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‘Why US Demands Commitments When Repatriating Stolen Funds’

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The United States Government has said that it pushes for commitment when repatriating to countries looted funds in its domain to ensure transparency and accountability and strengthen anti-corruption prevention.
It said it was for this reason the agreements signed during the release of the funds often include the specified use of the funds, as observed in the August 23, 2022 and 2020 agreements with Nigeria.
The latest agreement indicated that the $23million recently transferred to the Federal Government, which would be administered by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), would help in financing the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos–Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kano Road.
The US has in recent years returned to Nigeria $334.7million, including the $311.7million returned in 2020, stolen by former Head of State, late Gen. SaniAbacha.
The US Department of State’s Coordinator of Global Anti-Corruption, Richard Nephew, in his response to our correspondent’s enquiries as part of his maiden press briefing recently noted that the US would continue to work aggressively to prosecute money launderers and their facilitators for the benefit of the people harmed by corruption around the world.
He stated, “When negotiating these agreements, the United States, led by my counterparts in the Department of Justice, pushes for commitments by countries to strengthen anti-corruption prevention and legal frameworks, enhance enforcement efforts through effective investigation and prosecution, and ensure transparency and accountability in asset return.
“With respect to the agreement signed on August 23, the United States transferred 100per cent of the net forfeited assets totalling approximately $23million to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to support three critical infrastructure projects in Nigeria that were previously authorised by Nigerian President, MuhammaduBuhari, and the Nigerian legislature”.
He noted that important safeguards were inserted in the agreements to ensure transparency.
Nephew added, “The August 23 agreement is consistent with the approach taken in the agreement signed in 2020 by the US Department of Justice and the governments of the Bailiwick of Jersey and Nigeria, through which approximately $311million in stolen assets linked to SaniAbacha’s embezzlement schemes were recovered.
“Both agreements are comprehensive in that they include specified uses of the funds but also important safeguards to ensure transparency and accountability, including administration of the funds and projects by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, financial review by an independent auditor, and monitoring by an independent civil society organisation with expertise in engineering and other areas.”
Meanwhile, Nephew pointed out that since the United States launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative in 2010, the Department of Justice had filed cases in court to confiscate over $3.4billion in corruption proceeds, confiscated over $1.7billion of the assets and returned or assisted in the return of over $1.6billion to the economies from which the money was stolen.
He noted that Nigeria and some other countries owned a significant amount of the sum.
He added, “Importantly, this is an aggregate amount from a variety of countries. A significant portion of these assets have involved criminal proceeds linked to Nigeria, but also Malaysia, Ukraine, and several other countries involving smaller amounts like the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Armenia, Equatorial Guinea, Panama, Canada, and Peru.”
He noted that there was no silver bullet to solve corruption, but that without a strong legal system to enforce laws, investigate and prosecute corrupt actors consistently, and without systems to enforce transparent processes around public procurements or hiring within the public sector, corruption often flourished.

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June 12: DSS Issues Stern Warning Against Protest

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has warned individuals and groups planning to stage protests on June 12, Democracy Day, to desist from any violent or disruptive actions.
The warning was contained in a statement signed by the Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, yesterday.
The Service said it has received intelligence on plans to incite violence and disrupt public order during the protests.
The security agency vowed to maintain public safety and national security and urged citizens to resist any persuasions to engage in lawless acts.
The DSS also encouraged disgruntled persons to channel their grievances through appropriate channels and procedures.
Afunanya said: “The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to plans by certain individuals and groups to stage physical protests in some parts of the country on 12th June 2024. These protests are designed with sinister objectives to coincide with the Democracy Day Celebration.
“While citizens may have the rights of assembly and expression, such freedoms should not be used to undermine public safety and national security. The determination by some non-state actors to incite mass disaffection through demonstrations that may turn violent will not be tolerated.
“Citizens are, therefore, called upon to resist any persuasions to be lawless or cause disorder and anarchy in the nation. Displeased persons are rather encouraged to appropriately channel their grievances through the right channels and procedures.
“The Service, while felicitating the government and citizens on this auspicious occasion of celebrating 25 years of unbroken democracy, calls for continued patriotism, unity and commitment to building a Nigeria of our collective dream.
“The Service will sustain collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including sister security agencies, to maintain the peace as well as protect lives and property across the nation. Law-abiding citizens are enjoined to go about their businesses without fear.”

