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N19.8bn cheques issued in Bauchi hours to handover, says EFCC

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, seeks to freeze the First City Monument Bank, FCMB’s Operational Account of the Bauchi State government to allow for an investigation of a money laundering case in which the account featured prominently.

The EFCC, through its Counsel, Abubakar Aliyu, in an Exparte Order with file number: FHC/ABJ/CS/858/2019, sought the order of the court to freeze the account pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation by the commission.

According to him, many non-existent companies were used to transfer funds from the account.

These transfers were believed to have been done by the immediate-past governor of the state, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar.

The EFCC’s counsel said: “My Lord, about N19.8 billion cheques were raised on the eve of transferring power to the new government for purportedly non-existent contracts and other grants,” he said.

He told Justice Taiwo that the amount was beyond the N11 billion in the account.

According to him, the Accountant General is still a signatory to the account and they are still trying to access the money.

When the judge asked if freezing the FCMB account would not affect the operation of the state government, Mr Aliyu said the action would not affect the government’s operation because the account was not the one linked to Federal Account Allocation Committee, FAAC.

”They have other accounts and we have tagged this as exhibit 22 and 23,” he said.

Responding to the judge’s question on how long the investigation would take, the counsel said: ”My Lord, investigation is like a pregnant activity. If My Lord will give us 21 days, we will be grateful.”

”I have patiently listened to the counsel’s prayer. I therefore grant the order sought by the applicant as prayed.

”Meanwhile, the parties concern must be put on notice within 21 days of the order of this court,” Justice Taiwo held.

In the suit filed, the EFCC had claimed that the immediate-past government in the state was involved in money laundering for which it deployed the account.

The EFCC stated that it needed to have the account frozen to preserve the funds being held in it.

An official of the EFCC, Yakubu Sani, stated in a supporting affidavit that “it is a fact that between the 24th and 28th day of May 2019, the applicant received intelligence that the then outgoing government in Bauchi State initiated a process at overdrawing to launder the sum of N19,897,809,334.08 property at Bauchi State Government.

”The bank account subject matter of the intelligence is the Bauchi State Government Operational Account number: 0998552074 domiciled at First City Monument Bank.

”The actual amount in the said bank account is N11,500,000 000 00 which was paid to the Bauchi State Government by the Federal Government of Nigeria via the Central Bank.

”The process of laundering employed by the suspects includes the issuance of mandates and cheques rose to the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) for the payments at non-executed contracts and fictitious claims to individuals and contractors.

“The Bauchi State Accountant General is one at the signatory that clears the said cheques and mandate for said suspicious payments and still remains a signatory to the said account under investigation.

”Based on the intelligence received, attempts were being made to activate the withdrawal of such funds while still under investigation by the current Government of Bauchi State.

“The investigation has since commenced and the applicant deems it necessary to cause the said bank account and funds to be frozen pending the determination of the investigation therein.

”Freezing the said bank account and funds will greatly assist the applicant to get to the root of the matter and conclude its investigation timeously.

”Deflating the said funds by way at withdrawal will greatly obstruct the applicant from getting to the root of the matter and conclusion of the investigation timeously.

”The applicant needs to obtain the order of this court to cause the freezing of the said bank account and the funds therein.

“This honourable court has the jurisdiction to grant this order and it is in the best interest at justice to grant this application.”

NAN

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Why Sowore was re-arrested – DSS

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has explained why it re-arrested Omoyele Sowore, convener of the #RevolutionNow movement.

The secret police in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Peter Afunanya and made available to The Witness on Saturday said Sowore was re-arrested because he “resorted to acts inimical to security”.

The statement further disclosed that its officers did not arrest the activist in court, claiming that the journalist’s supporters were only acting an “orchestrated drama”. The security agency said there were none of its officers involved in the incidents recorded in the courtroom.

