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Macron’s anger over nuclear submarine deal linked to French election, Peter Dutton says

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Macron’s anger over nuclear submarine deal linked to French election, Peter Dutton says

Peter Dutton says sustained expressions of outrage from the French president, Emmanuel Macron, may be connected to the European country’s looming national election rather than the cancellation of a $90bn submarine contract.

Australia’s defence minister told the Nine network a call on Thursday night between Macron and the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, had been “productive”. The conversation was the first time the two leaders have spoken since the unveiling of the Aukus pact sent diplomatic relationship between Canberra and Paris into freefall.

The defence minister said on Friday morning his government understood Macron’s frustration. But Dutton also suggested the French president may be playing to domestic political sensibilities. “Look, don’t forget, too, that France has got an election in April of next year,” he said.

“So politicians and elections always make for an interesting mix. So I think once we get through that next year, hopefully we can continue with steps to normalise the relationship, but that’s the situation at the moment”.

France has said it was “betrayed”, “stabbed in the back” and “deceived” over Australia’s decision to dump a French-backed submarine project worth up to A$90bn (£48bn).

During the call with Morrison on Thursday night, Macron told the Australian prime minister the scrapping of a multibillion-dollar submarine contract “broke the relationship of trust” and said Canberra should propose “tangible actions” to heal a diplomatic rift.

According to a read out of the conversation from the French government, Macron also encouraged Morrison to adopt a more ambitious climate policy. The more ambitious policy should include a commitment “to cease production and consumption of coal at the national level and abroad”.

Morrison is on his way to the G20 summit in Rome, which will have a significant climate change focus, and then to the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, where a number of world leaders will pledge more ambitious climate commitments in the decade to 2030.

Officials say no bilateral meeting between Morrison and Macron has yet been scheduled. But the two leaders will see one another in Rome and Glasgow.

As well as the fierce backlash from France, the Aukus pact has triggered disquiet from Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia’s neighbours are worried the agreement accelerates an arms race in the Indo-Pacific. Morrison will meet the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, on the sidelines of the G20.

Morrison will also meet the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, the Korean president, Moon Jae-in, the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and the director general of the World Trade Organization, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Saturday.

The Australia record of Morrison’s call with Macron on Thursday night did not reference France’s coal push – a position that would be shared by many European countries.

It said Morrison “took the opportunity to inform the president about Australia’s commitment to deliver net zero emissions by 2050”.

According to a draft copy of the G20 communique obtained by the Reuters news agency, leaders converging on Rome are working towards a statement at the conclusion of the weekend summit that will reaffirm a commitment to “phase out and rationalise” fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and to curb coal power.

The draft communique says leaders will “do their utmost” to avoid building new unabated coal plants. But it adds the phrase: “taking national circumstances into account”.

Morrison would face fierce domestic opposition from the Nationals if any substantial commitments were made to phase out fossil fuels. According to the draft G20 communique, the leaders are working towards a commitment to end public finance for overseas coal plants by the end of this year and aim for a “largely decarbonised” power system in the 2030s”.

There is also draft wording about methane. G20 countries would promise to reduce methane emissions “substantially” by 2030. But that deadline is provisional in the text.

Before Morrison left for Rome on Thursday night, the Nationals leader and deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, claimed his party had secured the exclusion of livestock methane emissions during the recent negotiations over the government’s net zero 2050 target – a claim the prime minister has dismissed.

But Australia has opted out of the global methane pledge – a commitment to reduce methane emissions 30% by 2030 that will be launched at the Cop26 climate summit next week. Australia is one of the world’s major gas producers, and gas production generates substantial methane emissions.

Australia’s energy and emissions reduction minister, Angus Taylor, says he will use his time at Cop26 to convince his global peers that Australia was a “safe and reliable destination to invest in gas, hydrogen and new energy technologies”.

The G20 is a precursor event for the United Nations-led climate conference. The United Kingdom and the United States have lobbied leaders to bring substantial emissions reduction pledges for 2030, but the Nationals vetoed an effort by Morrison to increase Australia’s Abbott-era target.

Countries will also be pressured to increase climate financing for the developed world, but Australia has opted out of the Green Climate Fund. Australia is expected to promise additional funding through new technology partnerships.

Australia is expected to announce new technology partnerships with Indo-Pacific countries during Cop26. There will be more to say on a new Indo-Pacific carbon offset scheme that was flagged in the government’s climate policy reboot this week.

The prime minister’s primary focus at the G20 – his first stop – will be to lobby leaders to endorse stronger global action to protect children on social media. The government this week signalled social media platforms will face fines of up to $10m for serious privacy breaches.

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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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