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Corruption Trial: Metuh Denies Plot To Betray Jonathan

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The embattled former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh has denied allegation that he entered into a deal with the Federal Government to betray former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement he issued in Abuja, yesterday, Metuh, said it was not true that he surrendered himself to be used to drag the former president down or to impugn on his character and person.
The statement titled “I Will Never Connive Against Former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR”, read: “My attention has been drawn to a release by the Save Ijaw Nation Group wherein they alleged that the order given by the court in my trial was negotiated by me as a means of letting me ‘off the hook’.
“They also stated that I surrendered myself to be used to drag down former president Goodluck Jonathan and impugn on his character and person.
“In the light of this and in deference to the former president, I have elected to make these clarifications personally.
“First of all, I state unequivocally that I am completely innocent of the charge against me, and therefore, have no reason to negotiate with anybody to let me off a non-existent hook.
“It is therefore inconceivable and completely ridiculous for anybody to think that I would for any reason betray or surrender myself to be used against Goodluck Jonathan, for whom I have immense respect and served diligently, without any apologies, in and out of office.
“To what end will I conspire with the same set of people who singled me out to be humiliated and openly handcuffed while spreading all manner of malicious stories against me, most of which they even denied outright in court while others remain completely unsubstantiated?
“Ordinarily, the content of the charge against me in the Federal High Court should not breed any worries but for the fact that it now appears that the anti-corruption fight has shifted the burden of proof to a defendant once an allegation is made.
“On the issue of conniving with the government against former president, Goodluck Jonathan, the Save Ijaw Nation Group may be alarmed by successive media reports that he was ordered to be served on Tuesday with an instruction to appear the following day and subsequently given a five-day time limit; setting off a media frenzy as if the former president is needed for reasons more than a mere request by my lawyers for a corroborative evidence in my case.
“I totally concede that this is not deserving of the status, person and image of the former president, especially with his contribution and sacrifices to national development and sustenance of democracy in our dear country.
“Without prejudice to all the foregoing, I accept that it was the need for corroboration of lack ‘ofmens rea’ on my part that led my lawyers to request for the evidence of the respected former president to assist them in proving my innocence.
“However, with all the controversies arising from the reports of the said pronouncements and the attendant concerns thereof, I have instructed my legal team to revisit and review the entire issue of the subpoena.
“In the past 20 months, I have shouldered my travails personally and without seeking to involve any other individual and/or groups in this unfortunate saga.
“I harbour no ill-feeling or malice towards none as I believe that with time, justice will surely be done in my matter”.
It would be recalled Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja had on the strength of an application Metuh filed before him, summoned ex-president Jonathan to appear before the court on October 31.
Abang, last Wednesday, gave a bailiff of the court five days to serve Jonathan with a copy of the subpoena issued to compel him to appear as a witness Metuh’s trial.
The bailiff was directed to effect personal service of the summons on Jonathan at his Abuja residence.
It would be recalled that EFCC is prosecuting Metuh alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited on a seven-count charge.
The EFCC alleged that Metuh had before the 2015 presidential election, received N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), without executing any contract.
It said the fund which was released to Metuh and his firm by the erstwhile NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd),   was part of about $2.1billion earmarked for the purchase of arms to fight insurgency in the North-East.
He was equally accused of money laundering. EFCC alleged that Metuh engaged in an illicit transaction that involved $2million.
Metuh described both Jonathan and Dasuki as very vital and crucial witnesses in the matter.

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Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion

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The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.

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FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer

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The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.

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Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media

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The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.

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