 

Read the full statement below:

It has become important that the Department of State Services responds to the serial misinformation being circulated in the media about its involvement in the incident that occurred on 6th December, 2019 at the Federal High Court, Abuja. It is instructive to note that during the court proceeding of the day under reference, Defence Counsel, Femi FALANA (SAN), called the attention of the Judge to a suspicion that the Service was planning to re-arrest Omoyele SOWORE immediately after the court session. The Court discountenanced his alarm and asserted that the Service was law abiding and would not engage in such and subsequently adjourned to February, 2020.

However, when SOWORE stepped out of the court and sighted operatives of the Service within the premises, he ran back into the courtroom. In a bid to shield him from an imaginary arrest, his uncontrollable supporters mobbed him while chanting “you can’t arrest him” thus the pandemonium that ensued.

A critical look at the videos in circulation would convince any objective viewer that there was no DSS personnel during the entire period the Sowore crowd acted out its orchestrated drama. Its personnel were never, at any time, involved in the incident. In actual fact, it was his people who seized him. And from the latest developments, it has become obvious what the intent for such mischief was meant for – simply to serve a propagandist purpose as well as bring the Service to disrepute.

Eye witness and several media accounts have disclosed that the Court had adjourned peacefully without an untoward incident when suddenly the unruly crowd imported into the Courtroom went into frenzy on the mere suspicion that DSS was sighted at the court premises. The eventual re-arrest of Sowore by the DSS was effected outside the courtroom. His lead counsel has affirmed this.

The DSS, as a professional, responsible and law abiding Organization, could not have invaded a courtroom including the one presided over by a respected Judge who is not only handling its case but whose Order was unconditionally obeyed within a 24 hour ultimatum. The Service holds the judiciary in utmost respect and will continue to work with it for national peace and public safety in Nigeria.

It has therefore become unarguable and raises a moral question as to who, between Sowore and the Service, dislikes or disobeys the Courts. In this regard, public attention may be drawn to the 25th July 2019 statement of SOWORE that “I’m not talking of protest. I’m embarking on revolution… Don’t tell me about legal implications or what a Judge will say. I don’t care …” On 5th December when SOWORE was released, he had, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja addressed a group of persons who, he reassured of his cause to create anarchy in the country.

It may be recalled that the Service had on 3rd December, 2019 raised alarm about a plot to destabilize the country. It is quite remarkable that the plot has already started playing out. To ensure this objective is further achieved, some persons and groups are scurrying to seize the opportunity of the misleading court incident and the wrong narrative against the DSS to organize an insurrection in the country. They have continued to falsely curry and mobilize international sentiments and attention, through clear misrepresentation of the facts, for their selfish ends.

For emphasis, it should be noted that SOWORE is facing trial not as an activist, journalist or a politician, but for his resort to call for violence, forceful takeover of government and suspected transnational illegal activities. It is most unfortunate that SOWORE, shortly after being released from custody, based on court order, resorted to acts inimical to security. To this effect, only SOWORE has been re-arrested as his co-defendant, Olawale BAKARE, was not picked up even when FALANA had promised to deliver him to the Service that is not presently interested in him.

Though sections of the populace have been fed with spurious narratives about these developments, Nigerians and the International Community should not be gullible or even vulnerable to the machinations of groups desirous of misleading them.

The Service is committed to the discharge of its mandate of detecting and preventing threats against the internal security of Nigeria. It supports democracy in the country and will do all that is legal to protect it. It will also ensure that efforts of anti-democratic forces are frustrated.

 

Peter Afunanya, Ph.D
Public Relations Officer,
Department of State Services,
National Headquarters,
Abuja
7th December, 2019

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NITDA: Promoting agriculture in Nigeria through Smart Agric platform

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By Lukman Lamid

 

Today marks the beginning of a transformation in the agriculture sector to enable the sector to contribute effectively to the digital economy of Nigeria and create jobs for the teeming youths.
What we did is to rethink agriculture differently, by creating a digital platform that will connect the Agric ecosystem and enable the possibility of new business models by the private sector which will, in turn, generate new products and services and create value across the Agric value chain.

