A witness, Mr. Ngozika Ihuoma, yesterday, narrated before the Federal High Court in Abuja, how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under its former Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, mismanaged 222 assets worth N1.63trillion, which he said was recovered by the defunct Pension Reform Taskforce Team (PRTT).
Ihuoma, who appeared as the first defence witness, DW-1, in the ongoing trial of the erstwhile Chairman of the disbanded PRTT, Abdulrasheed Maina, told the court that Magu admitted before the Justice Ayo Salami Judicial Commission of Inquiry, that he shared most of the properties based on a presidential directive.
“Magu admitted before Salami that he shared and allocated most of these properties to most of his friends, associates and colleagues under some presidential directives, but failed to make available to the commission the evidence of that presidential directive”.
The witness told the court that he is a management consultant.
He said his firm, Crincad & Cari Nigeria Limited, was contracted by the PRTT for consultancy service.
He told the court that one of the choice properties the PRTT recovered and handed over to EFCC, was grossly undervalued from N6billion in 2011 and sold to renowned lawyer in 2015 for N1billion.
“One of the properties in question located at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama, was illegally acquired by a renowned lawyer while the property was still subject to litigation,” the witness added, insisting that EFCC should be made to account for all the recovered assets.
Led in Evidence-in-Chief by Maina’s lawyer, Adeola Olawale, the DW-1, told the court that the PRTT wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari shortly after he assumed office in 2015, and expressed its willingness to make available to him intelligence that would lead to the recovery of over N3trillion hidden in undisclosed accounts in some banks.
He said on the basis of the letter, Buhari, in January, 2016, sent the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the National Security Adviser (NSA), to have a meeting with Maina in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE).
“After the meeting in Dubai, Maina gave the delegation intelligence report that led to the recovery of N1.3trillion out of the N3trillion promised to recover.
“The money was reported to the Senate Committee that investigated Maina’s reinstatement back to the civil service in 2017.
“Equally, the task team petitioned the Senate on the need to revisit the 7th Assembly Joint Committee that its report was quashed by the Federal High Court in view of the fact that the 222 choice property valued at N1.63trillion that was handed over to the EFCC have started to be mismanaged”.
Ihuoma noted that when the ex-EFCC chairman appeared before the House of Representatives Committee that investigated the reinstatement of Maina back to civil service, he said Magu denied that the anti-graft agency was a member of the PRTT.
He said Magu equally denied that the pension reformed team handed over any recovered property to the commission.
The witness said he was irked by Magu’s claim, and he accordingly petitioned the AGF, Malami, through his company, informing him that the former EFCC boss lied on oath before the House of Reps committee that the agency was not part of the PRTT, despite the existence of the instrument that established the task force and its terms of reference.
He said it was due to the letter by his company that Malami sent a petition to President Buhari, “demanding that EFCC should account for the 222 property valued at N1.63trillion”.
He said Malami’s petition eventually led to the setting up of the Justice Salami-led panel of inquiry.
Continuing his testimony, the witness, told the court that Maina gave intelligence report to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), about a plan to siphon N35bn from the Head of Service Pension Office.
He said the intelligence led the commission to question the former HoS, Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita and five other management committee members.
According to the witness, Maina equally gave intelligence report to the then Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and EFCC in March, 2013, which led to the mop-up of N15billion from Customs, Immigration, Prison Pension Office (CIPO).
Ihuoma said that Maina was the only member of the team that was sacked, even though the running cost of the PRTT was not paid by the Federal Government.
He said that one B. G. Kaigama, who served in the team, is currently a director and second in command in Pension Transition Arrangement Department (PTAD).
“G.T Idris, who represented ICPC, is now at NIPSS undergoing a one-year course leading to his promotion to a rank of full commissioner of police.
“Even Winifred Oyo-Ita, who managed the Head of Service Pension Office as interim management committee became the Head of Service (HoS) of Federation where she used that office to stop Maina’s reinstatement since 2017,” the witness added.
