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Burning of travellers: Presidency reacts to criticism of Buhari

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The Presidency on Monday frowned at attempts by the opposition Peoples Democracy Party to trivialise President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to Lagos for cheap political goals.

The Presidency’s position was made known by the President’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement on Monday.

Shehu also condemned the alleged recruitment of some religious leaders by the PDP to tarnish the good image of the President over the visit.

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In the statement issued in Abuja, Shehu highlighted the significance of Buhari’s visit to Lagos State.

He said: “On December 9, in Lagos, President Muhammadu Buhari launched a made-in-Nigeria Naval defence ship, NNS Oji.

“He and inducted other vital military assets that improved the country’s capabilities to fight increased piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

“’With the waters off the coast of Nigeria seeing increased attacks – with 35 cases in 2020 – these new naval ships entered service at the most opportune time.

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“Designed by Nigerians and built by Nigeria’s Naval Dockyard, the ships are the largest military vessels ever produced domestically.

“Key to President Buhari’s commitment to self-reliance as a nation and determination to build Nigeria into a manufacturing power, the ships paved the way for construction of larger more capable warships over time.

“In the future, Nigeria will move to become no more an arms importer to a defence exporter.

“In addition, the president surveyed and inaugurated a Navy helicopter that will join the new vessels in scouting for and countering piracy that impedes security and trade.”

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Shehu added that while in Lagos, President Buhari also graced the launch of an autobiography by Chief Bisi Akande, pioneer Fourth Republic Governor of Osun State.

He described Akande as a leader who played a crucial role in keeping democratic opposition to military rule alive.

Akande later played a critical role in the development and ultimate unity of that opposition to create today’s All Progressives Congress.

Shehu added: “Without visionaries such as Bisi Akande, the corrupt PDP and its acolytes who have done so much to strip our nation of its wealth, stunt its growth, and subject it to derogation abroad would still be in office.

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“Of course, those in the PDP who have nothing positive or new to add to the debate about the future of the nation seek to trivialise the president’s Lagos visit.

“They choose to ignore the crucial launch of the naval vessels; they suggest the primary reason for going to Lagos was to attend a book launch.

“They try to make further mileage by claiming the president should not have attended given the attack by bandits elsewhere in the country that same day.

“Should the president not have launched the naval ships the day after that attack? Should he listen to the PDP who feign concern for those affected by banditry when they did nothing to combat it for decades – not on land or at sea?

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“Should our famously austere president not attend a book launch of his friend and fellow democratic opposition veteran when it coincided with a visit to Lagos to tend the affairs of state?

“Through their attacks, the PDP revealed their priorities.

“Of course, for decades, as the PDP enjoyed their decadent parties at others’ expense, the navy and the armed forces rotted through negligence.”

President Buhari was criticised for attending the launch of Akande’s book in Lagos instead of visiting Sokoto, where bandits burnt several travellers alive.

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Shehu noted also that the PDP did not criticise the President for boosting the country’s seaborne defence capacity, but instead only managed to make the attack personal.

He said: “It reveals the difference between a president who cares for the country while managing to show courtesy to his comrades and the opposition who corrupted the country through the sharing out of its wealth.

“Sadly, these opportunistic opposition elements, in a desperate search for political points, have dragged respected religious leaders into the discussion, feeding them misleading information.

“The latter have in turn used this distorted picture to black-paint the president in the eyes of innocent members of the public.”

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Soldiers detain Burkina Faso president amid coup plot

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Mutinying soldiers have reportedly detained President Roch Kabore of Burkina Faso.

WITHIN NIGERIA learnt that the mutinying soldiers have reportedly surrounded the state television headquarters

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According to the BBC, the soldiers were said to have demanded the sacking of the country’s military chiefs and asked for more resources to fight Islamist insurgents.

Heavy gunfire was reportedly heard on Sunday night near the presidential palace and at several barracks in Ouagadougou, the country’s capital.

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But the government denied the rumour that a coup was underway and that the president had been arrested.

Bathelemy Simpore, the country’s defence minister, denied the rumour that Kabore had been detained.

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“The head of state has not been detained; no institution of the country has been threatened,” Simpore was quoted to have said on national television.

“For now, we don’t know their motives or what they are demanding. We are trying to get in contact with them,” he said, adding that calm had returned to some of the barracks.”

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The Burkina Faso authorities later declared a curfew from 8pm to 5:30am until further notice.

Schools across the country were also directed to be closed for two days (Monday and Tuesday).

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The incident comes a day after protesters took to the street to demonstrate against the government’s inability to stop attacks and killings of civilians by militants.

The protesters also asked Kabore to resign.

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Money laundering: Court issues warrant for Diezani’s arrest

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A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, issued an arrest warrant against the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, believed to be residing in the UK.

Justice Bolaji Olajuwon granted the request, after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farouk Abdullah, made an oral application.

