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Okupe received N702m from ONSA for doing nothing –Witness

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday narrated to Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja, how former Senior Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Doyin Okupe, allegedly collected the sum of N702m from the Office of the National Security Adviser for doing nothing.

Okupe was arraigned on a 59-count charge bordering on money laundering and criminal diversion of funds to the tune of N702m.

The first prosecution witness, Osas Azonabor, an operative of the commission, while being led in evidence by the EFCC Counsel, Ibrahim Audu, told the court that sometime in 2016, the agency got an intelligence report that some individuals were paid by the ONSA for doing nothing.

He said when investigations began, it was discovered that the first defendant, Okupe, was one of the beneficiaries.

Azonabor told the court that the EFCC wrote to the ONSA, demanding the vouchers of the payments made to Okupe.

According to him, after analysing the payment vouchers, it was realised that the sum of N50m was paid into Okupe’s account, as stated in a voucher dated April 8, 2014.

He also said another cash payment of N6m was found to have been made to Okupe on April 2, 2014, adding that there were series of payments in multiples of N10m made to the defendant between 2012 and 2014.

The witness further told the court that EFCC’s investigation found that N50m was paid into the Zenith Bank account of Value Trust Investment Ltd, a company in which Okupe is a director.  He added that another N35m was paid into the account of Abraham Telecoms Nig. Ltd. to which Okupe is a signatory.

Azonabor said, “Okupe said he was paid N10m monthly for 24 months by ONSA and the money was reduced to N5m monthly from January 2015 to May 2015.

“He said the money was for special services. When asked to explain what he meant by ‘special services’, he said that part of the money was used to sponsor ‘Insight’, a programme aired on NTA.”

The witness explained that when a letter was written to NTA to confirm the authenticity of the document that emanated from the station, it said the programme was aired free-of-charge.

The EFCC operative further informed the court that Okupe claimed that part of the money collected from ONSA was used to pay workers. “But when asked to show proof of payment, he simply tendered a list of names on a piece of paper.

“There was no payment voucher, receipt or pay slip to show evidence of payment and when we asked him to produce the staff he paid to, he couldn’t produce any”, Azonabor said.

The acting EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade, in a statement, said that the Corporate Affairs Commission documents of the Value Trust Investment Ltd and Abraham Telecoms Nig Ltd, and a letter of response from ONSA to the EFCC Acting Chairman and statements of the defendants were all admitted in evidence.

The Judge adjourned the case to February 28 (today) for cross examination and presentation of other witnesses.

-PUNCH

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THE NATION

2019 Elections: The Army staged a coup against Rivers state – Wike

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has stated that the Nigerian Army staged a coup against Rivers State during the 2019 General Elections, describing their actions as the worst in the nation’s democratic history.

Addressing the Joint House of Representatives Committees on Army, Police, Human Rights and Justice at the Government House Port Harcourt on Monday, Governor Wike said that the Nigerian Army acted illegally because they were working to impose a pre-determined leadership on Rivers State.

He said: “It is really unfortunate. All of us know that there was a coup in this state, organised by the Nigerian Army. In the history of this country, it has never happened where during an ordinary election, the Army will begin to kill people for no just cause.

“Because they believe a particular person or a particular party must win, it doesn’t matter how many people die. It was shown on National Television. We watched how the Army invaded the whole Electoral Commission “.

He regretted that the Federal Government has never worked to assist Rivers State Government fight insecurity.

“This is the only state the Federal Government has never assisted to fight insecurity. Instead of us to team up and fight insecurity, you politicize it.

“Even if you make recommendations, nothing will happen. I don’t know whether we are in a military regime or Civil Administration”, he said.

The Governor noted that aside the Army, the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARs) has been a major anti-democratic force in the state, since the 2016 rerun elections.

He pointed out that the F-SARs murdered a Ph.D. Holder and Chartered Accountant in cold blood simply because they wanted to subvert the will of the people.

Governor Wike wondered why the General Officer Commanding 6 Division of the Nigerian Army is still unpunished, despite the negative roles he played during the elections.