He further told the court that another former EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Larmode, who was also a member of the team, was promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG).
“We stand to say that Maina deserves to be reinstated back as approved by the Federal Civil Service Commission in 2017 and if possible, in line with the recommendations of the House of Representatives to the then President Goodluck Jonathan, be made to return to service and assist in cleaning up the pension matters now that the issue of pension is going haywire again.
“We believe this trial is not in the interest of pension reformed task team which EFCC was a member,” he said.
Trial Justice Okon Abang adjourned further hearing in the matter to today.
Maina is answering to a 12-count money laundering charge the EFCC preferred against him and his firm – Common Input Property and Investment Limited.
The EFCC earlier closed its case against the Defendants after it called a total of nine witnesses, even as the court ordered Maina to open his defence to the charge.
In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, EFCC, alleged that Maina used a bank account that was operated by his firm and laundered funds to the tune of about N2billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.
It told the court that the 1st Defendant (Maina) used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, as well as recruited his relatives that were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.
The Prosecution maintained that the Defendants committed criminal offences punishable under sections 11(2) (a), 15(3), and 16(2) (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, and also acted in breach of the Advance Fee Fraud Act.
The Defendants, who were arraigned on October 25, 2019, pleaded not guilty to charge.
Insecurity Posting Negative Development Indices, Editors Lament
The 17th All Nigerian Editors Conference has called for healthy and harmonious collaboration between the media and the security agencies in the fight against insecurity across the country, saying the problem of insecurity was taking a huge toll on societal life and posting negative development indices in several areas.
The conference also said that peace and development, which are germane to further advancement of Nigeria, cannot thrive in times of crises, and stated that governments at all levels have a huge responsibility to defend, protect and provide for its citizens.
These were some of the resolutions reached at the end of the conference put together by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), and held between Thursday, October 21 and Friday, October 22, 2021, in Abuja.
The theme of the conference was: “Media In Times of Crises: Resolving Conflict, Achieving Consensus.”
In a communique signed by the NGE’s President, Mustapha Isah; and the General Secretary, Iyobosa Uwugiaren; and made available to The Tide in Port Harcourt, the conference attended by 350 editors, security chiefs, and other stakeholders, stated that the prevalent insecurity challenges, which have seen terrorists, bandits, armed herdsmen and other criminal elements holding the nation to ransom and threatening its survival and development, have the potential of tearing the country to shreds.
‘’The problem of insecurity confronting the country is taking a huge toll on societal life and posting negative development indices in several areas. That the insecurity crises stem from leadership failure that has bedevilled the country for many years’’, the communique stated.
‘’There are fears in some quarters that editors and media professionals seem to have taken sides in the raging crises. That journalists and security agents who are first line responders to every flash point, appear locked in mutual suspicion.’’
Noting that journalists are oftentimes impaired and harassed by security agents from carrying out their professional responsibilities, the conference said that peace and development, which are germane to further advancement of Nigeria cannot thrive in times of crises.
The conference resolved, ‘’Governments at all levels have a responsibility to defend, protect and provide for its citizens. That agitations for self-determination, which are raging in the South-East, South-West and the South-South regions do not augur well for the unity of the country.
‘’The conference called for an end to raging insecurity so that citizens can conduct their normal lives in an atmosphere of peace and concord. That there’s need for healthy and harmonious collaboration between the media and the security agencies in the fight against insecurity.
‘’There is a need for security agents to appreciate the role of Journalists and media professionals and refrain from anything that will abridge it.’’
The conference also advised editors and other media professionals to ensure that they are conflict-sensitive and ensure they do not publish stories that are capable of inflaming ethnic, regional and religious passion. While calling for urgent need to tackle the monster of misinformation and sanitize the media against unprofessional and unethical behaviour.
The conference also called on government to support the survival of the media as part of the task of building the nation’s democracy and avoid any acts that will put the media in chains.
