Brighton Make It To PL

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Brighton can celebrate their promotion to the English Premier League, after Huddersfield failed to beat Derby County.

Brighton won 2-1 earlier in the day, and hoped for Huddersfield not to get a win against Derby. The match ended in a draw.

The draw means Brighton are guaranteed to finish in the top two of the championship and play premier league football next season.

Boss Chris Hughton said: “It’s a wonderful achievement and there’s so many people that I’m absolutely delighted for, certainly the chairman [Tony Bloom]. He’s a local man and has invested an incredible amount of money in this football club.

“I knew we had a group of lads that were capable of doing it, but being capable of doing it and actually doing it are two different things. They’ve been good all season. They’ve bounced back and shown good determination and desire to win as many games as possible.

“Right at this moment, this is the most exciting one [achievement]. I went up with Newcastle as a team that just came down, and although we’d lost players, I had a very strong team.

“This is a club that haven’t been in the Premier League. This was a club that had been in the play-offs two years running before I got here, so it wasn’t a club that was used to being at the bottom end of the division.”

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Burnley Manager Sean Dyche Can’t Stop Coaches From Showing Public Interest About His Players

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Burnley boss Sean Dyche admits he is powerless to stop rival managers speaking publicly about his players. 

Everton have revealed that Clarets defender Michael Keane is a transfer target this summer with Ronald Koeman declaring the 24-year-old has a “great future”.

The Burnley manager says he does not believe it’s right to speak about other club’s players but concedes he can do little about it.

“I’ve had it with many players and it’s a balance in the sense it’s a compliment in the sense that people think there must be life at Burnley so they think let’s go and have a look and when they do look they think there are some really good players there and then there is that edge of worry that eventually when someone comes in, who are way more powerful than us financially and start pushing the boundaries,” Dyche said.

“But it’s not something that’s new to me.”

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Burnley Manager Sean Dyche Can’t Stop Coaches From Showing Public Interest About His Players

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Burnley boss Sean Dyche admits he is powerless to stop rival managers speaking publicly about his players. 

Everton have revealed that Clarets defender Michael Keane is a transfer target this summer with Ronald Koeman declaring the 24-year-old has a “great future”.

The Burnley manager says he does not believe it’s right to speak about other club’s players but concedes he can do little about it.

“I’ve had it with many players and it’s a balance in the sense it’s a compliment in the sense that people think there must be life at Burnley so they think let’s go and have a look and when they do look they think there are some really good players there and then there is that edge of worry that eventually when someone comes in, who are way more powerful than us financially and start pushing the boundaries,” Dyche said.

“But it’s not something that’s new to me.”

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Zola Leaves Birmingham Post

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Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has resigned from his managerial role at Birmingham, the championship club has confirmed.

Zola’s last game was a 2-0 loss to Burton Albion, leaving them three points outside the relegation zone.

Zola was appointed as manager when Birmingham was seventh on the table. He won only two match so far, amassing only 13 points from his 22 games in charge.

His loss on Easter Monday led to more fan unrest and his resignation was made known one hour after the match against Burton Albion.

Zola faced the press soon after the announcement and he said: “I am sorry because obviously I came here with huge expectations, from the club and myself.

“Results unfortunately haven’t been good and I take full responsibility for that. I am the first one to be disappointed with the results.

“It’s not that I like quitting but I feel like this club deserves the best chance. If I feel like I cannot help these players why stay – it’s better that I leave and let somebody else do that.”

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Zola Leaves Birmingham Post

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Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola has resigned from his managerial role at Birmingham, the championship club has confirmed.

Zola’s last game was a 2-0 loss to Burton Albion, leaving them three points outside the relegation zone.

Zola was appointed as manager when Birmingham was seventh on the table. He won only two match so far, amassing only 13 points from his 22 games in charge.

His loss on Easter Monday led to more fan unrest and his resignation was made known one hour after the match against Burton Albion.

Zola faced the press soon after the announcement and he said: “I am sorry because obviously I came here with huge expectations, from the club and myself.

“Results unfortunately haven’t been good and I take full responsibility for that. I am the first one to be disappointed with the results.

“It’s not that I like quitting but I feel like this club deserves the best chance. If I feel like I cannot help these players why stay – it’s better that I leave and let somebody else do that.”

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Torino President Urbano Cairo Insists Joe Hart’s “Performance Levels Have Dropped”

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Joe Hart’s “performance levels have dropped” because of constant speculation about his future, according to Torino president Urbano Cairo.

The 29-year-old, who spent a decade with Manchester City, has failed to keep a clean sheet for the Serie A side since January 8 and has made costly errors that have led to goals this season.

Cario believes there is a reason behind the England international’s mistakes.

“There’s too much being said about Hart,” he told Tuttosport .

“Since this has been happening, his performance levels have dropped. This is already the third time we concede a goal this way and that’s a bit too much.

“It happens and I like him, but come on. He’s a great goalkeeper, though, and let’s see how things evolve.”

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Torino President Urbano Cairo Insists Joe Hart’s “Performance Levels Have Dropped”

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Joe Hart’s “performance levels have dropped” because of constant speculation about his future, according to Torino president Urbano Cairo.

The 29-year-old, who spent a decade with Manchester City, has failed to keep a clean sheet for the Serie A side since January 8 and has made costly errors that have led to goals this season.

Cario believes there is a reason behind the England international’s mistakes.

“There’s too much being said about Hart,” he told Tuttosport .

“Since this has been happening, his performance levels have dropped. This is already the third time we concede a goal this way and that’s a bit too much.

“It happens and I like him, but come on. He’s a great goalkeeper, though, and let’s see how things evolve.”

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Terry To Leave Chelsea After 22 Years At Stamford Bridge

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Top of the table Chelsea have announced that long serving captain John Terry will be leaving at the end of the season.

