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We’ll partner EFCC to transform NNPC – Kyari

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EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, welcoming NNPC GMD, Mallam Mele Kyari, to the 3rd African Anti-Corruption Day organized by the EFCC at the Musa Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja, today.

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, on Thursday committed to a robust relationship between the corporation and the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to assist the anti-graft agency in its quest to rid the country of corrupt practices.

Delivering a goodwill message at the 3rd African Anti-Corruption Day and Round Table Discussion on Asset Recovery and Return, the new NNPC GMD noted that it was in the interest of the National Oil Company to support the EFCC and entrench the blooming culture of accountability and transparency in the NNPC system.

A release by NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu stated that the corporation’s GMD said the drive to achieve this objective was boosted Mr. President who, in his usual manner, had never interfered in the operations of the corporations or compromised any of its processes.

Kyari added that as the focal point in the Federal Government’s open partnership programme, it was imperative for NNPC to embrace openness and accountability in all its activities to allow for full citizenship participation.

He stated that before now, the corporation had taken bold steps to instill sanity in its operations by encouraging automation of its processes thus eliminating the use of discretion which is susceptible to corruption.

The release stated that under the new GMD’s watch as Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division (COMD), NNPC recorded visible transformation in the management, marketing and sales of the various grades of Nigeria’s crude oil through the infusion of transparency and automation of the processes.

As part of the reforms, the COMD as at last check had achieved 98 per cent automation of all transactions involving the supply, marketing and sale of Nigeria’s equity crude oil across the world.

Today, COMD is enabled to achieve an end-to-end monitoring of every barrel of crude oil sold in the country. Thus, at a click of a button COMD can provide information on how much crude oil is sold, at what price, who bought it and where it has gone to.

Commending the NNPC GMD for his anti-corruption stance, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who declared the event open, said it was encouraging to see Kyari and his new Management Team troop-out to identify with the EFFC and its drive to rid the nation of all corrupt practices.

Mustapha who was the special guest of honour at the event, called on Kyari to keep the Federal Government’s anti-corruption drive alive in the NNPC by sustaining the momentum of collaboration with EFCC.

Earlier in his welcome address, Acting Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, commended the NNPC GMD for his interest thus far in the activities of the anti-graft body while pledging to work with the corporation to achieve its mandate of efficient management of Nigeria’s vast hydrocarbon resources.

 

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Danger as another NNPC pipeline may explode in Alagbole, Lagos suburb soon!

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Residents of Alagbole Cele bus stop, a busy Community in Lagos/Ogun State suburb are currently living in probable tension, as pipeline vandals are said to be scooping fuel from the shallow pipe that passed through the community.

Just like it happened few days ago at Abule-egba in Lagos, residents of this community said they have been noticing activities of vandals around the area as the whole environment now smells of petroleum products.

Some even alledged that they have been noticing night movements of suspected vandal’s vehicles at odd hours. They said if care is not taken, the Abule-egba experience may be just a little story compared to the magnitude of destruction this alagbole pipeline might caused.

I paid a visit to the environment yesterday, Saturday January 25, 2020 to witness what the residents described as a very disturbing odour of petroleum products and to my dismay, the community is actually sleeping on a loaded barrel. The entire Ifelodun community (they are the closest) smells as if they were bathing with petrol. The odour was so obvious that people gathered in twos to discuss it.

They were equally discussing the suspicious movement of an unidentified military man who always disappeared into the tick forest moments after being noticed around the area.

Although bushy, the pipeline was cleared recently and a joint military force monitoring the activities of vandals were around to check few days ago, but with this latest development, hardly would you see anyone around that area that can sleep with both eyes closed.

One of the residents of the area who simply identified himself as Mr. Olatunji said, “few days ago, I heard that the community arrested a man who was seen with kegs of fuel and some packaged inside nylon materials but, it seems as if the issue have been buried.”

Mr. Olatunji therefore, called on the Lagos and Ogun State Governors to as a matter of urgency address the situation before it becomes a catastrophe.

Activities of vandals have in the couple of days ago, caused serious havoc in Lagos State, most recently the Abule-egba, Lagos State pipeline explosion.

