All posts by Musikilu Mojeed

Jonathan keeps promise made to Malala; meets 51 escapee Chibok girls

President Goodluck Jonathan only agreed to meet parents of the missing Chibok schoolgirls  after meeting Pakistani Malala

President Goodluck Jonathan is meeting with 51 Chibok schoolgirls who escaped from their abductors days after the extremist Boko Haram sect stole them from their school dormitory and herded them into its Sambisa forest hideout.

Also at the closed-door meeting holding at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, are parents of the girls, service chiefs, President of the Senate, David Mark, Governors Kashim Shettima of Borno and Isa Yuguda of Bauchi as well as members of the Federal Executive Council.

The meeting, coming about 100 days after the girls and their over 200 colleagues were abducted, is in fulfilment of a promise President Jonathan made to Pakistani teenage  girls’ education activist, Malala Yousafzai, during her advocacy visit to Nigeria last week.

Malala had extracted a promise from Mr. Jonathan to meet and support the girls who escaped from their captors and intensify efforts at rescuing the ones still being held.

The parents of the abducted girls had pulled out of a hurriedly convened meeting with the president last week, saying any such meeting needed to be properly planned to accommodate all stakeholders.

Details later…

Akpabio bows to pressure, agrees to expunge “obnoxious” provision from scandalous pension law

Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom

After coming under a barrage of attacks for imposing a scandalous pension plan on his state, Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom state has buckled under pressure, agreeing to expunge “obnoxious” provisions from the law.

Mr. Akpabio has been widely criticized for manipulating his state’s rubber stamp House of Assembly to pass the law, which would further impoverish his people but enable him to pocket over N200 million annually after he leaves office.

The profligate governor, reputed for wasting his state’s oil money and for making outrageous donations across the country while millions of his own people wallow in poverty and disease, had schemed to secretly get the law passed to avoid the kind of public uproar that has now greeted it. But PREMIUM TIMES exclusively exposed his plan, and Nigerians rightly condemned what they considered his greed and avarice.

Initially, Mr. Akpabio scrambled to defend his action, buying prime time appearances on leading TV networks and sponsoring articles in national dailies to justify why he and his wife must live in mind-boggling opulence for the rest of their lives in a hugely indebted state where millions can’t find jobs.

But addressing journalists in Lagos on Tuesday, a flustered Mr. Akpabio said following nationwide outcry, he would request the state Assembly to immediately review the law, with a view to expunging one of its obnoxious provisions.

“This is a democracy and you must listen to the voice of the people,” Mr. Akpabio said. “What I have decided to do, in consultation with the state executive council, is to appeal to the House of Assembly to immediately expunge the obnoxious provision or that which is interpreted to be obnoxious.”

But the governor indicated he would only expunge the provision of the law which provided for N100million medical allowance for ex-governors. “I hope that will satisfy Nigerians,” he said.

He however appears unwilling to give up his request for a mansion in Uyo or Abuja and a demand for N12 million medical allowance for his wife.

The Akwa Ibom Assembly, notorious for alienating their own people and for doing only the bidding of Mr. Akpabio, had rushed through the  passage of the law on May 26 despite public outcry and a hailstone of criticism across the country, approving a whooping N200 million annual pay for Mr. Akpabio and other ex-governors; among other perks.

The assembly also approved the construction of a mansion which would serve as Mr. Akpabio’s retirement home; in addition to brand new cars, befitting furniture and other luxuries for the rest of his life.

PREMIUM TIMES had exclusively reported about the controversial bill just as it was presented for first reading in the Assembly, which has a history of never holding the governor to account.

Mr. Akpabio had forwarded the bill known as Akwa Ibom State Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Bill, 2014, to the assembly through a letter dated May 15.

To underscore the urgency of the proposed law, the Governor indicated he wanted it passed hurriedly so it could come into force on June 1.

While labour and civil society groups mobilised their members for a showdown with both the governor and the state lawmakers, the assembly hurriedly passed the law

Under the new law, Mr. Akpabio and former democratically elected governors of the state and their deputies as well as indigenes of the state who served in similar positions in Cross River State, will pocket several millions in monthly retirement perks.

Based on Section 1(1) of the law, “An indigene of the state who has held office as a democratically elected governor or deputy governor of former Cross River State and a person who has held office as a democratically elected governor or deputy governor of the state shall when he ceases to hold office be entitled,” to the new perks.

Although similar laws were passed by many Nigerian governors including those of Kwara, Lagos, Rivers, Bauchi and Benue states, among others, Mr. Akpabio’s version is clearly the most ludicrous.

Under it, Mr. Akpabio and others listed in Section 1(1) are entitled to a monthly pension for life at a rate equivalent to his current salary.

Similarly, the serving deputy governor, Valerie Ebe, is entitled to a monthly pension for life at the rate of her current salary.

Mr. Akpabio and his deputy; Mrs. Ebe will therefore pocket a total of N2, 223, 705. 00; and N2, 112, 215, 00 respectively as monthly and a total of N26, 684, 460,00  and N25, 346, 580 respectively as pension, per annum.

This is based on approved remuneration package for state executive and local government executives by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC.

The governor is also entitled to a new official car and a utility vehicle once every four years, one personal aide and the provision of adequate security for his person during his lifetime at the expense of the state government.

Akwa Ibom taxpayers are also expected to provide an amount not exceeding N5 million or an equivalent of $50,000.00 monthly for Mr. Akpabio to engage the services of a cook, chauffeurs and security guards.

This provision is in contrast with Section 1(b) of the bill, which indicates that security shall be provided to former governors during their lifetime at the expense of the government.

However, the deputy governor is entitled to N2million naira or an equivalent of $20,000.00 monthly allowance to hire cooks, chauffeurs and security guards.

Mr. Akpabio and his spouse are to also access free medical services at a sum not exceeding N100 million or an equivalent of $600,000.00, while the deputy and her spouse will pocket N30 million or an equivalent of $200,000.00, annually.

Based on budget figures from the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHDA, and the Millennium Development Goal(s), MDG, the amounts set aside for the two government functionaries to access medical services could build and equip two state-of-the-art health centres and two blocks of classrooms in the state.

Section 1(e, f, g, h, I j) of the bill wants Mr. Akpabio and other past governors entitled to a “Provision of a befitting house not below a 5-bedroom maisonette in either the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja or Akwa Ibom State for the Governor and a yearly accommodation allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor; (300 percent of the deputy governor’s basic salary is N6, 336,645).

“Provision of furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary once in every four years; (A total of N6, 671,115 for the governor and N6, 336,645 for the deputy)

“Provision of yearly maintenance and fueling of vehicle allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary; (A total of N6, 671,115 for the governor and N6, 336,645 for the deputy)

“Provision of severance gratuity allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary as at the time the officer leaves office; (Another N6, 671,115 for the governor and N6, 336,645 for the deputy)

“Provision of yearly utility allowance of 100 percent of annual salary; (with the governor taking N2, 223,705 while his deputy takes N2, 112, 215)

“And provision of entertainment allowance of 100 percent of annual basic salary; (Another N2, 223,705 for the governor and N2, 112, 215 for the deputy).”

According to Section 2 of the proposed law, a former governor or deputy who received severance gratuity under Akwa Ibom State Public and Political Office Holders (Remuneration) Law, 2000 is not eligible for any other severance pay.

This means that former Governor Attah will enjoy the sumptuous retirement perks but will not be entitled to severance pay since they had been paid based on the provisions of the 2000 law.

Where a former governor or deputy governor dies, the law provides that the state government makes adequate arrangement and bear the financial responsibility for the burial.

The government is also expected to pay a condolence allowance of a sum equivalent to the annual basic salary of an incumbent to the next of kin.

One surviving spouse of the governor is entitled to a medical allowance not exceeding N12 million per annum provided such spouse was married to the governor at the time he or she was in office or if a wife; had served as First Lady.

Unless on health grounds, a former governor or deputy who resigned his office, or impeached or who had not held office for a period of three years or more, is not entitled to benefit from the provision of the new law.

With this provision, Mr. Akpabio’s estranged friend and the former Deputy Governor, Nsima Ekere, will not be eligible to enjoy the lavish perks.

 

 

 

Waterlogged pitch halts Nigeria Premier League match as Heartland near away victory

Bayelsa vs Heartland: Ball wouldn't bounce on this turf after heavy downpour.... Photo Credit: League Management Company

The Week 17 Nigeria Premier League Match between Bayelsa United  and Heartland FC was called off Saturday after the pitch became completely waterlogged following heavy rain.

The pitch at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, where Bayelsa United currently play their home matches, became too soaked that the ball was no longer bouncing.

In frustration, the centre referee discontinued play 17 minutes to the end of proceedings. The match resumes at noon today (Sunday).

Before the match was discontinued, visiting Heartland FC had completely dominated play, having a 4-2 advantage to show for their effort.

The Owerri-based team took the lead in the 8th minute as Jolly Osas curled a free kick underneath the hapless Bayelsa goalkeeper.

The team doubled its lead in the 20th minute as Bright Ejike converted a penalty following a foul on Badarou.

Bayelsa however got a lifeline shortly after as Odili Iyasele scored off an Eric Frimpong’s assist.

But the celebration was short-lived, with Heartland soon taking its tally to three, restoring its two-goal lead with another Bright Ejike strike.

Scores stood at 1-3 at halftime. And on resumption of hostility, Bayelsa pushed hard to cancel the visitor’s lead.

That paid off in the 57th minute  as Peter Ebimobowei slotted in a goal.