“The GOC here is a politician. Nothing has happened to him because he was sent. If it was when the country was a country, you cannot be keeping that GOC. He is sabotaging the security network “, he said.

He suggested that urgent measures be taken to rejig the security architecture of the country, in view of the nation-wide security challenges.

The Governor said rather than address the security challenges facing the country, security agencies move against critics of security failures.

Earlier, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Army, Rimande Shawule Kwewum said that were in the state to investigate killings by the F-SARs on the basis of a motion by the Member Representing Obio/Akpor Federal Constituency, Mr. Kingsley Chinda on the killing of Dr. Ferry Gberegbe during the elections.

He said that the joint House of Representatives Committees are in the state are on a fact-finding mission.

He said that the Committees will sit down and allow all the stakeholders to state their positions for the committee to arrive at the truth and make relevant recommendations.

The Federal Lawmaker said that there is a correlation between insecurity and under-development. He said that countries that suffer insecurity hardly make progress.

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THE NATION

Dabiri-Erewa lauds Buhari over release of Zainab Aliyu

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The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa has lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for facilitating the release of two Nigerians arrested in Saudi Arabia.

Zainab Aliyu, a student of Maitama Sule University, Kano, who embarked on Lesser Hajj in Dec. 2018, was detained by the Saudi Arabia authorities for allegedly being in possession of banned substances.

Ibrahim Abubakar, another Nigerian, was also detained by Saudi authority for alleged drug-related offence.

However, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mustapha Sulaiman on Tuesday in Abuja announced the release of the two Nigerian detainees by Saudi authority

Dabiri-Erewa, who gave the commendation in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, said Buhari’s timely intervention saved the two Nigerians from being punished for offence they did not commit.

“We thank God and thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his immediate intervention.

“When we brought the matter to him about two weeks ago, he immediately directed the Attorney General of the Federation to ensure Zainab and Ibrahim were released.

“All I can say is, I am happy that this young promising girl did not get punished for an offense she did not commit,” she said.

The presidential aid, however, expressed concern over the authority’s was handling of case of the suspects, who allegedly planted banned substances in Zainab’s bag at the airport.

“My worry is that those who set her up are now on bail. NDLEA must ensure prosecution of those culpable.

“Egypt Air and Ethiopian Air must ensure compulsory baggage identification of passengers.

“All the cases we have had so far have involved only those two airlines. Security surveillance at our airports must also be strengthened,” she said

The permanent secretary had said that the release was as a result of intense diplomatic engagements between the Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

He said that the ministry made great effort to establish their innocence.

Suleiman noted that the government had raised several note verbal with the Saudi Embassy in Abuja and their Consulate in Kano over the matter.

He said that the news of her release was heartwarming to the government and Zainab’s family. (NAN)

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THE NATION

Dangote donates 2,160-bed hostel to ABU

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AFRICA’S foremost businessman and Aliko Dangote Foundation Chairman Alhaji Aliko Dangote donated at the weekend a 2,160-bed space hostel complex to the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State.

The hostel, comprising 10 blocks of 360 rooms, built at  N1.2 billion, is coming after similar gestures to Bayero University, Kano and University of Ibadan, Ibadan, where the business mogul donated multi-billion naira business school complexes, respectively as part of his contribution to the education development in the country.

The inauguration of the hall of residence coincided with ABU’s 41st convocation during which the varsity conferred on Dangote and the renowned Labour leader Hassan Sumonu, honourary Doctorate degrees.

Also 15,787 graduating students were also awarded various degrees.

The President of Dangote Group explained that he was moved to build the structure having realised that the students’ population at the universities have recorded significant increase without a corresponding growth in terms of infrastructure.

He lamented that the situation has remained a subsisting and growing major challenge as public varsities grapple with under-funding.

Dangote said: “Thus, I will like to use this opportunity to enjoin the Federal Government to consider allocating special funds to the universities to enable them to improve on research and upgrade their infrastructure. Such special intervention has become imperative given the perennial funding challenges facing our universities.”

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