The former England international joined the youth ranks of the Blues back in 1995 and has enjoyed a successful career at Stamford Bridge.

The 36-year-old has won four EPL titles , five FA Cups, three League Cups, one UCL and one Europa league trophy. Terry has made 713 appearances for Chelsea and 578 of those with the captain armband.

Terry told Chelsea’s official website: “After 22 years there is so much to say and so many people to thank at this great football club. From coaches, team-mates and staff to the fans who have given me so much support down the years, I can’t thank you enough. There will be opportunities for me to speak further about this over the coming weeks.

“I will decide on my future in due course, but for now I am committed to helping the team achieve success this season.

“The club and I have always had a fantastic relationship, which will continue beyond my playing days. We had some really positive talks but with everything taken into careful consideration I have decided it’s the right time for me to leave. I’ve always been conscious that I depart at the right time, in the right way, and I feel that the end of this season is the right time for the club and I.

“I feel I still have plenty to offer on the pitch but understand that opportunities here at Chelsea will be limited for me. I’m eager to carry on playing and so will be looking to continue with a new challenge. I will of course always be a Blue and am desperate to end my final season as a Chelsea player with more silverware.

“Finally, words cannot describe the love I have for our football club and our amazing Chelsea fans. I would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for the unbelievable support you’ve shown me over the years. You mean the world to me and every trophy we’ve won during my time at the club we’ve won together. I will never forget the incredible journey we’ve been on. Thank you so much for everything.’

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “Everyone at Chelsea would like to place on record our thanks to John for all he has done for this football club. He has been an outstanding player, inspirational captain and has always demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the cause.

“In that time, Chelsea has grown into one of the world’s top clubs and it is only right that John’s contribution is recognised. He will always be held in the highest regard by everybody at Stamford Bridge and we look forward to welcoming him back in the future.”

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Football Headlines: All The Latest Football News And Transfer Rumors This Evening

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LONDON EVENING STANDARD

  • Pep Guardiola has refused to comment on whether Manchester City are interested in signing Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez this summer, saying now is not the moment to talk about the club’s transfer plans.
  • Eric Dier says Tottenham’s fringe players have stepped up and helped the club keep the heat on Chelsea in the Premier League title race.
  • QPR director of football Les Ferdinand believes the Championship run-in will give manager Ian Holloway a crucial opportunity to assess his squad ahead of the summer transfer window.

MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s agent Mino Raiola has all but confirmed the striker will stay at Manchester United – if they qualify for the Champions League.
  • Manchester City are ‘pushing hard’ to sign Monaco superstar Kylian Mbappe, according to reports.
  • But Manchester City look set to miss out on Atalanta midfielder Franck Kessie, according to reports.

LIVERPOOL ECHO

  • Everton could make a £2m profit on Aiden McGeady with a permanent move for the winger to Preston in the summer.
  • Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he’s noticing Mamadou Sakho’s form for Crystal Palace but he refused to be drawn on his or Daniel Sturridge’s Reds future.
  • Mo Besic could make his long-awaited return to the Everton first team before the end of the season – provided he proves his fitness at U23 level.

NEWCASTLE CHRONICLE

  • Agent Roberto De Fanti says Vito Mannone and Fabio Borini are “destined” to leave Sunderland this summer.
  • Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has dismissed speculation linking club captain Ryan Shawcross with a move to Newcastle United in the summer.

SUNDERLAND ECHO

  • Sunderland starlet Jordan Pickford says he would never join bitter rivals Newcastle United.

BIRMINGHAM MAIL

  • Gianfranco Zola believes his Birmingham City team will not need major surgery during the summer to turn performances into results.

EXPRESS & STAR

  • Andreas Weimann says he’s still in the dark on his long-term Wolves future – but is loving life at the club.
  • Steve Bruce has vowed to do all he can to keep Jonathan Kodjia after warning it would take a “colossal sum of money” to prise the striker from Villa this summer.

THE SENTINEL

  • Mark Hughes admits chances for Saido Berahino have been at a premium in his first five starts for Stoke … but he has been impressed with his attitude and training as he strives to get back to being a “top level” striker next season.

THE DAILY ECHO

  • Claude Puel plans to give right-back Jeremy Pied a chance to play before the end of the season.

LANCASHIRE TELEGRAPH

  • Robbie Brady is showing signs he’s finally fitting in to the Burnley way of playing, according to Clarets skipper Tom Heaton.
  • Sean Dyche is not surprised by the scintillating form of Romelu Lukaku after revealing he tried to sign Everton talisman years ago.

BOURNEMOUTH ECHO

  • Eddie Howe admits he is scouring the lower leagues in a bid to unearth the next Dele Alli.
  • The Bournemouth boss has also dismissed speculation linking defender Steve Cook with Everton and insisted his focus was on adding “quality” to his Cherries squad.

DERBY TELEGRAPH

  • On-loan midfielder Julien de Sart has not given up hope of winning back a place in Derby County’s team.
  • Derby County have been linked with a move for Rangers forward Michael O’Halloran.

NOTTINGHAM POST

  • Evangelos Marinakis is understood to be closing on a deal to takeover Nottingham Forest.
  • Nottingham Forest will not panic if Ben Brereton’s contract situation is not resolved immediately on his 18th birthday – with Mark Warburton insisting he is relaxed about the future of the highly-rated striker.

EVENING GAZETTE

  • Victor Valdes is settled and happy at Boro and focused on trying to help the club find the results they need to avoid the drop in the “seven cup finals” that remain this season.

THE ARGUS

  • Tomer Hemed is set for summer talks to stretch his stay with promotion pushing Albion.

HUDDERSFIELD EXAMINER

  • Derby County forward Johnny Russell could be a target for Huddersfield Town – if Steve McClaren is appointed Head of Football Operations at the John Smith’s Stadium.

