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Presidency denounces circulating fake list of ambassadors

The Presidency has debunked the list of ambassadorial nominees currently circulating as fake news.

Mr. Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, dismissed the claims, emphasising the list’s inauthenticity.

“There is no official list as of today. There is a list in circulation. That is fake news. The foreign affairs list will still go through certain processes before it is released.

“Don’t forget that the ambassadorial list has two components. There are career ambassadors and political ambassadors. So, whichever one they submitted, it will still go through a long process,” Onanuga said on Tuesday.

In November 2023, a senior official in the ministry said: “Names of new ambassadors are being compiled.”

Although it was not clear if the nominees were political or career diplomats, feelers indicate that they primarily comprise the latter.

It is believed that while career diplomats are determined by their career progression, as recommended by the foreign service, political diplomats are often appointees of the President.

In December 2023, a high-ranking official in the nation’s foreign service, who spoke anonymously to The PUNCH, indicated that one of those considered for the top diplomatic jobs is the Founder of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. Mr. Afolabi Adeola.

Adeola, according to him, will be designated Nigeria’s Ambassador to one of the world’s top three economies.

The source stated: “Yes, the President has a list of recommended persons and is considering it already.

“One of those I saw is Fola Adeola, the Founder of GTB.

“He is being considered as the Nigerian Ambassador to one of the world’s top three economies.”

Aside from Adeola, it was gathered on Tuesday that a Senior Special Assistant to the President, a former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Olufemi Pedro, and the Speaker, Katsina House of Assembly, Tasiu Maigari, are also being considered for ambassadorial jobs.

Explaining the rationale for the choice, the source noted that the Tinubu administration was keen on deploying technocrats and captains of industry as its front persons in foreign lands.

“The President is reserving many of the slots for technocrats, people who have built a strong reputation in their respective fields and have built companies employing thousands of Nigerians. We need people who can use their influence to secure deals and partnerships for the benefit of their country.

“It is not a new thing. When choosing envoys, the most developed economies send their best hands for those jobs. And Tinubu is following that path.

“For example, Adeola is an investor and is not a strange face on the foreign scene and the global business community. He knows them and they know him. And he is not the only one. You can see that this speaks of the administration’s pursuit of more Foreign Direct Investment,” said the source.

On the process followed in compiling the nominees, sources told our correspondent that the Federal Government had set up a committee to recommend qualified individuals to fill the roles.

A source, who did not want to be named, said: “A committee was set up to make recommendations for career and political ambassadors.

“You see, most of the career ambassadors already know they are next for appointments. But they don’t know to which country they will be sent. There are countries where Nigeria has delicate political interests. For these ones, the government usually sends political ambassadors.

“If you remember, President Buhari appointed his former service chiefs as ambassadors to some African countries.”

Nigeria has 109 missions, 76 embassies, 22 high commissions and 11 consulates globally.

On September 2, 2023, President Tinubu recalled all career and non-career ambassadors operating the country’s diplomatic missions, embassies and consulates globally.

A statement by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the recall of the ambassadors, saying: “Sequel to the inquiries on the letter recalling the Nigerian ambassador to the UK, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, has clarified that all career ambassadors and non-career ambassadors have been recalled on the instructions of President Bola Tinubu.”

The envoys were directed to return to the country on or before October 31.

They include the 41 non-career ambassadors and 42 career ambassadors appointed by Former President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2020.

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EFCC declares Yahaya Bello wanted

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello wanted over alleged fraud.

The EFCC in a statement on its social media handles said Bello is wanted for offences relating to economic and financial crimes to the tune of N80.2 billion.

The EFCC asked anybody with information as to his whereabout to report immediately to the Commission or the nearest Police Station.

The commission wrote: “Former Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, is wanted by the EFCC for offences relating to economic and financial crimes to the tune of N80.2 Billion.

“Anybody with information as to his whereabout should report immediately to the Commission or the nearest Police Station.”

Operatives of the commission had on Wednesday laid siege to the home of Bello in Abuja in a bid to arrest him after obtaining a warrant arrest.

The former governor could not be arrested as he was said to have been whisked away in the official vehicle of the Kogi Governor, Usman Ododo.

Ododo had stormed Bello’s house while the EFCC were laying siege outside the house. He governor was said to have left the premises with with Bello inside his vehicle.

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Court dismisses Fmr Anambra Gov, Obiano’s bid to stop trial in N40bn fraud charges

Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the application by a former Anambra State Governor, Willie Maduabuchi Obiano, which sought to quash the N40 billion money laundering charges brought against him by the Federal Government.

The Judge, in a ruling delivered on Thursday, faulted and rejected all grounds upon which the application was predicated by Obiano.

The former governor had, among others, prayed the Judge to dismiss the 9-count charges instituted against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on behalf of the Federal Government.

He claimed that there was no connection between the proof of evidence supplied to the court by the EFCC and the accusations against him.

He averred that there was no testimony from any witness indicating that he issued directives for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to the Anambra State Government.

Obiano also claimed that he could not be held accountable for any alleged unlawful actions by officials of the Anambra State Government as there is no concept of vicarious liability in the criminal justice system.

His motion on notice was brought pursuant to Section 6(6)(a) and (b) and Section 36(6)(b) of the 1999 constitution as amended and Section 1(1) & (2), 266, 271(b), 383(4) &492 (3) of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act 2015.

Among others, Obiano sought “An order of the court quashing the instant charge for it amounts to flagrant abuse of judicial process and a mockery of the criminal Justice

“An order quashing the charge for non-disclosure of a prime facie case being vague and devoid of precision in respect of all the 9 count charges.

