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£4.2M ‘Ibori Loot’: We’ve Not Received Money, says Delta State Government

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 The Delta State Government has said it has not seen the £4.2 million Ibori loot the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Ahmed Idris claimed the Federal Government has repatriated to it.

A source in the Government said on Wednesday: “We have not seen it, it has not landed in our account. May be they have started the process, but we have not seen it,” he said.

He was reacting to reports in a online newspaper, TheNewsGuru.com, that the state government had refuted reports that the £4.2m looted by former Governor James Ibori from the United Kingdom has been returned to the state coffers.

TheNewsGuru.com, TNG reports that Idris had on Tuesday said the funds had been transferred to the Delta State Government when he appeared before the House of Representatives’ Ad hoc Committee on Assessment and Status of All Recovered Loots Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020 by Agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria for Effective Efficient Management and Utilisation.

The Accountant-General told the Committee such funds looted from the treasury of a state are always returned to the state when repatriated.

“It was paid to Delta State,” he said when asked where the money was diverted to. “So such recoveries go specifically to those states. Honourable Chairman, any recovery arising from the looted funds from a particular state goes to the state. The state governors will not even allow this to fly.”

He added, “Some recoveries are for some state governments, specific state governments. I know there was a time recovery was made on behalf of Plateau State, there was one for Bayelsa, there is one for Delta,” he said when asked where the money was diverted to.

“You know they will not. They will take the Federal Government to court for holding their money. So we don’t joke or play with that, we pay them their money,” the AG told the House Committee on Tuesday.

‘Delta yet to receive a dime from FG’

However, in a swift reaction, the Delta State Government when contacted said neither the repatriated £4.2m looted funds nor the monthly allocation (May FAAC) had been received from federal government.

Sources close to the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa-led Delta State Government confided in TNG that the state has neither received the funds nor communicated to of the readiness of the federal government to do so.

“We have been bombarded with calls since the Accountant General made that unsubstantiated claims of the transfer of the funds to the Delta State Government. You are aware of the stand of the Attorney General of the Federation some few days back that the state won’t have a share of the money with FG despite efforts by the governor. Where the new development is coming from is still unknown to us. As I speak with you, we are yet to receive the monthly allocation. There is nothing to hide. Once the funds are transferred to us, Deltans and indeed the entire nation would be adequately informed and carried along on the expenditures, a top Delta State official told TNG on Wednesday morning.

AGF Malami rules out sharing repatriated funds with Delta State

TNG reports that Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had last week during a monitored interview on Channels Television ruled out the possibility of sharing the funds with the Delta State Government.

TNG reports that the Delta State Government and Niger Delta groups have earlier requested that the funds must on repatriation from the United Kingdom be transferred back to the state where it was pilfered from.

“I have spoken with the attorney-general of the federation. My attorney-general went to have a meeting with him. I think that we are working and we are likely to come on the same page. We have written a formal letter of protest to Mr President.

“We have made two suggestions; return the money directly to us or apply it directly to projects that we feel are of importance and are in Delta State so that Deltans can directly benefit from the repatriated funds and I don’t think anybody can fault that line (of thinking)”, Governor Okowa said in an interview in a recent interview on Channels TV.

However, the AGF said Nigeria would not deviate from the agreement reached with the United Kingdom government concerning the disbursement of the fund.

Malami while responding to questions on a monitored Channels Television programme last week said the government would expend the funds on projects. He listed the projects the money would be spent on according to the agreement reached.

The minister said, “The way international diplomatic processes operate with particular regard to the recovery of looted asset is more or less about engagement among the nations of interest.”

Okowa must use funds judiciously for benefits of all Deltans – APC

Meanwhile the Delta Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to make judicious use of the funds.

The party’s State Publicity Secretary (Caretaker), Mr Sylvester Imonina, made the call in a statement on Tuesday in Asaba.

He commended the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on ‘Assessment and Status of all Recovered loots; Movable and Immovable Assets from 2002 to 2020,’ for effective and efficient management of the situation.

He said “The Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr Ahmed Idris, told members of the committee and Nigerians that the recovered 4.2 million pounds allegedly siphoned by former Delta  Gov. Chief James Ibori, has been paid into the state government account.

“This step is commendable. Indeed, we of the Delta APC want to appreciate the President Muhammadu Buhari for making sure that what was looted from Delta was brought back to the state for its development.

“We are indeed grateful to Mr President for the fatherly disposition used in handling the circumstances and issues surrounding the recovery and the return of same to the state.

“Compared to some states in Nigeria of today which receive less amount of monies from the federation account,  there is no gainsaying the fact that the spirit of rapacity still exists in some government officials in Delta.

“For the sake of our dear state, we call on the State Governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, not to allow this economic lifeline (monies) to go the way of the past.

” The people of the state want to see positive changes in their lives,” he said.

Imonina urged the governor to be transparent in handling the recovered money and other monies accruing to the state.

“As a matter of fact, we urge the governor to tie this money to specific projects in the state.

“This will in no small measure bring joy to the people whenever they see the projects this money is used for,” he said.

He, however, said the people still feared that the returned money would likely be re-looted by those in government.

“To allay this fear, PDP led-government should be patriotic in its acts of governance.

“The APC noted that in view of the happenings in the state, the yearnings of people should not be brushed aside.

“On the other hand, the party calls on all citizens to be at alert and ask questions with follow-up actions on how what belongs to the state is expended by the Okowa led-government,” he said.