EVENING TIMES

  • Brendan Rodgers believes that Scott Sinclair would be an ideal fit for England as Gareth Southgate’s side prepare to take on Scotland at Hampden in June.

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Why The Nigerian Government Is Losing Corruption Cases – Femi Falana

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Why the Nigerian Government Is Losing Corruption Cases, By Femi Falana

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Introduction

As a result of the loss of corruption cases last week, many civil society organisations (CSOs) appear to agree with the federal government that corruption is fighting back. However, before engaging in escapism by accusing the judiciary of compromise, it is pertinent to examine the facts and circumstances of the loss of these cases. I shall predict that the federal government stands to lose more corruption cases unless the authorities are prepared to reorganise the anti-graft agencies and review the anti-corruption policy in line with the proposals designed by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) on the prosecution of politically exposed persons.

Concern Over the Loss of Prosecution Cases

Following a string of court rulings against high profile corruption cases last week, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Buhari to “adopt a revolutionary approach to his government’s fight against corruption by referring high-level official corruption cases to the International Criminal Court for investigation and possible prosecution”. It may interest SERAP to know that I actually submitted a petition to the office of the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in October 2015 on the same subject matter. My petition had alleged the commission of crimes against humanity by military officers and other police officers who engaged in the criminal diversion of $15 billion earmarked for the procurement of arms and ammunition, which led to the brutal killing of over 25,000 people and the displacement of two million persons by the Boko Haram sect. Even though the petition is said to be receiving attention, I have been reliably informed by a top official of the ICC that the Rome Statute does not cover large scale corruption.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has equally expressed concern over the loss of corruption cases by the federal government. While blaming the development on lack of proper investigation and poor prosecution, Chief Obasanjo has asked the government to rely on “ogbologbo lawyers” and stop the practice of farming out corruption cases to external lawyers. With profound respect, the “ogbologbo lawyers” that President Obasanjo has in mind are no longer easy to come by in the public service. Hence, under the Obasanjo administration, both the ICPC and EFCC led by the Honourable Justice Mustapha Akanbi (rtd) and Mallam Nuhu Ribadu respectively, engaged the services of external lawyers in the prosecution of many high profile cases. In fact, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), an external lawyer, has successfully prosecuted more corruption cases than any lawyer in the country.

Having reviewed the circumstances under which the corruption cases were lost by the federal government, I can say, without any fear of contradiction, that there is no basis for blaming the judiciary. It is also not a case of corruption fighting back. Or if corruption is truly fighting back, it is from the government. From the information at my disposal, the cases were lost due to official negligence and lack of inter agency cooperation on the part of the Federal Ministry of Justice, the anti-graft agencies and the State Security Service. In order to appreciate the basis of my submission, it is pertinent to review the facts of the cases which were lost last week.

1. FRN v Mike Ozekhome

In the course of investigating the criminal diversion of the sum of $2.1 billion from the office of National Security Adviser (NSA), the EFCC claimed that it had traced N2.3 billion to Mr. Ayo Fayose, the governor of Ekiti State. On the basis of the finding, the EFCC applied for and obtained an order ex parte from Idris J. of the Lagos judicial division of the federal high court to freeze the accounts of Mr. Fayose at Zenith Bank. The application to vacate the order filed before the Ado Ekiti judicial division of the court was granted by Taiwo J, but the EFCC also promptly appealed against the newer order.

However, further investigation revealed that N75 million was paid as legal fee to Mr. Mike Ozekhome, the counsel to Mr. Fayose. At that juncture, the EFCC applied for and obtained an order ex parte to freeze Chief Ozekhome’s account from Anka J. of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos. The senior counsel applied to set aside the order. In setting aside the ex parte and unfreezing Chief Ozekhome’s account, Anka J. held that he could not sit as an appellate court over Taiwo J. who had ordered that Mr. Fayose’s account be unfrozen. All hope is not lost as the EFCC has appealed to the Court of Appeal to set aside the order of Taiwo which unfroze the account of Governor Ayo Fayose.

2. FRN V Orubebe

The Defendant was charged with criminal diversion of N1.9 billion from the money earmarked for the construction of the East-West road. The ICPC was prosecuting the case. But at the resumed hearing of the matter last week, the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation filed a nolle prosequi seeking to withdraw the case pursuant to his powers under section 174 of the Constitution. Consequently, the case was struck out while the defendants were discharged. Once the case was discontinued by the prosecution based on the instruction of the Attorney-General, the trial judge had no choice but to strike it out.

3. FRN v Mrs. Patience Jonathan

The EFCC traced the sum of $5.9 million to the account of the respondent. Convinced that the fund was a proceed of crime, the EFCC applied for an order freezing the account. The respondent filed an application to unfreeze the account. As no counter-affidavit was filed challenging the application, it was granted by Olatoregun J. last week. Instead of pursuing an appeal, the EFCC may wish to consider all available options in the circumstance. In particular, an application may be made before the same court praying that the order be set aside based on cogent reasons.

4. FRN v Justice Adeniyi Ademola & Two Ors.

Following the raid on the homes of seven judges last year, the defendants were arraigned in court on an 18-count charge. When the prosecution closed its case, the defendants filed a no case submission. In a marathon ruling delivered last week, the learned trial judge, Okeke J. upheld the no case submission struck out of the case and discharged the defendants. With respect, the learned trial judge ought not to have considered the merit of the case and the credibility of witnesses in the ruling. Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, coupled with relevant decided authorities on a no case submission, I am of the strong view that the government has an arguable appeal.

