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German Chancellor Candidate To Be Grilled In Fraud Probe

German

German chancellor candidate to be grilled in fraud probe

German lawmakers will Monday quiz Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, the frontrunner in the race to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor, over an investigation into an anti-money laundering agency overseen by his ministry.

Scholz’s appearance before the German parliament’s finance committee comes less than a week before Germans go to the polls in national elections on September 26.

MPs from opposition parties will have the opportunity to ask Scholz questions via video link after the finance and justice ministries were raided by prosecutors on September 9 as part of a probe into the Cologne-based Financial Intelligence Unit.

The body, part of Germany’s customs authority tasked with tackling money laundering, is suspected of failing to report potential wrongdoing to the relevant authorities.

Merkel’s conservative bloc has seen a steady decline in opinion polls under unpopular candidate Armin Laschet, allowing Scholz’s centre-left Social Democratic Party to grab a late polling lead.

“Nerves at the SPD are shredded” at the prospect that the scandal could have an impact on the party’s poll ratings, according to German weekly Der Spiegel.

But prosecutors are also under scrutiny over the timing of their raids.

The under-pressure conservatives have seized the opportunity to attack Scholz for his involvement in the controversy.

In a televised election debate last Sunday, Laschet said the result of the finance minister’s actions was that “supervision had failed” and accused Scholz of trying to brush the issue under the carpet.

In response, Scholz distanced himself from the unit, saying the raids “had nothing to do with the ministries”, and accused Laschet of asking “dishonest” questions.

Scholz has previously been criticised for the failure of his ministry to heed early warning signs from the payments company Wirecard, which collapsed last year after acknowledging a 1.9-billion-euro ($2.2-billion) hole in its accounts.

The finance minister appeared in front of a parliamentary inquiry into Wirecard earlier this year, where he denied responsibility for the collapse of the company.

On the campaign trail, Scholz has defended his response to Wirecard, saying that he has led an effort to strengthen Germany’s financial watchdog in the aftermath.

“We did what we had to do,” Scholz said when confronted with accusations in a televised debate.

Scholz has also come under fire over Germany’s “cum-ex” tax fraud saga, a complicated share dividend scam that went on for years and is estimated to have cost the state some 5.5 billion euros.

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2023: NBC Tasks Broadcasters On Professionalism

The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has tasked broadcasters to handle political campaigns with professionalism.

The director-general of NBC, Balarabe Ilelah said this on Monday at a multi-stakeholders dialogue held in Abuja.

As campaigns for the 2023 elections are set to begin on September 28, Ilelah asked broadcasters to ensure not to allow hate speech or fake news on their platforms.

“This is in addition to ensuring equity in airtime allocation and coverage of political parties’ activities, particularly during prime times,” he said.

“It is also the time for you to make money from political adverts and campaigns, but ensure that this is done within the ambit of law.

“Broadcasters are also required to handle live political rallies with care and due professionalism. This is in addition to studio-based live political interviews/broadcasts. Because of the sensitivities of such programmes, broadcasters are advised to install delay mechanisms.

“Remember that broadcast stations are held responsible for any breach. The stations shall, therefore, assume and accept editorial responsibility”, he added.

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IPOB Accuses Police Of Blackmail

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has reacted to a statement credited to the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, linking ESN and IPOB to a planned attack on political campaigns and the forthcoming 2023 elections.

Director of Media and Public Relations of the group, Comrade Emma Powerful, in a statement on Monday, said the IG of Police should “leave IPOB volunteers and ESN Operatives alone to focus on things that matter instead of trying to get them involved in Nigeria Government and its fraudulent political processes.”

He also added that Nigeria’s security agencies were fond of blackmailing the organization with allegations of sundry crimes.

The statement read: “If Nigeria Police have concluded their plans to commit crimes during political campaigns and tag it on IPOB and ESN they will fail as usual.

“Any time Nigeria Security Agencies raise a false alarm, know that they have planned attacks to blackmail IPOB and ESN Operatives but we cannot allow them to continue their business of blackmail.

“These Security agencies have allegedly killed innocent people in an effort to blackmail IPOB but Chukwu Okike Abiama (God) has always vindicated us,” they said.

“We have always maintained that we are not interested in anything that has to do with Nigeria let alone taking any side in their fraudulent political process. IPOB are not Zoo politicians. The only political process that IPOB will participate in is an UN-supervised Biafra Referendum that will usher in Biafra Sovereignty and Independence”, he added.

 

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ASUU: F.G Makes U-turn, Withdraws Circular Ordering Resumption

The Federal Government on Monday withdrew its earlier circular which directed vice chancellors, pro-chancellors and governing councils to re-open federal universities.

This is coming hours after the government, through the National Universities Commission (NUC), directed the opening of varsities in compliance with National Industrial Court order.

A circular tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 was addressed to all vice chancellors, pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities ordering them to re-open universities.

Hours after, in another circular tagged NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/136, which was also signed by the Director, Finance and Account of the NUC, Sam Onazi, the commission withdrew the order.

The letter tagged, “withdrawal of circular NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135 dated September 23, 2022” partly read, “I have been directed to withdraw the NUC Circular Ref: NUC/ES/138/Vol.64/135, and dated September 23, 2022 on the above subject.

“Consequently, the said circular stands withdrawn. All pro-chancellors and chairmen of governing councils, as well as vice-chancellors of federal universities are to please note. Further development and information would be communicated to all relevant stakeholders.

“Please accept the assurances of the Executive Secretary’s warmest regards.”

The university teachers began a one-month warning strike on February 14, 2022, and extended it thrice after the Federal Government failed to meet up with its demands.

 

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