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HEDA to Solicitor-General: Provide Nigerians with information on 23 high profile corruption cases

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The Solicitor General of the Federation has been asked to provide information to the public on about 23 high profile
cases of corruption transferred by the Special Presidential
Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property to the office of
the Solicitor General of the Federation and the Permanent Secretary,
Ministry of Justice.
The cases were transferred in August last year through a presidential directive.
Invoking the Freedom of Information Act, the Human and Environmental
Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) in a petition signed by its
Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, addressed to the Solicitor General, Mr.
Tayo Apata (SAN), said they were transferred but the public have been
kept in the dark as to their status.
In the request, HEDA gave a
seven-day notice to the Solicitor General in accordance with the
provision of the FOI Act.
HEDA said its request was informed by suspension of Okoi Obono Obla as
the Chairman, Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery
of Public Property.
There were media reports that President Muhammadu Buhari suspended the
panel which was to investigate specifically mandated cases of
corruption, abuse of office and similar offences by public officers.
Buhari had ordered the transfer of responsibilities to the Solicitor
General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Justice
to continue with all outstanding investigations and other activities of
the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public
Property.
“Since the transfer of these high profile cases, nothing appears to have
been done. HEDA has been watching with keen interests. Nigerians have
been waiting since the transfer of the cases but nothing has been done.
It is important to know what has happened to these crucial cases” Suraju
said.
HEDA stated in the request based on the Freedom of Information Act,
2011. Section 1 of the Act states that notwithstanding anything
contained in any other Act, law or regulation, the right of any person
to access or request information, whether or not contained in any
written form, which is in the custody or possession of any public
official, agency or institution howsoever described, is established.
The Freedom of Information Act in Section 1(2) also states that an
applicant need not demonstrate any specific interest in the information
being applied for. Section 2 provides that a public institution shall
ensure that its records and keeps its information about all its
activities, operations and businesses.
And Section 3 provides that an
application for access to a record or information shall be made in
accordance with Section 1 of the Act”
HEDA said it is in possession of a letter dated August 29 2019 from the
Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public
Property to the Solicitor General of the Federation with reference
number, SGF/PS/SPIP1733, titled, “RE: REPORT ON ALL PROSECUTION AND
COURT PROCESSES”
The group said the letter details a response from the
Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public
Property to a letter from the Solicitor General of the Federation dated
the August 15.
It said the enclosure details the lists of the cases that
were under investigation and prosecution by the Special Presidential
Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.
Citing media reports, HEDA said the said transfer by Special
Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property was
effected sometime in August 2019 but that five months after the transfer
of the cases to the office of the Solicitor General of the Federation,
the public has been left in the dark on the progress report of the
cases.
HEDA said keeping sealed lips on the critical corruption cases might
suggest that the cases have been swept under the carpet.
And in the bid
to strengthening the course of accountability and transparency in the
civil service, we strongly believe this information will aid our public
inclusiveness in the fight of corruption by the Government.
Section 20 of the Freedom of Information Act provides that any applicant
who has been denied access to information or a part thereof, may apply
to the court for a review of the matter within 30 days after which the
public institution denies or is deemed to have denied the application,
or within such further time as the court may either before or after the
expiration of the 30 days fix or allow.

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Senate names Jonathan, Sambo in N665.8bn diversion, demands refund

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Senate has demanded a refund of funds totalling N665.8bn which were allegedly diverted by the Office of Accountant General of the Federation from the Solid Mineral Development Fund and Stabilisation Fund to ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

The beneficiaries, according to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, included Independent National Electoral Commission, Ministry of Power, Nigerian Army, as well as former President Goodluck Jonathan and ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo, among others.

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, which is chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide, in its report on the audit queries by the auditor-general, said investigation showed that part of the fund was used as entitlement to Jonathan and Sambo, about N1.5bn paid on June 11, 2015.

It also found that INEC collected about N20bn from Development of Natural Resources Funds, apart from the N17.9bn collected from other sources.

Part of the N30bn released to INEC for the conduct of the 2015 general elections, N10bn was released on July 3, 2014, while N20bn was released on January 12, 2015.

Other beneficiaries of the diverted funds were the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N3.6bn; N50bn to fund deficit in 2004; Ministry of Works, N2bn; Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, N13bn; Ministry of Sports, N500m; monetisation arrears due to Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s staff, N57.5bn; N70bn to accelerate capital budget in 2010; loan to facilitate the funding of capital budget in 2010, N80bn; loan to facilitate 2013 capital budget, Fourth Quarter, N80.7bn; and loan to Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, N6bn, in 2014.”

Also, N15bn was released to Lucius Nwosu as judgment debt out of N37bn for genocide at Odi; N14bn was released to Ministry of Power for Kasshibilla Hydropower Transmission Projects, among others.

From the Stabilisation Fund, N847m was given to Ghana and Sao Time Pricipe, while INEC also collected N87bn to commence the conduct of fresh voter registration. It paid back N21bn and is yet to balance N66.7bn.

