The trial of former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, was on Monday stalled due to the strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
The matter, which was before a Federal High Court in Abuja presided over by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu was fixed for Monday, May 17, for the EFCC to give a report on its effort at extraditing Alison-Madueke to the country to stand her trial.
Although Justice Ojukwu had, on March 16, been transferred to the Calabar division of the court, the case was fixed for yesterday following the absence of the EFCC’s lawyer, Farouk Abdullah, in court on March 3.
The Tide source reports that the case, which was earlier fixed for report or arraignment of the ex-minister, could not proceed as neither Abdullah nor Diezani was in court.
The Tide reports that the court had, on Dec. 3, 2020, adjourned the ember until March 3 following the inability of the anti-graft agency to fully comply with its orders in the trial of Diezani.
Ojukwu fixed the date after counsel to the EFCC, Abdullah, prayed the court for more time to enable the anti-graft agency ensure full compliance with the court orders.
The judge had, on Oct. 28, 2020, refused to grant ober the EFCC’s application seeking the court order on issuance of warrant of arrest against Alison-Madueke.
Ojukwu held that an affidavit with evidence in support to proof that the earlier court summon granted the agency had failed in the extradition of Diezani must be filed by the commission before another request could be made.
The judge noted that the EFCC had informed the court that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) hinted that the arrest warrant was needed to further give the International Police (INTERPOL) the impetus to bring the defendant to Nigeria to answer to charges against her.
The judge, however, said it would give the anti-graft agency a room to put its house in order in the trial of the ex-minister because court orders were not made in vain.
Abdullah had, in an application, urged the court “to issue an arrest warrant against Alison-Madueke, who is believed to be in the UK to enable all law enforcement agencies and the INTERPOL to arrest her anywhere she is sighted and be brought before the court to answer to the allegation made against her before the court.”
He said since the summons had not been able to achieve the desired result, the need for a warrant of arrest could stet be over-emphasised.
The Tide source reports that the court had, on July 24, 2020, ordered the former minister to appear before it and answer to the money laundering charge filed against her by the EFCC.
The judge gave the ruling in an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 brought by Abdullah.
The EFCC had accused the former minister of fleeing the country for the UK in order to escape justice, among others.
It would be recalled that the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa, had, in the April edition of the agency’s in-house magazine, disclosed that the anti-corruption commission recovered $153 million from Alison-Madueke.
Bawa said the agency also recovered the final forfeiture of over 80 property in Nigeria valued at about $80 million from the former minister, who has been living in the UK since leaving office some years ago.
The EFCC boss said he would want the former minister to face trial in Nigeria.
‘Nigerians Can Travel To 120 Countries Without Visa’
President of Nigeria Dominican Republic Business Exchange (NIDOR-BEX), Dr Kingsley Azonobi, has said with the establishment of the Chamber of Commerce, Nigerian businessmen can now travel and do business with the 120 countries that have ties with Dominical Republic without visa.
He spoke at the inaugural ceremony of NIDOR-BEX management board, yesterday, in Abuja.
Azonobi, who was inaugurated along with five other board members, explained that henceforth NIDOR-BEX management would oversee the bilateral interest in trade and investment between businessmen of the two countries.
The Chief Humanitarian of the Nigeria Humanitarian Action (NIHA), Mr Kleitsaint Akor, also explained that NIDOR-BEX emerged via a motion that was adopted during the NIHA Programme Year Opening Conference (PROYOC) held in May in Abuja.
PROYOC is an annual multidimensional humanitarian event that appraises institutions, programmes, share opportunities and make projections, Akor said.
He added that NIDOR-BEX would provide business opportunities for Nigeria and Dominican Republic companies and businessmen.
NIDOR-BEX General Secretary, Dr Ishiman Adum, said that the board was ready to ensure that the business exchange was well run to deliver the outcomes for which it was set up.
He said that the business exchange would make members and clients a top priority to create optimal outcomes, and promised to support companies to explore the opportunities.
Azonobi thanked NIDOR-BEX board for the appointment, and pledged to lead the organisation with the fear of God.
He also promised to be professional in creating business ideas and opportunities for Nigerians and Dominicans.
Both countries do not have embassies in their nations, a situation that has led to difficulties and challenges in acquiring visa and direct flight from, and to, both countries.
The business exchange is expected to boost collaborations with relevant authorities to ensure the creation of consulates in both countries.
AfCFTA: Chamber Seeks Single Africa Passport, Free Visa
The Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce (NSACC) has called for a single Africa passport and free visa to ensure success of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Its President, Mr Osayande Giwa-Osagie spoke yesterday in Lagos during the chamber’s September Breakfast Forum, with the theme: ‘Perspectives on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area in Relation to Nigeria’.