I suggest that the appeal already filed against the ruling of the learned trial judge by the government should be pursued with vigour. My belief in the possibility of the success of the appeal is anchored on the cases of Olawale Ajiboye v The State (1995) 8 NWLR (PT 414) 408 wherein the Supreme Court had this to say:

“It must be recognised that at the stage of a no case submission, the trial of the case is not yet concluded. At that stage, therefore, the court should not concern itself with the credibility of witnesses or the weight to their evidence even if they are accomplices. The court should also at this stage be brief in its ruling at too much might be said which at the end of the case might fetter the court’s discretion. The court should again at this stage make no observation on the facts. (See for example R. v. Ekanem (1950) 13 WACA 108, Chief Odofin Bello v. The State (1967) NMLR 1, R v. Coker & Ors. 20 NLR 62.”

Limited Capacity of Anti-graft Agencies

On a dispassionate consideration of the afore-mentioned cases, it is my submission that the courts cannot be blamed for the official negligence, as well as lack of inter agency collaboration and coordination of the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases by the federal government. On some occasions, the State Security Service has refused to produce accused persons in court without any reason whatsoever. The development has led to unnecessary delays in the prosecution of very serious corruption cases. It is obvious that the federal government wants to eat omelette without breaking eggs. It won’t work. Was it not because the accused persons had put together teams of senior and experienced lawyers that the federal government decided to set up of a national prosecution agency? But as no fund was made available to the agency, corruption cases have not been assigned to the members of the agency. With the virtual collapse of the agency, the anti-graft agencies have been left on their own.

No doubt, the lawyers of the anti-graft agencies are largely industrious and committed to the fight against corruption. With a few investigators and persecutors working under a hostile environment, the EFCC has almost performed miracles! In other words, the investigators and prosecutors are hampered by the lack of experience and exposure. They are also overstretched and overwhelmed. In spite of such shortcomings, the EFCC has secured not less than 200 convictions in the last one year. In fact, some of the convicts are politically exposed persons, including an ex-MD of NIMASA, an ex governor, four former chairmen of local government councils and some fuel subsidy importers. Funds and properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars and billions of naira have been seized and forfeited to the federal government on the orders of the federal high court.

As I did advocate in another forum last year, the military officers who diverted billions of dollars and naira earmarked for procurement of arms and armament should be charged before courts martial “for the serious offences of aiding the enemy, mutiny by impeding or sabotaging the counter insurgency operations and stealing of public funds in contravention of sections 45, 52 and 66 of the Armed Forces Act. The proposed trial before such military courts will meet the justice of the case and the expectations of the public. More so, that the Rules of Procedure applicable in courts-martial have no room for frivolous adjournments, motions for bail, interlocutory appeals and preliminary objections.” With the handling of cases of indicted military officers by experienced military police investigators and prosecutors before courts-martial, the lawyers serving in the anti-graft agencies will have more time to concentrate on other cases.

Illegal Opposition To Bail Applications By Anti-graft Agencies

One of the reasons why I have never prosecuted for the anti-graft agencies is the lackadaisical attitude of the government to the prosecution of corruption cases. I also cannot support the media trial of criminal suspects and the official policy of opposing the bail applications of criminal suspects. In Ameh Ebute V State (1994) 8 NWLR (Pt 360) 66 it was held that a suspect who submits himself to the police voluntarily is entitled to bail. In Ibori v. FRN (2009) 3 NWLR (pt 1127) 96 the Court of Appeal held that a person accused of economic crime is entitled to bail. Both decisions are binding on all authorities and persons, including all trial courts and prosecutors.

Yet, the anti-graft agencies direct lawyers to oppose all applications for bail filed by suspects who might even have been granted administrative bail by them. Why should a serious lawyer go to court to ask a judge to lock up a suspect who has been granted bail and has never interfered with the investigation or attempted to jump bail? Instead of saving precious time and resources by asking for hearing dates, prosecution counsel prefer to file copious counter-affidavits and written addresses in opposition to bail applications of accused persons.

Since bail has become automatic in the country, let the anti-graft agencies stop opposing bail applications filed by suspects unless there are genuine grounds for filing these objections. Bail should not be opposed as an official policy of a responsible government. The government should stop playing into the hands of some persons accused of criminal diversion of public funds by refusing to comply with the orders of courts admitting them to bail. For some inexplicable reasons, the government has refused to comply with the orders of the ECOWAS Court, the FCT High Court and the federal high court to the effect that the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) be admitted to bail. In a similar situation, the federal high court did not allow the government to arraign Commodore Umar Mohammed (rtd) until the order admitting him to bail was complied with.

The Buhari administration has directed the anti-graft agencies to ensure that corruption cases are not lost again. It is doubtful if the federal government is aware of the limited capacity of the anti-graft agencies. For instance, the ICPC receives an average of 100 petitions daily. The EFCC receives many more petitions from members of the public. Yet, the current EFCC leadership inherited a staff strength of 2,173. Even with the plan to engage 750 more staff, the EFCC will still have less than 3000 staff. The implication is that with such a few investigators and prosecutors, the success rate of the agency is bound to be extremely limited.

While the concern of President Buhari is appreciated, it ought to be pointed out that without adequate funding of the anti-graft agencies and motivation of investigators and prosecutors, many more corruption cases are going to be lost to accused persons who have access to well prepared and well paid teams of lawyers. The British government spent millions of pounds on the investigation and prosecution of a former state governor from Nigeria. If the government is genuinely desirous of winning corruption cases, it should be prepared to invest in the anti-graft agencies. The British government was reported to have spent about £20 million pounds on the investigation and prosecution of the said former state governor from Nigeria. As a matter of urgency, the government should immediately set aside part of the recovered loot to fund the investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.

Autonomy of Anti-graft Agencies

It was recently reported that the EFCC had submitted a report of the investigation of the criminal diversion of N19 billion from the London/Paris Club loan refund by some governors. Other reports of serious economic crimes have also been submitted to the presidency by the EFCC. It is my submission that the practice of submitting reports of the investigation of economic crimes to the presidency or any other authority should stop, as it is not provided for under the EFCC Act. It is not even in the interest of the presidency as it may give the impression that the anti-graft agencies are being used to settle political scores. In order to discharge their statutory functions effectively, the anti-graft agencies should be freed from executive control and interference.