But it was Heartland that laughed last as it took its tally to 4-2 before heavy downpour forced the referee to call off the match.

Tha match between league newcomers Giwa FC and Nembe FC did not hold as Nembe failed to show up.

The maximum three points were awarded to Giwa after the mandatory wait period expired.

 

Nigeria Premier League: Egwim’s hattrick for Dolphins worsen Lobi’s misery

dolphins fc

Ifeanyi Egwim scored a hattrick as Dolphins cruised to a 3-1 win against Lobi Stars at the Liberation Stadium on Saturday.

Egwim scored the first with his natural left foot, headed home a second from close range before firing home the third with a ferocious right-foot effort.
But Eche Idakwo pulled one back late on for the visitors which proved a mere consolation as Dolphins enjoyed a sweet victory in front of their fans.

Dolphins, the  2011 Champions went ahead in the game with their very first foray into the goal area even before the visitors and fans settled down inside the chilly weather that hung over Port Harcourt as the game got underway.

Dolphins’ Technical Adviser Stanley Eguma had made a last-minute change to his starting eleven with Fred Okwara who had earlier been named in the starting eleven dropped to the bench for Omo Johnson. It proved to be an inspired decision as it was Johnson that beat a wrongly set offside trap on the 6th minute to square a through pass for Egwim who only had a simple task of tapping into an unguarded net.

Dolphins took their feet off the pedal and was almost punished when Ukeyima Akombo headed beyond Sunday Rotimi on 40 minutes but returning left-back Chidiebere Okolie was on hand to make a goalline clearance. Goalkeeper Sunday Rotimi saved two more goal-bound efforts in quick succession and the hosts were relieved to hear center referee, Dele Atoun’s whistle signalling the end of the first half.

If Lobi Stars had hoped the good end to the first half would lead to an improved second half display, they were proved wrong as Dolphins had other ideas. With less than two minutes into the second half, the hosts doubled the lead. Isiaka Olawale embarked on a surging run down the left but was twice thwarted by Lobi goalkeeper Terkaa Melai. There was no respite for Melai though as the ball fell to Emem Eduok whose effort was also blocked to the path of the unmarked Ifeanyi Egwim who headed into an empty net.

With two minutes left on the clock, Ifeanyi Egwim completed his hattrick after latching on to a sublime pass by Tijani Adamu. A perfect first touch with his left-foot set the ball nicely for his weaker right foot but there was no weakness in the shot that beat Melai for Egwim’s and Dolphins’ 3rd. The ovation for the goal had hardly died down when the Dolphins defence switched off at the other end, allowing Eche Idakwo to score his first goal of the season a minute later.

Match lineups
DOLPHINS
22. Sunday Rotimi, 16. Chizoba Amaefule
3. Chidiebere Okolie, 8. Emeka Atuloma, 5. Douhadji Joseph, 31. Victor Ezuruike
7. Isiaka Olawale (Dosso Alhassane 62′) 13. Ifeanyi Egwim 32. Omo Johnson (Fred Okwara 85′) 20. Tijani Adamu
11. Emem Eduok (Olewezi Johnson 68′)
Unused subs
1. Ibrahim Pius 34. Xavier Mendy
4. Stone Evbuomwan 26. Zikiye Jonathan
BOOKED: Victor Ezuruike 82′, Ifeanyi Egwim 89′
EXPULSION: NIL
GOALS: Ifeanyi Egwim 6′ 47′ 88′

LOBI STARS
16. Terkaa Melai 35. Mathew Elaigwu
31. Kingsley Ashu 10. Tema Ikpeen
27. Stephen Eze (Anthony Agbaji 57′) 3. Felix Osia 2. Bunde Moses 6. Kingsley Udoh (Nanen Immenger 66′)
17. Ukeyima Akombo. 25. Eche Idakwo
32. Ujah Joseph (Romanus Ebere 80′)
Unused Subs
12. Terhemen Akombo 7. John Paul
20. John Eimonye 18. Philip Asuquo

BOOKED: Anthony Agbaji 65′, Kingsley Ashu 77′
EXPULSION: NIL
GOAL: Eche Idakwo 89′

SOURCE: LEAGUE MANAGEMENT COMPANY

 

Multiple trailer crash blocks Kaduna-Zaria road

The Kaduna-Zaria Road is now blocked following  multiple trailer accidents on the expressway, one of our readers, Thompson Haruna has said.

Find below a picture of the road sent to us at 6:05 P.M. on Friday, May 30.

Kaduna-Zaria Road blocked as a result of multiple trailer accident
Kaduna-Zaria Road blocked as a result of multiple trailer accident

 

The Nigerian Govt. and the Duplication of Mortgage Financing, By Yushau Shuaib

Yushau Shuaib

In a season of politics, anything happens even on the economic front. Recently President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan launched the long-awaited Mortgage Refinance Company which was mooted and proposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria sometimes in 2009.

While there is an existing Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) which promotes the growth of viable primary mortgage institutions in Nigeria, the idea behind the Mortgage Refinance Company (MRC) is said to provide the long term liquidity to afford more Nigerians to access funds to pay for their houses.

At the 9th annual retreat for chief executive officers (CEOs) of Primary Mortgage Institutions (PMIs) which was held in Abuja in December 2009, the CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, acknowledged that the Mortgage Refinance/Liquidity Company (MRC) had been proposed as part of the reforms of the housing finance sub-sector, as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPY) to re-vitalize the sub-sector. He told the participants at the Retreat that the dearth of long term deposits coupled with low level of capitalization of the PMIs were key militating factors in the drive to consistently finance long-term loans on a sustainable basis for average Nigerians.

By January 2010 the CBN and operators of PMIs, had commenced work on the modalities for the establishment of the proposed Mortgage Refinance (MRC). Meetings were subsequently held between the CBN and Mortgage Banking Association of Nigeria (MBAN) to discuss modalities for the establishment of the MRC. Between 2011 and 2012 several meetings were held with the modalities towards the establishment of the project.

In February 2013, CBN posted on its website a 38-page document titled: “Regulatory and Supervisory Framework for the Operation of a Mortgage Refinance Company” to unveil a draft framework on the proposed company which was part of efforts to enhance liquidity in the mortgage sub-sector.

The apex bank therefore prescribed basic regulatory requirements for the MRC’s principal line of business of refinancing credits to borrowers for the security of residential mortgage assets and other qualified collaterals. This writer just wonder what would now differentiate NMRC from FMBN which has over the years been linking the capital market with the housing industry by establishing and operating a viable secondary mortgage market to support the primary mortgage market.

In January 2014 while announcing the establishment of the company, which is now rechristened Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company (NMRC), President Goodluck Jonathan said the housing sector is an avenue for job creation and economic stability hence his administration’s focus on the sector. He added that the effort of the World Bank through the $300 million loan would be supplemented by those from private investors.

The new company according to its promoters is a public-private partnership which will help to deepen the Nigerian Mortgage Market and make housing more affordable to low-income earners at low-interest rate. It is being implemented as a component of the Nigeria Housing Finance Programme towards resolving access to affordable housing finance. On the other hand the existing FMBN is mandated by law to service the need of housing delivery in all parts of Nigeria by mobilizing both domestic and offshore funds into the housing sector.

In addition to the pledge of the World Bank to provide the soft International development Association (IDA) loan at a zero interest rate and 40-year tenure to the new NMRC, a large chunk of the pension funds would also be invested in the housing sector.

While one may be concerned about likely duplication of functions between the existing Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) and the new Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, the government should ensure that it creates an enabling environment for accessibility to legitimate lands, provision of infrastructure and reduction in the cost of housing delivery.

One would have expected that the new mortgage scheme, if necessary should be able to guard against money laundering, especially the unwholesome practices of cash deposits for purchase of houses. It is public knowledge that currently the major beneficiaries of the mortgage financing are the estate developers who milk their customers dry with exorbitant cost of houses. The outrageous prices leave most of the estates unoccupied, some for years, especially in highbrow areas of big cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Enugu among others. In fact in Abuja 70 percent of exotic houses and mansions in Abuja for instance have not been occupied for years.

The existing mortgage financing only cater for financial institutions and developers who annex available mortgage resources in building homes of speculative value rather than the reality on the ground.  Meanwhile patrons of some of the developers and owners of big estates do not secure loans to acquire the properties but pay cash for the acquisition as investment like whose value may appreciate with utilisation. A mortgage finance system that is not accessible to individual and needy borrowers doesn’t worth its existence.

The unfathomable sky rocketing real estate prices in some cities are largely promoted by money launderers who launder slush funds in the property market. It is open secret that fraudsters too no longer hide their loots in banks because of the stringent financial regulations over huge lodgement and transfer of money.

Rather than establishing more companies and agencies to address housing deficit, it may not be out of place if government, in addition, impose and administer property tax on expensive houses that are scattered in big cities and yet unoccupied for too long.  Introducing property tax will be in line with global best practices to affect the affluent in the society who deprive ordinary citizens of spaces for decent accommodations.

Any mortgage scheme that could not afford an average Nigerian to have an affordable and decent house within a short period may not be necessary because the rich and politicians know have to have their ways with the so-called mortgage financing in Nigeria.

Mr.  Shuaib wrote in from Finance Estate, Wuye, Abuja.  You can provide feedback to him via yashuaib@yahoo.com

 

 

Stella Oduah’s official citation: A catalogue of lies and deceits

Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah

Below is the official citation for embattled Minister of Aviation. It was submitted to the senate for her confirmation hearing and read at official functions where she had to speak.