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EFCC reacts to TI’s low rating of anti-graft war

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The Federal Government on Thursday took exception to Transparency International’s (TI’s) ranking of Nigeria as the 146th of the 180 analysed on the organisation’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

Criticising the low rating by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Federal Government said the exercise was baseless and appalling.

It said the bogus and ambiguous criteria used by TI to arrive at its perception index can best be described as a “jaundiced and illogical rating”.

On the latest CPI, Nigeria dropped two places, scoring 26 out of 100 points. According to the report, the country dropped from the 27 points it has maintained since 2017.

In the 2018 index, Nigeria rose by four places from 148 to 144.

TI’s head in Nigeria, told reporters in Abuja, Auwal Rafsanjani, listed selective adherence to the rule of law and corruption in political parties as some of the reasons for the poor ranking.

The Corruption Index ranked 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption in the opinion of experts and business people, using a scale of 0 to 100, where zero means “highly corrupt” and 100 means very clean.

Rafsanjani said: “Our analysis also suggests that reducing big money in politics and promoting inclusive political decision-making are essential to curb corruption.

“From fraud that occurs at the highest levels of government to petty bribery that blocks access to basic public services like healthcare and education, citizens are fed up with corrupt leaders and institutions.”

The Sub-Saharan Africa region was classified as the lowest-performing region while Western Europe was the highest-scoring region.

Of the 19 countries in the West African region, Nigeria was ranked the fourth most corrupt country.

Transparency international’s chair, Delia Ferreira Rubio urged the government to urgently address what she called “the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on political systems”.

But the EFCC described as regrettable that TI has never acknowledged its efforts and achievements.

The anti-graft agency, however, said it will not be distracted in the pursuit of its mandate of fighting corruption.

In a statement by its Acting Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Tony Orilade, the EFCC said the ranking of Nigeria as 146 did not reflect the nation’s anti-graft success.

The statement reads: “We insist that the rating is a far cry from the evident strides and achievements so far accomplished by the anti-graft agency in the fight against corruption, particularly under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The claim and inference by TI that Nigeria ranks the fourth most corrupt country in West Africa is totally unacceptable, as it is evidently not supported by any empirical data, especially when placed side-by-side with the remarkable achievements of the Commission in the past years.

“Moreover, it is quite ironic that the report by TI posits that the index does not show real incidences of corruption, yet, it claims that the report is a reliable indication of the perception of the Nigerian public and the international community about the state of corruption in the country.

“Suffice to state that in 2019 – the year under review by TI was particularly a remarkable one for the EFCC as the Commission secured unprecedented record of 1,268 convictions, including that of a former state governor and a serving senator who was convicted for defrauding his state to the tune of N7.65 billion.

“It was a landmark in the fight against corruption never achieved across the West African region, indeed, Africa at large. This is among several high profile cases, which were successfully prosecuted during the year with many of them currently serving various jail terms.

“Over the past years, billions of naira, millions of dollars and other foreign currencies were recovered from corrupt persons in the country, including securing the forfeiture of assets of their illegal and fraudulent activities. So far, the EFCC has evidently altered the narrative that there are some persons that are untouchables in the country.

“It is on record that three former state governors are currently serving different jail terms in prison for defrauding their states and stealing from the treasury to enrich themselves and their cronies.

“The EFCC has also spearheaded the Nigerian angle of prosecuting those involved in the Malabu Oil fraud, and in partnership with the INTERPOL, was able to secure the repatriation of a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice implicated in the fraud, who has been on the run. Charges have already been filed against him at a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court and he has just been arraigned today.

“The commission has also not given up on its unrelenting efforts to ensure that a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, is made to answer for the various malfeasance perpetrated under her, in spite of the obvious reluctance of the United Kingdom to repatriate her to Nigeria.

“The onslaught against perpetrators of internet fraud, infamously known as yahoo-yahoo, has also intensified with several of them now serving jail terms.

“It is obvious that TI seems to have decidedly decided to look the other way, overlooking all these achievements all of which are not hidden. It is unfortunate that the body has never acknowledged the achievements of the EFCC. It is obvious that the body has its own hidden agenda.