It has been observed that the majority of the board members of the anti-graft agencies are appointed from some ministries and departments of the federal government. It is my humble opinion that the constitution of the boards makes them susceptible to government influence and control. It is therefore suggested that the boards should be composed of nominees of credible civil society organisations like the Nigerian Bar Association, International Federation of Women’s Lawyers (Nigerian Chapter), Nigerian Union of Journalists, Nigeria Labour Congress, the Nigeria Police, Institute of Chartered Accountants, Federal Executive Council and representatives of private anti-corruption organisations.

It is not in doubt that there are adequate opportunities within the system to expose and shame corrupt people. It is noteworthy that a few CSOs are taking advantage of the openings in the system to expose corruption. For instance, SERAP has obtained a court order to compel the federal government to disclose the recovery of looted wealth and asset recovered since May 1999. Similarly, LEDAP has obtained a court order to compel the National Assembly to disclose the salaries and allowances of all federal legislators. A few other CSOs have secured court orders to compel the disclosure of information on contract sums in respect of certain projects. Since the commitment of the federal government to the anti-corruption policy cannot be taken for granted, CSOs owe it a duty to mobilise the Nigerian people to take over the fight against corruption and own it.

Recovery of Looted Wealth

In a letter addressed to the minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun in March 2016, I pleaded with the federal government to recover about $100 billon withheld from the federation account or stolen from the public treasury by local and foreign economic saboteurs. In the letter I sent out the details of the recoverable funds. In particular, I asked that the sum of $30 billion withheld by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) be recovered and paid into the federation account. Apart from acknowledging the receipt of the letter, the government has not acceded to my request. However, in the 2016 annual report presented last week at Abuja, the National Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) revealed that the NNPC and NPDC have withheld the sum of $21.7 million and N316 billion from the federation account.

On that occasion, the NEITI Executive Secretary, Mr. Waziri Adio, recommended to the federal government to recover the amount due and channel it to stimulate the economy. To ensure that the report is not treated with disdain by the federal government, I am compelled to call on the Attorney-General of the Federation to initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of the fund pursuant to section 3 (f) of the NEITI Act, 2007, which imposes a duty on the government to “monitor and ensure that all payments due to the Federal government from all extractive industry companies, including taxes, royalties, dividends, bonuses, penalties, levies and such like, are duly made.”

On the eve of an anti-corruption summit in London last year, the then British Prime Minister, Mr. David Cameron described Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt” country. President Buhari reacted by requesting the British government to return the country’s wealth which has been looted and kept in the United Kingdom. Mr. Cameron has since left office without taking up President’s Buhari’s challenge. In the same vein, the immediate past president of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama never fulfilled his promise of assisting Nigeria in the recovery of her looted wealth. As the beneficiaries of grand corruption will not assist the victims, the federal government should set up a team of lawyers to pursue to recovery of the looted wealth warehoused by Western countries and the United Arab Emirates.

Instead of embarking on the aggressive recovery of the looted wealth of the nation and the huge fund withheld from the federation account, the federal government has opted to mortgage the destiny of the nation by taking jumbo loans from China, the World Bank and the African Development Bank for infrastructural development. It has also been reported that talks have reached an advanced stage in the negotiations for a loan of $1.4 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with dangerous conditionalities, including the further devaluation of the beleaguered national currency. The CSOs should mount a vigorous campaign against the pauperisation of our people through indiscriminate external indebtedness.

Immunity for Corrupt Public Officials?

President Buhari has said that corruption is fighting back. This is not unexpected given the enormous resources in the soiled hands of the politically exposed persons who have been investigated or charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission. However, the federal government too has joined the forces of corruption by frustrating the anti-graft agencies from prosecuting indicted public officers. Even though the government has repeatedly assured the Nigerian people that there are no sacred cows in the fight against corruption, the presidency has casually dismissed serious allegations of corruption and abuse of office by certain public officers.

When a serving minister was implicated in the report of the procurement of arms and ammunition, the federal government claimed that the probe panel had not concluded its assignment. Was the panel not disbanded thereafter? When a top army officer was accused of buying properties beyond his legitimate income, did the Code of Conduct Bureau not absolve him without conducting any investigation? When the Senate indicted the secretary to the federal government, Mr. Babachir David Lawal over his involvement in the criminal diversion of about N200 million set aside to cut grass in the camps occupied by internally displaced persons in the North-East region, did the federal government not say that he was not given fair hearing!

Over six months ago, seven judges were arrested after the raid of their official quarters by operatives of the State Security Service. Only two of the judges have been charged to court even though the nation was informed by the State Security Service that the government had water tight evidence of corruption against them. If there is no evidence to back up the allegations of corruption against the judges, why have they not been cleared and allowed to resume duties? Meanwhile, the judge who was alleged to have kept a bribe $2 million in his official residence has not been subjected to any interrogation. Even though his arrest was botched by the governor who was alleged to have given the bribe, why has the judge not been questioned?

It was announced last year that the National Judicial Council has dismissed a judge of the high court of Kano sState for allegedly receiving a bribe of N197 million from a litigant and retired a Justice of the Court of Appeal for demanding a bribe of N200 million in an election petition. Why have both of them not been arraigned in court by the Attorney-General of the Federation? It is public knowledge that two Senior Advocates of Nigeria are currently standing trial in the Lagos high court for allegedly bribing four judges, including a Justice of the Court of Appeal. Why has the EFCC refused to charge the indicted judges to court for receiving bribes from both lawyers? I hope it is not true that the indicted judges are not going to be charged to court on ground of primordial considerations!