Revelations in the last 24 hours however suggest she might have forged her academic qualifications and lied her way to fame.

Read the citation below even as Mrs. Oduah is making frantic efforts to detach herself from any reference to St. Paul College where she claimed to have studied for Bachelors and Masters degrees respectively.

Find link to our initial story of her schemes to bounce off the allegations that she lied about her qualifications here.

BRIEF CITATION ON PRINCESS STELLA ADAEZE ODUAH,OON- HONOURABLE MINISTER OF AVIATION FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah was born on the 5th of January 1962 into the Royal family of HRH, Igwe D.O Oduah, the Igwe of Akili-Ozizor in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State. William Shakespeare wrote in one of his many literary works that “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”. Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah was born and has achieved greatness not by any stroke of luck but through years of hard work, dedication, focus and determination. There was therefore no surprise that she rode roughshod and carved a niche for herself in a male-dominated industry.

She realized very early in life the indispensability of a sound education in her growth plans in life and therefore pursued her education with all diligence and sense of purpose. Her educational development began in Anambra state where she had her primary and secondary education at St. John’s Primary School Odoakpu and Zixton Secondary School Ozubulu before proceeding to St. Paul’s College Lawrenceville from 1978-1982, where she bagged her first Degree in Accounting. On completion of her first degree, she was not lured into taking up paid employment but was determined to have the best education and at the highest level, so she immediately stayed back to study for her Masters Degree which she achieved in 1983.

Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah returned to her Fatherland in 1983 to participate in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC) and she was posted to NECA for her place of primary assignment. On successful completion of her National youth service she got a permanent employment with the NNPC where she worked for years before voluntarily retiring into private business. During her period of employment with NNPC, she served in different capacities and won numerous accolades and awards for excellent performance including the “THE NNPC GMD AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE”

Spurred on by her entrepreneurial abilities, Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah left the NNPC to establish her own business. This led to the birth of SEA PETROLEUM & GAS COMPANY LIMITED, a company that was to become a leading player in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria. Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah nurtured this company from humble beginnings to an enviable position in local, regional and global business. The company is today a conglomerate with no fewer than 7 subsidiaries offering diverse services and providing employment for the youths and people of Nigeria.

Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah has a large philanthropic heart and is involved in numerous philanthropic initiatives some of which are provision of a farmers loan scheme in Ogbaru and Benin to enable farmers have access to soft loans, construction of schools and skill acquisition centers for orphanages and communities, scholarship schemes, construction of health centers for primary health care. The list is endless and this goes to show that Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah is and continues to be a blessing to humanity.

In recognition of her immense contribution to national, society and business development in Nigeria, Princess Stella has been honoured with numerous awards for outstanding achievements, including the National Honour of “Officer of the Order of the Niger,OON” by the Federal Government of Nigeria. There are others too numerous to mention here. She also holds membership of renowned and numerous social and business associations.

Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah has built a very successful business empire through hard work and dedication which makes her one of the foremost business personalities in Nigeria. This is a coat she wore until her recent call to National service, first as Chairman of the Board of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN and now the HONOURABLE MINISTER OF AVIATION, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA.

Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah,OON is indeed a gem of our generation and a blessing to this Country. WE BELIEVE IN HER TRANSFORMATION AGENDA FOR THE AVIATION MINISTRY !!!! CONGRATULATIONS OUR DEAR HONORABLE MINISTER.

Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah scrambles to cover up certificate forgery scandal

Stella Oduah

Embattled Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah, and her associates have spent the last several hours scrambling to clean up the minister’s biographies on the Internet, following allegations that she lied about her academic qualifications, PREMIUM TIMES can report today.

Latest revision of Stella Oduah's Wikipedia Page (Revised January 7, 2014 at 4:21 Nigerian time)
Latest revision of Stella Oduah’s Wikipedia Page (Revised January 7, 2014 at 4:21 Nigerian time)

News website, SaharaReporters, had Monday quoted authorities at St. Paul’s College, where Mrs. Oduah claimed she studied for Bachelor and Masters degrees, as saying they did not award her an MBA at anytime as the university does not  even have a graduate school or graduate programme.

The minister is yet to respond to the allegations. Efforts by PREMIUM TIMES to get her to comment for this story were unsuccessful.

Joe Obi, her special assistant on media, did not answer or return calls.

Yakubu Datti, the spokesperson of the aviation agencies, who usually speak for her, said he was not aware of the allegation against the minister, and that he would revert after consulting the minister. He is yet to do so as at the time of publishing this.

However, this  newspaper has observed an attempt by the minister and her aides to revise her profiles on the web with a view to cleaning up any reference to St. Paul’s College in her history.

Already, Mrs. Oduah’s biography on the website of the Ministry of Aviation has been revised, with references to St. Paul’s College now wiped out.

Stella Oduah's new bio without a university
Stella Oduah’s new bio without a university

“Oduah-Ogiemwonyi received her Bachelors and Masters Degree (in Accounting and Business Administration respectively) in the United States,” the new profile said of Mrs. Oduah’s education, without any reference to the university she attended.

The Wikipedia page of the minister was also edited and it now has no reference to the university Mrs. Oduah attended. The last edit on the Wikipedia page was done at 14:41 p.m. Nigerian time.

All links and reference materials on the Wikipedia page capable of linking the minister to the university that has disowned her have also been deleted.

Even the minister’s personal website  has been reviewed to remove any reference to St. Paul’s College.

While the links leading to Mrs. Oduah’s foundation and photographs remain active, the other principal link, which should lead to her history page, has been deactivated.

It’s unclear whether it was being edited at the backend when PREMIUM TIMES visited the site.

Mrs. Oduah had in a resume she presented to the Senate as a ministerial nominee in 2011 indicated that she obtained a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from St. Paul’s College Lawrenceville, Virginia, United States.

Stella Oduah's new Wikipedia page without a university
Stella Oduah’s new Wikipedia page without a university

But SaharaReporters quoted the President of the college as saying his university had never in its 125-year history had a graduate school or graduate program.

The Provost Vice President of Academic Affairs, and the Vice President of Institutional Development said in response to the website’s inquiries, “We don’t offer any graduate programs here.”

The school’s website also indicates clearly that Saint Paul’s College awards only baccalaureate [bachelor’s] degrees.

It is not clear yet whether the minister received an undergraduate degree from the college as she claimed.  SaharaReporters said Dr. Claud Flythe, the college’s current president was unable to confirm that claim because the college had been closed since June 2013 after it lost accreditation.

Mrs. Oduah had since October being enmeshed in a a N255million armoured cars scandal in which she was accused of compelling an agency under her supervision, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to buy her two exotic bullet cars at clearly inflated prices.

The purchase of the cars generated outrage for weeks because its cost was inflated, and it was neither listed in the government-approved budget nor did it comply with the Nigeria’s public procurement law.

The House of Representatives has since asked President Goodluck Jonathan to sack the minister but the president has failed to act.

UPDATE 1: Minister Oduah has intensified her cover-up schemes. After our initial report at 2:09 p.m. Nigerian time, the minister has returned to revise her Wikipedia page multiple times. The latest revision was done at 4:21 p.m. Nigerian time. A link to an interview she granted Encomium Magazine now leads to a 404 error on that website.

UPDATE 2:  An apparently troubled Minister Oduah has however not remembered to revise her official Facebook page. It still has St. Paul’s as the college she attended.

It appears her handler only remembered to edit her profile page only removing all traces of St. Paul’s College from the account.

See below screenshots of her unedited Facebook page and her Facebook profile (after the revision).

Stella Oduah's Facebook Page after the revision
Stella Oduah’s Facebook Page. Yet  to be revised
Stella Oduah's Facebook page after the revision
Stella Oduah’s Facebook profile page after the revision

EXCLUSIVE: Obasanjo writes Jonathan, accuses president of lying, destroying Nigeria, promoting corruption

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

An apparently angry and frustrated ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo has written what clearly competes as one of the most acerbic letters in modern history to President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing him of ineptitude and of taking actions calculated at destroying Nigeria.

“Nigeria is bleeding and the hemorrhage must be stopped,” Mr. Obasanjo said in the 18-page letter dated December 2, 2013 and exclusively obtained by PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday.

He said Mr. Jonathan has failed to deliver on his promises to the Nigerian people, stem corruption, promote national unity and strengthen national security.

He said in the letter titled “Before it is too late” that rather than take steps to advance Nigeria’s interest and up the standards of living of Nigerians, Mr. Jonathan had betrayed God and the Nigerian people that brought him to power, and has been pursuing selfish personal and political interests based on advice he receives from “self-centred aides”.

In the detailed letter, dripping of anger , frustration and what appears a genuine concern to rescue a nation on the brink, Mr. Obasanjo lamented that Mr. Jonathan had become terribly divisive and clannish, destroying his own party, polarizing the country along regional and religious lines and ridiculing Nigeria in the comity of nations.

Without mincing words, Mr. Obasanjo blamed Mr. Jonathan for the crises tearing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, apart.

He said apart from using party chairman Bamanga Tukur to cause multiple crises and divide the ranks of the party, the president’s failure to keep a promise he made not to seek a second term is also generating tension within the ruling party.

“It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the Chairman (Tukur) for all that goes wrong with the party,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “The chairman is playing the tune dictated by the paymaster (Jonathan). But the paymaster is acting for a definitive purpose for which deceit and deception seem to be the major ingredients.

