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Diverted N1.2bn was for Ekiti Security, not Election Funds -Witness

Aliyu Muhammed Abdulmukadaddas, 14th prosecution witness, PW14 in the trial of Abiodun Agbele, ex-aide of former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, on Tuesday, March 12, 2024 told Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, that the sum of N1,219,000,000.00 (One Billion, Two Hundred and Nineteen Million Naira) transferred by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the account of the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) under Colonel Sambo Dasuki was to address security matters in Ekiti State and not to finance elections.

Led in his testimony by prosecution counsel Wahab Shittu, SAN, Abdulmukadaddas, a retired staff of the CBN who posted the money disclosed that he was familiar with Sylvan McNamara Nigeria Limited’s Diamond Bank account 0026223114 where the lodgment was made.

“We have paid N200 million to the company through a Diamond Bank account. We have paid N200billion to the company, N700million, N100billion, N255million to 0026223114 Diamond Bank account among other payments,” he said.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, the witness disclosed that the CBN verifies payments before lodgment is made. “All the payment has to be verified, and the verification is on the receiving account, and we must verify if it is okay before posting, and in this case it was okay, that was why we posted.”

Agbele is standing trial on 24 amended charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N1.219 billion paid into the Diamond Bank account of Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd.

Former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, had on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, told Justice Dimgba that the Sylvan Mcnamara Ltd Diamond Bank account 0026223114 was created by one Taiwo Kareem for warehousing funds to deal with the issue of Boko Haram in Lagos, however, the lodgments into the account were allegedly spent on electoral matters by Fayose with the aid of Agbele.

An earlier witness and former CEO of Zenith Bank, Peter Amangbo informed the court while being cross- examined by Ojo that the airlifting of the N1.219 billion cash from Lagos Airport to Akure Airport and to Zenith Bank Akure was based on the instructions of the management of the bank.

Justice Dimgba adjourned the matter till May 2 and 3, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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No one has been cleared in humanitarian ministry fraud investigation- EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it has not cleared anyone involved in the ongoing fraud investigation in the humanitarian affairs ministry.

Spokesperson of the commission, Dele Oyewale stated this in a statement tagged ‘Setting the Records Straight on Investigations of Humanitarian Ministry’ on Sunday.

According to him,  ongoing investigation have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

The statement read;

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

“Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices.

“Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily.

“The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.”

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Junior Pope: NSIB launches investigation, sends team to accident site

The Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has launched an investigation into the boat accident that claimed the lives of Nollywood actor, Paul Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope; Abigail Frederick; Precious Oforum, and Joseph Anointing, while returning from a movie location.

THN reported that the boat accident involved a commercial speedboat and a fishing canoe on the Anam River in Anambra State on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

The boat carrying 12 film crew members and a boat operator reportedly crashed into the canoe, resulting in the loss of five lives.

Tthe director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, Bimbo Oladeji in a statement on Sundat, said the Bureau has dispatched an investigation team to the accident site.

According to Oladeji, examination of the wreckage from both boats involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, eyewitnesses, and a review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat would be analysed, among others.

“The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident.

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“Also, the director general of NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh Jr, share in your grief and NSIB is fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrence in the future.

“An investigation team has been dispatched to the accident site, and inquiry has begun. The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to: examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation,” NSIB spokesperson said.

Oladeji further assured Nigerians that the Bureau will release the preliminary reports of the investigation to the public.

“NSIB will collaborate with relevant authorities, including the Marine Police section of the Anambra State Police Command, maritime authorities, and industry experts during the investigation.

“The bureau will release its findings in a preliminary report, followed by a final report upon the investigation’s conclusion. These reports aim to enhance safety by providing recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims affected by the Anam boat mishap,” she added.

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Invasion of Assembly: Police arrest 20 Yoruba nation agitators, recover 67 cutlasses, others

The Police in Oyo State have arrested 20 suspected Yoruba nation agitators over Saturday’s invasion of the state’s House of Assembly complex in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a group of persons allegedly invaded the complex located at the Government Secretariat vicinity in an attempt to take it over.

Police spokesman in Oyo State, SP Adewale Osifeso confirmed the arrest of the suspects in a statement he issued in Ibadan.

Osifeso stated that the 20 suspects arrested had in their possession three pump action guns, 29 life cartridges, two expended cartridges, 67 cutlasses, five bulletproof vests and six pairs of boots,

They also had in their possession, 10 Public Address Systems, three berets with Oodua insignia crafted on them, seven belts, 11 Oodua Nation camouflage uniforms, one unregistered bus and three motorcycles, he added.

Osifeso stressed that the police, in collaboration with sister security agencies successfully thwarted the attempt by the agitators to forcefully take over the secretariat.

“The suspects who wore military camouflage came heavily armed in an unregistered bus and had cutlasses, pump action rifles, cartridges, assorted charms and an Oodua Nation agitation flag with them.

“They were overpowered and completely suppressed by officers and men of the police in concert with those of sister security agencies,’’ he stated.

Osifeso described the act of the suspects as criminal and unpatriotic and a clear case of treasonable felony and terrorism.

He assured that appropriate punishment would be meted to those found culpable, while the police would continue to protect law-abiding citizens.

The spokesman stated that the Commissioner of Police in Oyo State, Mr Adebola Hamzat already ordered an investigation and an enlargement of the dragnet to arrest others connected with the incident.

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