Conclusion

In x-raying the loss of corruption cases by the anti-graft agencies, it has to be realised that the ruling class did not enact anti-corruption laws out of its own volition but due to pressure from the victims of economic and financial crimes and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which had blacklisted the country. Because of the credibility of the EFCC under Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, a number of funding agencies in Western countries contributed to the training of the agency’s investigators and prosecutors. Unfortunately, the EFCC lost its trained and committed personnel when it was taken over by powerful criminal suspects in connivance with a former Attorney-General of the Federation. Under the pretext of fighting corruption in line with the rule of law, they castrated the EFCC. It is going to take some time to rebuild the Commission because the damage is enormous.

Finally, realising that there are powerful forces in the public service who are currently profiting maximally from corrupt practices, the government cannot be fully relied upon in the fight against the menace of corruption. However, CSOs can take advantage of the political will of the nation’s leadership to push for radical reforms in the fight against corruption. But in order to promote public accountability CSOs should link up with the labour movement and other popular forces. It is only when that has been done that the Nigerian people can frustrate the agenda of the government to shield corrupt members of the ruling class from prosecution. The mobilisation cannot afford to wait!

Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), writes from Lagos.

This is text of a Keynote Address delivered at the Training of Trainer Programme under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) held at Lagos from 12-14 April, 2017.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.

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Public Service: Ekiti Increases Maternity Leave Period For Women By 4 Weeks

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The government of Ekiti State on Monday announced an increase in the maternity leave period for women in its public service from 12 weeks to 16 weeks.

This announcement was made by the Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Information, Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Kola Ajumobi, at a public enlightenment forum in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.

Ajumobi said that the decision was approved by the state governor, Mr Ayodele  Fayose, as part of his display of love and special regard for the womenfolk in the state.

He said it was also aimed at encouraging exclusive breast feeding for newly born children in the first six months of birth, adding that it is also meant to promote good nutrition for both mothers and their new born children.

Ajumobi said that nursing mothers would, in addition to the four months, be granted two hours’ off duty every day for a period of six months from the date they resumed from maternity leave.

According to him, the commitment of the Fayose-led administration to the reduction in mothers and children’s mortality and morbidity rate to the barest minimum remains sacrosanct.

Ajumobi said the crèche at the state secretariat had also been invigorated to boost bonding between mothers and their children during official working hours without undue hindrance to performance and efficiency at the workplace.

The permanent secretary lamented that lack of good nutrition; poverty, hunger as well as lack of access to economic and political empowerment had largely contributed to high maternal and child mortality.

He, however, noted that the present administration in the state would continue to roll out various palliative packages exclusively for women to empower and guard them from avoidable travails.

Ajumobi said such measures already in existence include the provision of N500million as revolving soft-loan to promote small and medium Enterprises driven by women.

 

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Taraba Can Produce 10 Million Tonnes Of Rice Annually For Nigeria – Governor Ishaku

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Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba has indicated that the state had the potential to produce 10 million tonnes of rice, the annual demand of the country, with adequate financing and availability of modern equipment.

The governor made this known on Monday in Ardo-kola while addressing a stakeholders’ meeting of the PDP’s delegates representing Jalingo and Ardo-kola.

Ishaku averred that areas like: Karim-lamido, Gassol, Ardo-kola, Lau, Ibi, Wukari, Takum, among others, had fertile lands suitable for growing large quantities of rice.

He, however, explained that the lack of sufficient funds had undermined the capacity of the state’s rice farmers to produce at an optimum level.

The governor said his administration was determined to support farmers in the state with farm inputs and improved seeds to increase their productivity.

He said that Dominion Farms, owned by a Kenyan investor in Gassol, had been given six months to commence buying of paddy rice from out-growers for processing.

The governor announced that the state government had bought hybrid seeds of Bennie seeds, soya beans and cassava and it would soon distribute them to its farmers.

“Recently, there is a high demand of bennie seeds in our markets; though, I do not know what they are doing with it. We have acquired its improved seed.

“We have also acquired hybrid seeds of soya beans and of course, cassava, because I will soon revive our cassava processing plant.

“When that is done, it will bring the total companies I revived to five out of the 25 companies that were in comatose when I took over,’’ Ishaku said.

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Daily Roundup: Latest Football Transfer News From Across Europe

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France

Paris Saint-Germain are still keen to make Alexis Sanchez their big summer arrival. But they are also keeping an eye on Real Madrid’s Isco. If the forward decides to leave the Spanish capital, the French club are ready to pounce. (L’Equipe)

Both Schalke and Vfl Wolfsburg are interested in Leicester City’s failed summer signing, Nampalys Mendy. The midfielder joined the champions in the summer and the German clubs join Southampton and Everton in the race for the 24-year-old. (TF1)

After only being in the job for a year, Paris Saint-Germain’s director of football, Patrick Kluivert, could be set to leave the club in the summer. Reportedly tired of criticism, both in terms of recruitment and training, he could decide to leave his post early. (L’Equipe)

After Lyon’s match away at Bastia had to be postponed due to fan violence, OL president Jean Michel Aulas has revealed that he had to persuade the players to take to the pitch after consultation with the police suggested there would be no further incidents. The match had to be stopped at half-time. (L’Equipe)

Spain

Regardless of where Real Madrid finish this season, Florentino Perez has been convinced that Zinedine Zidane is the man to lead the club next season. The World Cup winner is contracted until 2018. (Marca)

Carlo Ancelotti has revealed in his book that one of the reasons he left Real Madrid was Florentino Perez questioning the Italian’s decision to replace Gareth Bale against Valencia. “The CEO told me the president wanted to talk to me. When I went to his office, he told me that Bale had called him. I had replaced him on January 4. Bale’s agent had complained. The president told me what he was going to do. Since then, the relationship with the president changed and has not been the same.” (AS)

Barcelona’s sporting director, Robert Fernandez, has confirmed that they will take Gerard Deulofeu after his spell with Milan. They have first option on the man who is on loan from Everton. “He’s to play for Barça,” he said after Saturday’s win over Real Sociedad. (Marca)

Germany

Mexican attacker Jesus Manuel Corona has emerged as a transfer target for Borussia Dortmund. The 24-year-old has played 25 times for FC Porto this season and has scored three times and added four assists. (Bild)

Serbia

Schalke left-back Sead Kolasinac, an Arsenal transfer target, has not signed for the north London club – contrary to reports over the weekend. The defender will decide between the Gunners and Milan next week. His father spoke to local TV and assured them that they had not put pen to paper. He stated that the Italian side had the advantage, but that “next week we will decide everything.” (N1 Sarajevo)

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Darmian: Rashford Can Be The Best

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Matteo Darmian believes Marcus Rashford has what it takes to become one of the best strikers in the world.