“Up till two months ago, Mr. President, you told me that you have not told anybody that you would contest in 2015. I quickly pointed out to you that the signs and the measures on the ground do not tally with your statement. You said the same to one other person who shared his observation with me. And only a fool would believe that statement you made to me judging by what is going on. I must say it is not ingenious. You may wish to pursue a more credible and more honorable path.”

The former President said Mr. Jonathan told him before the 2011 election he would not seek a second term, and made the same promise to governors, party stakeholders and Nigerians.

The president’s refusal to keep that promise cast him as a man without honour, Mr. Obasanjo said.

Saying it would be “fatally morally flawed” for Mr. Jonathan to contest in 2015, Mr. Obasanjo added, “As a leader, two things you must cherish and hold dear among others are trust and honour both of which are important ingredients of character. I will want to see anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria as a man or woman who can be trusted, a person of honour in his words and character.”

Mr. Obasanjo also accused Mr. Jonathan of anti-party conducts – supporting opposition parties’ candidates in governorship elections in Lagos, Ondo, Edo and Anambra states at the detriment of PDP’s own candidates –, and of pitting party members against one another.

Saying the President had failed to address the underlying causes of the Boko Haram menace, Mr. Obasanjo urged Mr. Jonathan to adopt a carrot and stick approach in dealing with the insurgency explaining that “conventional military actions based on standard phases of military operations alone will not permanently and effectively deal with the issue of Boko Haram”.

 Mr. Obasanjo also tackled Mr. Jonathan for allegedly being clannish. “For you to allow yourself to be “possessed”, so to say, to the exclusion of most of the rest of Nigerians as an “Ijaw man” is a mistake that should never have been allowed to happen. Yes, you have to be born in one part of Nigeria to be Nigerian if not naturalized but the Nigerian President must be above ethnic factionalism. And those who prop you up as of, and for ‘Ijaw nation’ are not your friends genuinely, not friends of Nigeria nor friends of ‘Ijaw nation’ they tout about.

“To allow or tacitly encourage people of ‘Ijaw nation’ to throw insults on other Nigerians from other parts of the country and threaten fire and brimstone to protect your interest as an Ijaw man is myopic and your not openly quieting them is even more unfortunate.

Two Ijaw men, ex-militant Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, and a former federal commissioner for information,    Edwin Clark, who carries himself around as the political godfather of the president, are known to talk down on people opposed to the president.

Mr. Obasanjo also accused Mr. Jonathan of placing over 1000 Nigerians on political watch list and “training snipers and other armed personnel secretly and clandestinely acquiring weapons to match for political purposes like Abacha and training them where Abacha trained his killers”.

He wondered why the Presidency was providing assistance for a murderer to evade justice.

“Presidential assistance for a murderer to evade justice and presidential delegation to welcome him home can only be in bad taste generally but particularly to the family of his victim,” Mr. Obasanjo said. “Assisting criminals to evade justice cannot be part of the job of the presidency. Or, as it is viwed in some quarters, is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for Abacha in the past? Hopefully, he should have learned his lesson. Let us continue to watch.”

Mr. Obasanjo did not mention the name of the murderer he accused the President of protecting but he seems to be referring to Hamza Al-Mustapha, a former security aide to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, who is facing trial for allegedly masterminding the killing of Kudirat Abiola, the wife of Moshood Abiola, the winner of the annulled 1993 presidential election.

Mr. Al-Mustapha was freed by the appeal court in July but the Lagos state government has since appealed the judgment at the Supreme Court.

The former President also called on the National Assembly to rise up and take decisive action over the recent allegation in the country that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation failed to remit billions of dollars in proceeds of crude oil sales to the federation account.

“This allegation will not fly away by non-action, cover-up, denial or bribing possible investigators,” Mr. Obasanjo told the President. “Please deal with this allegation transparently and let the truth be known.

“The dramatis personae in this allegation and who they are working for will one day be public knowledge. Those who know are watching if the National Assembly will not be accomplice in the heinous crime and naked grand corruption. May God grant you the grace for at least one effective corrective action against high corruption which seems to stink all around you in your government.”

Mr. Obasanjo said he wrote the letter in the national interest, saying nothing, at this stage of his life, would prevent him from standing up for whatever he considers to be in the best interest of Nigeria, Africa and the world.

He said he was ready for whatever backlash his letter would provoke from the presidency.

“Knowing what happens around you most of which you know of and condone or deny, this letter will proke cacophony from hired and unhired attackers but I will maintain my serenity because by this letter, I have done my duty to you as I have always done, to your government, to the party, PDP, and to our country, Nigeria…,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

“I have passed the stage of being flattered, intimidated, threatened, frightened, induced or bought… Death is the end of all human beings and may it come when God wills it to come.”

Download your copy of the letter here.

Blackout at Abuja airport, arriving passengers stranded

Electricity supply to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was interrupted Friday morning with passengers arriving the facility unable to claim their luggage.

Passengers who arrived via First Nations Airlines Flight FRN0102 from Lagos at 10:40 a.m. were heard complaining as there was no electricity to power the luggage conveyor belt.

Those of them who wanted to use the airport toilets could also not do so because the facility was in darkness.

An airport staff explained that the airport generator was faulty but officials of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, could not be reached for comments.

The airport was shut for most of Thursday after a plane arriving from Saudi Arabia reportedly veered off its path and blocked the runway.

FAAN struggled for several hours to get equipment to pull the damaged plane off the runway.

UPDATE: We are told electricity supply has been restored to the airport.

Anambra Election: Buhari, Tinubu, Akande, APC governors to lead massive protest to INEC

Bola Tinubu and Muhammadu Buhari

The leading lights of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, will Thursday morning lead a mass protest to the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to further object to the electoral agency’s plan to conduct supplementary election in Anambra state.

The November 16 governorship election in the South-East state is generally believed to be flawed, marred by extensive logistics problems and electoral malpractices.

The election was later declared inconclusive, with the electoral commission saying a supplementary election would have to be held in some parts of the state for a winner to emerge.

The APC has called for a cancellation of the election, a demand the INEC chairman, Attahiru Jega, has rejected. He said the opposition party did not prove that the lapses in the election were so extensive to justify cancellation.

But in a statement circulated late Wednesday night, the APC leadership indicated it would lead the party’s members to INEC to further express disapproval over the commission’s handling of the controversial election.

In the one-paragraph statement, a chieftain of the party, Dino Melaye, said, “Fellow citizens, please join Chief Bisi Akande, General Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Prince Tony Momoh, Chief Tom Ikimi, APC governors, members of the National Assembly and other patriotic Nigerians as we protest to INEC HQ in Maitama, Abuja, tomorrow morning (Thursday), 28th November, 2013 by 10am.

“We will take off from APC national secretariat at Wuse 2, Off Ademola Adetokunbo, Abuja. We must stop electoral fraud garnished with impunity. In an unjust society, silence is a crime. The time that silence is no longer golden is now. God bless Nigeria.”

The statement was later widely circulated on social media by former Minister Nasir El-Rufai, the party’s deputy national secretary.

The APC had on November 21 announced that it had formally written to Mr. Jega, demanding the cancellation of the governorship election.

The APC National Chairman, Bisi Akande, who addressed journalists in Abuja, said their request followed plans by INEC to conduct supplementary election in 210 polling units in 16 local government areas of the state.

Mr. Akande said the APC was also demanding that no candidate should be returned as winner of the election until a fresh one was held.

He hinged the party’s demand on the irregularities and non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, which, he said, characterised the conduct of the election.

The APC chairman said proceeding with the election would amount to a gruesome assault on the right of the people of Anambra State to elect a governor of their choice, and would also be interpreted as a legitimisation of a grave travesty of the electoral process.

APC leaders in Port Harcourt to woo Governor Amaechi — LIVE UPDATES

Rotimi Amaechi

The leaders of the opposition All Progressives Congress, led by former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari, party Chairman Bisi Akande and former Governor Bola Tinubu have arrived the Rivers Government House, Port Harcourt.

An elaborate reception ceremony is being held for them.

UPDATE 1: Some of the APC leaders in attendance are Buhari, Akande, Tinubu, former Speaker of the House of Representative, Aminu Masari, former Governor John Oyegun, National Vice Chairman of the APC for the South South, Tom Ikimi …

UPDATE 2: Deputy Chairman of the New PDP, Sam Jaja, is now speaking. The crowd is massive here. It is a massive political carnival. There is a lot of dancing and rejoicing.

UPDATE 3: Mr. Jaja welcomed the visitors and promised that the leadership of Rivers state is ready to lay down their lives to defend the state and its people.

UPDATE 4: APC Chairman, Bisi Akande, described Governor Amaechi as bundle of courage, a brilliant man being persecuted. “He is a leader of the leaders. And we think we will not go home without asking you, through him to join the APC. APC is the party of the progressives and that is where Rivers state belongs.”

UPDATE 5: Tinubu said amidst cheers: “We were ready to come yesterday but the airspace was blocked. We did not want to offend anybody so we put our visit for today.

“Amaechi is a progressive. He is a visionary. He is focused. We know the basis of his persecution. It is because he fought for the oil and revenue of Rivers state. He is doing well. He is giving our children the greatest weapon against poverty – education.

“I urge you to ask Governor Amaechi to lead you to the APC. The progressives are offering the rescue boat. This is a mission to rescue Nigeria.”

UPDATE 6: Ikimi speaks: “We have seen for ourself that Rotimi Amaechi is indeed in charge of Rivers state. This young man is prepared to pursue his believe to the last, based on courage and conviction. It is on these principles that APC was formed. With APC, there is an alternative platform and there is a balance of power.

