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Court Dismisses 11 Of 20 Fraud Charges Against Ex-Minister’s Son

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The Federal High Court Abuja, has discharged and acquitted Shamsudeen Bala, son of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed on 11 out of 20-count charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba acquited Bala, yesterday, while ruling on a no-case-submission filed by the defendant.
Bala is standing trial alongside four firms; Bird Trust Agro Allied Ltd, Intertrans Global Logistics Ltd, Diakin Telecommunications Ltd and Bal-Vac Mining Ltd.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had alleged that the four companies were used by Bala to launder over N1.1billion.
The EFCC also alleged that Bala went ahead to acquire houses within highbrow areas in Abuja which he paid for in cash, to conceal the stolen funds at his disposal.
The anti-graft agency claimed that some of the assets included five plots of land at Asokoro Gardens; House FS 2 B, Green Acre Estate Apo-Dutse, Abuja; House FS 1A, Green Acre Estate, Apo-Dutse; FS 1B, Green Acre Estate, Apo-Dutse, Abuja and House 2A, No. 7, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja.
Justice Dimgba freed Bala on counts one to 10 and count 20 which bordered on the allegation that Bala exceeded the permissible threshold of N5million in making payments for the acquisition of houses.
On the allegation that Bala bought property with cash above the stipulated financial threshold, the court noted that there was no evidence to back the claim.
The court held that the evidence laid by the prosecution witness amounted to hearsay, and therefore, was not tenable in law.
The judge, however, dismissed the no-case-submission in respect of counts 11, 12, 13, 14,15 and 16, which bordered on failure of Bala to disclose his assets in the assets declaration form he filled at the EFCC.
The trial court insisted that the defendant should explain counts 17, 18 and 19, which were predicated on forgery.
The judge adjourned the matter until February 28, 2022, for the defendant to open his defence on counts 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19.

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Nigeria’s GDP Grew By 3.11% In Q1 2022, NBS Affirms

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 3.11per cent in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS made this known via its Nigerian Gross Domestic Product Report Q1 2022 released, last Monday.
According to the report, Nigeria’s GDP grew by 3.11per cent year-on-year in real terms in the first quarter of 2022.
The NBS noted that the development showed a sustained positive growth for six consecutive quarters since the recession witnessed in 2020 when negative growth rates were recorded in quarter two and three of 2020.
It added that the first quarter 2022 growth rate further represents an improvement in economic performance.
The NBS stated: “The observed trend since Q4 of 2020 is an indication of a gradual economic stability.
“The Q1 of 2022 growth rate was higher than the 0.51per cent growth rate recorded in Q1 of 2021 by 2.60per cent points and lower than 3.98per cent recorded in Q4 of 2021 by 0.88per cent points.
“Nevertheless, quarter-on-quarter, real GDP grew at -14.66per cent in Q1 of 2022, compared to Q4 of 2021, reflecting a lower economic activity than the preceding quarter.
“In the period under review, aggregate GDP stood at about N45.317million in nominal terms.
“This performance is higher when compared to the first quarter of 2021 which recorded aggregate GDP of about N40.014million, indicating a year-on-year nominal growth rate of 13.25per cent.
“The nominal GDP growth rate in Q1 2022 was higher relative to the 12.25per cent growth recorded in Q1 2021, and higher compared to the 13.11per cent growth recorded in the preceding quarter,” the report read.