While calling on the federal government to confront issues that have given rise to the demands of the different self-determination groups, the conference advised it to endeavour to deal with the different sections of the country on the basis of fairness, equity and justice.
‘’There is need for government to ensure that its policies and actions are sensitive to the multi ethnic and religious makeup of the country.
‘’Government needs to commit more resources to education, healthcare and tackle the rising costs of food and other social services’’, the conference stated.
The conference was chaired by a veteran journalist, Ray Ekpu; with Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kolo Kyari, as Special Guest of Honour; and President, Newspapers Proprietors of Nigeria (NPAN), Malam Kabiru Yusuf, as Guest of Honour.
The conference also featured other guests, including, Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello; Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El Rufai, (represented by the Special Adviser on Inter Governmental Affairs, Hajia Hannatu Dalhat); and Governor of State of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola (represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Prince Abdullah Adeyanju Binuyo).
Other guests included Inspector General of Police, Mr Usman Alkali Baba (represented by Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba); Director General, Department of Security Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi (represented by its Spokesperson, Dr Peter Afunanya); and Director General, Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar (represented by a Director, NIA, Mr Emma Engon Anzaku).
The Managing Director/CEO, Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Mr Aliyu A. Abdulhameed; and the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Garba Danbatta; Publisher, Premium Times, Dapo Olorunyomi; and Editor-in-Chief, Leadership Newspapers Group, Azu Ishiekwene; were also parts of the conversation.
Other highlight of the conference was the unveiling of the book chronicling 60 years of the Nigerian Guild of Editors titled, “Uneven Steps: The Story Of The Nigerian Guild of Editors” authored by Mr Lanre Idowu.
The book was reviewed by James Akpandem James.
The two-day conference was rounded up with a 60th Anniversary Dinner, which featured the induction of eight new fellows and 13 new members.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
Anambra: INEC Denies Alleged Mass Resignation Of Ad-Hoc Staff Over IPOB …IGP Deploys Two DIGs, Five AIGs, 14 CPs, Others …INEC Declares 81,778 New PVCs Available For Collection
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has refuted reports that its ad-hoc staff resigned over threats by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Anambra State, Nwachukwu Orji, said the commission is still recruiting ad-hoc staff members.
This is as the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba has ordered the deployment of two DIGs, five AIGs, 14 commissioners of police, 31 deputy commissioners of police and 48 assistant commissioners of police to the state to ensure adequate security for the conduct of the poll.
The police deployments are coming as INEC said that 81,778 newly printed Permanent Voter Cards were ready for collection in Anambra State.
Reports had it that ad-hoc staff of INEC terminated their appointment en mass over IPOB-linked threats ahead of the governorship election in the state.
However, Orji described such reports as false and without substance.
Speaking with newsmen, Orji said: “INEC is still in the process of recruiting the ad-hoc workers, in fact we just finished the ad-hoc training before this false report.
“As the head of the commission in Anambra, I am telling you authoritatively that we have more than enough manpower for the conduct of the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra,” he said.
Anambra 2021 Governorship election is slated for November 6.
However, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba has ordered a major overhauling of the security landscape in Anambra State ahead of the November 6 governorship election in the state.
Two Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs) and other strategic commanders have been deployed to the state for effective supervision of security personnel and operations in the governorship election.
Other strategic commanders deployed to Anambra State include five Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs), 14 Commissioners of Police (CPs), 31 Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) and 48 Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs).
Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Mr. Joseph Egbunike, has been deployed to Anambra State as the coordinator of the security component for the election.
Egbunike would be assisted by the DIG in-charge of Operations, Acting DIG Zaki Ahmed.
DIG Egbunike is saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the Operation Order evolved from the Election Security Threat Assessment; to ensure a peaceful environment devoid of violence and conducive enough to guarantee that law abiding citizens freely perform their civic responsibilities without molestation or intimidation.
In a statement, yesterday, Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, said the senior officers are to coordinate human and other operational deployments in the three senatorial districts, 21 local government areas and the 5,720 polling units in Anambra State.