▪︎ Main report by The News Guru

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Crime

Marwa Warns Against Cannabis Legalisation

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Says “It is money versus life”

 

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) with the Chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mohammed Buba Marwa at the State House, Abuja, during a visit by Marwa to brief him on the activities of the agency (photo by The Guardian)

Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), has enjoined members of the National Assembly not to support to move to legalise cannabis, cautioning that members who vote for it might not be able to return to their constituencies.Marwa made the submission yesterday while fielding questions from newsmen after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

The former military administrator of Lagos said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed the dangers of cannabis to the brain, disclosing that Nigeria was the highest consumer of the substance globally.

Vowing that Nigeria would not submit to the push for its legalisation, Marwa said: “Now, the WHO itself has declared that cannabis affects the brain, alters brain function. It destabilises and affects behaviour. It also affects body organs, and at some point, it can lead to death.

“So, while we appreciate those who want to legalise it for financial gains, we have to be careful to reconcile it with life. So, it’s money versus life. And up to this point, science has not developed up to the point where it can remove the THC in cannabis to zero.

“Therefore, cannabis is harmful to our health; it is a danger to society. We must never allow its legalisation. What’s more, Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users; this is the highest in the world. Isn’t it sad?

“We should be the highest in science, technology, mathematics, physics and not highest in cannabis. That is something we need.

“We can never support legalisation and I don’t see how the National Assembly would pass the bill because I know 90 per cent or more of the honourable and distinguished members of the National Assembly know the implications of this legalisation. They dare not go back to their constituencies if anyone signs legalisation because we are seeing the implication on the ground. The youth, the families are being destroyed because of cannabis and drugs. It wouldn’t be legalised by the grace of God.”

Marwa, who revealed that he has received constant death threats from criminals in the course of his assignment, said he was not concerned even though he takes precautions.

Specifically, on the threats, he quipped: “Severally! It’s almost a daily occurrence because my phone number is open. Equally, messages come through family, through colleagues, and sometimes people at random whom we don’t know but I live in the territory. That said, we also take precautions.”

The NDLEA boss said he was at that presidential villa to brief President Buhari on the recent activities of the agency, especially the move to construct barracks for personnel of the agency, saying he received a positive response from the president on the initiative.

“Well, the President told us well done. And that well done does not go to Gen. Marwa but the NDLEA officers and men. And if there’s a secret behind it, we thank the Almighty God for the successes recorded so far, and also to the gallant and professional officers and men of the NDLEA who have remained upstanding.”

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Court freezes Kogi State Govt’s Bank Account over N20billion Salary Loan Fraud

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Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State

 

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday froze a Kogi salary bailout account domiciled in a new generation bank over a N20 billion loan obtained from the bank.

Justice Tijjani Garba Ringim made the order pending the conclusion of an investigation or possible prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The agency approached the court via an ex-parte application brought pursuant to Section 44(2) of the Constitution and Section 34(1) of the EFCC Act.

Its counsel, Mr A. O. Muhammed, informed the court that the order was necessary to preserve the res and abate further dissipation of the funds in the account.

Moving the application, Muhammed alleged that the N20b loan was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government but was kept in an interest yielding account with the bank.

He added that instead of using the money for the purpose it was meant for, the Kogi State Government instructed the bank to transfer the money from the loan account and place same in a fixed deposit account.

According to the agency, the bank is yet to present any credible evidence to show that the facility is well secured.

Granting the application, Justice Ringim ordered the EFCC to publish the order in a national newspaper and make a quarterly report to the court on the progress of its investigation.

The judge adjourned the matter till December 1, for the report of Investigation.

The EFCC’s allegations were made in its 13-paragraph affidavit in support of the ex-parte motion deposed to by a member of a team of investigators attached to the Chairman Monitoring Unit Lagos of the EFCC.

The document averred that the Commission received credible and direct intelligence which led to the tracing of funds reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities warehoused in the account with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account

He said the Commission acted on the said intelligence and assigned same to the Chairman Monitoring Unit, where it was discovered that on April 1, 2019, the management approved an offer of an N20billion bailout loan facility for the Kogi State Government.

According to the deponent, on June 19, 2019, fiscal year, the Kogi State Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Office of the Commissioner, applied for a credit facility of N20billion with an interest rate of nine per cent for a tenure of 240 months from the bank”.

The agency added that the said facility was meant to augment the salary payment and running cost of the state government.

It stated further that on June 26, 2019, the credit facility offer was accepted vide a memorandum of acceptance signed by Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Asiwaju Idris Asiru, the Commissioner of Finance Kogi State; and one Alhaji Momoh Jibrin, Accountant General, Kogi State.

It averred that before the said application for a loan, the Kogi State Government on the 19th June 2019 vide a letter to the Manager of the bank in Lokoja applied for an account opening in the Bank with the name Kogi State Salary Bailout Account with Alhaji Momoh Jubril, Accountant General of the State and Elijah Evinemi Ag. Director Treasury as the signatories to the said account.

“That upon the opening of the said account disbursed salary intervention loan to the tune of N20billion to the account.

“That rather than use the intervention funds for the purpose for which it was granted, the State Government proceeded to open a fixed deposit account No. 0073572696.

“That on the 25 day of July 2019, the bank acting on the instruction of the Kogi State Government transferred the money from the loan account and placed same on the aforementioned fixed deposit account.

“That the said account sought to be frozen received the sum of twenty billion naira, (N20, 000,000,000) on the 25th July 2019.

“That as of 1st day of April 2021 the balance standing to the credit of the said fixed deposit account was N19,333,333,333.36 billion

“That we are still tracing what the sum of N666,666,666.64 billion, has been deducted from the said funds and were not used for the payment of the salary.

“That the Commission has the statutory mandate to prevent the Commission of economic and financial Crimes with the shores of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That investigation in this matter is still ongoing and this application is pertinent to secure the funds in the said account to prevent them from being totally dissipated.

“That without freezing the nominated accounts, there is no better way of preserving

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