“The commission will, however not be distracted by a body that has been consistent in its biased rating of Nigeria, and will continue in its mandate of fighting corruption.”

Toeing the EFCC position, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) said the TI report on the state of Nigeria’s anti-corruption war “is opaque and not a reflection of the reality on ground”.

According to the group, the TI rating “is strictly the authors’ definition of perception”.

In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the BMO said it was uncharitable for the anti-corruption body to have concluded that the anti-graft war in Nigeria was not yielding results.

The group said: “Here is a group that went to some length to acknowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari has since 2015 introduced what it described as important reforms that have saved billions of naira. It also argued, in its own words, that the introduction of the Single Treasury Account (TSA) eliminated continuous leakages in most MDAs.

“But, despite these, TI still went ahead to rank Nigeria very low, lower than even Ghana that was recently adjudged as the second most corrupt country in Africa by an international body, based on what it said is the perception of business community and country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector.

“We wonder how the so-called experts concluded that the anti-corruption war is not delivering results when TI’s Nigeria Representative, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, himself admitted in his opening remark that the current administration has since 2015 blocked leakages in MDAs.”

TI, the pro-Buhari noted, said it knew Nigerians would receive its report with skepticism when it brought up issues that have little or nothing to do with the fight against corruption.

It said: “Is it not strange that TI claimed that backlash against media and civil society damaged Nigeria’s anti-corruption effort? We have seen how the anti-corruption agencies have stepped up the war in recent years with more high profile convictions being recorded.

“We know that the Buhari administration still has more to do to eliminate corruption in some sectors of the country, but it’s not enough to be dismissive of this particular government’s efforts.”

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How Babachir Lawal awarded contracts to his companies – Witness

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Aminu Ahmed, a principal procurement officer in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has told the court how the former SGF, Babachir Lawal awarded contracts to Josmon Technologies and Rholavision, which are linked to him.

The two companies, the witness said were among 108 companies in 2016 that bid for projects in the office of the SGF.

The witness, the fourth, gave the testimony today at the resumed trial of Lawal and five others before Justice Jude Okeke of Federal Capital Territory High Court, Maitama.

Lawal and his younger brother, Hamidu David Lawal, Suleiman Abubakar, Apeh John alongside Rholavision Engineering and Josmon Technologies are on trial by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on an amended 10-count charge, bordering on fraud, diversion of funds and criminal conspiracy to the tune of over N500 million (Five Hundred Million Naira).

One of the counts reads: “That you, Engineer Babachir David Lawal while being the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and a director of Rholavision Engineering Ltd on or about the 22nd August, 2016 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory did knowingly hold indirect private interest in the contract awarded to Josmon Technological Ltd but executed by Rholavision Engineering Ltd for the removal of invasive plant species and simplified irrigation to the tune of N258,132,735.99(Two Hundred and Fifty Eight Million, One Hundred and Thirty Two Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty Five Naira only) by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) through the Presidential Initiative for North East (PINE) and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 12 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

Ahmed highlighted the steps taken before the contract was granted, adding that the companies submitted proposal and that a technical evaluation committee was constituted which was made up of six members with the Head of Administration, Dahiru Mohammed, who was a representative from account section and procurement.

“The committee invited the contractors to witness the opening of the bids and thereafter the committee evaluated the bid submitted and we wrote a report which was sent to the secretary of Presidential Initiative for North East PINE, Mr Musa Gulani who then forwarded the report and bid to the tenders board for approval.

“There were requirements for bid application, which they must satisfy and be evaluated which included current tax clearance, certificate of incorporation, PENCOM, ITF and BPP and sent to ministerial tenders board.”

Ahmed further added that the report was sent to Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP, and a reply of no-objection was received and that it was the committee that sent the report to Ministerial Tenders Board before it was sent to SGF for approval.

Prosecution counsel, Offem Uket applied for an adjournment to allow him produce some documents to the court and with the agreement of the defence counsel, the trial was adjourned until March 10, 2020.

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