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FG Recovers N18bn Looted Funds – Minister

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), says the Federal Government has recovered N15billion and $10.5 million so far in its asset recovery drive.
Malami disclosed this yesterday in Abuja when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters visited the ministry on its oversight function to appraise the 2016 budget performance of the ministry.
“Let me put it on record that the Federal Ministry of Justice has equally significantly recorded success in the recovery drive as it relates to the looted funds.
“In that regard and direction, over N15billion has been recovered by the ministry and $10.5million was equally recovered in that direction,’’ Malami said.
The minister said that exclusive of the recoveries, the revenue profile of the ministry as at December 31, 2016, was N12.4million.
He said this was generated from sale of journals, renting of part of the headquarters building to commercial entities, use of its conference hall, tender fees and sale of un-serviceable items.
He added that the total expenditure profile of the ministry within the same period was N3.7billion, including personnel and non-regular allowances.
The chief law officer of the country said that the ministry, by virtue of its mandate, was in a vantage position to articulate and implement the present administration’s broad policy objectives in four major priority areas.
“The anti-corruption campaign, the recovery of stolen national assets, the rule of law component of the anti-terrorism war and the institutionalisation of law and order in all aspects of national life,’’ he said.
On Nigeria’s non-membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Malami explained that it will take the collaboration of both the executive and the legislature to scale all the hurdles.
“Among some of the demands required to become a member are the passing of the Money Laundering Act, Proceeds of Crime Act and Autonomy of the Financial Task Force.
“All these bills are still pending before the legislature and have not been passed, so we need to work together to get Nigeria registered.’’
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. David Umaru (APC-Niger) said the 2016 budget was fraught with challenges but noted that the ministry and its parastatals was able to make judicious use of it.
He said the committee was not oblivious of the recent economic challenges in the country and was already preparing for the 2017 budget defence.
Umaru said the committee would work in consultation with the executive, particularly the justice ministry, to ensure that the budget was passed so as to address the economic situation in the country.
He added that the committee was also working to ensure that all bills necessary to make the work of the ministry and its parastatals easier were been looked into with a view to passing them soon.
A member of the committee, Sen. Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu) decried Nigeria’s non-membership of the FATF.
According to Utazi, as a country that really wants to fight corruption, if we are on the FATF, it will help us to recover some of the stolen assets.
“Nigeria is not a member of FATF, this is a very important membership which we have not yet gotten and this can help us recover stolen assets since it is one of its core mandates.’’
He lamented that office of the attorneys-general always put in applications for membership every year but failed to follow it through.
The lawmaker said that the shuttle diplomacy Nigeria was engaging in would not yield much without a membership of the FATF as no other member would give Nigeria support unless it was registered.
It would be recalled that N3.9billion was appropriated for the main ministry in the 2016 budget with overhead cost taking over N1.7billion.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has begun investigation of the allegedly missing $1.1billion signature bonuses which accrued to the country from Oil Prospecting Licences (OPLs).
Consequently, the House has invited the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele; the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC), Dr Maikanti Baru, and the Executive Secretary, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr Mordecai Baba Ladan, to come and explain the whereabouts of the money.
The chief executives are expected to appear before the ad-hoc committee of the House on Oil Prospecting Licences (OPLs) and Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) on Monday, February 1, 2017.
The committee had Wednesday refused to grant audience to representatives of the agencies, as they observed that none of them could present a letter authorising them to represent their chief executives in that capacity.
The committee particularly complained that the CBN boss had ignored the three letters it had written to the apex bank, and threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on Emefiele should he fail to appear before it as scheduled.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Gideon Gwani, noted that the signature bonuses paid by owners of some OPLs, which amounted to over $1billion, could not be traced.
According to Gwani, all efforts to trace the money were futile as the DPR, CBN, Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), NNPC and the accountant-general’s office denied the committee details of the transaction.
He explained that the DPR could not confirm if the fees claimed to have been paid by the oil companies had actually been received by the government through the CBN, the banker to the Federal Government.
“It has been realised through our investigation that we need, seriously, evidence to prove that signature bonuses are paid,” he said.
Gwani stated further that the DPR advised the committee to request the information directly from the CBN, while the CBN told the committee to liaise with the NNPC on OPLs and OMLs, with the DPR on royalties, and with the accountant-general of the federation on signature bonuses.
The committee established that signature bonuses amounting to $835 million, which accrued from OPL 250, 291, 332, 276, 321,323,283,315, 257, 279, 285, 288, 298, 471, 289, 284 and 236, as well as part payment of $271.18 million signature bonuses from OPL 214, 324, 320, 318, 256, 242, 223, 221, 245, 247, 322, 248 and 249, could not be traced.
“We need evidence that full payments were made for OPLs 250, 291, 332, 276, 321, 323, 283, 315, 257, 279, 285, 288, 298, 471, 289, 284 and 236, and the total amount we are looking for is $835 million.
“We also need evidence of part payments of OPLs 214, 324, 320, 318, 256, 242, 223, 221, 245, 247, 322, 248 and 249, which amount to $271.18million, leaving the balance of $648.2million,” Gwani said.
Although the committee acknowledged that most of the OPLs had been converted to OMLs, Gwani said they were listed at their state when the transactions took place.
“Most of the OPLs have been converted to OMLs, but we have chosen to list them at the state at which the debt and payment occurred,” he clarified.
The lawmaker explained that the committee was mandated by the House of Representatives to investigate the award of all OPLs and OMLs granted to oil companies by the Federal Government, to, among other things, ascertain whether due process and guidelines for the acquisition of oil and gas assets were complied with.
“It is, therefore, noteworthy that payment of fees before and after the acquisition of oil blocks fall part of due process required to be fulfilled by the Petroleum Act, which this committee was mandated to investigate,” he said.
Gwani pointed out that the agencies’ refusal to provide required information spoils the image of government and undermines its fight against corruption, adding that “The development is unfortunate, especially at the time when the government is in dire need of money to fund its projects.”