AfCFTA is a single continental market for free flow of goods, services and capital, supported by the free movement of persons across Africa.
Giwa-Osagie noted that AfCFTA would boost intra-African trade by 22 per cent, adding that its implementation would impact positively on the Nigerian economy.
He however said Nigeria must diversify its economy in order to harness the gains of the agreement.
“Current intra-African trade rated at 15 to 17 per cent is low and the AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African by 22 per cent.
“Challenges to its implementation are lack of infrastructure, political instability and lack of economic diversification.
“This gives rise to the need for Nigeria to diversify its economy to harness the gains of the agreement.
“Given the importance of free movement of people , there is need for a free visa Africa and a single Africa passport.
“While the implementation would help boost the Nigerian economy, impact would be limited if there are no free movement of people,” he said.
Head, Trade and Transactional Services, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Jesuseun Fatoyinbo, said the business community needed more clarification on tariff reduction or elimination under the agreement.
According to him, the little information available to corporate organisations with regards to tariffs, may lead to hold back on investments.
“We have noted increased interests from global multinationals and other corporates in setting up facilities in Africa aimed at serving the continent and exporting abroad.
“So more transparency around tariff reductions both in terms of timelines and details of goods could prompt companies to act,” he said.
Fatoyinbo also called for more attention to the digitisation of trade processes across the continent.
“Currently, trade in Africa is largely reliant on physical documentation and this is a major impediment.
“Policymakers need to prioritize regulatory amendments that allows for the digital signatures, digital certificate of origin, digital bills of lading, and other documentation,” he said.
Covid-19: FG Removes India From Restricted Countries’ List
The Federal Government has lifted the ban placed on flights coming into the country from India.
The government had banned passengers, who visited India, Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey in the last 14 days from entering the country as part of precautionary measures to contain the virus in the country.
But in the new travel protocol released, yesterday, the Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, indicated that the ban placed on passengers from India has been lifted.
The reviewed protocol took effect from September 14, 2021.
However, the sanctions placed on airlines that convey passengers from restricted countries and travellers who are non-Nigerians remain.
Mustapha said, “Non-Nigerian passport holders and non-residents who visited Brazil, Turkey or South Africa within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria, shall be denied entry into Nigeria. This regulation, however, does not apply to passengers who transited through these countries.
“Airlines who fail to comply shall mandatorily pay a penalty of $3,500 defaulting passenger; and non-Nigerians will be denied entry and returned to the country of embarkation at cost to the Airline; Nigerians and those with a permanent resident permit who visited Brazil, Turkey, and South Africa within 14 days preceding travel to Nigeria shall be made to undergo seven days of mandatory quarantine in a government approved facility at the point-of-entry city and at cost to the passenger.
“The following conditions shall apply to such passengers: Within 24 hours of arrival shall take a Covid-19 PCR test; if positive, the passenger shall be admitted within a government-approved treatment centre, in line with national treatment protocols; and if negative, the passenger shall continue to remain in quarantine and made to undergo a repeat PCR test on day-7 of their quarantine.
“False declaration: passenger(s) who provided false or misleading contact information will be liable to prosecution; and person(s) who willfully disregard or refuse to comply with directions of Port-Health staff, security agencies or evade quarantine shall be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
“This protocol comes into effect from September 14, 2021.”
He said before departure from exit country, passengers must perform a Covid-19 PCR test not more than three days before boarding, adding that the PCR tests done more than 72 hours before departure are not valid and persons will not be allowed to board.
The PSC chairman stressed that airlines have been directed not to board passengers with non-PCR Covid-19 tests (such as antigen/or antibody tests), a positive Covid-19 PCR test result, or tests performed beyond 72 hours of boarding.
He added, “Airlines that board passengers without any of the two documents (a negative Covid-19 PCR test done not more than 72 hours prior to boarding and a Permit to Travel Certificate/QR code), shall be sanctioned as follows: passengers, who are non-Nigerians, will be refused entry and returned to the point of embarkation at a cost to the airline;
“Passengers who are Nigerians or holders of a permanent resident permit will be allowed entry but subjected to the procedure outlined in Section D.
“In addition, passengers arriving with forged (fake) Covid-19 PCR results shall be referred for prosecution; airlines shall be fined $3,500 per passenger.”
He said all passengers arriving in Nigeria will be required to go through the routine Port Health screening and present electronic or print-out evidence of pre-boarding Covid-19 PCR test and the Permit to Travel Certificate/QR Code as well as Present their international passports for clearance through the Nigerian Immigration Service System’s Migrants Identification Data Analysis System.
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