The teenager opened the scoring in the 2-0 win over Chelsea, as United sit in fifth and four points behind City.

Rashford has now scored nine goals in the premier league and has played second fiddle to a prolific Ibrahimovic this season.

“I think Marcus is a great player,” Darmian said. “He is still very, very young and I think he is very important for us.

“With his quality, he can be one of the top players, one of the most important players, in the world.

“I think he is very good in every part of the game, he has a very good shot, movement, speed.

“Sometimes for a striker, it is a normal there is a not as good period [in terms of scoring goals] but I hope he continues like this, because it helps the team to reach the objective.”

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Neymar: Barcelona Can Stage Another Comeback Against Juventus

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Neymar believes Barcelona can stage another comeback when they face Juventus, after losing the first leg 3-0.

Barcelona faced the task of qualifying for the quarterfinals after losing the first leg 4-0 to PSG. They won 6-1 at home to send PSG packing on aggregate.

And Neymar is conficonfident Barcelona can repeat that when they face Juventus in the second leg of their match.

“We have to believe we can do it,” Neymar said to Canal Esporte Interativo. “We can be behind any team, but at Barcelona it’s always the same: We can do it.

“If everything goes well, another comeback will happen, I believe in the team and in our potential.

“Everything is lost, so we have nothing to lose and everything to win.”

Neymar added: “Juventus are a great team, very well structured, so it will be difficult to have to turn the tie.

“It is the same as the situation against the PSG. We have a one percent chance of qualifying and the remaining 99 per cent is work, faith and, god willing, goals. They are going to arrive.”

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Alonso: Guardiola Wanted To Sign Me

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Xabi Alonso says he was close to joining Guardiola at Barcelona, before he left for Real Madrid.

Alonso left Liverpool in 2009 and joined Real Madrid and went on to win the La Liga, Champions league, copa del rey and Spanish supercup.

However, he could have joined up with the Spanish manager at Barcelona, but Busquets made the decision for Guardiola.

“It happened not long before I left for Real Madrid,” Alonso told El Pais. “Liverpool told me that they wanted to sell me, [manager at that time, Rafael] Benitez too, and Pep showed an interest in my situation.

“He wanted to sign me because, as he told Rafa, I was the type of player who would fit his [playing] model. But he had doubts because Busquets had just come through and had the makings of a tremendous player.

“Guardiola chose him, and he wasn’t proved wrong.”

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Arsenal No Longer An Attractive Club – Thierry Henry

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Arsenal legend Thierry Henry admits he is fearful as to whether or notArsenal are still able to attract the biggest names in football.

The club have been in woeful form recently and look set to miss out on Champions League football for the first time since 1998.

Alexis Sanchez was the last big name to join the Gunners in 2014 and Henry, writing in his Sun on Sunday column said he believes his former side are no longer attractive.

“You need to offer something else, to show that you can satisfy the expectations of leading talent,”

“Yes, wages come into it. It is a job after all and as a player you get what you can — like anyone in any walk of life.

“But competition for trophies is the key. If you are a director of football and you work for Arsenal, how do you attract a big player?”

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Barcelona Considering Gerard Deulofeu Buy-back Clause

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Barcelona have confirmed their interest in re-signing Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu this summer.

Deulofeu, who left Barca for Everton in 2015, has revived his career on loan at AC Milan this season and his former club are now contemplating bringing him back to the Camp Nou.

Speaking to TV3, Barca’s sporting director Robert Fernandez said: “Deulofeu, yes, it’s absolutely an option for the future. The club are considering bringing him back to play for the first team.”

Barca’s buyback option means they can secure 23-year-old Deulofeu’s services for €12m.

Reports in the local press had suggested pushing the move through was a no-brainer, because even if they couldn’t find room in the first team they would be able to sell him on for an even higher price.

However, speaking in 2015 when the original transfer was completed, then-Everton boss Roberto Martinez explained that Barcelona would not be able to sell Deulofeu immediately if they ever decided to re-sign him.

“If they take him back they can’t sell him for a season, so he has to stay in the first-team squad for a season,” Martinez said.

“At the end of that if they decide to sell him we have got first rights of getting him back or we have got a big percentage of that deal.”

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Sead Kolasinac To Choose Between Arsenal Or AC Milan, Says Father

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Sead Kolasinac will make a decision imminently on whether to sign for Arsenal or AC Milan, according to his father.

The Schalke left-back was reported to have agreed to join Arsenal last week, however his father has denied that is the case.

According to Sky In Germany an agreement has been reached between Arsenal and the player – a free agent this summer

When quizzed about his son’s next move, Kolasinac senior told Bosnian TV station N1 Sarajevo: “Next week we will decide everything.”

The Bosnia defender has less than three months remaining on his contract and is yet to sign an extension with the German side, who currently sit 11th in the Bundesliga.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, whose team have lost four of their last seven games in all competitions, has previously insisted he is planning for next season despite uncertainty surrounding his own future.

Kolasinac, a Schalke academy graduate, has scored four goals in 117 appearances since making his debut for the club in September 2012.

