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Transparency International knocks Buhari’s anti-corruption war

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Transparency International (TI), has declared that efforts by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to checkmate corruption in Nigeria have yielded no improvement so far.

Nigeria occupies the 144th position out of 180 countries polled in the latest (2018) global Corruption Perception Index (CPI), released yesterday. In 2017, the world anti-corruption watchdog ranked Nigeria 148.

TI linked the country’s unenviable rating to over-bloated contract costs, abuse of security votes, and the recalcitrance of the government to try certain persons found culpable in corruption-related charges, among others.

The report noted that in spite of a number of positive steps by the administration in the past three years, including the establishment of a presidential advisory committee against corruption, improvement of the anti-corruption legal and policy framework in areas like public procurement and asset declaration, and the development of a national anti-corruption strategy, among others, these efforts have clearly not yet yielded the desired results.

TI’s CPI stated that although Buhari campaigned in 2015 to tackle corrupt practices in government’s businesses, and won the presidential election by defeating an incumbent president for the first time in Nigeria’s political history, his subsequent anti-corruption policies and strategies have clearly not yielded any results.

In the newly-released CPI published in Nigeria exclusively by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), TI revealed that Nigeria scored 27 out of 100 points in 2018, maintaining the same score as in 2017.

In the new report, TI said Nigeria was one of the five African countries under its close watch with regards to political developments in them.

Others on the watchlist are South Africa, Angola, Botswana and Kenya.

“With a score of 27, Nigeria remained unchanged on the CPI since 2017. Corruption was one of the biggest topics leading up to the 2015 election and it is expected to remain high on the agenda as the country prepares for this year’s presidential election taking place in February.

“Nigeria’s Buhari administration took a number of positive steps in the past three years, including the establishment of a presidential advisory committee against corruption, the improvement of the anti-corruption legal and policy framework in areas like public procurement and asset declaration, and the development of a national anti-corruption strategy, among others. However, these efforts have clearly not yielded the desired results. At least, not yet,” said the TI report.

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EFCC

Magu raps UK over Diezani corruption case

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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu on Wednesday faulted the United Kingdom (UK) for foot-dragging on the investigation and trial of former Petroleum Resources Minister Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke, who has been in the UK since 2015, is being investigated by the UK government on issues of corruption.

But Magu said it was regretful that the matter has dragged on in the UK for more than four years with no visible result and no end in sight.

He spoke when a team of International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) at the Abuja headquarters of the EFCC.
Magu said: “There is the case of Mrs. Alison-Madueke which has been going on for over four years and the amount involved is about $2.4 billion and no kobo has been recovered from overseas.

“Though we have recovered some of the proceeds of the crime, we are still tracing others.”

He, however, said the commission’s relationship with INTERPOL has made it easier to place suspects on red notice.

He added: “Though we have not been able to arrest some of these fleeing people, it is good that they know they are on red notice, as there are Nigerians like Alison-Madueke whom we have applied for.”
A statement by the agency’s Acting Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Tony Orilade, quoted Magu as saying: “Getting Alison-Madueke, Dan Etete, (former petroleum minister), Mohammed Adoke (former attorney general and minister of justice), all of whom are overseas and facing fraud cases in Nigeria, back to the country has been a problem.

“He, therefore, urged their new countries of residence to either prosecute them or hand them over to Nigeria since they are Nigerians.”

The EFCC boss assured Interpol of the commission’s continued support towards the strengthening of collaboration, particularly in information sharing.

He added: “We are willing to cooperate with Interpol at all times if there is anything other enforcement agencies cannot provide especially in financial crime, the Interpol is sure to get a result here in EFCC because we specialize in financial crime, money laundering, and terrorist financing.

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EFCC

EFCC seals properties belonging to Okorocha

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Rochas Foundation School, East High College and seven other choice properties linked to the immediate past governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and members of his family have been sealed in the Southeast state. They were sealed on Tuesday night by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency said it decided to mark the assets because the former governor and his relations spurned its invitation for questioning.

The other assets are: Royal Spring Palm Hotel and Apartment, a 16 block cum 96 flats and eight bungalow multi-million naira estate, allegedly belonging to Okorocha’s wife; a hospital-owned by Dr. Paschal Obi, a former Principal Secretary to the former governor; and East High Academy and East High College, owned by Okorocha’s daughter, Uloma Okorocha-Nwosu, among others.
The commission said it at no time “raided” nor “harassed” anyone in the course of marking the properties.

It denied raiding and displacing students of Rochas Foundation College because the school was not in session.

The Commission urged Nigerians to disregard the antics of some unscrupulous politicians and fraudsters.

The EFCC made the clarifications in a statement in Abuja through its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Tony Orilade.

The statement said: “The EFCC wishes to state that its Enugu Zonal Office on Tuesday traced and marked some properties traced to the former Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha as well as those of his family members and cronies.

