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Diezani paid $865,300 cash for jewellery, EFCC tells court

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A Federal High Court in Lagos Monday heard that a former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke allegedly paid $865,300 in cash for jewellery from a seller on Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) told Justice Nicholas Oweibo that Mrs. Alison-Madueke did not acquire the items with her salary or any part of her legitimate income.

The anti-graft agency made the claims while seeking the permanent forfeiture of 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at $40m, recovered from her Abuja home.

But Diezani opposed the commission’s prayer on the ground, among others, that the seizure of the items amounted to a violation of her constitutional right to own property.

The court, on July 5, ordered the temporary forfeiture of 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised golden iPhone recovered from Alison-Madueke’s home.

According to the EFCC, which obtained the order, the items were suspected to be bought with illicitly acquired funds.

Justice Oweibo fixed yesterday to hear pending motions.

When the matter was called, prosecuting Counsel Rotimi Oyedepo told the judge that it was in the best interest of justice for the jewellery and the gold iPhone to be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

He said the court was empowered to make such forfeiture order under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offence Act 2006, because “the respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

He supported his application with, among others, an affidavit deposed to by an EFCC investigator, Rufai Zaki.

Zaki recalled that Alison-Madueke was appointed Minister of Petroleum Resources on April 12, 2010.

He said EFCC findings showed that she started acquiring the jewellery in 2012 from one Bukola Oyewumi of Trinket Box Bespoke Jewellery at Ikeja City Mall, Alausa, Lagos.

The investigator said the commission was in possession of details of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) account through which Alison-Madueke received her salary as a minister.

“The respondent did not utilise her salary or any part of her legitimate income to acquire the assets sought to be forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria,” Zaki said.

He averred that a “damning intelligence report” received by the EFCC led to a search of Alison-Madueke’s house at No. 10 Fredrick Chiluba Close, Asokoro, Abuja.

Zaki’s said the EFCC invited Oyewumi and she made a statement, saying she started selling jewellery to Diezani in 2012.

According to Zaki, Oyewumi also made available to the EFCC the invoices issued in respect of the jewellery in which ‘Aunty D’ was written as the buyer.

He said the EFCC also discovered that apart from Oyewumi, Alison-Madueke also bought jewellery from one Minal Ratanani of Bella Vista Apartment, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos.

According to him, Ratanani admitted during questioning by the EFCC that Alison-Madueke bought jewellery worth $865,300.00 from her over a period and the former minister paid cash.

But Alison-Madueke, through her counsel, Nnamdi Awa-Kalu, challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear the suit.

She insisted that the seizure of the items amounted to a violation of her right to property under sections 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution and “to appropriate them at her discretion”.

She further contended that the EFCC should not have the power to barge into any Nigerian’s home, seize their property and come to court to claim that the property is illegal.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke, who is said to be under investigation in the United Kingdom (UK), urged the court to reject EFCC’s prayer to permanently forfeit the jewellery and the golden iPhone to the Federal Government.

The former minister contended that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant the interim forfeiture order, besides the EFCC did not charge her with any crime or serve her with any summons.

Following the conclusion of hearing, Justice Oweibo adjourned till September 10, 2019 for ruling.

According to a schedule attached to the application, the jewellery, categorised into 33 sets, include “419 expensive bangles and 315 expensive rings”.

Others are: 304 expensive earrings, 267 expensive necklaces, 189 expensive wristwatches and 174 expensive necklaces and earrings.

The rest are: 78 expensive bracelets, 77 expensive brooches and 74 expensive pendants.

SOURCE: THE NATION

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THE NATION

Breaking: Protesters clash at APC secretariat in Abuja over ‘Oshiomhole’

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Breaking: Protesters clash at APC secretariat in Abuja over 'Oshiomhole'

Protesters are attacking each other at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party, in Abuja, the nation’s capital, over a yet-to-be ascertained issue.

The Witness understands that the protesters, who had also gathered to protest against Adams Oshiomhole, the APC National Chairman, on Thursday, turned on one another as they matched towards the APC secretariat.