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How Soldiers Helped Me Escape, Kidnap Kingpin Reveals …They Opened Fire On Police, Took Me To Their HQ, Cut My Handcuffs …How We Re-Arrested Hamisu Wadume –Police …IGP Hails Operatives

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A suspected kidnap lord in Taraba State, Hamisu Bala popularly known as Wadume, has been reportedly re-arrested and taken to the Louis Edet House Force headquarters in Abuja.
It was not immediately clear when and where Wadume was taken into custody, but a police source confirmed the development, yesterday.
However, Wadume was sighted at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, yesterday.
In his reaction, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Mohammed Adamu, has commended the police operatives for their painstaking efforts in the re-arrest of Taraba notorious kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Frank Mba, disclosed this, yesterday, in a statement in Abuja.
He said Wadume was re-arrested in the late hours of Monday in his hideout at Layin Mai Allo Hotoro area of Kano State.
Mba said the police had been on a massive manhunt for the suspect since August 6.
He said the manhunt followed the incident in Ibi, Taraba that led to the killing of three police officers and two civilians as well as injuring of five others.
Mba said the suspect, who was appropriately restrained at the time of the first arrest, was subsequently released by his “rescuers”.
The FPRO said the IGP had expressed his profound gratitude to Nigerians for their show of love and empathy to the Force and the families of the murdered officers and civilians.
“The re-arrest of Wadume will help in bringing answers to the numerous but hitherto unanswered questions touching on the incident and the larger criminal enterprise of the suspect,” Mba quoted the IGP as saying.
It would be recalled that Wadume was the ‘high profile’ kidnapping suspect arrested by the police on August 6.
He was being driven to Jalingo, the state capital by the police team when soldiers opened fire on them along Ibi-Wukari Road, killing three police officers and a civilian.
The attack immediately sparked friction between the police and the Nigerian Army, as well as a nationwide apprehension, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to order an investigation.
The investigation panel, which includes persons with police and military background, was initially scheduled to conclude its findings, last week, but the team sought additional two weeks to wrap up.
Meanwhile, captured suspected kidnapper, HamisuBala Wadume, has explained how he escaped from the operatives of Intelligence Response Team on August 6.
Wadume escaped from the custody of IRT operatives when they came under attack from soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, Taraba State, as they conveyed the kidnap suspect from the scene of his arrest.
The Army later explained that the soldiers attacked the IRT operatives when they mistook them for criminals, following a distress call they had received.
In the said attack, three policemen and a civilian were killed, while five other operatives sustained injuries.
Wadume was, however, re-arrested on the eve of Monday, August 19, Force spokesperson Frank Mba said yesterday
In a video clip posted on the verified Twitter handle of Nigeria Police Force yesterday, Wadume, who spoke in Hausa, virtually implicated soldiers at the Battalion 93, Takum, Taraba State, in his escape from the IRT custody.
Wadume spoke in Hausa, which was interpreted by our in-house staff member.
The suspect, who is alleged to have received millions of naira as ransom from his victims, said, “My name is Hamisu Bala Wadume.
“Police came to arrest me, When they arrested me, army chased after them and opened fire.
“From there, they (soldiers) took me to their headquarters, and cut up my handcuffs.
“I went back to my house and Police came to re-arrest me…”
Also, Force spokesman, Frank Mba, has described how the Police re-arrested millionaire kidnapper, Hamisu Wadume.
Wadume escaped when the operatives of Intelligence Response Team came under attack from soldiers attached to Battalion 93, Takum, Taraba State, as they conveyed the kidnap suspect from the scene of his arrest.
“His arrest followed massive manhunt launched by the Police special forces and IRT members,” Mba said in a statement released to media yesterday.
The statement read, “The operatives of the Nigeria Police have re-arrested the notorious kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume.
“He was re-arrested in the late hours of Monday, August 19, at his hideout at Layin Mai Allo Hotoro area of Kano State.
“It would be recalled that the Police had been on the massive manhunt for the suspect, Alhaji HamisuBala Wadume, since August 6, following the unfortunate incident in Ibi, Taraba State which resulted in the brutal murder of three Police Officers and two civilians, and injury to five others.
“The suspect, who was appropriately restrained at the time of the incident, was subsequently released by his “rescuers” after they had destroyed the restraining handcuffs.”
The Police noted that Wadume’s arrest,” will, no doubt, help in bringing answers to the numerous but hitherto unanswered questions touching on the incident and the larger criminal enterprise of the suspect”.
Reacting to the recapture of the kidnapper, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, has commended the police operatives for their efforts in the re-arrest of Taraba notorious kidnap kingpin, Alhaji Hamisu Wadume.
The Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba, disclosed this yesterday in a statement in Abuja.
He said Wadume was re-arrested in the late hours of Monday in his hideout at Layin Mai Allo Hotoro area of Kano State.
Mba said the police had been on a massive manhunt for the suspect since August 6.
He said the manhunt followed the incident in Ibi, Taraba that led to the killing of three police officers and two civilians as well as injuring of five others.
Mba said the suspect, who was appropriately restrained at the time of the first arrest, was subsequently released by his “rescuers”.
The FPRO said the IGP had expressed his profound gratitude to Nigerians for their show of love and empathy to the Force and the families of the murdered officers and civilians.
“Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, IGP M.A Adamu, NPM, mni while commending the Police operatives for their perseverance and painstaking efforts, has expressed his profound gratitude to all Nigerians for their unparalleled show of love and empathy to the Force and the families of the officers and patriotic civilians who paid the supreme price in the service of their fatherland.
It is his belief that the re-arrest of Wadume, will help in bringing answers to the numerous but hitherto unanswered questions touching on the incident and the larger criminal enterprise of the suspect,” Mba quoted the IGP as saying. The Army is yet to respond to the allegation of the kidnap kingpin.