“The marking of the properties which is a fall-out of our painstaking investigation is as a result of the failure of the suspects to honor the commission’s invitation for questioning on the propriety of their acquisition.
The properties include: Dews of Hope Hospital traced to Dr. Paschal Obi, former Principal Secretary to ex-governor Okorocha; Market Square Super Market; All in One Shop; and premises belonging to Imo State Broadcasting Corporation now hosting Rochas Foundation College owned by Senator Okorocha.

“Other properties are East High Academy and East High College, owned by Okorocha’s daughter, Uloma Okorocha-Nwosu; Royal Spring Palm Hotel and Apartment, a 16 block cum 96 flats and eight bungalows multi-million naira estate traced to Okorocha’s wife.

The EFCC explained that it gave occupants of the properties adequate notice before moving in.

The statement added: “The commission at no time “raided” nor “harassed” anyone in the course of marking the properties as its operatives, in line with international best practices, informed the occupants of the facilities in good time, before taking the action.

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EFCC

Goje denies N25 billion corruption charge

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Sen. Danjuma Goje, the senator representing Gombe Central at the National Assembly has said that at no time did he faced corruption charge totaling N25 billion. Goje disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday in a statement made available to newsmen.

The statement signed by Mr. Paul Erokoro, lawyer to the senator said the claim was “inaccurate and untrue.”

Erokoro was reacting to recent reports in the media that corruption charge being faced by the senator were withdrawn following his decision to step down from the Senate president race in June.

He insisted that the actual amount mentioned in the charge was N9 billion.

“The so-called “N25b fraud” that has been bandied about in the media, never featured in the case.

“The sum total of all the monies mentioned in the charge was about N8b.

“Of that total, N5billion was a loan taken from Access Bank for completion of infrastructural projects such as the Gombe airport, waterworks, numerous roads, Gombe Jewel Hotels, schools, hospitals, and rural electrification.

“The bank testified in Court that the money was properly utilized for the projects. The EFCC investigators also confirmed to the Court that the projects were all completed.”

On the N1 billion agricultural loan, he said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had testified in court that the loan was utilized in full compliance with the bank’s loan conditions.

“Other witnesses told the court that the governor never awarded any contract for the supply of food to Government House and Government Guest Houses during his tenure for the N1 billion alleged in the charge or for any other sum.

“On the N1.6 billion for the supply of English Dictionaries for primary and secondary schools, the Court was told that Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) gave its approval and that the contract was advertised in two newspapers and that reputable book publishers and suppliers tendered and that State Universal Basic Education Board awarded the contract to the lowest bidder.”

He said all the 19 counts of the charge around the above monetary issues collapsed during the trial.

He said because the prosecution witnesses completely exonerated the defendants was why the 19 counts were all dismissed by the court, on the ground of No Case submission.

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Politics

Lai Mohammed to appear in court in fraud case

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The immediate past Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has been scheduled to appear before a Federal High Court, Abuja, to explain his role in the alleged misapplication of N2.5 billion Federal Government Digital Switch-Over (DSO) program.

The planned appearance of Mohammed was revealed by the Independent Corrupt Practice and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), who is prosecuting the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Ishaq Modibbo Kawu, over alleged abuse of office and money laundering.

ICPC had filed a 12-count charge before Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, against Kawu, Lucky Omoluwa and Dipo Onifade and other, saying that the NBC director general misled the former Minister into approving government funds to a private company.

“The former minister’s involvement had come under questioning following the discovery by ICPC during investigations, that a government White Paper that governs the execution of the DSO program was allegedly flouted by the head of NBC”, ICPC states in a statement Wednesday.

“Mohammed had however admitted in a statement to the Commission that he was misled by Kawu, as opined in court by a witness from ICPC, Osanato Olugbemi.”

Olugbemi, led in evidence by counsel to ICPC, Henry Emore, also told the court that the payment of N2.5 billion from NBC to Pinnacle Communications Limited, as seed grant was suspicious because ICPC found out through its investigations that only government-owned company was approved to benefit from the grant according to the White Paper.

The court also heard that the processes that led to the final payment of the fund to the private company were shrouded in secrecy as revealed by the minute from an NBC emergency board management meeting where issues of carriage fees owed Pinnacle and not seed grant was discussed.

He told the court that 47 suspicious transactions were originated by the Chairman of Pinnacle Communications, Omoluwa, immediately after the receipt of the funds on June 2, 2017.

The transactions include payments of N363 million to one Idowu Olatunde, N274.4 million to one James Segun and N127 million to Dipo Onifade, the Chief Operating Officer of the company.

He informed the court that Omoluwa refused to explain the reasons for the payments to Olatunde and James when asked by ICPC, but Onifade explained that he received the N127 million as legal fees he rendered to Pinnacle Communications Limited.

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