Meanwhile, the timely intervention of officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) on Thursday, however, prevented what would have been a bloody clash between pro and anti-Oshiomhole protest groups at the national Secretariat of the ruling party.

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Reps investigate NIMASA, NDIC over unaudited accounts

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The House of Representatives has placed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, on full status enquiry.

This followed the non-submission of its audited accounts for years 2015 to 2018 to the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF).

The House Committee on Public Account took the action yesterday.

Also, the committee did not only place the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) on full status enquiry, but also summoned the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, over the unaudited accounts of the corporation.

This was part of the resolution of the House Committee headed by Oluwole Oke at the continued hearing of the “Deliberate and Reckless Refusal By Non-Treasury and Partially-Funded Agencies to render their audited accounts from 2014 to 2018”.

Julius Dung, who represented the Auditor General of the Federation at the session, confirmed the non-receipt of the accounts from both organisations.

Last week, the committee summoned the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki, with the permanent secretary in the ministry, over continued shunning of the invitation of NIMASA Director-General Dakuku Peterside.

Others were also invited.

Peterside was still absent at Tuesday’s session.

Read Also: Reps urge Fed Govt to appoint more Supreme Court justices

But Gambo Ahmed, the agency’s Executive Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, told the committee that Peterside was outside the country on an international assignment.

The committee rejected the excuse for his absence.

The committee rejected Saraki’s explanation for the non-submission of the audited accounts of the agency.

It expressed surprised when NIMASA claimed not to have a management account; hence, could not generate audited accounts for a number of years.

“We cannot submit an audited account from when we started. We must get the closing balance as at the last time we submitted the audit,” the Executive Director, Finance and Accounts, Bashir Jamiu, told the committee yesterday.

“Are you saying you don’t have a management account?” Oke queried.

“We don’t have,” he said.

The committee chairman asked if he was saying the agency did not have the balances to carry on with subsequent years.

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THE NATION

Presidency recalls sacked aides of VP Osinbajo

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Breaking: Presidency recalls sacked aides of VP Osinbajo

The Presidency has recalled some aides of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who were unceremoniously relieved of their duties late last year.

According to a report by Daily Independent revealed that instead of returning to their previous posts in the Pres­idential Villa, the aides have been rede­ployed to various ministries where they were assigned new roles by the supervising ministers.

Speaking on Tuesday evening, February 25, one of the af­fected Vice President Osinbajo aides, said some of them were recalled in December 2019 while some also got redeployed in Janu­ary 2020.

“We have all been recalled but not to our former posts. We have all been redeployed to ministries and we will be reporting to the ministers. We are no longer under the Office of the Vice President. It is not what we expect but it is better than what happened before when our ap­pointments were terminated abruptly.

“Some of us were recalled late last year while some of us got our letters in January this year. I have since returned to Abuja and resumed in my ministry.”

Another of the affected aides, who also spoke on the matter, said it took a serious intervention from prominent Nigerians before they were recalled.

“It was just divine because we have all lost hope. The me­dia also did not help matters as they were reporting that there is a rift between the vice president and the presi­dent and he may resign or be impeached.

“But we thank God for his grace and the intervention of eminent Nigerians including our then-boss, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who really fought for us to be recalled. I have also resumed in a min­istry”, she said.

Sacked Osinbajo Aides

The report said when Daily Independent contacted some ministries, some top officials confirmed that some of the affected aides are in the ministry. A top official in the Minis­try of Information and Cul­ture said, “Yes, some of them are with us here. They re­sumed in January this year”.

Another top official in the Ministry of Transport also confirmed that some of the af­fected aides were redeployed to the ministry.

The names of the affect­ed aides are Ajibola Ajayi, daughter of former governor of Oyo State, Isiaka Abiola Ajimobi. She was appointed Special Assistant (Legal) to the President (VP’s Office) in August 2019. She was a former SA to the President on Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) (VP’s office), from October 2015 to May 2019.

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