“APC means Aspirin, Panadol, Codeine. When you have strong headache, you take these drugs.

“APC also means Armoured Personnel Carrier. You use it to move forward when yeye police stop you.”

UPDATE 7: Buhari: “We are here to seek understanding and support from you through your leader, Governor Amaechi. I worked with one of your greatest assets, Prof Tam David West.

“Nigeria is at a crossroad and that is why we decided to come together to rescue this country from destruction. We must get together and get this country moving again. I congratulate Gov. Amaechi for providing education for the people of the state.”

UPDATE 8: It is now time for goodwill messages from leaders and politicians from the state. The chairmen of the 23 local govts have mounted the stage and are dancing. They are all expected to speak on behalf of their local governments.

UPDATE 9: A local government chairman and chairman of ALGON in the state, is speaking. He says, “We need to move away from the current cluelessness, visionlessness and purposefullessness. We need to embrace patriotism. Wherever our leader (Amaechi) leads us, we will follow because we have no reason to doubt his ability to lead us well.”

UPDATE 10: Speaker of Rivers House assures the visitor that wherever Amaechi goes, they will go. “We are aware he has been holding nocturnal meetings with the APC. The House wants him to hurry up. Let the marriage happens. We are tired of the dating before someone will have children outside wedlock.”

UPDATE 11: Everyone here is waiting on Governor Amaechi to respond to the invitation by the APC to join them.

UPDATE 12: Members of the National Assembly from Rivers are now billed to speak. They are being led by Senator Magnus Abe, who is dressed in all white.

UPDATE 13: Member of the House of Representatives, Andrew Uchendu: “We have heard all the APC said. You have made very strong case inviting us. We have given our mandate to Rivers governor to discuss with you. Of 3 senators, he has 2 backing him. Of 13 members of House of Reps, he has 10. Of 32 members of the state House of Assembly, 27 are backing him.”

UPDATE 14: Magnus Abe: “Rivers people have elected a leader. We have elected a governor. His name is Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. You have our support. Any party that is serious about discipline must respect its own rules. It must allow its members to hold dissenting views. We are standing by our sons and will continue to stop him. Some of those talking today supported Babangida and Atiku. We did not stone them because Rivers is home for all.”

UPDATE 15: Master of Ceremony says: “This person (Amaechi), each time they give him ginger ginger, they give him swagger swagger.”

UPDATE 16: Amaechi turns musician, singing and dancing. He appears extremely happy.

UPDATE 17: Amaechi: “A lot of people are wondering why I have been dancing since the burial (of Patience Jonathan’s mum). When you have God behind you, there is no one else. We have been hearing ‘we will remove him, we will remove him’. Have I been removed? They said they will remove us on the 11. Eleven is Monday. I will dance. The second reason I danced at Okrika is that they said they will stone me at Okrika. I went and it didn’t happen.”

“Most of the people on the other side are corrupt. They are thieves. They get contracts from the NNDC and the Niger Delta ministry and then go ahead to use the money to build hotels. One of they got 17 billion contract to build a road from Eleme to Imo Rivers. Is there a road there? They have served and are now hungry.

“They are so desperate that they have gone to hire Commissioner Mbu as the military wing of the PDP. One thing you should know is that the police will come after you. The only way to stop them is the people’s power. When you hear of impunity, It’s because you allow it. When you hear that Amaechi is courageous, it’s because I take risk. You must come out when we ask you to do so. There is no revolution without blood. The only revolution without blood is reform.

“Anyday they are ready for a debate, I’m ready. I call them thieves, let them reply me.

“To our APC guests, I like to say we are a group of seven governors. In that group, I’m perculiar because the president is from our zone. So regarding your invitation, I will consult our leaders, I will consult my party, I will consult even the president. He is from our zone. I will consult all the consultables!

“But the day we will take a decision, it will be at that our new stadium. It has the capacity to take 40,000 people. Tinubu, and the president will address 40,000 people. So we need to go out and continue to grow our number.

“They have money, they have the police, they have the army. The only thing we have is our people.

UPDATE 18: Immediately after his speech, the governor led his APC guests out of the venue, drawing the event to a close.

Thank you for following our updates.

Cover-up as police order DPO to hands off probe of Saraki stampede deaths

Sen. Bukola Saraki

The yearly Sallah gifts distribution by the Sarakis and the party have led to multiple deaths.

A plot to cover up Wednesday’s multiple deaths in Ilorin involving Senator Bukola Saraki and officials of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party is now apace as the police high command has ordered the Divisional Police Officer in charge of the jurisdiction, where the incident occurred, to hands off the case.

About a dozen people, said to be members of the Kwara PDP, died on Sallah day as they scrambled for handouts distributed by former Governor Saraki and other patrons within the party.

Sources within the Kwara state Police Command said after the incident, the DPO in charge of the police division in the area dispatched detectives to the area to investigative the matter.

But as soon as the detectives began work, our sources said, the DPO received an order from the police zone 8 command headquarters in Lokoja directing him to suspend investigation and immediately forward the case file to the zonal command in the Kogi state capital.

The DPO complied and the investigation into the matter has been suspended. The zonal command is yet to send in a fresh team of investigators to probe the death of hapless citizens who died while trying to outsmart one another as Mr. Saraki and other party leaders distributed the yearly Sallah gifts.

“They are trying to cover up the deaths,” one of our sources said. “Those involved are pressing buttons and trying to frustrate any investigation into the incident.”

When contacted, spokesperson for the Kwara Police Command, Fabode Olufemi, confirmed that the zonal command had taken over the case.

“I can’t tell you anything about the case because the case file is already at the zonal command in Lokoja,” Mr. Olufemi told PREMIUM TIMES. “Only zone 8 can provide you an update on the case.”

The spokesperson for the Zone 8 command, Emmanuel Udekwe, wouldn’t comment on the case when contacted by this newspaper.

“I’m not sure of the case you are talking about,” he said before terminating the call and switching off his mobile telephone.

In what has almost become a yearly routine, more than a dozen people died while several others were injured in the incident which occurred at a venue popularly called PDP Charity House, which is near Mr. Saraki’s Ilorin residence.

In a statement emailed to PREMIUM TIMES that night, the Publicity Secretary of Kwara PDP, Mas’ud Adebimpe, confirmed the incident and commiserated with the families of the victims.

He, however, confirmed the death of only four PDP members, saying many others were injured.

After the incident, there were loud calls for a thorough investigation by those who felt the yearly deaths, in similar circumstances, were more than ordinary.

“Charity, even when politically motivated, can be better organized,” public affairs analyst, Abdulateeph Adebayo, said. “This contempt for people and disregard for the sanctity of human life must stop. The media, law enforcement agencies and community leaders must help put a stop to this fetish evil carnage.”

The yearly sallah gifts distribution by the Sarakis and the party have of late led to multiple deaths.

On May 27, 2011, several people died at the Mandate House, Ilorin, as they scrambled for rice and other items.

At least 11 others died in a similar fashion in November 2010, but only four deaths were also confirmed by the Kwara government at the time.

While Mr. Saraki and the state PDP routinely issue condolence messages after each incident, there is no indication that the tragedies were thoroughly probed by the police or any other relevant agency of government.

UEFA Champions League: Bayern defeats Ahmed Musa’s CSKA

Tunde Eludini

European kings, Bayern Munich on Tuesday might started their title defence in an emphatic fashion as they pummelled Ahmed Musa’s CSKA Moscow 3-0 at the Allianz Arena.

Musa who was handed a starter’s shirt by his Russian club could not help their cause on the night as the German club dominated them from start to finish.

Pep Guardiola’s men started their goals feast as early as the 4th minute when Austria’s David Alaba shot the Bavarians ahead.

Musa and his teammates tried to put up a defensive display to curtail the rampaging Bayern side but they could only do so till the 41st minute when Mandzuick combined well with Arjen Roben to double the lead of the defending champions.

In the second half Bayern continued from where they stopped and added another goal courtesy of  Roben who had earlier provided an assist for the second goal.

In other games, Wayne Roney marked his 200th appearance for Manchester United with two goals as the Red Devils defeated German side Bayern Leverkusen 4-2.

United’s other goals were scored by Robin Van Persie and Antonio Valencia.
Tuesday’s game is the first European experience for Coach David Moyes with Manchester United.

In Turkey, Real Madrid ran riot defeating their host Galatasary 6-1. Cristiano Ronaldo who in the course of the week just penned a massive contract rewarded his employers with three goals on the night.

French striker Karim Benzema scored twice and Isco completed the humiliation of the Turkish champions who had in their ranks big names like Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder.

Manchester City also enjoyed a healthy win away from home as they cruised to a 0-3 win over Viktoria Plezen.