In addition, N32bn was for the completion of Third Quarter and Fourth Quarter of 2013’s capital projects; N2bn for the funding of army operations in 2013; another N3bn loan to INEC for the speed-up of electoral process in 2013; loan to Nigerian Army for recruitment of 9,000 in 2013, N3.5bn, among others.

The auditor-general in the query on depletion of the special funds had said, “Amounts totalling N455bn were withdrawn from Development of Natural Resources as loans to various beneficiaries between 2004 and 2015, contrary to the established objectives of the funds.

“The purpose of the Development of Natural Resources Fund is to provide financial resources to development alternative mineral resources development. The Development of Natural Resources Fund belongs to the Federal Government.

“Also, various amounts totalling N210.3bn were withdrawn from Stabilisation Fund as loans to various beneficiaries between 2004 and 2015, contrary to the established objectives of the funds.

“The purpose of the Stabilisation Fund is to provide for unforeseen contingencies and economic downturn and the beneficiaries are the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The Stabilisation Fund belongs to three tiers of government.”

The Senate, after consideration and adoption of its Committees on Public Accounts, ordered the Accountant General of the Federation to ensure refund within 60 days.

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American court jails Canada-based Nigerian Morakinyo for cyber fraud, to refund $975,863

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A court in the Western District of Texas on Wednesday sentenced Canada-based Nigerian, Olumide Bankole Morakinyo, to eight years in prison for conspiracy and money laundering.

He is also expected to refund $975,863 to the multiple victims of his crime.

According to the United States Attorney’s office, 38-year-old Morakinyo conspired with one Lukman Aminu to create illegal accounts for participants on the online portal of the Texas Employees Retirement System.

The court document, obtained by our correspondent, revealed that the duo used bank deposit information in the system to re-route pension payments to accounts controlled by Aminu.

With the physical debit cards of those accounts, Aminu withdrew the money and transfered or deposited the cash at Morakinyo’s directions.

“This defendant’s scheme and those like it victimise our most vulnerable citizens and cost taxpayers billions each year.

“Our office will use all of the available legal tools to identify and bring to justice those who commit cyber-enabled fraud and launder the proceeds,” U.S. Attorney Ashley Hoff said

During the hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman also ordered that Morakinyo be supervised for three years upon completion of his jail term.

Aminu, on the other hand, was charged in a separate indictment, and was sentenced to a 51-month jail term on December 18, 2019.

Nigerian national residing in Canada, was sentenced today to eight years in prison and repayment of $975,863 in restitution to multiple victims for conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“This Defendant’s scheme and those like it victimize our most vulnerable citizens and cost taxpayers billions each year,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “Our office will use all of the available legal tools to identify and bring to justice those who commit cyber-enabled fraud and launder the proceeds.”

“According to court documents, Morakinyo conspired with Lukman Shina Aminu, a resident of New Hampshire, to create unauthorized accounts for participants in the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) internet portal. Personally identifiable information (PII) of various ERS participants was used to make changes to their accounts in the ERS internet portal. Bank deposit information on file in the system was changed to re-route retirement payments to debit cards controlled by Aminu. Aminu, who possessed the physical debit cards, would withdraw money under instructions from Morakinyo and then transfer or deposit that money at Morakinyo’s direction.

“The debit cards were also used for cash withdrawals and to purchase money orders for personal expenses and for buying used vehicles to be shipped overseas to Nigeria and Benin for resale. With these international automobile transactions, Morakinyo and his conspirators laundered the fraud proceeds by concealing the source of the funds and making the money appear to be legitimate income.

 

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Unity Bank shareholders lose N468m as stakeholders rush to take out investment

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A rush by shareholders to cash in on a slight increase in the share value of Unity Bank has caused value of share of the financial institution to dip by N467.57 million.

Last week, shareholders of Unity Bank saw their investment rise by 3.3 percent following renewed investors’ interest in the company’s stock at the capital market.

On July 15, Unity Bank stock was valued at N0.59kobo per share, but the next day, the share price depreciated to N0.54kobo, but recorded an uptick between July 17 to July 23, as it moved from N0.55kobo to N0.61kobo.

Unity Bank’s bull run continued on Monday after a slight increase to hit N0.62kobo. However, the appreciation in share value was short-lived on Tuesday.
Some shareholders moved to protect their profit from last week’s uptick which handed them N233.78 million. The sell off among stakeholders caused Unity Bank market value to crash by 6.45 percent on Tuesday, according to Ripples Nigeria analysis.

Over 1.09 million volume of shares was sold off at the capital market at a reduced cost of N0.58kobo per share, in contrast to the 669,132 shares sold on Monday at N0.62kobo.

The sell off on Tuesday caused a decline in the worth of investments held by the remaining stakeholders as over N467.57 million was lost.

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