This is to support the Honourable Minister’s digital economy focus especially in a critical sector of the economy as Agriculture in order to bring into reality the economic diversification of the Mr. President and ensure attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 which is to end hunger and achieve food security by 2030.

NITDA Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) is a project conceived to create about 6 Million jobs in the next 5 to 10 years through our technology Platform.

The platform is to connect all the Agric ecosystem members comprised of farmers, government agencies, Agric. Experts, the banks and micro-lenders, extension services, hardware solution providers, software developers, customers, marketplace, among others across the Agric value chain.

The idea is to support 25 graduates in each of the 774 LGAs on modern Agric methods, give them the resources and the right technology to enable them to manage their farms from planting to harvesting and marketing.

This pilot phase is a proof of concept which had witnessed selection, training and support of 15 graduates in Gombe State on modern farming methods in collaboration with National Agriculture Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS).

We have developed a digital platform in which its mobile app components will be launched today by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami and my DG, Mr Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi. The Platform will continue to serve NITDA supported farmers, any other farmers and all the ecosystem members when it is fully ready.

Ability to get information to monitor farms in real-time and connect with resources to manage farm effectively will improve crop yield, quality of farm produce per block of land and profit for these farmers.

In the future, we would deploy and integrate smart technologies such as IoT on the platform to improve the accuracy and the processes of getting information in real-time, integrate with GIS technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Big data analytics among other emerging technologies to add more value to the platform.

I will like to note that this innovation is a product of research paper “Towards Diversification of Nigeria Economy through Smart Agriculture” published by the Hon. Minister in June 2017 in International Journal of Computer Science and Information Technology Research.

This gentleman is an uncommon leader, a mentor, innovator, agent of change and name it- you have to give it to him. We are proud of you Honorable Minister sir.

I want to appreciate my DG, a silent achiever who has demonstrated professionalism and has been consistent with Pantami’s ideal. If not for his support, this would have not been possible. Thank you, sir.

In view of this, I will have the honour to present the 15 farmers to the Hon. Minister and the DG for the presentation of the support fund and tablet.

Thank you and God bless.

 

– Lamid, a desk officer speaking at the recently concluded eNigeria conference (Dinner and Awards Night)

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THE NEWS

Breaking: Popular Evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke is dead

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Reinhard Bonke

German Pentecostal Evangelist, Reinhard Bonnke is dead.

He died on Saturday at the age of 79. He was born on April 19, 1940.

His wife, Anni Bonnke, announced the passing away on his Official Facebook Page a few minutes ago.

She said; “Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, It is with sorrow that the Bonnke Family would like to announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and grandfather, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke.

“He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on December 7, 2019. For the past 60 years he has preached the glorious Gospel of Jesus throughout the entire world. We want to thank you on behalf of him and our family, for your kind love and unwavering support, which enabled him to preach the matchless message of salvation to countless people.

“He preached Jesus…

“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints!
Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy.
For all nations shall come and worship before You,
For Your judgments have been manifested.”
Revelation 15:3-4

“We kindly ask, in lieu of flowers, to please make a donation to Christ for all Nations – Africa Crusade.”

The German Pentecostal evangelist was principally known for his gospel missions throughout Africa.
Bonnke has been an evangelist and missionary in Africa since 1967.

On November 12, 2.19, Bonnke wrote on his Facebook Page what he termed “A personal matter” to announce that he had a successful right femur bone surgery.

He wrote; “My dearest prayer partners,

“It is my desire to share with you my present situation. I definitely need your prayers, as Paul the Apostle needed it from the early churches for his personal needs.

“Right now, I am in hospital and have undergone a right femur bone surgery. All has gone well so far, but now I have to add a few weeks of learning to walk again. My spirit is rejoicing, especially when I think of you. I have been able to pray for you and your very many needs and am asking you to pray for me now. I will read every reply and thank you in anticipation and in the Name of Jesus.

“Pressing towards the mark with jubilation.”

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