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Buruji Kashamu allegedly petitions EFCC, exposes Baba Ijebu #5B tax fraud

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Kessington Adebutu, Nigeria’s gambling mogul whose business empire has enjoyed decades of patronage as a household name across the country, has become a new target of a vast corruption investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

As part of the investigation on Tuesday, anti-graft detectives at the EFCC office in Lagos detained and questioned Segun Adebutu, son of the octogenarian, questioning him on matters ranging from alleged tax fraud to economic sabotage.

Anti-graft officials said Mr Adebutu’s business activities recently became a subject of their suspicion following a petition from another betting company, Western Lotto. The December 2019 petition from Western Lotto, run by politician Buruji Kashamu, asked the EFCC to investigate billions of naira in lost government revenues and tax fraud against Mr Adebutu’s Premier Lotto.

The anti graft agency have identified at least N5 billion in revenue losses against the government since the investigation began — directly blaming the management of Premier Lotto for allegedly shortchanging Nigerians.

Far known as ‘Baba Ijebu’, Mr Adebutu has been widely hailed as pioneering inclusive gambling in Nigeria and shooting it into the mainstream. Although it was only in 2001 that he registered Premier Lotto, the betting franchise that accounts for the largest share of his wealth, Mr Adebutu’s reputation as a driving force of Nigerian gambling trade has spanned decades before its commercialization.

Segun Adebutu is only one of at least four children who are management officials at Premier Lotto, Some of them are also top executives of the regulatory federal lottery board.

The success of Mr Adebutu’s betting exploits imbued former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s interest in establishing a federal agency to regulate lotteries across Nigeria in 2005. Several private entities have since sprung up, taking bets from multiple sporting activities, especially football.

But the raging allegations against Premier Lotto, by far the largest betting conglomerate in Nigeria, could deal a setback to the industry’s hopes for competing with banking in the financial services sub-sector, according to officials familiar with the investigation.

It was learnt that several other betting companies are currently being investigated as part of the sprawling inquiry into how betting funds were being handled across the country, with the bookies being dogged by multiple allegations of sharp practices, including claims they had been withholding funds meant for winning customers in order to maximise the bank interest on such funds.

No charges have been filed because more betting companies are still being investigated for similar allegations, although on a scale lower than Premier Lotto’s, an official said.

Multiple officials at the lottery commission have been notified of the raging investigation, with concerned companies already asked to submit their financial records to anti-graft detectives in Lagos and Abuja.

Mr Kashamu was however alleged of triggering the tax crises as it was gathered that he wanted to dominate a section of the betting business in Nigeria.

“What we learnt is that Buruji Kashamu said he has sole rights to ‘Ghana Games’ in Nigeria,” an official said under anonymity because the lottery commission was still considering a unified response to the EFCC investigation. “But he should not burn down the entire industry to implement his business interests.”

The official said an association of betting companies would soon meet to form a coordinated response to the EFCC investigation that was triggered by Mr Kashamu’s alleged “anti-industry practices.”

Mr Kashamu, who is wanted for an unrelated drug offense in the U.S. for which he has denied culpability said he petitioned the EFCC about corruption in the betting industry, but de emphasised allegations of being a disgruntled player in the business, saying he had taken the matter to court and was now only concerned about the interest of Nigerians.

“All the taxpayers’ billions they diverted should have been paid into the lottery commission trust fund to build infrastructure and alleviate poverty amongst the Nigerian masses,” the politician said. “I urge Nigerians to continue to pressure the EFCC to investigate and charge all those responsible for sabotaging the country’s economy without any pity for the masses.”

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Disparaging Dangote Uncalled For, Creating Bad Waves For Nigeria – AFDB President, Adesina

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The president of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, has spoken out in defence of the Dangote Refinery, addressing concerns about potential monopolistic practices.

In a statement shared by businessman Femi Otedola on Tuesday via X, Adesina expressed his shock at the controversy surrounding Dangote’s operations, warning that it is “creating bad waves for Nigeria globally.”

According to Otedola’s post, Adesina argued that monopolies often arise in industries with high entry barriers or capital costs, citing railways and large-scale refineries as examples.

He was quoted as saying, “Monopoly often exists where there are high barriers to entry or high capital costs. How many individuals or companies can do railways? How many can do refineries of the scale of Dangote Refineries? In a nation that has been importing refined petroleum products for several decades, the abnormal simply became very normal.”

The AfDB President emphasised the significant investment made by Dangote, stating, “No smart investor would make a $19.5 billion investment and want it to be undermined by importers.”

