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EFCC Recovers N30bn From Humanitarian Ministry’s Looted Funds

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has recovered over N30bn from the N37,170, 855,753.44 allegedly laundered in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs under the former minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouk.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has recovered over N30bn from the N37,170, 855,753.44 allegedly laundered in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs under the former minister, Sadiya Umar-Farouk.

Sources in the anti-graft agency, who spoke with our correspondent on Friday, said the commission had also uncovered over N500m from the scam associated with Umar-Farouk’s successor, Betta Edu, who was recently suspended by President Bola Tinubu.

Saturday PUNCH had in December reported that N37,170,855,753.44 was transferred from government coffers and sent to 38 different bank accounts domiciled in five legacy commercial banks belonging to or connected with a contractor, James Okwete.

It was gathered on Friday that N30bn was recovered by the EFCC following the placement of a lien on the bank accounts of Umar-Farouq and Okwete, who are still being grilled by the anti-graft agency’s investigators.

The agency is also still grilling Edu in connection with an alleged N17bn fraud, while the suspended Coordinator of the National Social Investment Programme, Halima Shehu, is also still being questioned over an alleged N44bn fraud.

An EFCC source revealed, “The commission has now recovered over N30bn from the laundered N37.1bn that was linked to former minister Sadiya Umar-Farouq. We were able to recover the money after we placed liens on the bank accounts of the former minister and the contractor, Mr Okwete, who was linked to the fraud under probe. Both the minister and the contractor are still being grilled by our investigators daily.”

A senior EFCC investigator added, “We have uncovered another N17bn money laundering from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and for the alleged fraud linked to the suspended minister, Betta Edu, we have so far recovered over N500m. Edu is still answering questions about the fraud.

“The NSIPA coordinator, Halima Shehu, is still being grilled over the N44bn fraud linked to her at the NSIPA; our investigators aren’t leaving any stone unturned.”

When contacted for comments on the development, the spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale declined comments.

In another development, the EFCC said it recovered a total of N70,556,658,370.5 between October 2023 and January 19, 2024.

Details of the recovery were outlined in an EFCC document titled, ‘Operations and Recoveries’, which was exclusively obtained by our correspondent.

The document revealed that in the period under review, the EFCC recovered N60,969,047,634.25, $10,522,778.57, £150,002.10 and €4,119.90, making a total of N70,556,658,370.5.

It added that the EFCC received a total of 3,325 petitions, accepted 2,657 of the petitions, and secured the conviction of 747 persons for financial crimes ranging from money laundering to Internet fraud in the same period.

A breakdown of the data shows that the EFCC headquarters alone recovered N49,607,391,330.44, $3,900,200.75, £2,000, and £110.

The Maiduguri Zonal Command recovered N58,065,870 and $3,370; the Gombe Command recovered N127,323,028.50 and $1,500; while the Kano Command recovered N141,944,451 and $365.

The Makurdi Command recovered N53,228, 325; Enugu Command, N202,117,000; and $1,950; Uyo Command, N25,299,950 and $710; and Port Harcourt Command, N2,412,247,210.05 and $5,714,389.21.

The Sokoto Command recovered the sum of N100,696,118.72; Kaduna Command, N331,494,710.81, $912, £50, and €1,610; Ilorin Command, N80,280,580.86 and $880; Abuja Zonal Command, N825,928,463 and $10,000; and Ibadan Zonal Command, N135,519,810, $14517, £280, and €500.

The Lagos Zonal Command was said to have recovered N6,826,993,798.78, $868,284.61, £147,672.10, and €1,899.90, while the Benin Zonal Command recovered n49,515,987.09 and $5,700.

Within the same period, the agency said it secured the conviction of 747 persons for offences ranging from money laundering to cybercrimes.

However, the Chairman of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, at a dialogue in Abuja on Wednesday, revealed that most of the 747 convictions involved persons who were prosecuted for cybercrime offences.

Meanwhile, the commission has said that it has deepened its probe into money laundering cases involving some high-profile public officials, especially former governors and ministers indicted for fraud.

The total amount involved in the money laundering cases rose to around N130.1bn as of January 31, 2024.

Details of the development were contained in an EFCC document titled, ‘100 Days in Office’, detailing ongoing probes, discoveries, and recoveries made by the commission under Olukoyede.

 

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NSIB Receives U.S. Preliminary Report On Wigwe’s Death

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The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) says it has received the preliminary report from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) regarding the crashed helicopter that killed Dr Herbert Wigwe and five others.

Mrs Bimbo Oladeji, Director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Feb. 9, Wigwe, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings, his wife, son and a former Group Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group Plc, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, as well as some others were onboard the ill-fated Airbus Helicopter EC130B4.

Oladeji said that following the accident, the NSIB offered its full cooperation to the NTSB, the lead agency investigating the accident which claimed the lives of six individuals.

The crash occured at the Interstate 15 in Halloran Springs, California, U.S.A.

According to Oladeji, initial findings suggest that the helicopter suffered catastrophic damage upon impact, resulting in fragmentation of major components.

She said: “The preliminary report on the Airbus Helicopter EC130B4, registered as N130CZ and operated by Orbic Air, LLC, under Part 135 regulations for on-demand flights, outlines crucial details surrounding the tragic incident.

“Departing from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, the helicopter embarked on a journey to Boulder City Municipal Airport in Nevada via Palm Springs International Airport.

“However, during its flight, adverse weather conditions characterised by rain and a mix of snow, were encountered, as reported by witnesses.

“Reports from law enforcement and eyewitnesses also indicated that several individuals travelling along Interstate 15 (I-15) observed a “fireball” in the area, prompting calls to emergency services.

