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Again, Court Orders Forfeiture Of Property Linked To Diezani

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The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the final forfeiture of a plot of land in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said to belong to a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.

Justice Chuka Obiozor made the forfeiture order on Tuesday following an exparte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The anti-graft agency told the judge that the land, “measuring 7,903.71 – 8,029.585 square metres” and designated as Plot 9, Azikiwe Road, Old GRA (UAC Property on Forces Avenue), Port Harcourt, was reasonably suspected to be part of proceeds of unlawful activities.

The commission, therefore, asked the court for an order to allow it “to appoint a competent person or firm to manage the asset/property.”

It also asked the court to prohibit “any disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise of the asset/property.”

It also asked the court to prohibit “any disposal, conveyance, mortgage, lease, sale or alienation or otherwise of the asset/property.”

Counsel for the EFCC, Ebuka Okongwu, also told the court that it had the power, pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006, to make the forfeiture order.

After listening to the lawyer, Justice Obiozor granted the forfeiture order.

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It would be recalled that the same Federal High Court had earlier ordered the forfeiture of 2,149 pieces of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone, valued at $40m, belonging to Diezani.

The EFCC said it found and recovered the jewellery and the gold iPhone from Diezani’s premises, adding that it reasonably suspected that the former minister acquired them with “proceeds of unlawful activities.”

According to the schedule attached to the application, the jewellery, categorised into 33 sets, include “419 expensive bangles; 315 expensive rings; 304 expensive earrings; 267 expensive necklaces; 189 expensive wristwatches; 174 expensive necklaces and earrings; 78 expensive bracelets; 77 expensive brooches; and 74 expensive pendants.”

“The respondent’s known and provable lawful income is far less than the properties,” the EFCC told the court.

 

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FG, States, LG’s Received N716.2bn In December 2019

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The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) has shared a sum total of N716.298 billion to the Federal Government, States and Local Government Councils for December 2019.

The Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Henshaw Ogubike, in a statement  said the total sum comprised revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT), Exchange Gain and the Statutory Revenue.

Henshaw stated that from the total revenue, the Federal Government received N287.929 billion, the State Governments received N191.302 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N143.698 billion.

Oil Producing States received N50.279 billion as 13 percent derivation revenue and the Revenue Generating Agencies received N43.089 billion as the cost of revenue collection.

The statement reads, “A breakdown of the distribution showed that from the gross statutory revenue of N600.314 billion, the Federal Government received N271.361 billion, the State Governments received N137.638 billion, the Local Government Councils received N106.113 billion, the Oil Producing States received N50.149 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the Revenue Collecting Agencies received N35.053 billion as cost of collection.

“From the Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N114.806, the Federal Government received N16.015 billion, the State Governments received N53.386 billion, the Local Government Councils received N37.369 billion and the Revenue Generating Agencies received N8.036 billion as cost of revenue collection.”

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It added that in December 2019, there were significant increases in revenues from Companies Income Tax (CIT), Value Added Tax (VAT) Oil and Gas Royalties and Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), while import duty increased marginally.

Meanwhile, as of January 15, 2020, the balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was $324.968 million.

 

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Nigeria, Ghana, Others Reject Eco Common Currency

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No fewer than Six Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries on Thursday rejected the move by eight other francophone nations in the region to adopt the Eco common currency.

Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, all English-speaking countries and Guinea, the only francophone country, criticized the move by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo who had agreed to change the name of their common currency, CFA francs to Eco.

At an extraordinary meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Economy, and the Governors of Central Banks in the West African Monetary Zone, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the declaration is not in line with the decisions of ECOWAS Heads of States.

“While the meeting applauds the decision of the francophone West African countries to the link, the meeting also noted with concern, the declaration by his Excellency, Alassane Ouattara, Chairman of the authority of the Heads of States and Governments of the West African Economy and Monetary Union on the 21st December 2019 to unilaterally rename the CFA francs as eco by the year 2020.

“WAMZ Convergence council wishes to emphasize that this action is not in line with the decision of the authorities of the heads of states and government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the eco as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”

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At the end of the meeting, delegates recommended that an extraordinary general meeting of ECOWAS heads of state and governments in the West African Monetary Zone be convened to discuss the matter.

“The council reiterates the importance for all ECOWAS member countries to adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS authority heads of states and government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS single currency programme.

“The council recommends that an extraordinary summit of the authority of the heads of state and government of the WAMZ member state be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues.”

In December 2019, the adoption of Eco common currency by the eight francophone countries was lauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), showing readiness to engage with the regional authorities, owing to its proven track record in the conduct of monetary policy and external reserve management.

Ghana had in December, lauded the move and said that the country is determined to do whatever they can to join the Member States of UEMOA soon.

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Ibadan schools demolition: Oyo govt to investigate, prosecute offenders

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The Government of Oyo State said on Friday that it has launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the illegal demolition of classrooms in two state-owned Primary schools within Ibadan metropolis.

Information had reached the Government early on Thursday to the effect that some unknown individuals in Egbeda and Ona-Ara Local Government Areas of the State illegally entered the premises of two primary schools and demolished blocks of classrooms.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa,  indicated that the Governor had promised to prosecute the perpetrators.

The statement indicated that some individuals had unlawfully entered the premises of the Community Primary School, Ayepe, in Egbeda Local Government Area and Methodist Primary School, Gangansi in Ona-Ara Local Government Area, where they demolished blocks of classroom without authorization.

The Government described the act as illegal, untoward and totally condemnable, adding that it would not sit down and watch saboteurs destroy public properties for whatever reasons.

According to the statement, the individuals who destroyed the classrooms got no approval from the State Universal Basic Education Board, which holds the schools in trust for the Government and the people.

“While the State Government is desirous of working with good-spirited members of the society in managing public infrastructure, the administration will not condone lawlessness and failure to adhere to due process,” the statement read.

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The statement added: “The Government frowns on the demolition of blocks of classrooms at the Community Primary School, Ayepe and Methodist Primary School, Gangansi in Egbeda and Ona-Ara Local Government Areas respectively by some hoodlums purportedly on the order of a National Assembly member from the state.

“The act, to say the least, is untoward, illegal and totally condemnable. No one, no matter how highly placed, is allowed to unlawfully enter a public school premises and demolish buildings under whatever guise without approval from Government.

“We see this as an act of provocation and lawlessness and as a Government; we will not sit down and watch some lawless individuals have their ways in sabotaging Government by destroying school properties or embarking on renovations of public property using lawless means simply for political showmanship.

“Governor Seyi Makinde has mandated the relevant security agencies to commence investigation into the circumstances that led to the demolition of the classrooms in the two aforementioned schools.

“The Governor has also given directives that the law enforcement should bring the perpetrators to justice so as to serve as deterrents to other individuals who may want to follow such path of lawlessness.

“Governor Makinde has said it times and again that his administration is open to working with public-spirited individuals to bring about massive improvement in the infrastructure in the education and other sectors in the State. But that partnership must follow due process.

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“Any individual or politician with the intention to collaborate in building infrastructure in Oyo State schools should know that the schools are public properties under the trust of the Government and they should approach the Government for appropriate approvals.

“Anything short of this is lawlessness and as a Government that has sworn to defend the laws of the land, the Government of Oyo State is ever ready to put every tendency towards lawlessness under the check of the long arms of the law.”

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