He highlighted manufacturing challenges in Nigeria, describing the business environment as fraught with policy uncertainties and reversals.

“To manufacture is extremely expensive and risky. This is even more so in Nigeria, given the very challenging business and economic environment, fraught with policy uncertainties and policy reversals, and where the self-defeating default mode of “simply import it” is always so easily rationalized and chorused to solve any problem,” he said.

Addressing concerns about anti-competitive practices, Adesina said, “Competition is good for everyone. But is Dangote refineries anti-competitive? What is the evidence? Has Dangote Refineries prevented any other company from setting up refineries? Why have others not done so? How come they have not done so for several decades?

“Was it Dangote that held them back? But Dangote refineries surely cannot be asked to ‘compete’ with importers of petroleum products. That is not competition. Let the importers set up local refineries and compete by refining in Nigeria. That is fair and justified competition.”

Adesina stressed the broader economic implications of the refinery, stating, “We cannot and must not undermine, disparage or kill local industries, talk less of one that is of this scale — a jewel of industrialisation in Nigeria. It is more than simply delivering the cheapest product to the market.

“It is about domestic supply security, driving (and yes, protecting) globally competitive industries, maximising forward and backward linkages in the local economy, job creation, reducing forex expenses and shoring up the Naira. We must not be myopic.

“This whole disparaging of Dangote is uncalled for. It is self-defeating. And it is very bad for Nigeria. Who will want to come and invest in a country that disparages and undermines its own largest investor? Investing is tough. Pettiness is easy. It sadly sends a signal that the price for sacrificing for Nigeria is to get sacrificed.”

 

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BBC To Cut 500 Jobs As It Attempts To Save £200m For ‘Transformation’ Of The Corporation

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The BBC has announced plans to cut 500 jobs as it attempts to save £200 million to drive the “transformation” of the corporation.

Chief operating adviser, Leigh Tavaziva said it is making the changes to improve its premium video offering and digital capabilities.

It comes as the BBC is already attempting to save £500 million as part of a plan announced two years ago.

Tavaziva said “significant activity” is already underway to make the corporation “more flexible”.

She said: “In March this year we announced a requirement for an additional £200 million of savings and reinvestment plans to drive the continued transformation of the BBC.

“This will support greater investment into premium video content and further develop our digital capabilities.”

She added: “To further build our digital capabilities, whilst targeting efficiencies, over the next two years we will continue to close and transfer roles in some areas and create new roles in growth areas.

“This will result in a forecast net reduction of 500 roles in the public service by March 26, with further growth in targeted areas planned in our commercial group.

“To support these changes we will today be launching a new voluntary redundancy scheme for staff.

“Our priority remains to protect and champion the BBC’s fighting role as the UK’s public service broadcaster, for all our audiences both local and global.

“I would like to thank all colleagues for their continued efforts and commitments over the past 12 months.

“I am immensely proud of the exceptional content creativity, delivery, and innovation that our teams both provide and support every day.”

The BBC announced in March 2023 that it was to cut 1,000 hours of TV in order to save money, with half of that coming from sport.

In the same year, the corporation announced it was scrapping its in-house chamber choir, the BBC Singers, and reducing salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20%.

In December 2022 it said that it was making £11m worth of cuts in local radio, which saw its 39 stations required to share content and broadcast less localised content.

Back in 2016, the BBC said it needed to cut £800m worth of costs, with £80m of that coming from news.

The move saw the Andrew Neil Show axed in 2020, along with 450 jobs in English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news.

 

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I Have No Blending Plant Outside Nigeria, NNPC Boss Kyari Replies Dangote

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The Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari has said he does not own a blending plant outside Nigeria.

Kyari stated this on Tuesday, July 23, while reacting to claims that some officials of the NNPC have blending plants in Malta.

Reacting in a post on his X handle (formerly Twitter), Kyari said he had been inundated with calls from family members and friends, asking if he truly owns a blending plant in Malta.

Kyari stated that he does not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world except a local mini-agricultural venture.

He also said he is not aware of any employee of the NNPC that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“I am inundated by enquiries from family members, friends and associates on the public declaration by the President of Dangote Group that some NNPC workers have established a blending plant in Malta thereby impeding procurements from local production of Petroleum products.

“To clarify the allegations regarding the blending plant, I do not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world with the exception of a local mini Agric venture, neither am I aware of any employee of the NNPC, that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“A blending plant in Malta or any part of the world has no influence over NNPC’s business operations and strategic actions.”

The NNPC boss threatened to sanction any official of the NNPC involved in such acts if they truly exist.

 

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