“No prima facie case has been disclosed against the defendant in this charge. There is no link between the proof of evidence and the purported allegation made against the defendant in the charge

“No evidence exists from any witness showing that the defendant passed down a directive for the disbursement of security votes and other funds belonging to Anambra State government.

“The defendant cannot be made answerable for any purported unlawful actions of officials of Anambra State government as there is no vicarious liability in our criminal jurisprudence.

“The thinking and conclusion of the prosecution on the counts arose from speculation and suspicions.

“The subject matter of the charge borders on accountability for security vote funds.
The honourable court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain issues on accountability for security vote funds

“There is an appeal filed by the Anambra state government challenging the powers of EFCC to investigate the security vote of Anambra state government.

“The preferment of the entire charge is in bad faith. This honourable court has inherent judicial power to grant all the reliefs sought above.”

But in the ruling, Justice Ekwo held that all the reliefs sought by Obiano are not grantable because they are premature and lacking in merit.

The Judge said there is no way the court would know whether the former governor is linked with the alleged offences or not unless the trial is conducted in line with the provisions of the law.

The former governor is being prosecuted by EFCC on 9-count charges bordering on money laundering to the tune of N40 billion.

Meanwhile, the Judge has fixed June 24, 25, 26 and 27 for full blown trial of the charges.

In the same vein, Justice Ekwo permitted Obiano 60 days to travel abroad for medical treatment.

The Judge ordered that Obiano be made to sign an undertaking to return to the country after the treatment and to deposit his travelling passport within three days of his return to Nigeria.

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Oyebanji, Fayemi, NASS members, APC leaders eulogize Omotosho at commendation service

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji on Wednesday led former Governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi, National and State Assembly members, members of the State Executive Council, Party leaders and other prominent personalities to pay glowing tributes to the late APC Chairman, Barrister Paul Omotosho at a special commendation service organized by the state government in Ado-Ekiti.

Omotosho, who died on March 5th, after a brief illness, was, until his death, Chairman of the All Progressive Congress, Ekiti State Chapter.

“You will not walk alone. I shall stand by you. The Government and the party will stand by you”, Governor Oyebanji assured the children and wives of the late Omotosho during his emotion – laden speech at the special tribute session held at Adetiloye Hall, Trade Fair Complex, Ado- Ekiti.

The commendation service had in attendance former Governor Kayode Fayemi (who was represented by former Attorney General in the State, Mr Wale Fapounda, SAN; the Deputy Governor, Chief (Mrs.) Monisade Afuye, Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Adeoye Aribasoye, and three former deputy Governors- Prof Modupe Adelabu; Surv. Abiodun Aluko and Chief Wole Alabi as well as members of the Ekiti State Caucus in the National Assembly.

Oyebanji described the late Chairman as a committed, loyal, and party leader whose selflessness and sacrifices contributed immensely to the growth and development of the party and the state at large.

The Governor maintained that the late omotosho was a true friend, a burden bearer, confidant and a devoted community leader, adding that his demise has left a great vacuum within the party, the state and the nation at large.

While assuring the family that his government will continue to support them and stand in the gap of their father, the Governor said he is consoled with the fact that the deceased lived a fulfilled life and left an indelible mark in the development of the state.

“To me personally, I have lost a true friend, I’ve lost a confidant, I’ve lost a brother, a burden bearer and a soul mate. The truth of the matter is not how far but how well, Mr. Continuity left at his own time, I believe strongly that it was his own time to go. We don’t like it, and it is painful because death did not give us a chance to even try to save him.

“I know we are not happy about this and it is a trying moment for us as a party, as a state and as a government, but one thing I know is there is God in heaven who sees the affairs of men. To the children, to the family, as long as i am on this seat as the Governor of this state, you will not walk alone. That’s the assurance I am going to give you”. The Governor asserted.

In his on tribute, the immediate past Governor of the state, Dr. Fayemi, whose tribute was read by Barrister Wale Fapounda, described the late Omotosho as a dedicated leader, a unifier, and a pillar of the party in the state.

Dr Fayemi explained that the deceased was a tireless leader and a steadfast supporter of the party’s principle who ensured that under his watch the party achieved significant victories in recent elections and gained the trust of Ekiti people.

While calling on the APC members in the state to remain resolute in making the deceased proud by carrying on with his legacies of integrity, the former Governor maintained that Omotosho’s contributions and sacrifices for the party will never be forgotten.

Other speakers at the evening of tributes include Mrs. Fola Richie, who spoke on behalf of the state executive council members (2010 – 2014), where the late Omotosho served as as State Commissioner; Chief Bayo Idowu, on behalf of Afenifere; Dr Dele Ebunola, who spoke on behalf of Social Democratic Party (SDP); Prof Mobolaji Aluko, on behalf of the state executive council; Hon Sola Elesin, on behalf of APC, Ekiti State chapter; Rt. Hon. Adeoye Aribasoye, on behalf the State House of Assembly, and Senator Yemi Adaramodu, who spoke on behalf of National Assembly members.

Others were Chief Jide Awe, who spoke on behalf of APC elders; Chief (Mrs) Ronke Okusanya, on behalf of Women in Politics; and Mr Ojo Oluwasegun Samuel, who spoke on behalf of local government chairmen.

They all eulogized the late Omotosho as a man of integrity and a truly honest and hard working politician and public servant, who was selfless and result- oriented.

A pall of silence descended on the Adetiloye Hall, venue of the event during the viewing of a documentary detailing the life and times of the late Omotosho was shown the audience. Many wept profusely after the documentary which preceded a short sermon and prayer of the family of the deceased.

Barrister Paul Omotosho who died on March 5th would be buried in his home town, Imesi Ekiti on Friday.

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