The IGP reassured the nation that the Force was adequately prepared for the gubernatorial election in Anambra State come November 6, 2021.
He reiterated that the Force would do everything within its powers to work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and all stakeholders to protect democratic values, provide level playing field for all political actors, ensure adequate protection of voters, INEC personnel and equipment, accredited observers and other key players in Anambra State.
The IGP called on citizens in Anambra State to come out en masse and exercise their franchise as adequate security has been emplaced to protect them before, during and after the elections.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission, yesterday, said that 81,778 newly printed Permanent Voter Cards were ready for collection in Anambra State.
The commission disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘Update on Preparations for the Anambra State Governorship Election’ signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, yesterday in Abuja.
Okoye said that the new printed PVCs included for newly registered voters and those who applied for replacement or transfer of their cards in the state during the just concluded first phase of the Continuous Voter Registration in the state.
He said that the cards had been printed and would be delivered to INEC office in Anambra State tomorrow.
“In our previous update, the commission informed the public that a total of 138,802 Nigerians completed the registration in Anambra State.
“After a thorough cleaning up of the data, it was discovered that the number of multiple registrants was 62,698.
“Consequently, the number of valid registrants dropped to 76,104.
“During the same period, there were 5,674 requests for transfers, update of voter information and replacement of lost or damaged cards, giving a cumulative total of 81,778 PVCs.
“These cards have been printed and will be delivered to our office in Anambra State on Thursday, October 28.”
The released summary of polling unit agents released by INEC indicated that details of 6,068 agents were expected to be uploaded on INEC dedicated portal from each of the 17 parties participating in the election.
The summary showed that the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Social Democratic Party and Zenith Labour Party were the parties that uploaded details of that expected number of agents.
It showed that the All Progressives Congress uploaded details of its 6,012 agents, the Peoples Democratic Party 6,003, Young Progressives Congress 6,071, and Action Alliance 6,067 while Boot Party did not upload any details.
Okoye assured the people of Anambra State of INEC’s determination to proceed with the conduct of the election.
The commissioner appealed to all the critical stakeholders and citizens in the state to cooperate with the commission for a successful exercise.
Wike Has Made Rivers Index For Nigeria’s Dev -Nsirim …Assures Miss Oyibo Of Support For Campaign
The fact that the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has made the state the development index for Nigeria remains incontrovertible, the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim has said.
Nsirim made the assertion when the overall winner of the essay competition organised by the ministry as part of the second phase of its #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign, Miss Sophia Awajibenem Oyibo paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
“The developmental strides of Governor Nyesom Wike in all sectors of the state’s economy are so glaring that nobody can deny the fact Rivers State, today, is the development index for Nigeria,” Nsirim said.
He expressed delight in the performance of Miss Oyibo in media appearances as the face of the ministry and the ambassador to the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign.
“Your eloquence and articulation during your recent media appearances confirm that your victory in the competition is an attestation that the vision of #OurStateOurResponsibility actually came from God.
“What we have seen goes to confirm that, indeed, Rivers State is blessed with and abundant human and natural resources for any form of investment to thrive. We all must join hands to sell our state to the outside world and not to pull her down,” he said.
The commissioner reiterated that the aim of the second phase of the campaign was to re-engineer the desires of the younger generation to pay premium to the core values of society such as hardwork, honesty and integrity as the hallmark for greatness.
He once again congratulated Miss Oyibo, and pledged the ministry’s support to all the programmes she would initiate in tandem with the #OurStateOurResponsibility advocacy campaign.
Earlier, Miss Sophia Awajibenem Oyibo had expressed gratitude to the ministry for the opportunity created for the young ones to redirect their energy towards pursuing good societal values.
She disclosed her plans to introduce programmes that would enlist young ones in the campaign to showcase the great opportunities created by the developmental strides of the Governor Wike’s administration.
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