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Boris Johnson Expected To Announce New Armed Forces Chief This Week

Boris Johnson expected to announce new armed forces chief this week

Boris Johnson has interviewed five candidates to head Britain’s armed forces, with navy chief Adm Tony Radakin and the general responsible for the SAS, Sir Patrick Sanders, frontrunners for the job.

Defence sources said the prime minister had been advised to pick a new military leader with “operational experience” to replace the outgoing Gen Sir Nick Carter, whose credibility was damaged by the chaotic exit from Afghanistan.

But there is uncertainty at the Ministry of Defence as to who Johnson will favour for the £270,000 a year post, although there is an expectation that Downing Street will announce the appointment this week now the final stage of interviews are complete.

All four armed forces officials are in the running, plus a more junior wild card candidate, Vice Adm Ben Key, responsible for joint operations, who was put in the field after No 10 wanted an extra, non-traditional name from the MoD.

Radakin, 55, the first sea lord, is seen as an experienced manager whose candidacy comes at a time when Johnson is pushing for greater use of British naval power, with the deployment of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in the Pacific.

But there is unhappiness in some quarters of Whitehall that the admiral has appeared eager to claim credit for the Aukus nuclear submarine pact with Australia and the US, when it was largely negotiated by No 10.

Sanders, 55, a special forces veteran who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has more combat experience, although he heads up strategic command, a disparate group that combines the military’s cyber forces plus the secretive SAS.

Both, though, are acknowledged to be the strongest communicators in the field. “Nobody wants a repeat of Carter after Afghanistan, where he hit the wrong tone in the aftermath of the Taliban’s seizure of Kabul,” said one defence source.

Days after the fall of Kabul last month, Carter labelled the Taliban as “country boys” who wanted an Afghanistan “inclusive for all” – although there have been repeated reports of violent reprisals by the country’s new rulers, who have also effectively banned the secondary education of girls since taking over the country.

Despite the faster than expected collapse of the previous Afghan government, Key is felt to have presided over what is seen as a relatively successful emergency airlift from Kabul last month, in which the RAF rescued 14,500 people. Promoting him over the more senior service chiefs would be a major upset however.

The interviews complete a two-stage process, which began with a series of grillings at the beginning of the month by an MoD panel headed by Ben Wallace, the defence secretary. Following that, Wallace sent his own recommendation to the prime minister, but the decision is ultimately Johnson’s.

A defence source said Johnson had been told by Stephen Lovegrove, the national security adviser, to seek somebody with “calm judgment”.

Among the other candidates is Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, 57, the head of the army, who was at school with Johnson at Eton, which some believe could yet give him a chance. “Boris does like to reward people who he thinks have loyalty to him,” a former Downing Street staffer said.

Completing the field is head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, who presides over the service seen as having the best record on diversity. But he is not seen to be as strong a public speaker as Radakin, and insiders say he does not fancy his own chances strongly.

Downing Street and the MoD declined to comment.

Runners and riders

Tony Radakin: Royal Navy chief seen as a good public speaker with an eye for a PR opportunity, only last week announcing the appointment of Bond actor Daniel Craig as an honorary commander, to act as an advocate for service families.

Patrick Sanders: Special forces veteran who served on every major deployment over the past 25 years. Recently admitted his experiences in Iraq had left him with suicidal thoughts, as he called for soldiers and veterans to seek help for PTSD.

Mark Carleton-Smith: Old Etonian and former SAS commander who took over as head of the army in 2018. Once in charge of the SAS’s hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan – although the al-Qaida leader was ultimately shot by the US.

Mike Wigston: Comprehensive educated Welsh former Tornado pilot. Last month said the RAF was prepared to launch fresh, long-range strikes in Afghanistan even though there could be instances of “unavoidable civilian casualties.”

Ben Key: Head of operations whose profile soared during the Afghanistan crisis. Led the day to day deployment of 1,000 British troops around the perimeter of Kabul airport allowing hasty two week evacuation of Britons and Afghans to proceed.

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EFCC arraigns forex broker for alleged N2b investment scam in Uyo

The Enugu Zonal Directorate of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC on Friday, July 19, 2024 arraigned one Rufus John Isip, a self-acclaimed forex broker before Justice C. S. Onah of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Isip was arraigned alongside his company, ITM-IT Resources Limited on an eight-count charge bordering on fraudulent conversion, money laundering and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N2, 022, 081, 172 (Two Billion, Twenty-two Million, Eighty-one Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-two Naira).

Count one of the charge reads: “That you, Rufus John Isip while being the Director of ITM-IT Resources Limited and ITM-IT Resources Limited sometime in December 2020 and May 2021 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of (431, 331, 172. 00) Four Hundred and Thirty-one Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-one Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-two kobo from one Michael Okon, the Director of N-Rex Resources Limited under the false pretence that it is an investment in Vandera, an online investment platform, on his behalf, which pretence you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act”.

Count eight of the charge reads: “That you, Rufus John Isip while being the Director of ITM-IT Resources Limited and ITM-IT Resources Limited sometime between December 2020 and May 2021 in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, converted the total sum of (N730, 870, 000. 00) Seven Hundred and Thirty Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira to crypto currency (Bitcoin) and transferred same into your Binance Wallet knowing that the said money formed part of your unlawful act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15 (2) (d) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 15 (3) (4) of the same Act”.

He pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to him.

