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EFCC sets up special team to grill Fayose over corruption charges

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has set up a special team to interrogate Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State next week. Fayose, who has been governor since October 16, 2014, will lose his immunity at exactly 11.59pm on October 15, 2018, thereby giving the EFCC the constitutional right to arrest, detain and prosecute him.

The governor is expected to report at the EFCC head office in Abuja to meet with the commission’s Director of Operations, Umar Mohammed, after which he will be grilled by a team of operatives.

Fayose is under investigation for allegedly receiving over N1.2bn from a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), through a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro.

The money was allegedly handed over to Fayose during the build-up to the 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State.
His aide, Abiodun Agbele, and others had been arraigned by the EFCC but Fayose was excluded because of his immunity.

“We are expecting Fayose to show up at our office next week. He has nowhere to run to since he is under security watch and cannot leave the country through any land border, seaport or airport. We have also set up a special team of investigators that will interrogate him immediately after the expiration of his tenure,” said an EFCC source.

The governor is expected to be arraigned after investigations, which is apart from the alleged N1.2bn fraud and also include alleged contract fraud.

A spokesman for Fayose, Idowu Adelusi, said his principal was ready for the EFCC, noting that the governor had written a letter to the EFCC indicating his readiness to appear before the commission next week.

“Governor Fayose is an honourable man. He will not run away. He has already stated that he will make himself available next Monday once his tenure expires. He made this clear in a letter recently. Even when he was not under immunity, the governor honoured the EFCC invitations.

“The EFCC is not a court of law and cannot declare a person guilty. The governor will be available next week, no doubt.”

Meanwhile, Fayose has filed a N20bn suit against the EFCC for placing him on watch list and directing security agencies to arrest him, if he attempts to travel out of the country.

He said the directive against him despite being a sitting governor breached his constitutional immunity and exposed him to public opium and ridicule.

Fayose had in a September 3, 2018 letter by his counsel, Obafemi Adewale, given the EFCC 72 hours to withdraw the request/directive to security agencies and publish a written apology in three national newspapers and the social media.

A statement issued on Tuesday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, said the suit was consequent upon the EFCC’s failure to accede to his demands as contained in the letter.

Recall that EFCC had tweeted on July 16, 2018 through its official twitter handle @officialEFCC concerning Governor Fayose that, “The parri (party) is over, the cloak of immunity is torn apart and the staff broken, Ekiti Integrated Poultry/Biological Concepts Limited N1.3bn fraud case file dusted off the shelves. See you soon.”

In the suit, Fayose demanded among other things; an order of the court mandating the EFCC to pay the sum of N20bn as general damages to what he called “flagrant, deliberate, pre-meditated and reckless libel and unprovoked attack on his character and reputation and the breach of his constitutional right/immunity as an incumbent governor.”

He asked the EFCC to tender a written apology, which should be circulated to all security agencies in Nigeria and that same should be published in at least three widely read national newspapers and the social media.

The governor also sought a declaration that the statements contained in the EFCC’s letter of September 12, 2018, and addressed to all security agencies n Nigeria portrayed him as a criminal, a fugitive and a run-away from the law, and that the statements were not true, were malicious, and not fair.

He asked the court to further declare “that the EFCC’s letter placing him on watch list and directing his arrest on sight even while a sitting governor is unconstitutional as same offends the clear provision of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which clothes him with immunity against arrest and prosecution as an incumbent governor.”

“That the tweet by the defendant (the EFCC) through its official twitter handle, which was widely circulated through social media and published in Punch Newspaper (online) of 16th July, 2018, with the particular wordings pleaded in the statement of claim filed along with this Writ is not true, is malicious, is not a fair statement and presents the plaintiff as a fraudster thereby ridiculing him and reducing him in the eyes of reasonable and right-thinking members of the society.”

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N7bn: Unity Bank refutes SPIPRPP’s allegation, says claim is frivolous, unfounded

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Unity Bank Plc has faulted allegation against it by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) that it has refused to return about N7 billion it allegedly owes the Federal Government.

The presidential panel had said in a statement on Monday that the N7bn represents the sum of $15,561,769.99 and N1,488,455,810.90), being excess and arbitrary charges on accounts of some agencies of government by the bank before the institution of Treasury Single Account. The panel further alleged that Unity Bank had agreed on the amount earlier in February, this year, but “has neither proffered a payment plan nor demonstrated good faith by actually initiating payments”.

But in a statement by Unity Bank signed by its Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Matthew Obiazikwor on Monday, the lender denied the allegation stressing that the report of the panel is geared towards misinforming the public and misrepresenting the Bank’s position and nil impact resolutions reached during the reconciliation engagements.

 

Read the full statement below:

Unity Bank has faulted the allegation against it by Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) over the ongoing reconciliation of the affected MDA accounts, stating that the report is geared towards misinforming the public and misrepresenting the Bank’s  position and nil impact resolutions reached during the reconciliation engagements.

