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Two Nigerians Plead Guilty For Theft In US

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Two Nigerians, Johnson Ogunlana and Samson Oguntuyi, have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on the eve of trial, Maryland’s U.S. Attorney’s Office announced last Wednesday.
Ogunlana, 25, of Edgewood; and Oguntuyi, 29, of Atlanta; pleaded guilty for stealing personal information and credit cards from the mail and opening false accounts using personal information taken.
The two Nigerians stole over $500,000 using information taken from the mail one of them was supposed to deliver.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ogunlana was a postal carrier with the U.S. Postal Service in Brooklyn, Maryland.
He stole bank checks and credit and debit cards from the mail, sending photos of the mail and cards to Oguntuyi and others, who would use the personal identifying information from them to activate the cards and obtain new cards for their own use.
The two also opened fraudulent business bank accounts using the names of businesses they took from the mail and would even register them with the state government — using the names of victim businesses and postal customers as the agents and incorporators of the fake businesses, according to the office.
“Ogunlana also stole checks payable to victim businesses, whose mail was serviced out of the USPS facility where Ogunlana worked, by intercepting their mail,” the office stated.
“Oguntuyi and Ogunlana then endorsed some of the checks by forging the signatures of identity theft victims and deposited the checks into the fraudulent business bank accounts the conspirators opened in the names of the victim businesses.”
At least, $565,000 was stolen from two businesses, and at least, eight postal customers were victims of identity theft between July, 2016, and February, 2019, the office stated.
“Ogunlana and Oguntuyi each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud.
“Oguntuyi also faces a maximum of 30 years for bank fraud.
“Ogunlana faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for access device fraud and a maximum of five years in federal prison for theft of mail by a postal employee,” the office stated.
The full statement by U.S. Justice Department reads, “Two Nigerian nationals, Johnson B. Ogunlana, age 25, of Edgewood, Maryland, and Samson A. Oguntuyi, age 29, of Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty on the eve of trial to federal charges related to schemes to defraud financial institutions, retail establishments and other business victims, often using the stolen personal information of individual victims.
“Specifically, Ogunlana pleaded guilty on August 23, 2021 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud, access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and theft of mail by a postal employee. Yesterday, Oguntuyi pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.
“The guilty pleas were announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge Imari R. Niles of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General; and Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel A. Adame of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service – Washington Division.
“According to their plea agreements, Ogunlana was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in Brooklyn, Maryland. Ogunlana knew that his duties and responsibilities as a letter carrier included handling, sorting, collecting, and delivering letter and parcel mail to postal customers residing and conducting business on his assigned postal delivery routes, and preserving and protecting the security of all mail in his custody.
“Ogunlana and Oguntuyi acknowledged that between July 25, 2016, and February 5, 2019, they conspired together and with others to steal bank checks and credit and debit cards from the mail, open fraudulent business banking accounts using the names of victim businesses and the stolen identities of victim postal customers to negotiate the stolen checks by depositing them into the fraudulent bank accounts, and then conduct transactions with stolen payment cards and with money derived from the stolen checks.
“For example, Ogunlana intercepted and stole mail pieces containing credit cards addressed to individual victims and sent photos of the stolen mail pieces and credit cards through a messaging application to Oguntuyi and other conspirators.
“Oguntuyi then used the victims’ personal identifying information (“PII”) to activate the stolen credit cards and to obtain new credit cards the victims never requested or applied for. Once the stolen credit cards were activated, members of the conspiracy used the credit cards to make retail purchases.
“As detailed in their plea agreements, members of the conspiracy registered fraudulent businesses with state government agencies using the names of victim businesses and the names and identifying information of postal customer identity theft victims as the agents and/or incorporators of the businesses.
“Ogunlana and others used stolen payment cards issued to identity theft victims to pay fees to register some of the fraudulent businesses. Ogunlana also stole checks payable to victim businesses, whose mail was serviced out of the USPS facility where Ogunlana worked, by intercepting their mail.
“Oguntuyi and Ogunlana then endorsed some of the checks by forging the signatures of identity theft victims and deposited the checks into the fraudulent business bank accounts the conspirators opened in the names of the victim businesses. The conspirators then withdrew the money from the accounts through cash withdrawals; debit card purchases and cash back transactions at retail merchants, wire transfers, and by writing checks drawn on the accounts.
“As detailed in their plea agreements, at least $565,000 was stolen from two victim businesses and at least eight postal customers were victims of identity theft.
“Ogunlana and Oguntuyi each face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud and mail fraud. Oguntuyi also faces a maximum of 30 years for bank fraud.
“Ogunlana faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for access device fraud and a maximum of five years in federal prison for theft of mail by a postal employee.
“Both defendants face a mandatory sentence of two years, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.
“A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has not yet scheduled sentencing for the defendants.
“Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their work in the investigation and thanked the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for its assistance. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Maddox and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Davio, who are prosecuting the case”, it added.

