less than one month after gunmen killed three customs officers, five soldiers, and some police officers at different security formations in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas.

The attacks in April prompted Governor Nyesom wike to impose a nighttime curfew at various entry and exit points of Rivers State between 8 pm and 6 am, and restriction of movement within the state from 10 pm to 6 am.

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We Didn’t Bathe for 56 Days in Kidnappers’ Den –Freed Afaka Students

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It was jubilation galore as 27 kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna were reunited with their families after 56 days in captivity.

Tears of joy flowed freely from both parents and their children. At about 3pm, the entire premises of the college, located along the Kaduna International Airport, opposite the Nigerian Defence Academy, erupted in jubilation as the students were being escorted by heavily-armed policemen in company with the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, and the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri.

Narrating their ordeal in the kidnappers’ den, one of the freed students, Zakariya Magaji, described the kidnappers’ den as hell, saying he would never wish the experience for his enemies.

“The bandits need prayers. All that we have to do is to pray for them for God to touch their hearts. As for me, I have forgiven them for whatever we went through in their hands. The experience was hell.”

A female student, Sarah Sunday, said she and her colleagues were subjected to all sorts of dehumanising conditions, including not being allowed to take a bath while in the bandits’ den.

Sunday said, “A lot of things happened while we were there. We were subjected to hunger. We were subjected to trekking and all sorts of dehumanising experiences. We were insulted but thankfully, they did not molest or kill any of us. They only beat us on the first day when they did a video of us.”

Asked if they were fed at all, Sunday said, “The boys used to go and fetch water for us to cook. We cooked tuwo with miyan kuka, and tuwo with dry okra. We only cooked rice once, and we cooked spaghetti once too.”

When asked whether the abductors used to leave them to go out for other operations, Sarah said, “Yes, they used to go out, but they always left some of their armed members to stay with us.

“Even our male colleagues who used to go and fetch water were always escorted to the stream by gang members bearing AK-47 rifles.

“Our living condition in the jungle was very bad. We never had a bath. We were exposed to the rain. Athough there was a hut that we always ran to hide whenever it was raining, still there was no escaping the rain because the hut was poorly built. But we have forgiven our kidnappers. And we pray that God will give them the chance to change for the better.”

‘Bandits said our abduction was to get govt’s attention

Also speaking, a freed student, Pamela Ibrahim, said the bandits said their grouse was with the government and vowed to unleash hell on Kaduna State.

Ibrahim said, “Before they released us, the kidnappers told us that they didn’t have anything against us (students). They said they kidnapped us because they needed the government to settle things with them and that they also wanted to be educated like other Nigerians. They need work and houses too.

“They said if the government doesn’t settle with them, they would continue to make sure that Kaduna State is unsafe. They said they meant it. Some of them are Nigerians, others are foreigners. They spoke mainly Fulani (language) and Hausa.

“There was an old man among them who prevented others from harassing us and anytime he was not around, we were beaten and insulted.”

In a jubilant mood, one of the parents, Ibrahim Hassan, said he was glad that his daughter was freed few days to her elder sister’s wedding.

Hassan said, “I was confused; my life was miserable throughout the time my daughter was with the kidnappers. I only depended on God.

“When I heard that some of the students of Greenfield University were killed, I became sad thinking that I would never see my daughter again but when I learnt they had been released, my joy knew no bounds, especially as her elder sister’s wedding comes up in Zaria tomorrow (Saturday). It is double joy for me.”

Another parent, Mr Friday Sanni, said before he could allow his two daughters – Victory and Rejoice – to return to the college, he must be assured of adequate security in the school.

Sanni said, “The truth remains that if my children must come back here, I must be sure that there is a serious security structure on the ground, that this kind of incident will not happen again.

“If in few months’ time nothing serious is on the ground, I will move my children out, because they are too dear to me.

“The first one will be 20 years old by September while the second one will be 18 by November. They are too dear to me to lose and I will not want this kind of experience again. I have never experienced this kind of situation before in my life.”

Speaking, the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said the freed students had undergone medical tests and were fit to be reunited with their parents.

“As we speak, the victims are all clinically stable,” he said.

He urged the students not to allow their ordeal to discourage them from pursuing their education.

Speaking on the process leading to their release, Muri said, “The federal and the state governments as well as the acting Inspector-General of Police, the state police command, the military and other sister security agencies adopted the best modus operandi at our disposal and 10 of the students were first released on April 5 and 8 in two batches.