In the ongoing investigation, Unity Bank has conducted itself professionally  by providing all evidence of customers’ instructions requested by the panel as it relates to all the MDAs.

Unity Bank had earlier transferred all the balances belonging MDAs to their respective TSA accounts in Central Bank of Nigeria as far back in 2016.

Upon approaching the Bank in 2018 to conduct investigations on the subject of MDAs, Unity Bank, as a responsible corporate citizen, cooperated with the panel accordingly. But out of its own volition, the panel refused to admit further documentary evidence from the Bank when it was obvious that the Bank has no balances kept in its books for the MDAs.

Instead, the panel suspended the investigation as apparently it could not fault any of the evidence presented by the Bank.

The Panel in an earlier letter requested the Bank to accept culpability and pay off a certain sum deemed outstanding which the Bank objected and insisted on completing the reconciliation exercise because the claims presented at this point against the Bank were unfounded and frivolous

It is therefore surprising for the SPIPRPP to turn back and issue a statement alleging sabotage when it abandoned its sitting and investigation midway.

Furthermore, it must be emphasized that, without prejudice to the constitutional power of Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) as the sole agency of government to investigate,  review, reconcile and collect revenue for government,  the bank co-operated fully with SPIPRPP and its consultants in the investigation process and it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Unity Bank has all records to show that it does its banking transactions transparently and in compliance with extant banking regulations and at no time took charges on the MDAs that were outside what is contained in the Bankers Tariffs, which guide banking operations in Nigeria.

The bank therefore maintains that the allegations of SPIPRPP, are superfluous, frivolous ill-motivated and unfounded as falsely presented in a press statement purportedly sent to the public.

We hereby call on our customers and the general public to disregard the allegations which is subterfuge aimed to unnecessarily smear the image of the Bank.

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NGE rejects NASS’ accreditation guidelines for journalists

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The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has rejected new guidelines for the accreditation of media organisations, journalists/correspondents covering the National Assembly, describing it as primitive, undemocratic and blatantly anti-press and anti-people.

The guidelines issued by authorities of the National Assembly (NASS) is due to become effective from June 11 2019.

It demands, among other draconian provisions, that a media organisation wishing to be accredited for coverage of NASS activities should submit a copy of its income tax return for the last two years.

Other requirements include “presentation of evidence of certificate of incorporation of the media organisation, evidence of membership of professional bodies for the journalists, maintenance of a functional Bureau in Abuja (staff strength not less than 5 Editorial staff) and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure.”

Finding the guidelines  vexatious, disrespectful and Draconian, and a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy, the Guild said it cannot stand.

“These guidelines run contrary to the grains of reason, democratic ideals and they are a clear affront on the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution which empowers journalists to freely practice their profession without any gag, muzzling and restriction.

“The NASS guidelines negate the constitutional principle of freedom of expression and run contrary to the African Charter on fundamental rights and the right of the people to know. The Guild strongly objects to these guidelines in their entirety as they serve no public good except the myopic interest of its chroniclers and purveyors.

“The Guild is disappointed that the same 8th National Assembly which benefited immensely from free press in its moments of trial has turned round to put the same press in shackles and chains. We reject this crude abrasion of our constitutional rights to freely disseminate information. It cannot stand,” the Guild said.

The Guild strongly urged all media houses across the nation to rise up and reject the medieval intrusion into the media space in the 21st century, much more in a democracy which Nigerian media doggedly fought for and for which some journalists paid the supreme price.

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NEWS

FG declares May 29, June 12 public holidays

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Nigerian Government has declared May 29 and June 12 as public holidays to mark the transition to a new government and Democracy Day respectively.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohamed, disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.

Mohammed said that most of the activities formerly performed on May 29 as Democracy Day have been moved to June 12 and that the events slated for May 29, would be low key.

He said world leaders will only attend the June 12 events.

Until June 6, 2018, the Democracy Day was held annually on May 29, the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999, marking the beginning of the longest continuous civilian rule since Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule in 1960.

It is a tradition that has been held annually, beginning in the year 2000.

On June 6, 2018, eight days after May 29, 2018, had been celebrated as Democracy Day, the President Buhari-led government of Nigeria declared June 12 to be the new Democracy Day.

Prior to the government’s declaration, Nigeria Senate last week passed the Public Holiday Act Amendment Bill to recognise June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day.

The bill was passed almost one year after Buhari announced that June 12 would replace May 29 for Nigerians to commemorate the return of democratic.

Although a few lawmakers protested the change in date of Democracy Day, it was, however, approved after a majority of the lawmakers supported passage of the bill.

The passage of the bill means the amendment to the Public Holiday Act has been effected in concurrence with the House of Representatives.

With the assent granted to the bill by President Buhari, Nigeria will observe May 29 and June 12 as public holidays annually.

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