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Wike Lauds US, RSG’s Synergy To Fight HIV/AIDS …As Symington Unveils $75m Funding Grant

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has commended the United States Government for working with the state government to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the state.
Also, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Stuart Symington said that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) administered by the U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Department of Defence, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was implementing an Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) surge programme in Rivers State to identify and provide treatment to approximately 180,000 PLHIV who have not previously received such.
The two leaders spoke at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday, during a high-profile meeting on the promotion of the health of Rivers people.
Wike said: “I want to thank the Government of the United States for working with the Rivers State Government to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
“I thank the United States Government for recognising the contributions of the Rivers State Government in the fight against HIV/AIDS “.
Wike assured the United States Government that his administration would continue to fund programmes that would reduce the prevalence of the healthcare challenge.
“We will continue to work for the reduction of HIV/AIDS in the state. We are glad that we are partners with the US Government. For us, health is key. Education is key. With Education, you can talk to people on measures to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“At present, with the support of the United States Government, we are running 115 sites to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS”, he said.
He said that the health programmes of the Rivers State Government is yielding results as the immunisation statistics of the state has moved from 54 per cent to 82 per cent.
Speaking further, Wike thanked the United States Government for insisting that votes count in Rivers State during the last General Election.
He said that the United States Government ensured that democracy survived in the country, despite the fact that it came under threat.
It would recalled that Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike recently announced that the Rivers State Government would pay the user-fees for People Living with HIV in the state to access free treatment.
In his remarks, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Stuart Symington said the U.S. Government’s $75million budget increase for HIV control activities in Nigeria, with about $25million allocated for the ART surge activities.
Symington thanked Wike for announcing his intent to eliminate user-fees for PLHIV.
The ambassador emphasized that Wike’s pronouncement serves as an example to other states and the Federal Government to eliminate such user-fees.
“The United States remains committed to supporting Nigeria as it works to reduce and ultimately eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS among its people,” Symington said.
He noted the increased funding to make anti-retrovirals available would enable more people living with HIV to lead healthy, productive lives until the day a cure for the virus is found.
Symington noted that disbursement of the additional PEPFAR HIV funds are contingent upon Nigerian federal and state governments’ reducing or eliminating financial barriers to PLHIV access to services, in particular fees charged by healthcare facilities for non-essential services or those already provided by PEPFAR.
The U.S. delegation was in Rivers State to advocate for elimination of user-fees for all people living with HIV, antenatal care charges for pregnant women living with the virus, and other barriers hindering PLHIV from accessing health services.
Earlier, on August 19, Symington had paid a similar visit to Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel in Government House, Uyo, the state capital, with members of the diplomatic corps.
During the meeting, Governor Udom Emmanuel applauded the existing bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the United States of America which has spanned several decades, and particularly thanked the US Ambassador for his contributions to make Akwa Ibom and Nigeria a global family through economic, educational and cultural cooperation.
He expressed appreciation to the diplomatic corps in their observer role during the last elections in the country and the rich counsel to the stakeholders for a hitch-free democratic process.
The state chief executive also expressed appreciation to the United state for the choice of Akwa Ibom in the pilot scheme to reduce the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a coastal state bordering other state and countries who interface daily for commerce and other economic pursuits, adding that Akwa Ibom is richly blessed by human and economic potentials and sued for more bilateral cooperation to create wealth both for the state and country.