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Court’s CTC Validates Our Position On Amaewhule, Others -Rivers AG …Advises Media Against Misinterpretation Of Judgements

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The Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Dagogo Israel Iboroma, SAN, has said that the State High Court neither declared nor affirmed Martin Amaewhule as Speaker of the House of Assembly, stressing that the certified true copy (CTC) of court judgment validates the government’s position.
Mr Iboroma also urged media practitioners to desist from giving interpretations to court judgments by fiat, emotional or other shades of persuasions.
Rather, he advised that they should first obtain the judgement in order to read it thoroughly to gain proper understanding or at best, seek competent legal advice before going to press.
Mr Iboroma gave the advice yesterday night while briefing newsmen after obtaining the certified true copy (CTC) of the Monday court judgment in Port Harcourt.
The briefing was to restate his earlier position that there was no court ruling that ever declared or affirmed Martin Amaewhule and 26 others as members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Rivers State House of Assembly.
Iboroma said: “Yesterday (Monday), I briefed the press and made the point that there is a misrepresentation of the judgment of the High Court of Rivers State in Suit No. DHC/20/CS/2024 in social, print, and electronic media.
“My position has been confirmed and vindicated by the Certified True Copy of the court order in Suit No. DHC/20/CS/2024.”
Mr Iboroma stated that a court order embodied the enforceable decisions of a court, adding that in this case in focus, the enforceable orders of the court will necessarily entail the specific pronouncements of the court.
He listed the three orders of the court in the judgment to include: “That this Suit be and is hereby dismissed/struck out for want of jurisdiction.
“That the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) be and is hereby joined as 4th defendant.
“That the claimants’ case be and is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit.”
Mr Iboroma further said: “Contrary to the false claims and misrepresentation in social, print and electronic media, the court did not make a declaration that Martin Amaewhule is the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, neither did it make a declaration that Martin Amaewhule and 26 others are members of the Rivers State House of Assembly and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“If it were so, it would have been embodied in the court orders which have been circulated to you all and displayed by me here for the purpose of clarity.”
Mr Iboroma regretted that by the deliberate misrepresentation of yesterday (Monday), the court was painted in bad light and the public misled with such misinformation.
He said: “Whatever finding of fact that is not included in the court order is an Obiter Dictum, which has no binding force.
“Once again, I respectively urge the media to desist from giving any interpretation to any judgement without first reading the content of the judgement and seeking legal advice,” the attorney-general added.

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Sexual Harassment: Minister Drags Perm Sec Before Head Of Service

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, has formally lodged a complaint with the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation regarding allegations of sexual harassment levelled against the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Ibrahim Lamuwa.
In a letter addressed to the HOCSF dated May 27, 2024, Tuggar expressed his concern over the serious nature of the allegation levelled against the permanent secretary by Mrs Simisola Ajayi.
He emphasised the importance of addressing the matter urgently and thoroughly.
The letter was titled, “Re: Official Complaint Regarding Sexual Harassment Of Mrs Simisola Fajemirokun Ajayi By Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa (Permanent Secretary Ministry Of Foreign Affairs.
It read, “I am compelled to write to inform you of a formal complaint against the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Ibrahim Adamu Lamuwa, on allegations of sexual harassment.
“Bearing in mind the gravity of the matter, I feel it necessary to draw your attention to it and ask that you handle it accordingly,”
The letter included an attachment of the complaint received via email, and Tuggar assured the HOCSF his full cooperation in the investigation.
“May I also assure you that I remain available to provide you with any assistance required in discharging your responsibilities,” he added.
Ajayi, had a petition dated May 29, 2024, addressed to Tuggar, accused the permanent secretary of serial sexual harrasment.
Ajayi, through her lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), called for a thorough investigation into the actions of Amb. Lamuwa.
The petition, signed by Adebayo A. Oniyelu LP of Falana & Falana’s, was titled “Request For An Investigation Of Amb. Ibrahim Lamuwa’s Conducts Of Sexual Harassment At The Place Of Work, Abuse Of Office, Official Intimidation And Discrimination.”
According to the petition, Ajayi narrated multiple instances of harassment allegedly by Lamuwa, which have created an unsafe and uncomfortable working environment.
She claimed for instance that during a policy retreat on October 7, 2023, Lamuwa allegedly made inappropriate advances towards her, suggesting she joined him in his hotel room.
He reportedly continued with inappropriate remarks throughout the retreat.
She also cited an incident on November 10, 2023, where Lamuwa allegedly invited Ajayi to travel to Hong Kong, promising significant personal benefits from the trip.

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