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FG Adopts Innovative Approach To Fund Climate Change Mitigation

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The Federal Government has adopted innovative approach, including carbon tax, to fund the mitigation of the impact of climate change in the country.
The Director-General, National Council on Climate Change, Dr SalisuDahiru, disclosed this to newsmen in Lagos.
Dahiru spoke on the sidelines of a technical workshop on Agro Climate Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) project, yesterday.
Dahiru said that President MuhammaduBuhari, in creating the council, adopted an innovative approach because the council was going to be the main vehicle that would drive his climate change policy and agenda.
“So, he decided to adopt an innovative approach that will provide sufficient funding and in a timely manner.
“This is to ensure that the council is able to operate, function and discharge responsibilities with little hindrance.
“So, two things are associated with the funding; the major funding source will be the budget.
“But within the Act establishing the council, there is going to be the introduction of Carbon Tax,” Dahiru said.
The DG said that carbon tax was done all over the world because of the grave existential threat of climate change.
“If we do not deal with climate change, climate change will deal with all of us.
“So, this carbon tax will have to come in because that’s the only way that we can clean up our environment and refresh the air,” Dahiru said.
He said that there would be the establishment of a climate change fund, where the government, the private sector and development partners would make contributions.
Dahiru said that another way the council hoped to raise fund was through the establishment of a Redd Plus registry.
“We can demonstrate through the Redd Plus programme, which is called reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
“If we show that we are no longer cutting down the forests, that we are conserving the forest, then, we will be eligible to be paid carbon credits.
“This is calculated based on how much emissions we have prevented from going to the atmosphere as a result of conserving the forest that will also be fed into the funding of the activities of the council.
“And then we will also have this support from the International Organisation for Climate Change.
He said “we are able to do clean projects; projects that will add to our ability to fulfill our obligations under the nationally determined contributions to climate change mitigation in the world”.
“Then development partners under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will provide additional support to the country,” Dahiru said.

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Nigeria Losses 400,000 Barrels Daily To Oil Theft, FG Laments

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, has affirmed that the country loses 400,000 barrels of crude daily via oil theft.
Sylva stated this when he paid a courtesy visit to the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, at the Government House, Owerri.
He described the development as a “national emergency”.
Sylva regretted that the nation had fallen short of OPEC daily quota, from 1.8million barrels to 1.4million barrels, due to crude theft.
The minister warned that such a huge economic loss was capable of crippling the nation’s economy if not given the seriousness it deserved.
He expressed concern that the menace had persisted, in spite of the efforts by the federal and state governments to arrest it.
Sylva said the problem of crude theft could not be handled in Abuja alone.
“It is a national emergency because the theft has grown wings and reached a very bad crescendo.
“This is because the thefts are taking place in the communities that host the oil pipelines.
“As a result, it has become necessary to involve the stakeholders, especially the host communities.
“And because of the height and orchestrated nature of the menace, Nigeria could not take the advantage and opportunities that abound in the gas production.
“This is because no investor would want to invest where there is incessant insecurity and vandalism of the infrastructure,” he said.
The minister, therefore, appealed to the stakeholders to collaborate to solve the problem.

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We’ve Disbursed N100bn To Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Buhari Boasts

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government has disbursed a total of N100billion to indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare investors as loans to expand their capital base and boost local production of medicines and medical consumables.
Buhari said this, yesterday, while receiving the new executive members of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The president said the loan was extended through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s support to the private pharmaceutical sector.
He added that the Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, was currently exploring models for revitalising the nation’s healthcare system, in ways that improve quality of care and the benefit package to care providers.
On brain drain in the health sector, the president said he has directed the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, to look into ways of turning “brain drain” to “brain gain” by engaging top Nigerian medical experts in the Diaspora in knowledge and skills repatriation.
He urged the NMA and other stakeholders in the health sector to support initiatives by the Federal Government and work with the committees set up to chart a fast track to a health system that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st Century.
The president also commended the association, which is the umbrella body of all medical practitioners in Nigeria, for consistently choosing peaceful resolution of differences on matters pertinent to the National health system.
“I commend our medical professionals for their contribution to Nigeria’s exemplary management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control of malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis, and other feats also achieved by Nigerian doctors in the Diaspora.
“Our response to COVID-19 pandemic has been praised internationally and your members are key parts of this success.
“I recall that in the last quarter of 2021, the immediate past NMA Executives visited me and presented recommendations for the health sector, which included, the review and amendment of NHIS Act; upgrading and equipping existing health institutions; loans to fund hospital equipment; the repeal and re-enactment of the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act; and Appeal for more funding for the four newly established Universities of Medical Sciences.
“I am pleased to inform you that most of these recommendations have been addressed, whilst further action is being taken to study those involving cross-cutting administrative processes with legal implications,” Buhari was quoted as saying in a statement issued, yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Buhari further congratulated former NMA President, Dr.Osahon Enabulele, on his emergence as the president-elect of the World Medical Association, the first Nigerian to hold the position.
While wishing him a successful tenure, the president expressed hope that Enabulele would use his position to support improvement in health care delivery in Nigeria and lower income countries.üÿ
He also wished the new executive members of NMA a successful tenure, urging them to earnestly continue to serve as arbiters of peace and progress.
The Minister of Health, Dr OsagieEhanire, who led the medical practitioners to the meeting, affirmed that the doctors have been good partners with his ministry, helping to regulate the health profession as well as stressing quality service delivery.
In his remarks, the NMA President, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, said the new National Officers Committee (NOC) was elected on May 21, 2022.
Ojinmah commended Buhari for his “steadfast war against corruption, assent to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act which will improve the health indices of our nation, the constitution of the Health Reform Committee under Vice President YemiOsinbajo, and the various infrastructural projects embarked upon by the Buhari administration.”
He, however, enjoined the president to ensure full and appropriate implementation of the NHIA Act, provision of “adequate work equipment, conducive work environment and necessary budget support”, as well as elongation of the retirement age for medical consultants to 70 years and 65 years for non-consultant doctors and other healthcare workers.
Others include implementation of the hazard allowance circularised in December 2021 with the arrears as well as the setting up of a Health Bank.
The NMA president also requested a representation of the Federal Government at the inauguration of Enabulele in Berlin, Germany, later in the year.

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