“With this sustained effort, the remaining 27 kidnapped students were subsequently released to the command on May 5, at about 4.10pm without any casualty.”

The police commissioner said concerted efforts were being made to also secure the release of the abducted students of Greenfield University, who had been in captivity since April 20.

The Provost of the college, Dr Muhammad Bello, who received the students, appreciated all those involved in the process to get the students released.

“You should not be discouraged from pursuing your dreams,” Bello told the students.

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Food Security: AFAN Set to Commence Court Action Against Agric Minister

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The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has initiated legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono over his stance to destabilise the body’s internal democracy structure and impede farmers efforts at working harmoniously with the federal government in attaining food security.

In a release signed by the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the umbrella body of farmers in the country, Salisu Mukhtar, the body noted that the undue interference of the minister, rooted in vendetta by insistently recognising an illegal faction, was at cross-purposes with its constitution and counter-intuitive to the rule of law.

“Upon the appointment of Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono as HMA, who was once removed as acting Chairman of AFAN Kano State chapter in 2007 for misappropriating fertilizer, the undue interference in AFAN activities began.”
According to the body, AFAN being an NGO is not a department in FMARD and cannot be controlled or destroyed by any individual no matter how highly placed.

“Actions of the HMA which have become a mockery of the law include recognising an unconstitutional and illegitimate leadership faction of the association by playing host to them in his office on several occasions and accepting invitations by them in the full glare of the public, in spite of knowledge of the pending court case.

“This polarising act by a minister representing a constitutionally recognised administration of President Buhari, is undoubtedly antithetical to the rule of law and democratic norms, which are the bedrock of the administration he is serving under,” Murktar said.

The association is asking that the matter which is in Court 9 of the Federal High Court (FHC) before Justice Taiwo Taiwo should be allowed to be resolved, especially by the Plaintiffs who filed the suit in the first place.
“The minister’s actions are directly inimical to the economic progress of the sector which is also hinged on the leadership stability of the private sector stakeholders which AFAN represents.

“Farmers as an extension of the national polity, who participated in and voted overwhelmingly for this administration, are irked by the actions of the minister, which is inadvertently truncating the association’s efforts at enjoying internal democracy nationwide.

“To act in any way by the minister, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer or the Plaintiffs themselves, before the determination of the suit is lawless and adjudged a contempt of court.

“Justice must be allowed to take its course if AFAN is to continue to exist as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria,” Murktar said.

The body stated that AFAN was registered in 2005 by the CAC with reg: 18160 and three registered Trustees namely Murtala Nyako, Dr Shettima Mustafa and Chief Femi Coker as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria.

Murktar explained that: “President Olusegun Obasanjo advised then that Murtala Nyako should head the management of AFAN as National President and the duo of Chief Femi Coker and Shettima Mustafa to be deputies 1 and 2 respectively pending general election.

“All other officers were appointed as interim management members in the same manner.
“AFAN elections did not hold until after Abdullahi Adamu former governor of Nasarawa State became the President.

“The elections from the Wards of 774 LGAs to the 36 states plus FCT took nearly two years to be concluded.

“The National Election was conducted in 2014 and the elected Executives duly inaugurated.
“From this point on AFAN began to be recognized as the umbrella of all farmer-associations in Nigeria guided by its constitution as an NGO.”

AFAN on the 6th of May, 2021, served the minister a pre-action notice through their attorney A.O Okeya and Associates for legal actions against his person, for unduly interfering and recognising the Mr Faruk Rabiu faction in the capacity of leaders of the association.

The pre-action notice accused Rabiu’s faction of circulating letters to AFAN state chairmen across the 36 states of the country including the Federal Capital Territory, under the directive of the minister asking them to purchase inputs supplied by the ministry through them at exorbitant prices.

According to the association’s attorney: “We were informed that on the 26th of April, 2021, the said Faruk Mudi through his Counsel M.M Bakari Esq, wrote a letter to your office intimating you about an election conducted by them, which you directed the Permanent Secretary of your ministry to advise all agencies to recognise this illegal faction, knowing fully well that there is a pending matter at the Federal High Court 9 Abuja.”

“From the above, we demand that you desist from dealing, transacting, aiding and encouraging Faruk Mudi & Co to stop using your office to perpetrate injustice, as the leadership tussle is before a court of competent jurisdiction.

“Take notice therefore that this is a pre-action notice, as we shall seek redress in the law court and demand for damages against your person for aiding Faruk Mudi & Co to defraud AFAN members. You are warned.”

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