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UK Probes Boko Haram Sponsors

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A British charity organisation is under scrutiny amid claims that some of its funds have ended up in the hands of African terrorists blamed for killing hundreds of people.

Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group which has been terrorising  Nigeria  and is said to have close links to al-Qaida, has targeted churches and Christians as it seeks to spread terror across the country.

The Nigerian media has reported that the country’s State Security Service (SSS), working with local and international agencies, believes money raised by the Al Muntada Trust, a charity group, found its way to Boko Haram.

The Tide gathered that a charity of that name, which has its headquarters in London, raises money for disaster projects in Africa, even as it has attracted controversy in the past for giving a platform to radical clerics.

At a British parliamentary hearing in July, Lord Alton ofLiverpool informed a stunned league of lawmakers that there was evidence Boko Haram carried out 600 murders this year, and called for it to be proscribed in the UK as a terror group.

He told them the rise of the radical body has alarmed Africa experts and prompted concerns of “blowback” for the UK as its supporters return from Nigeria.

Alton raised concerns about Boko Haram’s alleged UK links with the Foreign Office Minister, Lord Howell, in July.

“I can confirm that this has been shared with the Charity Commission and the Metropolitan police,” Howell told Alton in a recent letter.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “The commission is aware there may be some concerns with regards to an organisation entitled Al Muntada Trust Fund and, specifically, allegations that this organisation has provided financial support to the Nigerian group, Boko Haram.

“There are a number of registered charities with a similar name to this organisation, so the commission is not able to confirm at this stage whether or not this relates directly to a UK registered charity,” he said.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said: “We are aware of the information and are in contact with the Charity Commission, which is assessing it. Should any allegations of criminal offences come to light, we would investigate. There is no police investigation at this stage.”

A former associate of the London-based trust said there had been previous claims it had funded extremist groups, but these were 15 years old and had been dismissed.

There is no evidence that t he trust purposely channelled money to terrorists, or that it was aware its money had found its way to Boko Haram.

When asked about the commission’s interest in the trust, its Secretary, Abdul Hakeem Montague, promised to respond. However, he did not reply to further requests for comment.

A report published earlier this year by Valentina Soria, an Africa expert at the military think tank, RUSI, warned that Boko Haram appeared to be emulating the practices of al-Qaida, something that could trigger “an arc of regional instability” across parts of the continent.

“Fighters from African conflicts coming into the UK are only one aspect of such a challenge, and indeed, there are many dimensions to the potential threat,” Soria wrote, adding that “the dynamics of jihadism in Africa may provoke direct terrorist attacks inside the UK, though to date, there is no direct public evidence of this happening.”

In a briefing for peers and MPs, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) claimed that Boko Haram has been active in seven states in northern and central Nigeria, including the capital Abuja.

CSW said: “It is vital that identified sponsors of Boko Haram and other religion-related violence are found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of social standing, as this will assist in ending impunity and stemming terrorism.”

Soria warned: “From West to East Africa, across the Sub-Saharan region, we may well be witnessing a new phase of decisive developments that could trigger further turmoil. The UK cannot expect to remain immune from the “spill-over” effects of events that could reshape part of the African continent.”

The Tide recalls that last month, the Federal Government confirmed that it had started informal talks with Boko Haram in a bid to end the violence, even though the terrorist group later claimed it was not in dialogue with the government.

Boko Haram, a term which means that western teachings are prohibited, is an organisation seeking to impose Islamic Shari’a law in Nigeria, especially in the Muslim-majority north. It is affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

L-R: Minister of Information, Mr Labran Maku, Director-General, Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr Emeka Eze, and Minister of State for Education, Mr Nyeson Wike, at the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, Wednesday.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW

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Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.

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