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Court Orders Forfeiture Of House, Funds Belonging To Gov Abiodun’s Ex-aide

Court Orders Forfeiture Of House, Funds Belonging To Gov Abiodun’s Ex-aide

Court orders forfeiture of house, funds belonging to Gov Abiodun’s ex-aide, Rufai, over $350k fraud

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and properties traced to Abidemi Ganiyu Rufai, the suspended aide of the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, who is currently facing charges of fraud in the United States.

The order, given by Justice Tijjani Ringim on Tuesday, was sequel to an ex parte motion filed by a counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC), Ebuka Okongwu.

According to the order, Rufai’s property located at House 11, Omodayo Awotuga Street, Bera Estate, Chevy View, Lekki, Lagos, and funds in his accounts domiciled in two banks, are to be forfeited to the Federal Government.

In the suit filed by EFCC, the anti-graft agency joined Rufai, his firm Omo Mayodele Global Investment and one commercial bank as 1st, 2nd and third respondents.

Okongwu furnished the judge with an affidavit sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Usman Abdulhamid, detailing the agency’s investigation of Rufai in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

According to the affidavit, the investigator stated that Rufai had already debauched a suspicious N29.37million in tranches of N5,000,000, N5,000,000, N2,730,000, N1,100,000, N2,040,000, N2,000,000, N2,000,000 and N5,000,000, into his accounts, warehoused in three banks.

Ripples Nigeria reported that Rufai was arrested by the FBI at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York on May 14, over his alleged involvement in a $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud from Washington State Employment Security Department, in the United States.

He was indicted for alleged conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Justice Ringim in a bench ruling granted the EFCC’s order as prayed in the motion ex parte.

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Nigeria’s public debt now N121trn – Debt Management Office

exchange rate

The Debt Management Office (DMO) says Nigeria’s total public debt has reached N121.67 trillion within three months.

The Cable reports that this figure represents an increase of N24.33 trillion or 24.99 percent from the N97.34 trillion as of December 2023.

Nigeria’s public debt profile consists of the federal and subnational governments’ domestic and external debt stocks — the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

According to the DMO, the increase was primarily due to new domestic borrowing by the federal government to partly fund the deficit in the 2024 budget as well as disbursements by multilateral and bilateral lenders.

“Total domestic debt was N65.65 trillion (USD46.29 billion) while total external debt was N56.02 trillion (USD42.12 billion). Excluding naira exchange rate movements in Q1 2024, only the domestic debt component of total public debt grew from N59.12 trillion on December 31, 2023, to N65.65 trillion on March 31, 2024.

“The increase was from new borrowing to part-finance the 2024 Budget deficit and securitization of a portion of the N7.3 trillion Ways and Means Advances at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Whilst borrowing, as provided in the 2024 Appropriation Act, will continue, we expect improvements in the government’s revenue to enhance debt sustainability.”

On June 13, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, announced the approval of two major “financial support packages” by the World Bank — valued at $2.25 billion. In May, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said the federal government has secured a $500m World Bank loan to boost electricity distribution in the country.

Prior to this, the federal government had received $750 million from the World Bank for humanitarian and social reforms and $1.5 billion for its economic stabilisation plan.

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Fuel price increases by 223% annually – NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics says the price of Premium Motor Spirit, known as petrol, increased by 223.21 percent to N799.62 per litre in May 2024 from N238.11 same Month last year.

NBS disclosed this recently in its Price Watch for May.

The report noted that Petrol prices increased 9.75 percent to N769.62 per litre in May 2024 compared to N701.24 in April.

On a state profile analysis, Jigawa State had the highest average retail price for Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol), at N937.50, Ondo and Benue States were next, with N882.67 and N882.22, respectively.

Conversely, Lagos, Niger and Kwara States had the lowest average retail prices for Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol), at N636.80, N642.16 and N645.15 respectively.

On the zonal level analysis, the North-West Zone had the highest average retail price of N845.26, while the North Central Zone had the lowest price of N695.04.

The development comes as the Nigerian government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on May 29, 2023, announced fuel subsidy removal which saw the price of the product jump to N600 per litre from around N238 per litre.

Fuel price hikes resulted in the ripple effect of rising inflation in Nigeria. This is as headline and food inflation increased to 33.95 percent and 40.66 percent respectively.

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FG summons private jet owners, orders verification exercise

The Federal Government has asked owners of private jets in the country to present their documents for verification.

It gave the order in a notice through the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). The NCS said the exercise aims to identify improperly imported private aircraft without documentation, ensure proper imports, and for maximum revenue collection.

“The Nigeria Customs Service announces a verification exercise for privately owned aircraft operating in Nigeria,” the statement read.

“This exercise aims to identify improperly imported private aircraft without documentation, ensuring proper imports and maximum revenue collection.”

The exercise will start on Wednesday (tomorrow) and is expected to last for 30 days. The venue is the Tariff and Trade Department Room, Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters at No 4 Abidjan Street, Wuse Zone 3 in Abuja.

It said the verification exercise will be held from 10:00 am – to 5:00 pm daily.

According to the notice, owners and operators of private jets in the country are to come with some relevant documents.

These include aircraft Certificate of Registration, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s Flight Operation Compliance Certificate, NCAA’s Maintenance Compliance Certificate, NCAA’s Permit for Non-Commercial Flights, and Temporary Import Permit (if applicable).

The development comes one year after the FG put on hold the exercise. The government had planned to recover import duty running into billions of naira from some private jet operators who had taken advantage of technical loopholes, to evade the payment of import duty.

Sometime in 2021, about 17 owners of foreign-registered private jets, comprising top business moguls, leading commercial banks, and other rich Nigerians, dragged the Federal Government to court, seeking to stop the grounding of their planes over alleged import duty default.

This came after the Federal Government approved the decision of the NCS, to ground about 91 private jets over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30bn.

The NCS had in 2021 embarked on a review of import duties paid on private jets brought into the country since 2006.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority in March cautioned private jet owners holding non-commercial flight permits against conducting commercial flight activities, threatening them with severe penalties for non-compliance

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