He described Symington as a brother with a passion for humanity and expressed regret that his tenure in the country as an ambassador is short-lived and wished him well as he returns to his home country.
In his remark, the outgoing Ambassador of the United States of America, Mr Stuart Symington, had described Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel’s vision to industrialize Akwa Ibom State, equipped health care facilities and provide beautiful road network as placing the state on the global map as the state with the treasure.
While expressing appreciation to the people of Akwa Ibom and Nigeria for the hospitality accorded him throughout his stay in the country, the US envoy said that for sustainable development his country has chosen Akwa Ibom for the implementation of the health care support next year to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS pandemic and make the state a place for succour to those affected by the disease.
These, he said, was buoyed by the love for humanity and the future of the younger generations and those unborn.
He said that provision is made for a hundred and thirty patients to benefit from the Health support system.
The highpoint of the event was a toast proposed by former Ambassador to Russia, Chief Assam Assam SAN, for long-lasting relationships and love for humanity in the global family.
Earlier, Akwa Ibom State Government had disclosed that it is set to partner the United States of America in healthcare and other development efforts aimed at making life meaningful to humanity.
Udom said that his administration has invested so much to transform the health care delivery system to save lives.
According to him, you cannot talk about human capital development without a functional health care system.
Udom expressed appreciation to the US and its development agencies in the plan to partner the state in the fight against HIV/AIDS to reduce the scourge in the country and other countries within the Gulf of Guinea.
The state chief executive described as alarming the 130,000 targets set by the agency to address the menace, and called for accuracy and transparency in the records and expenditures of funds allotted for the program.
He, however, said that as a border state in the coastal region, there is an influx of people from other states and countries to transact business in the state it becomes expedient to partner to save humanity in the global family.
Udom said that relevant agencies would have to collaborate with personnel from the state, and expressed the hope that with the health care facilities on ground Akwa Ibom best suits the pilot scheme and thanked the United States for the choice of the state for the programme.
The governor, however, took exception to the fact that over $30 billion had been expended in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic without any verifiable records, nor input from the relevant agencies in the state.
He congratulated Governor Emmanuel on his re-election and the investment in the health care delivery system as well the industrialization of the state.
He said the visit which is his last as the Ambassador to Nigeria was to intimate the government and people of the state of the United States contributions to stem the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to provide necessary assistance to those who are infected and to provide drugs, equipment and personnel to help humanity.
Symington applauded Governor Emmanuel for the high premium placed on the healthcare delivery system and his efforts at transforming all the secondary health centres to meet international standards.
He sued for collaboration to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
The ambassador pledged his governments readiness to partner the state in education, healthcare, agriculture and commerce.

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S’Eagles’ Coach Backs Alex Iwobi To Succeed At Everton

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Alex Iwobi has the potential to become a key figure for Premier League side, Everton, according to Nigeria national team assistant coach, Imama Amapakabo.
The 23-year-old joined the Toffees on a five-year deal from Arsenal for a fee of an initial £28million deal – which could rise to £34million with add-ons.
Iwobi has yet to make his debut for Everton (he remained on the bench for the duration of the win over Watford at Goodison Park this past weekend) but he should see regular playing time for the Merseyside club.
And his move has been given a ringing endorsement from Amapakabo, who is Gernot Rohr’s right-hand man with the Super Eagles.
“I think he has been able to prove himself that he’s a good player, he didn’t just sell himself to Everton, they came for him knowing the reason why they came for him and the role he’s going to play for them,” Amakarkabo told newsmen.
“The league just started in England, let’s give him some time we will be able to have a discussion with anyone that will doubt Iwobi’s capabilities.
“He is a young lad, and he has his football ahead of him so, let us give him all the backing that we need to give him, hopefully at the end of the season, we would be able to take stock of how well he has fared with Everton.”

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