Full results
Manchester United        4 – 2 Bayer Leverkusen
Real Sociedad    0 – 2   Shakhtar Donetsk
Galatasaray        1 – 6 nReal Madrid
København  1 – 1 Juventus         
Benfica 2 – 0 Anderlecht
Olympiakos Piraeus        1 – 4 PSG           
Bayern München  3 – 0 CSKA Moskva
Viktoria Plzeň   0 – 3 Manchester City   

NSCIA asks Muslims to look out for new moon to end Ramadan

crescent_moon

The Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) on Tuesday night asked Muslims to look out for new moon on Wednesday night to mark the end of the ongoing Ramadan fast.
In a statement entitled: Termination of Ramadan Fast 1434/2013 by its Secretary General, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, the NSCIA reminded Muslims of the importance of sighting of the crescent moon before terminating their fast.
Prof. Oloyede said, “Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is reported to have said:”Commence fasting when you sight the (Ramadan) crescent and terminate fasting when you sight the (Shawwal) crescent.
“But if the sky is cloudy, then, count 30 days of Sha’ban or of Ramadan as the case may be”.
“Therefore, in accordance with the Prophetic tradition, Muslims all over Nigeria are hereby urged to look for the new crescent of Shawwal on Wednesday, August, 7, 2013 CE (which corresponds to 29thh day of Ramadan, 1434 AH.
“To this effect, members of the national Moon Sighting Committee have been deployed with appropriate gadgets to various parts of the country for easy sighting of the moon”, he said.
Mr. Oloyede said other individuals who are able to sight the
crescent are requested to contact, through appropriate authorities, any of the following:
1. The President-General of NSCIA and the Sultan of Sokoto Tel:08036470422
2. The Deputy President-General (North) of the NSCIA and the Shehu of Borno
3. The Deputy President-General (South) of the NSCIA and Aare Musulumi of Yoruba Land Tel:08027780076
4. The Secretary General, Prof. Is-haq O Oloyede on ioloyede@yahoo.co.uk
5. The Emir of Gwandu and all other Emirs
6. The Lamido of Adamawa
7. The Esu Nupe
8. The Otaru of Auchi
9. The Deputy Secretary-General (South) of NSCIA (Sheikh Adam Idoko)
Tel:08036759892
10. The President of the League of Imams and Alfas in Yoruba Land: Chief
Imam of Osogbo
11. The Baba Adini of Lagos, Sheikh Hafiz Abou and
12. The Chairman, National Moon Sighting Committee, Dr. Hafis Wali on 08036009090.”
He added, “Where the authorities are satisfied that the crescent has been duly sighted, the President-General and Sultan of Sokoto would announce the termination of Ramadan Fast and the observance of Eid-el-Fitr Prayer the following day, that is Thursday August 8th, 2013.
“In the event of the moon not being sighted on Wednesday Aug. 7, 2013, the Eid-el-Fitr Prayer shall be observed on Friday, Aug. 9, 2013.”
The Council reminded the Muslims of the necessity of paying Zakatul Fitr with the intention of lifting the hearts of the indigent members of the community.
It also felicitated with the Nigerian Muslim Ummah on the completion of the Ramadan Fast and wished them abundant blessings from Allah.
The NSCIA urged Muslims “to continue to pray for the peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians and keep the valued lessons and gains of the sacred month as spiritual guide against current provocative utterances from certain quarters that may lead to iniquities.”

How TB Joshua wants his 50th birthday celebrated

TB Joshua
TB Joshua

Dear Editor,

Renowned Nigerian Pastor TB Joshua turns 50 on Wednesday June 12th 2013. In his characteristically unconventional style, he has called for the focus of the celebration to be redirected towards care for the less privileged and job creation for unemployed graduates.

Speaking on his popular broadcast platform Emmanuel TV, Joshua called on well-wishers who desired to give in cash or kind towards the golden occasion to rather channel such resources into charitable endeavours. “The best way to celebrate this birthday is to be on your knees and thank God for the life of TB Joshua. Pray for the Church of God for a strong bond of love. Pray for your nation and the whole world and rededicate yourself to the acts of giving. Be a father to the fatherless and a benefactor to the needy. Raise the standard of living through the little you are going to invest,” Joshua exhorted congregants. “Those things you have for TB Joshua, even what you will spend on a greeting card, put it together and spend it on this commission.”

The noted philanthropist challenged viewers to examine the listed names on their phones, asking how many people were friends with the under-privileged or bedridden. “You must have many orphans and those on the sick bed as friends. Give them a call. Be a prayer partner with them and let them know there is hope. Become part of their family,” he passionately counselled.

He stated his priority project was facilitating the creation of jobs for frustrated graduates, calling on all in a position to support job-seekers to come forward. “We must get jobs for people who are jobless. This is the number one project for my 50th birthday. I am going to pursue it.Graduates are everywhere without a job. This birthday, it will be an assignment for me.”

He bemoaned the state of youth worldwide, stating a bleak future lay ahead if urgent action was not taken by those in a position to help. “If you listen to the graduates of today, you will be afraid of the future. If something is not done quickly, you will not be able to sleep and close your eyes in the future. Tomorrow will be very tough; we have to come together and do something now.”

Last week, the project began in earnest with Joshua facilitating the employment of 24 graduates in jobs, 22 of whom were not members of The SCOAN. He called on churches worldwide to join in the call for job creation with no strings attached. “If every church and organization embarks on telling people in the position to get graduates jobs instead of campaigning for money and prosperity, it will change the situation,” he stated.

He further added that these actions should not be determined by time or season. “When you start, don’t stop – let it be part of you forever. Your rewards in life are determined by how many people you have helped and the problems you have solved. This is the way the Lord wants us to celebrate this birthday at 50.”

On a personal note, TB Joshua said the occasion was a sober moment for appreciation of God’s goodness in his life and added determination for greater service to Him and humanity. “To whom much is given, much is expected. The Lord has given me so much in all areas of my life which I cannot reciprocate. What an undeserved blessing! At 50, I should be more grateful to God and show more commitment to His service,” the Nigerian pastor stated. Stressing that the source of his success lay in the closeness of his relationship with God, Joshua revealed, “If I could give you one clue to my success, I would say I took care of the depth of my relationship with God and He took care of the breadth of my success. Jesus will do the same for you!”

Born on June 12th 1963 in Ondo State, Nigeria, TB Joshua’s rise from a poverty-stricken home to an internationally renowned minister of God is nothing short of remarkable. With his birth shrouded in mystery, legend has it that TB Joshua was in his mother’s womb for 15 months. It is also claimed he narrowly avoided death seven days after his birth after a quarry explosion near his house sent rocks through its roof, missing him by inches. From dropping out of secondary school in his first year to working in a poultry farm carrying chicken waste; from teaching little children while attending evening classes to washing people’s legs on the muddy streets of Lagos; from a forty day fast to receiving a divine call and starting a ministry with a mere eight members – the life of TB Joshua is indeed a journey of amazing grace. Today, countless thousands journey weekly to his abode in the heart of Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos to seek spiritual solace with millions more tuning in to watch what is reputed to be Africa’s most popular station, Emmanuel TV.

Ihechukwu Njoku, who describes himself as a  freelance journalist, sent this to PREMIUM TIMES

Abandoned drainage endangers pedestrians, motorists in Awka

Abandoned drainage at UNIZIK Junction, Awka, Anambra State
Abandoned drainage at UNIZIK Junction, Awka, Anambra State

The pedestrian bridge at the UNIZIK Junction in Awka, Anambra State, is currently at risk as a critical drainage running directly under it has been abandoned by the state government.

Fatal accidents had occurred at the spot in recent times.

In April, PREMIUM TIMES reported about one of the accidents that claimed the lives of at least six people.

Also, drivers of commercial tricycles (Keke NAPEP) and motorcycles (Okada) have continued to load passengers by the side of the bridge, weeks after the government ordered them to relocate from the zone.

One of the traffic agents designated to enforce government directive was seen collecting N50 from drivers as a condition for them to load at the dangerous area.

Residents of the area are calling on the government to do something urgently to stop these ugly situations.

Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu, a political science student at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, sent this from Awka 

 

Mega Church Pastor, Oyakhilome, incorporates secret company for daughters in Caribbean tax haven

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome...His wife and associates had their hands in a pie in a tax haven

Secret documents link family and associates of one of Africa’s most popular pastors, Nigerian televangelist the Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, to an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.

A business associate of the pastor says some directors in the company held shares on behalf of the pastor’s daughters, Sharon and Charlyn, who are now teenagers.

The company in question is Gmobile Nigeria Limited, an offshore firm incorporated in 2007 in a Caribbean tax haven, the British Virgin Islands, according to a cache of documents reviewed by Premium Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The shareholders listed in the documents include Oyakhilome’s wife, Anita; another pastor in his organization, Thomas Amenkhienan; a business associate, Aigobomian Inegbedion; and another British Virgin Islands’ company, GTMT International Group Limited.

Oyakhilome is founder and president of one of Africa’s largest Pentecostal churches, Believers Loveworld Inc. (aka Christ Embassy), which claims “hundreds of churches … affecting millions of people” in all the continents of the world, with a strong presence in the United Kingdom, South Africa, United States, Canada and Nigeria.  

He has also set up satellite broadcast channels in the United Kingdom (LoveWorld TV), South Africa (LoveWorld SAT) and Nigeria (LoveWorld Plus). He hosts a TV show, Atmosphere for Miracles, which airs on television networks in Africa, North America, Australia, Asia and Europe, according to his church’s website.

Chris & Anita Oyakhilome... They had their hands in a pie in a tax haven
Chris & Anita Oyakhilome… They had their hands in a pie in a tax haven

His church has a series of business interests, the website says, that include vibrant TV and Internet ministries and a publishing outfit that churns out the popular “Rhapsody of Realities” booklet, which is like a second Bible to members of his church.

He is as controversial as he is entrepreneurial. Critics believe he is excessively flamboyant, dressing most of the time in expensive suits, top-of-the-range shirts and ties and exotic shoes.