He was born in Germany and represented his native country at U18, U19 and U20 level before switching his allegiance to Bosnia, consequently gaining 17 caps and featuring in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil during Bosnia’s first appearance at a major competition finals.

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Watford Want Claudio Ranieri As Potential Replacement For Manager Walter Mazzarri

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Watford could approach Claudio Ranieri if they opt to sack Walter Mazzarri at the end of the season, according to The Sun.

Current manager Mazzarri’s future is uncertain despite succeeding in securing The Hornets’ Premier League survival this season.

Watford’s owner Gino Pozzo is said to be disappointed by his team’s displays at times during this campaign and is keen to bring in last season’s Premier League winner Ranieri to Vicarage Road.

Pozzo dispensed of Quique Flores last summer despite a 13th-placed finish – avoiding an immediate return to the Championship for the first time in the club’s Premier League history – and a trip to the FA Cup semi-finals.

Ranieri is known to be a friend of the Pozzo family, although he is reportedly unwilling to discuss terms while Mazzarri remains in the job.

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Wolfsburg Open Talks With Real Madrid Over Borja Mayoral And Omar Mascarell

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Wolfsburg have contacted Real Madrid to negotiate the signing of striker Borja Mayoral and midfielder Omar Mascarell in a combined deal, reports Marca.

Spain U21 striker Mayoral is currently on loan at Wolfsburg, although Madrid would not contemplate selling him without including a buy-back clause.

Mascarell, meanwhile, is contracted to Eintracht Frankfurt, although Madrid could activate a €4m buy-back clause for his return before selling him on again.

A deal for the pair is expected to cost Wolfsburg around 25 million euros, with Mascarell in particular impressing at Frankfurt across his first Bundesliga campaign.

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Benzema: Hazard Will Be A Good Addition For Madrid

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Madrid forward, Karim Benzema says Chelsea midfielder, Eden Hazard will be a good signing for the La Liga table toppers.

The Belgium captain has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, but a true offer is yet to materialise.

Hazard has scored 14 goals and assisted five in the premier league so far this season and Benzema will welcome him to the Santiago Bernabeu.

“[Hazard] is a very good player, what can I say?” Benzema told Telefoot.

“I have not seen the rumours, but it’s obvious that he would be a good signing.”

Benzema’s Madrid are top of La Liga following their come-from-behind 3-2 win at Sporting Gijon on Saturday.

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Cesc Fabregas Happy To Stay At Chelsea

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Cesc Fabregas is happy at league-leaders Chelsea and remains focused on the title race despite reports in Italy that he has verbally agreed to join AC Milan this summer.

Milan’s new Chinese owners are said to have made the 29-year-old their prime transfer target, but the midfielder is thinking only about helping Chelsea to win the title and the FA Cup.

Fabregas, who moved to Stamford Bridge from Barca for £27m in June 2014, has two years left on his Chelsea contract and came on as a second-half substitute in his side’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester United yesterday.

The Spanish international has spent much of the season on the bench, but he has made 29 appearances in all competitions since Antonio Conte took charge of the Blues last summer.

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Carlo Ancelotti Reveals One Of The Reasons He Had To Quit Real Madrid

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Bayern Munich manager Carlo Ancelotti has revealed one of the reasons for his 2015 departure from La Liga giants Real Madrid was Florentino Perez questioning the former Los Blancos boss’ decision to replace Gareth Bale against Valencia.

Carlo Ancelotti substituted the Wales international for Sami Khedira in the 71st minute during their 2-1 defeat at the Mestalla Stadium at the beginning of 2015 in a move that Bale’s agent allegedly opposed.

And in his book titled ‘Quiet Leadership: Winning Hearts, Minds and Matches,’ the 57-year-old opened up about how the incident altered his relationship with the club’s president.

“The CEO told me the president wanted to talk to me. When I went to his office, he told me that Bale had called him. I had replaced him on January 4. Bale’s agent had complained. The president told me what he was going to do,” he said.

“Since then, the relationship with the president changed and has not been the same.”

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CBN Breaks Silence On N13 Billion Seized From Lagos Apartment As Jonathan Keeps Mum

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has broken words on the massive stash of cash recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, even as former President Goodluck Jonathan has remained silent on the matter.

READ MORE: Wike, NIA Battle Over Ownership Of N13bn Seized By EFCC

It would be recalled, Operatives of the EFCC, acting on a tip-off on Wednesday, said they found $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 hidden inside an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi.

The monies are valued at N13 billion based on prevailing exchange rate set by the apex bank.

It is understood that as at Friday evening, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) are claiming ownership of the money.

In the wake of the incident, the NIA had claimed that the former president approved and released the cash.

While Nigerians and civic groups demanded clarification about the recovered cash, sources in the presidency quoted the NIA Director General, Ayodele Oke, as telling President Muhammadu Buhari that Mr. Jonathan released the money to the agency for covert security projects.

However, the Rivers States executive described the claim that the cash belonged to the NIA as balderdash.

EFCC Uncovers $38m, £27k, N23m In A ‘Private Residence’ In Ikoyi (VIDEO)

It is also understood that calls to the former president’s spokesperson for days now have proved abortive as he has refused requests to state Mr. Jonathan’s side of the story.

However, when Premium Times contacted an official of the CBN on Saturday, he said he was not sure that the recovered billions, in mint fresh notes, was moved directly from the bank to the NIA.

The security agency had claimed that it received the funds directly from the CBN.

In an attempt to clarify its role in the disbursement of the funds, the CBN spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said, “It is true the Central Bank of Nigeria issues mint fresh notes, but it is only to banks.

“After that (issuance to banks) CBN does not know which of their customers they (the banks) give those notes to and for what purpose.

“I cannot say if the notes the NIA is claiming came from the CBN. So, I will not be able to answer questions on it for now, except I receive a specific request.”

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