In view of his plea, Khamis Mahmud, counsel to the EFCC prayed the court to remand him in EFCC custody on the grounds that “we are still investigating him on other cases”.

The defence counsel, Samson Ewuje however, did not pose any objection.
Justice Onah adjourned the matter to October 14, 2024 for trial and the defendant was remanded at the Uyo Zonal Directorate of the EFCC.

Isip was arrested based on a petition from one Michael George, alleging that he lured him to invest in his online trading platform called Vandora.io. According to the petitioner, the defendant told him that it was more profitable to trade on his platform with a minimum trading capital of $100, 000. 00 (One Hundred Thousand Dollars) and that he would earn more profit if he involved more investors.

The petitioner thereafter invested, reached out to other investors and companies who also invested in the defendant’s phony online trading platform and after 60 days (as agreed) for the investors to start earning their profits, the defendant disappeared into thin air.

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EFCC presents more witness against Fayose in alleged N6.9bn fraud trial

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Friday, July 19, 2024, presented its 14th prosecution witness, PW14, Sahibu Salisu, a former Director of Administration and Finance, Office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, in the trial of alleged N6.9bn fraud involving a former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, and his company, Spotless Investment Limited, before Justice Chukujekwu Aneke of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The Lagos Zonal Command of the EFCC had, on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, re-arraigned Fayose and Spotless Investment Limited on an 11-count charge bordering on money laundering and stealing to the tune of N6.9bn ( Six Billion Nine Hundred Naira).

The defendants had first been arraigned on October 22, 2018 before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.

At the resumed sitting on Friday, Salisu told the court how he paid the sum of N200m and another N2billion to a firm, Sylvan MacNamara, for security purposes on the instruction of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd).

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the PW14 , who disclosed that he served as the Director of Administration and Finance between 2011 and 2015, explained the process of payment, saying, “ Once the NSA gave approval for payment, we processed it accordingly. The payments we made were mainly for operational activities.”

When asked to state the roles of the NSA Office , he said: “The roles of the NSA Office are purely about the security of the entire country. And any money expended on security was expected to be retired.”

When shown a document tagged Exhibit S, which was the payment voucher raised for the fund, he said: “It is the payment mandate raised by me as the Director of Administration and Finance on the NSA’s instruction. The first figure was N200 million in favour of Sylvan McNamara and it was paid to the company’s Diamond Bank account. It was the NSA who gave me the account details.”

He said though the NSA did not tell him the purpose for which it was meant, the memo raised and the mandate payment showed it was for physical security infrastructure. “All the payments made from the Office of NSA were supposed to be for security activities and security structures,” he said.

When asked who signed the payment mandate, he said: “I will sign my own part as signatory B. “Thereafter, I would take it to the NSA for final signature, which was approval. Then, I would take the mandate to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payment.”

Giving further testimony on the exhibit S, he said the former NSA and him appended their signatures on it. According to him, the payment was made and there should be retirement, after the purpose for which money was paid for had been completed. He, however, stated that “ Up till I left the office, I could not say whether or not the money was retired.”

When asked about the exhibit S1, which was payment to Sylvan McNamara to the tune of N2 billion dated June 13, 2014, he said: “We paid the amount of N2 billion to Sylvan McNamara on the instruction of the NSA. I was not a signatory to this account, so I am not in a position to know whether it was retired after payment. The NSA and former Permanent Secretary, Mr. Ibrahim Mahe, would be able to know whether it was retired or not”.

Salisu, under cross-examination by the counsel to the first defendant, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, testified that all payments made by the NSA office were made through the bank and they had to raise the mandate before it was done.

When asked if the former NSA told him that the N200m and N2bn were for security purposes, he said: “No. The NSA never informed me that the money was for security purposes and the NSA never complained about this payment.”

During cross-examination by the counsel to the second defendant, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, Salisu testified that he was familiar with financial regulations, adding that “In relation to retirement, once money is given to a recipient, you are supposed to bring the receipt of what you have been asked to supply with a memo attached to it. That is the retirement of such a fund-the financial regulations only apply to public servants.”
According to him, the schedules of his duties did not extend to security matters.

When asked if he knew what made the former NSA to first approve the payment of N200million and subsequently N2 billion for Sylvan McNamara, he said: “As I said earlier, all payments in the office of the NSA are for security purposes”. Also, when asked if he made a statement to the EFCC when he was invited during investigation, he said, “Yes”.

Thereafter, Ojo tendered the statement of the witness and was admitted by the court as exhibit A19. The witness also confirmed to the court that no one ever queried the instructions of the NSA.

Counsel to the first defendant, Ola Olanipekun, SAN, made an application before the court, seeking the permission of the court to allow his client travel abroad on health grounds. There was no objection from the prosecution counsel.

In his ruling, Justice Aneke granted Olanipekun’s request to enable his client travel abroad for medical check.

The case was adjourned to October 18, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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NSUK 300-Level student killed in foiled robbery attempt in Akwanga

A 300-level student of Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), Mustapha Osama, was reportedly killed in a foiled robbery attempt in Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.

The incident occurred on Friday night around 8 PM along the Gudi-Akwanga road, according to sources.

Osama, who has been buried in Doma on Saturday morning according to Islamic rites, was said to have been hit by a bullet fired by the gunmen.

A family source confirmed that the deceased was driving when he was struck by the bullet.

The robbery attempt was thwarted by operatives of the Nigeria Police who responded immediately to a distress call, according to the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Ramhan Nansel.

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