Some of his critics have alleged that he has staged miracles, bringing forth impotent men, infertile women and people with AIDS who testified they’d been instantly healed. In the wake of controversy over faith-healing practices by Oyakhilome and other pastors, the Nigerian government banned unverified miracles from television in 2004.

His wife, Anita, is also a pastor in the church. She heads the international division of the ministry and is regularly credited with growing the church’s presence around the world.

Until now, there has never been any suggestion that she was involved in financial dealings.

Documents reviewed by ICIJ and Premium Times show that Anita Oyakhihome held 17, 750 of Gmobile’s 50,000 shares, with Amenkhienan owning 1,500 and Inegbedion 750. The fourth shareholder, GTMT International, also a British Virgin Islands’ company, owned by South African investors, held 30,000 shares.

The documents show that some of these individuals held shares in trust for two minors. The records don’t identify the minors, but Inegbedion confirmed that the minors referred to in the documents were the Oyakhilomes’ daughters, quickly adding that there was nothing wrong with that.

“Their parents bought the shares for them because they have rights to own shares,” Mr. Inegbedion said. “A day-old child has a right to own shares in companies.” He declined to say which of Gmobile directors held shares in trust for the girls.

The Oyakhilomes did not respond to emails sent to their personal and church websites.

Setting Up Gmobile

In 2007 Anita Oyakhilome and her partners retained the services of a Dubai-based company, Covenant Management Consultancy (CML), to help it register Gmobile Nigeria Limited in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a Caribbean chain largely controlled by the United Kingdom.  On June 26, 2007, CML in turn approached BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL) to complete the task of setting an offshore company.

After some preliminaries — including name checks and consultation with lawyers — CML’s Susha George wrote to CTL’s Shonia Mathew on July 3 giving her the go-ahead to incorporate Gmobile. In that same two-paragraph message, George informed CTL “two shareholders of this company are minors.” She also asked whether additional documents or procedures were needed for the minors to be owners of the company.

Mathew replied the same day, saying that shares of the company could only be held in trust for the minors.

“Please note if the beneficial owners are minors, then the shares would need to be held in Trust for them until they are of age to act in that capacity,” she wrote, adding that “it may be wise to contact an attorney regarding the formalities of the company.”

Aig Inegbedion.... "Nothing wrong with the Oyakhilome girls holding shares".
Aig Inegbedion…. “Nothing wrong with the Oyakhilome girls holding shares”.

Seven days after Gmobile’s incorporation, company records show, shares were issued to Anita Oyakhilome, Amenkhienan, Inegbedion and GTMT Limited, a BVI company.

Another curious aspect of the company, which became dormant on May 1, 2009, was the makeup of its board of directors. Its first director was not a human being but another offshore company, Covenant Managers Limited, an offshore firm also set up by Dubai-based Covenant Consultancy Limited in July 2005 to offer nominee services to corporations and individuals incorporating companies in the BVI. In the offshore world, nominee directors or shareholders serve as stand-ins that allow the real people behind companies to keep their identities hidden.

As first director, Covenant Managers approved the opening of a bank account in the United Arab Emirates or any other place in the world.  It is not known in which bank the account was eventually opened nor whether it was used to move funds.

After Covenant Managers officially resigned, GTMT directors were brought on board together with Anita Oyakhilome, Inegbedion and Amenkhienan as directors. They were Willem Johannes Jacobus Van Der Merwe, Karen Ann Smith and Daniel John William Mills. Reporting by Premium Times determined that Van Der Merwe, Smith and Mills were based in South Africa but we could not ascertain how they came to be associated with the Oyakhilome clan.

Inegbedion said the idea of incorporating Gmobile in a tax haven was suggested by the South Africans, who he said argued that BVI was an ideal neutral ground for the business partnership the Oyakhilomes were forging with GTMT to carry out the business of distributing data compression software in Nigeria.

“We were looking for a neutral ground where both parties could feel safe,” Inegbedion said in a telephone interview. “So we had to go to British Virgin Islands. But it was our partners who handled the registration.”

The only South African partner Premium Times was able to track down, Karen Ann Smith, declined to comment on the formation and businesses of Gmobile.  “You are on the wrong trip, guy, as I’m not interested in talking about that business,” Mrs. Smith said on telephone.  When she was pressed for details, she said, “You are wasting my time, as I have no interest in speaking to you.”

Fleeting Appearance

Gmobile does not appear to have carried out any business in Nigeria, South Africa or the BVI.  Inegbedion and another individual who identified himself as Danny Mills made a fleeting appearance before journalists in Lagos in October 2007, almost four months after Gmobile was registered in the BVI, to say the firm was unveiling a GMobile product which allows users to maximize data storage and make an array of communications and services possible.

Danny Mills was introduced as the international sales director of Gmobile, while Inegbedion was introduced as chief operating officer of an unknown firm, LW GNet Nigeria.

Apparently, nothing has been heard of that product since that event. Today, Inegbedion introduces himself on his Facebook page as managing director of Paradigm Biz Solution Limited, a company the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission also says does not exist in its database.

Remmy Nweke, a well-regarded Lagos-based communications reporter, was among those who covered Gmobile’s press conference at the time. “Well, they came and met the media and said they were rolling out an irresistible product,” Mr. Nweke said via telephone. “But that was the last we heard of them. They simply disappeared.”

Inegbedion said Gmobile was unable to roll out the product because the company’s partners in South Africa failed to deliver after his team, led by Anita Oyakhilome, paid $1.8 million for a distribution license.

To all appearances, Gmobile was simply a failed business venture. But other companies incorporated in tax havens such as the BVI have become known for involvement with illegal activities, including money laundering and tax evasion.

Pastor Tom Amenkhiena... spiritual and business partner of the Oyakhilomes
Pastor Tom Amenkhiena… spiritual and business partner of the Oyakhilomes

Taking advantage of the loose laws in several jurisdictions, offshore companies are easy to form in tax havens and owners can remain anonymous while using nominee directors as fronts and deploying the corporations to hide ill-gotten assets, launder funds, dodge litigation or evade taxes.  Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, for example, was convicted of stealing public funds while he was governor of the oil-rich Nigerian state of Bayelsa. The state recovered more than 17 million British pounds from him, including assets he held through Solomon and Peters Limited (a company registered in the BVI) and Santolina Investment Corp. (a company incorporated in the Seychelles). Last month, he received a presidential pardon. Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has also accused another ex-governor, Abubakar Audu, of using two offshore companies in Bermuda (another tax haven) to hide ill-gotten assets. Audu denies the allegations.

Dealing with a questionable firm

The BVI Financial Services Commission found CTL, the offshore services firm that helped the Oyakhilomes to incorporate Gmobile, to be in repeated violation of the BVI’s anti-money laundering law between 2003 and 2008.

The BVI offices of offshore services company CTL. Photo: Alex Shprintsen
The BVI offices of offshore services company CTL. Photo: Alex Shprintsen

Thomas Ward, a co-founder of CTL who has worked as a consultant to the firm since it was sold to the new owners in 2009, said the company worked hard to make sure it didn’t take on shady clients.

“We believe we chose our clients carefully and we believe they honoured their agreements with us,” he said. But at times CTL’s staff was “either deceived or previously honest customers changed.”

Musikilu Mojeed, managing editor at Premium Times in Abuja, Nigeria, is currently a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.

Mega Church Pastor, Oyakhilome, incorporates secret company for daughters in Caribbean tax haven

Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, Founder, Believers Loveworld

Secret documents link family and associates of one of Africa’s most popular pastors, Nigerian televangelist the Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, to an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.  

A business associate of the pastor says some directors in the company held shares on behalf of the pastor’s daughters, Sharon and Charlyn, who are now teenagers.

The company in question is Gmobile Nigeria Limited, an offshore firm incorporated in 2007 in a Caribbean tax haven, the British Virgin Islands, according to a cache of documents reviewed by Premium Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).  The shareholders listed in the documents include Oyakhilome’s wife, Anita; another pastor in his organization, Thomas Amenkhienan; a business associate, Aigobomian Inegbedion; and another British Virgin Islands’ company, GTMT International Group Limited.

Oyakhilome is founder and president of one of Africa’s largest Pentecostal churches, Believers Loveworld Inc. (aka Christ Embassy), which claims “hundreds of churches … affecting millions of people” in all the continents of the world, with a strong presence in the United Kingdom, South Africa, United States, Canada and Nigeria.  

He has also set up satellite broadcast channels in the United Kingdom (LoveWorld TV), South Africa (LoveWorld SAT) and Nigeria (LoveWorld Plus). He hosts a TV show, Atmosphere for Miracles, which airs on television networks in Africa, North America, Australia, Asia and Europe, according to his church’s website.

Chris & Anita Oyakhilome... They had their hands in a pie in a tax haven
Chris & Anita Oyakhilome… They had their hands in a pie in a tax haven

His church has a series of business interests, the website says, that include vibrant TV and Internet ministries and a publishing outfit that churns out the popular “Rhapsody of Realities” booklet, which is like a second Bible to members of his church.

He is as controversial as he is entrepreneurial. Critics believe he is excessively flamboyant, dressing most of the time in expensive suits, top-of-the-range shirts and ties and exotic shoes.

Some of his critics have alleged that he has staged miracles, bringing forth impotent men, infertile women and people with AIDS who testified they’d been instantly healed. In the wake of controversy over faith-healing practices by Oyakhilome and other pastors, the Nigerian government banned unverified miracles from television in 2004.

His wife, Anita, is also a pastor in the church. She heads the international division of the ministry and is regularly credited with growing the church’s presence around the world.

