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N2.8bn Fraud: Court admits more evidence against Ex-NAMA MD, Abdulsalam

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday tendered more evidence against Ibrahim Abdulsalam, a former Managing Director of the National Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, who is being prosecuted before Justice Babs Kuewumi of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos over an alleged N2.8bn fraud.

Abdulsalam is facing trial alongside Nnamdi Udoh (still at large), Adegorite Olumuyiwa, Segun Agbolade, Clara Aliche, Joy Ayodele Adegorite, Randville Investment Limited and Multeng Travels and Tours Limited for conspiring to induce NAMA to deliver the sum of N2.8 billion to Deposit Limited, Air Sea Delivery Limited and Sea Schedule Systems Limited under the pretext that the money represented the cost of clearing NAMA’s consignments.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, Adegorite Olumuyiwa, Agbolade Segun, Clara Aliche, Joy Ayodele Adegorite, Randville Invesment Ltd And Multeng Travels And Tours Ltd, between the 1st day of January and the 30th day of December, 2015 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N336,803,308 property of NAMA, which sum was derived from stealing, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

At the resumed hearing today, a prosecution witness, Nurudeen Bello, told the court that the total sum of N2.8 billion was transferred from the Agency between 2013 and 2015 to different companies’ accounts for the personal use of the defendants.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, Bello, an investigator with the EFCC, told the court that “The money was transferred in tranches to Randville Investment Limited and was further disbursed to several companies’ accounts, including another different account owned by Randville Investment Limited.

“The companies that received part of the money included Multeng Travel and Tours, Multeng Engineering and Multeng Aviation, among others.

“N30 million was transferred to the account of a filling station belonging to the third defendant, Segun Agbolade, while N50 million was transferred to one Alaba Odunlami.”

In his further testimony, Bello also said that over N100m cash, mostly in tranches of N3m, were withdrawn from Randville by Agbolade.

Bello said the balance in the account of Randville before the fraud was perpetrated was N8.7 million, adding that “when the unlawful act was carried out, the credit turnover of Randville Investment Limited was N3.6billion while the debit turnover was also N3.6 billion.”

The prosecution counsel, Oyedepo, through the witness, sought to tender in evidence before the court the statements of the fourth defendant dated February 15, 16, 17, 18, 29 and March 12, 2016.

Oyedepo also sought to tender in evidence the statements of sixth defendant dated February 15, 18 and 22, 2016 as well as the statements of the fifth defendants dated February 24, 25, 29 and March 3, 2016. The statements were admitted in evidence by the court.

However, when the prosecution counsel, Oyedepo, sought to tender the statements of the first, second and third defendants, their counsels objected to the admissibility of the statements by the court.

Counsel to the first defendant, Etti Olawuni, objected to the admissibility of his client’s statements dated February 12 and March 6, 2016 on the grounds that they were not made voluntarily.

He therefore urged the court to conduct a trial within trial to verify the statements of his client.

Counsel to the seventh defendant also opposed to the admissibility of the statements of his client, saying, “the statements were purportedly made.”

He, therefore, also asked the court to conduct a trial within trial to verify the statements.

Also, counsel to the second defendant opposed the admissibility of the statements of his client on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to front- load the statements amongst the “proof of evidence”.

In response to the arguments of the defence counsels, Oyedepo told the court that the statements of the first defendant was taken voluntarily and that there were no confessional statements made by him that could warrant a trial within trial.

Regarding the second defendant’s statements, Oyedepo applied to make copies of the statements available to the defence counsel after the proceedings. His application was granted by the court.

However, Oyedepo admitted that the statements of the seventh defendant were contentious.

“I will not oppose the prayer of the defence counsel to the seventh defendant for trial within trial,” he said.

In his ruling, Justice Kuewumi held that “trial within trial shall be conducted to verify the statements of the seventh defendant”.

The Judge further held that he would need time to peruse the statements of the first defendant before ruling on it.

Consequently, Justice Kuewumi adjourned the case to June 14, 2019 for the commencement of trial within trial and also for ruling.

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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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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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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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