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The court had fixed November 3, 2021 for the EFCC to give a report on its effort at extraditing Alison-Madueke to the country to stand her trial, and for possible mention of the case.

But on the adjourned date, the case was stalled as neither Abdullah nor Alison-Madueke was in sight.

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Justice Olajuwon then fixed today, Jan. 24, for the matter and adjourned for report or or for possible mention of the matter.

NAN reports that though Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu was initially the presiding judge in the matter, the case was reassigned to Justice Olajuwon, following the transfer of Ojukwu to the Calabar division of the court.

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Ojukwu had, on October 28, 2020, rejected the EFCC’s prayer to issue a warrant of arrest against Alison-Madueke, citing the commission’s failure to enforce the earlier criminal summons, which the court issued on the former minister since July 24, 2020, saying court orders are not made in vain.

The commission had, in requesting for the criminal summons in July 2020, claimed that it was required to facilitate the ex-minister’s extradition to Nigeria.

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Faced with the failure of the ex-minister to honour the summons, the EFCC, through its lawyer, Abdullah, urged Justice Ojukwu to issue a warrant of arrest against her, saying that the extradition process failed as a result of the absence of the warrant of arrest.

The judge, who turned down the request, directed the lawyer to file an affidavit to that effect supported by evidence from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, and adjourned for report and possible arraignment of the defendant (Alison-Madueke).

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However, when the matter was called on Monday, Abdullah was in court.

He told the court that all efforts by the agency to get the ex-minister extradited when the matter was before Ojukwu were unsuccessful.

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Abdullah, who made an oral application for an arrest warrant, said the application was part of the requirements by the office of the AGF for the extradition.

He said that the arrest warrant was needed to further give the International Police (INTERPOL) the impetus to bring the defendant to Nigeria to answer to charges against her.

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Justice Olajuwon then granted the application and adjourned the matter sine die pending when the defendant (Alison-Madueke) is arrested and produced in court.

NAN reports that Abdullah had, in an application, urged the court “to issue an arrest warrant against Alison-Madueke, who is believed to be in the UK to enable all law enforcement agencies and the INTERPOL to arrest her anywhere she is sighted and be brought before the court to answer to the allegation made against her before the court.”

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He said since the summon had not been able to achieve the desired result, the need for a warrant of arrest cannot be over-emphasised.

NAN reports that the court had, on July 24, 2020, ordered the former minister to appear before it and answer to the money laundering charge filed against her by the EFCC.

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The court gave the ruling in an ex-parte motion marked FHC/ABJ/CR/208/2018 brought by Abdullah.

The EFCC had accused the former minister of fleeing the country for the UK in order to escape justice, among others.
The lawyer, in a document filed along with the motion ex-parte, said it sought to question Alison-Madueke, without success, in relation to many allegations against her, including “her role as the Minister of Petroleum Resources and her role in the award of Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA) to Septa Energy Limited, Atlantic Energy Drilling Concept Limited and Atlantic Energy Brass Development Limited by NNPC.

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He said it also wanted Alison-Madueke to respond to questions about “her role in the chartering of private jets by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Ministry of Petroleum Resources and her role in the award of contracts by NNPC to Marine and Logistics Services Limited.”

Abdallah said the agency was investigating Alison-Madueke‘s business relationships with Mr Donald Amamgbo, Mr Afam Nwokedi, Chief lkpea Leemon, Miss Olatimbo Bukola Ayinde, Mr Benedict Peters, Christopher Aire, Harcourt Adukeh, Julian Osula, Dauda Lawal, Nnamdi Okonkwo, Mr Leno Laithan, Sahara Energy Group and Midwestern Oil Limited, among others.

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He added that Alison-Madueke was also required to clear air on “her role in financing the 2015 general elections, particularly the money that were warehoused at Fidelity Bank Plc in 2015 prior to the elections.”

He said it equally wanted the ex-minister to speak on several items, documents and Jeweleries recovered from her house at No: 10, Chiluba Close, off Jose Marti Street, Asokoro, Abuja, and some identified property that were linked to her In Nigeria, UK, U.S., United Arab Emirate and South Africa.

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It would be recalled that the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa in the April 2021 edition of the agency’s in-house magazine, disclosed that the anti-corruption commission recovered 153 million dollars from Alison-Madueke.

Bawa said the agency also recovered the final forfeiture of over 80 property in Nigeria valued at about $80 million from the former minister, who has been living in the UK since leaving office some years ago.

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The EFCC boss said he would want the former minister to face trial in Nigeria.

Besides, as part of the ongoing investigations of the former Petroleum Minister, the EFCC. on Dec. 15, 2021, said it arrested a former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, allegedly over an additional $72.87 million still in the coffers of the bank.

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Okonkwo and Charles Onyedibe were quizzed by operatives over the latest discovery.

Okonkwo, who is the chairman of First Bank Holding, alongside others, had earlier been grilled over $153 million and another $115 million by the commission.

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