“Subsequently, the wreckage of the helicopter was discovered in the high, mountainous desert and scrub-brush covered terrain near Halloran Springs, California.

“Analysis of the accident site revealed a scattered debris pattern about 300 ft along a 120° magnetic, indicating a trajectory from an initial impact point which was a 1.5 ft deep, 12 ft long and 10 ft wide ground crater.

“Containing fragments of the right landing gear skid, cockpit wiring, and cabin floor structure. The right skid step protruded upward at a 45° angle at the extreme eastern edge of the ground crater.

“All major helicopter components were identified at the accident site. The helicopter’s fuselage was fragmented, and the cockpit and cabin were destroyed.

“Some debris and vegetation displayed thermal damage, indicative of the extent of the collision’s force. The flight control tubes and linkages leading up to the flight control servos were fragmented and continuity could not be verified.

“All three pitch control links were attached at the swashplate and blade pitch change horns. The main rotor blades were fragmented and broomstrawed, and the blade sleeves and tips were present.

“Data analysis utilised sources including automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data, operator personnel reports, and eyewitness accounts to reconstruct the flight path and sequence of events leading to the accident.”

Oladeji said that the NSIB, in accordance with the prerogative granted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO’s) Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, had the right to access investigation information.

“On aviation accidents and incidents involving Nigerian-registered aircraft or Nigerian citizens in 193 countries that are member states of the ICAO.

“The NSIB has been actively engaging with the NTSB since the beginning of the investigation.

She said that as the investigation progresses, NSIB will be committed to engaging the NTSB to receive the public docket of the investigation, which will comprise the compendium of information gathered throughout the investigation.

“This typically includes photographs, interview summaries, documentation, and other relevant data that will give a clearer picture of the factors that led to the accident.”

Also, the Director-General of the NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh, expressed gratitude for the cooperation extended by the NTSB, which has facilitated the sharing of vital information.

“We will continue to work closely with relevant authorities leading the investigation, including the NTSB, to gather additional evidence and information necessary for a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances that led to this tragic event,” Badeh.

(NAN)

 

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BDC: CBN Mandates Sellers Above $10,000 To Declare Sources

“Retail sale of foreign currencies to non-individuals, except for BTA, international outward transfers, engaging in off-shore business or maintaining foreign correspondent relationship with any foreign establishment are also not permissible,”

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has mandated foreign exchange sellers to Bureau De Change (BDC) of the equivalent of 10,000 dollars and above to declare their forex sources.

Haruna Mustapha, Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department of the CBN, said this in a revised regulatory framework to curtail excesses of BDCs and check uncertainty in the foreign exchange market.

Mustapha said that such sellers would also be required to comply with all Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism ( AML/CFT) regulations.

He said that the guidelines would significantly enhance the regulatory framework for the operations of BDCs as part of ongoing reforms of the Nigerian foreign exchange market.

According to him, the guidelines revises the permissible activities, licensing requirements, corporate governance and AML/CFT provisions for BDCs.

“It also sets out new record-keeping and reporting requirements, among others,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the guidelines also specifies that no person shall carry on the business of BDC in Nigeria except with the prior authorisation of the CBN.

It described BDC as a company licensed by the CBN to carry on only retail foreign exchange business in Nigeria.

It banned commercial, merchant, non-interest and payment service banks, Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), including holding companies and payment service providers from promoting BDCs.

It also precluded serving staff of financial services regulatory and supervisory agencies, serving staff of regulated financial services providers, governments at all levels, among others, from promoting BDCs.

The guidelines permitted BDCs to acquire foreign currency from authorised sources like tourists, returnees from the diaspora and expatriates with foreign exchange inflows from work, travel, investment or their domiciliary accounts.

Other permissible sources are International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), embassies, hotels that are authorised buyers of foreign currencies, the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market (NFEM) and any other source that the CBN may specify.

It warned the BDCs not to engage in street-trading, maintaining any type of account for any member of the public, or accepting any asset for safe keeping/custody.

It said that the BDCs were also not permitted to take deposits from or grant loans to members of the public in any currency and in any form.

“Retail sale of foreign currencies to non-individuals, except for BTA, international outward transfers, engaging in off-shore business or maintaining foreign correspondent relationship with any foreign establishment are also not permissible,” it said

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Economic Hardship: Blame Buhari, Not Tinubu – Northern Group Tells Nigerians

What people need to know about Nigeria’s present challenges is that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu inherited them from the past administration of former president Buhari but as a determined leader, Tinubu is pulling all strings together to overcome them head-on.

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A Northern group, Civil Society For Credible Election has stated that erstwhile president, Muhammadu Buhari should be blamed for the economic crisis plaguing the nation.

The group lamented that President Bola Tinubu inherited the challenges from his predecessor.

They shared their reservations while addressing newsmen in Kano.

Umar argued that Tinubu had since hit the ground working to reverse the situation through various steps and policies put in place.

He subsequently called on Nigerians to exercise patience with the President as things will be better in no distant time in the country.

According to him, “We recognize the fact that Nigerians are passing through hardship at the moment. It is a result of a global economic meltdown, but only further compounded by some shortcomings of the last administration under former president Muhammadu Buhari.

“What people need to know about Nigeria’s present challenges is that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu inherited them from the past administration of former president Buhari but as a determined leader, Tinubu is pulling all strings together to overcome them head-on.

“Nigerians are all living witness to the phantom steps and policies of the present administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to address the country’s sociocultural, economic and political indices.

“What President Tinubu need from all Nigerians now is patience, cooperation and understanding of the administration reforms policies. These reforms are strategic and competent enough to in no distant time make all Nigerians proud of their beloved country.”

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