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RSG Launches RIV-CARES Programme …World Bank Rates Rivers High

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The Rivers State Government has launched the state COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme.
The state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike performed the launching at the NBA Secretariat in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Speaking through his Deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo, the governor said the programme was to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable households and support micro and small-scale enterprises as a means of stimulating economic growth post-COVID.
According to the State Chief Executive, “the state government had signed in for the programme, made provisions in the 2022 Budget for Result Areas and signed Funds Release Policy, which is an assurance to the World Bank that funds shall be released for the implementation of the programme”.
Wike said the launching of the RIV-CARES Programme would create awareness for the people of the state and engender expression of interest by beneficiary households, communities and operators of micro and small businesses (SMEs).
The governor, who encouraged the Rivers people to take advantage of the opportunities provided by RIV-CARES to enhance their means of livelihood and reduce the spate of poverty in the communities, commended the World Bank and the Federal CARES for their support to the state.
In her remarks, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs. Titilola Kuna Cline, said in a bid to check the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic on livelihoods, food security and micro and small businesses, the World Bank in partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the state governments, introduced the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) Programme.
She said the state scaled through rigorous preparatory stages and qualified to participate in the programme whose objective was “to expand access to livelihood support and food security services, and grants for poor and vulnerable households and firms”.
According to her, the stages include, signing of subsidiary loan agreement and fund release policy by the government.
Others include the establishment of the RIV-CARES Steering Committee, establishment of State- CARES Coordination Unit domiciled in the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning and preparation of work plan.
“The NG-CARES, after domestication of programme implementation manual now known as RIV-CARES programme has the State Coordination Unit (SCU) saddled with coordinating implementation of RIV-CARES programme in the state and reporting to Federal-CARES supporting unit and the World Bank in Abuja.
“It is also a bridge between the delivery platforms and the State-CARES Steering Committee and for delivery platform under three Results Areas (RA1-3).
Cline listed the three areas to include cash transfer unit, labour intensive public works and community-driven development social (CDD-S) Plus.
The rest are, FADAMA and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Also speaking, the representative of the World Bank, Mr. Aso Vakporaye, said the programme must succeed in order to kick out poverty from the state in view of the fact that failure to kick out poverty would make life difficult for the entire citizenry.
He, therefore, thanked the governor for making it possible for Rivers State to participate in the programme.
Similarly, the World Bank and the Federal Government have rated Rivers State high in the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus scheme by the state government.
Representative of the World Bank Task Team Leader, Mr.Aso Vakporaye said this, yesterday, in Port Harcourt at the official flag offand implementation of the Rivers State COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (RIV-CARES) Programme in the state.
Vakporaye, who is also the chairman of the Federal Government’sFederal-CARES Technician Committee,confirmed that Rivers State has met the requirements for the implementation of the programme.
He said alot still remains to be done,adding that the state needs to release more money for the implementation of the programme.
Also speaking, theTechnical Head of State CARESCoordinating Unitand Secretary,RIV-CARESSteering Committee,Mrs Imaonyeni Ephraim, said the programme would improve the livelihood of the poor and vulnerable people in the state.
She said the programme, which runs for two years,was open to many beneficiaries.
The flag off was performed by the state Deputy Governor,Dr.Ipalibo Harry Banigo, onbehalf of Governor Nyesom Wike.

By: John Bibor

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PDP Elects Senatorial Candidates For 2023 Elections

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Rivers State, last Monday, held its primary election to elect candidates who will fly its flags for the Senatorial election in 2023.
The election, which took place at the three senatorial headquarters of the state, saw the emergence of the state Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry Banigo, as the candidate for Rivers West Senatorial District, Chief Allwell Onyesoh won the primaries for Rivers East Senatorial District while Senator Barinaada Mpigi secured a return ticket to represent Rivers South East Senatorial District.
Speaking before the deployment of electoral officers and materials for the election, the state PDP Chairman, Amb Desmond Akawor, welcomed members of the electoral committee from the PDP National Headquarters, and briefed them on the successes so far recorded in the state House of Assembly and House of Representatives primaries.
Akawor said though some form of consensus had been reached concerning the senatorial aspirants, the party would still observe due diligence by ensuring that proper primary election was conducted at the three senatorial district headquarters, urging the electoral officers to be discrete in handling their assignment.
Chairman of the PDP Electoral Committee for the Senatorial Primary, Hon Donatus Etim, commended Governor Nyesom Wike for the enormous work done in strengthening the electoral process in the state, thereby making it possible for successful primaries to be held in the state.

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