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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

Communications minister, Pantami hails ICT’s contribution to GDP

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The Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has hailed ICT’s contribution GDP in the second quarter. In the report released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the contribution of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) surpassed that of Oil and Gas in the second quarter of 2019.

The report, released on Tuesday 2nd September, 2019, observed that the country’s GDP grew by 1.94% (year-on-year) in real terms in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the second quarter of 2018, which recorded a growth of 1.50%. Furthermore, the non-oil sector contributed 91.18% to the nation’s GDP in the second quarter of 2019 as opposed to the 8.82% contributed to total real GP by the oil sector. Particularly, the ICT sector contributed 13.85% to total nominal GDP in the second quarter of 2019 which is much higher than the 11.22% contributed in the same period in 2018.

The Honourable Minister observed that the significant contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP is as a result of the concerted efforts of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, especially the manner in which the implementation of the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is being pursued. These efforts, he said, led to a sustained focus on growing the non-oil sector of the economy, especially ICT and the results witnessed are testimonies of impact of these efforts.

The Honourable Minister reiterated the Communications Ministry’s commitment to the economic diversification efforts of the present administration and called on all stakeholders to support Mr President’s laudable initiatives aimed at taking Nigeria to the next level.

 

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THE NATION

FMBN to provide affordable homes for Nigerian workers

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FMBN CEO, Ahmed Dangiwa

The managing director and chief executive officer of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Arc. Ahmed Musa Dangiwa said the Bank is committed to providing affordable mortgages to drive home ownership among Nigerian workers.

Dangiwa was speaking when the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Sir Joseph N. Ari and his team paid him a courtesy call in the bank’s headquarters in Abuja.

In a statement, Dangiwa said providing affordable mortgages to Nigerian workers is done through the National Housing Fund(NHF) Scheme into which Nigerian workers both in public and private sectors contribute 2.5% of their monthly income.

“Through the scheme, the bank has continued to provide affordable mortgage to Nigerian workers and construction finance for housing development. Our National Housing Fund (NHF) individual mortgage loan, granted at 6%, is the most affordable in the country” Dangiwa said.

In his response, the Director-General of the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) Sir Joseph N Ari, commended FMBN on the giant strides in reforming the bank under the present management.

Ari said the purpose of the visit was to provide a platform that the two organisations will work together for their mutual benefits.

He called on FMBN to arrange for a sensitisation workshop for the staff of ITF.

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THE NATION

NURTW members protest Oluomo’s emergence as caretaker committee chair

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Some members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Lagos State on Wednesday marched on the premises of the Lagos State House of Assembly in Alausa, Ikeja.

They protested the emergence of Musiliu Akinsanya aka MC Oluomo as the chairman of the caretaker committee of the union.

The protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as: ‘We say yes to union constitution, we want the government to save our soul in Lagos’, ‘We say no to Lagos NURTW, we say no to imposition’, ‘We say no to self-imposition as NURTW Lagos State chairman’, ‘We say no to thuggery in Lagos NURTW’, and others.

NURTW National President Alhaji Tajudeen Ibikunle Baruwa appointed MC Oluomo as the caretaker chairman, Lagos State chapter of the union.

It was gathered that Baruwa issued a statement on Tuesday dissolving the executive committee of the state chapter hitherto headed by Comrade Tajudeen Agbede, who is now Baruwa’s deputy, and replaced it with an 18- member caretaker committee led by MC Oluomo.

MC Oluomo, the chairman of Oshodi branch, Lagos chapter of the union, is one of those contesting for the Lagos State NURTW chairmanship.

Speaking during the protest, one of the leaders, the Chairman of Ojuwoye NURTW branch, Ademola Olanrewaju, alleged that MC Oluomo’s emergence would cause chaos.

“A meeting was held yesterday and after the meeting, it was decided that MC Oluomo should emerge as the chairman of the caretaker committee.

“Directly or indirectly, they are trying to impose him on us because there was fracas in Abuja and both parties were supposed to be dealt with, but MC Oluomo’s group was exonerated.

“What we are agitating for is that we don’t want MC’s government in Lagos State.

“Lagos State has given us the little it can in terms of empowerment, by giving us what to eat.”

At press time, no government official had addressed the protesters.

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