Until now, there has never been any suggestion that she was involved in financial dealings.

Documents reviewed by ICIJ and Premium Times show that Anita Oyakhihome held 17, 750 of Gmobile’s 50,000 shares, with Amenkhienan owning 1,500 and Inegbedion 750. The fourth shareholder, GTMT International, also a British Virgin Islands’ company, owned by South African investors, held 30,000 shares.

The documents show that some of these individuals held shares in trust for two minors. The records don’t identify the minors, but Inegbedion confirmed that the minors referred to in the documents were the Oyakhilomes’ daughters, quickly adding that there was nothing wrong with that.

“Their parents bought the shares for them because they have rights to own shares,” Mr. Inegbedion said. “A day-old child has a right to own shares in companies.” He declined to say which of Gmobile directors held shares in trust for the girls.

The Oyakhilomes did not respond to emails sent to their personal and church websites.

Setting Up Gmobile

In 2007 Anita Oyakhilome and her partners retained the services of a Dubai-based company, Covenant Management Consultancy (CML), to help it register Gmobile Nigeria Limited in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a Caribbean chain largely controlled by the United Kingdom.  On June 26, 2007, CML in turn approached BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL) to complete the task of setting an offshore company.

After some preliminaries — including name checks and consultation with lawyers — CML’s Susha George wrote to CTL’s Shonia Mathew on July 3 giving her the go-ahead to incorporate Gmobile. In that same two-paragraph message, George informed CTL “two shareholders of this company are minors.” She also asked whether additional documents or procedures were needed for the minors to be owners of the company.

Mathew replied the same day, saying that shares of the company could only be held in trust for the minors.

“Please note if the beneficial owners are minors, then the shares would need to be held in Trust for them until they are of age to act in that capacity,” she wrote, adding that “it may be wise to contact an attorney regarding the formalities of the company.”

Aig Inegbedion.... "Nothing wrong with the Oyakhilome girls holding shares".
Aig Inegbedion…. “Nothing wrong with the Oyakhilome girls holding shares”.

Seven days after Gmobile’s incorporation, company records show, shares were issued to Anita Oyakhilome, Amenkhienan, Inegbedion and GTMT Limited, a BVI company.

Another curious aspect of the company, which became dormant on May 1, 2009, was the makeup of its board of directors. Its first director was not a human being but another offshore company, Covenant Managers Limited, an offshore firm also set up by Dubai-based Covenant Consultancy Limited in July 2005 to offer nominee services to corporations and individuals incorporating companies in the BVI. In the offshore world, nominee directors or shareholders serve as stand-ins that allow the real people behind companies to keep their identities hidden.

As first director, Covenant Managers approved the opening of a bank account in the United Arab Emirates or any other place in the world.  It is not known in which bank the account was eventually opened nor whether it was used to move funds.

After Covenant Managers officially resigned, GTMT directors were brought on board together with Anita Oyakhilome, Inegbedion and Amenkhienan as directors. They were Willem Johannes Jacobus Van Der Merwe, Karen Ann Smith and Daniel John William Mills. Reporting by Premium Times determined that Van Der Merwe, Smith and Mills were based in South Africa but we could not ascertain how they came to be associated with the Oyakhilome clan.

Inegbedion said the idea of incorporating Gmobile in a tax haven was suggested by the South Africans, who he said argued that BVI was an ideal neutral ground for the business partnership the Oyakhilomes were forging with GTMT to carry out the business of distributing data compression software in Nigeria.

“We were looking for a neutral ground where both parties could feel safe,” Inegbedion said in a telephone interview. “So we had to go to British Virgin Islands. But it was our partners who handled the registration.”

The only South African partner Premium Times was able to track down, Karen Ann Smith, declined to comment on the formation and businesses of Gmobile.  “You are on the wrong trip, guy, as I’m not interested in talking about that business,” Mrs. Smith said on telephone.  When she was pressed for details, she said, “You are wasting my time, as I have no interest in speaking to you.”

Fleeting Appearance

Gmobile does not appear to have carried out any business in Nigeria, South Africa or the BVI.  Inegbedion and another individual who identified himself as Danny Mills made a fleeting appearance before journalists in Lagos in October 2007, almost four months after Gmobile was registered in the BVI, to say the firm was unveiling a GMobile product which allows users to maximize data storage and make an array of communications and services possible.

Danny Mills was introduced as the international sales director of Gmobile, while Inegbedion was introduced as chief operating officer of an unknown firm, LW GNet Nigeria.

Apparently, nothing has been heard of that product since that event. Today, Inegbedion introduces himself on his Facebook page as managing director of Paradigm Biz Solution Limited, a company the Nigerian Corporate Affairs Commission also says does not exist in its database.

Remmy Nweke, a well-regarded Lagos-based communications reporter, was among those who covered Gmobile’s press conference at the time. “Well, they came and met the media and said they were rolling out an irresistible product,” Mr. Nweke said via telephone. “But that was the last we heard of them. They simply disappeared.”

Inegbedion said Gmobile was unable to roll out the product because the company’s partners in South Africa failed to deliver after his team, led by Anita Oyakhilome, paid $1.8 million for a distribution license.

To all appearances, Gmobile was simply a failed business venture. But other companies incorporated in tax havens such as the BVI have become known for involvement with illegal activities, including money laundering and tax evasion.

Pastor Tom Amenkhiena... spiritual and business partner of the Oyakhilomes
Pastor Tom Amenkhiena… spiritual and business partner of the Oyakhilomes

Taking advantage of the loose laws in several jurisdictions, offshore companies are easy to form in tax havens and owners can remain anonymous while using nominee directors as fronts and deploying the corporations to hide ill-gotten assets, launder funds, dodge litigation or evade taxes.  Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, for example, was convicted of stealing public funds while he was governor of the oil-rich Nigerian state of Bayelsa. The state recovered more than 17 million British pounds from him, including assets he held through Solomon and Peters Limited (a company registered in the BVI) and Santolina Investment Corp. (a company incorporated in the Seychelles). Last month, he received a presidential pardon. Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has also accused another ex-governor, Abubakar Audu, of using two offshore companies in Bermuda (another tax haven) to hide ill-gotten assets. Audu denies the allegations.

Dealing with a questionable firm

The BVI Financial Services Commission found CTL, the offshore services firm that helped the Oyakhilomes to incorporate Gmobile, to be in repeated violation of the BVI’s anti-money laundering law between 2003 and 2008.

The BVI offices of offshore services company CTL. Photo: Alex Shprintsen
The BVI offices of offshore services company CTL. Photo: Alex Shprintsen

Thomas Ward, a co-founder of CTL who has worked as a consultant to the firm since it was sold to the new owners in 2009, said the company worked hard to make sure it didn’t take on shady clients.

“We believe we chose our clients carefully and we believe they honoured their agreements with us,” he said. But at times CTL’s staff was “either deceived or previously honest customers changed.”

Musikilu Mojeed, managing editor at Premium Times in Abuja, Nigeria, is currently a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University.

#Offshoreleaks: President Jonathan’s adviser, ex-oil minister linked to secret offshore firms

Ahmed Gulak has his hand in a secret pie in the British Virgin Island

President Goodluck Jonathan’s special adviser on political matters, Ahmed Gulak, leads a growing list of Nigerian business and political elites who ran or still run secret offshore companies and accounts where they either hide their wealth to evade taxes, launder money or commit fraud, according to a cache of documents reviewed by PREMIUM TIMES and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ.

Mr. Gulak, who deals in the supply of fast boats, radial systems and naval communication equipment as well as military hardware to the Nigerian government, was linked to a secret shell company in the British Virgin Islands, one of the world’s most notorious tax havens.

Mr. Gulak is listed along with a former petroleum minister, Edmund Daukouru, and a former head of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Bello Gwandu, as key Nigerians indulging in this practice, according to our investigations.

Ahmed Gulak acts as legal adviser to Erojim Group of Companies, according to information available on the company’s website.  Erojim is a contracting firm that claims to supply fast boats, radial systems and naval communication equipment and other military hardware to the Nigerian government in liaison with its foreign partner, Poly Technologies,  and NORINCO, both of China.

On the other hand, Edmund Daukouru, a former petroleum minister sits on the board of Caverton Offshore Support Group, a Lagos-based provider of integrated offshore support services in Nigeria but which has also bounded with some foreigners to form a secret company abroad. Also on Caverton’s nine-man board is Bello Gwandu, a ruling party politician and former managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, a federal agency that oversees and operates the ports of the world’s most populous black nation.

Mr. Gulak, a lawyer and former lawmaker in Nigeria’s Northeast state of Adamawa, is one of President Jonathan’s closest aides, having worked as director of mobilization in the campaign that returned the president to power in 2011.  As legal adviser and close associate of Jimmy Ntuen, Erojim’s CEO, Mr. Gulak helped draft the legal papers for the incorporation of Erojim and its subsidiaries, including assisting Mr. Ntuen, who suddenly became Jimmy Ernest, when the British Virgin Island’s version of Erojim was being incorporated.

These individuals are among a number of Nigerian officials and businesspersons who have links with shell companies abroad. It is not clear why they incorporated these shell companies – that is corporations that exist but do not have employees or assets and carry out no visible operations. But Shell companies, according to Fraud Auditing Inc., a worldwide authority on fraud, have become progressively known for their involvement with illegal activities, including money laundering, tax evasion, billing schemes and fictitious service schemes.

Taking advantage of the loose laws in several jurisdictions, shell companies are easy to form and owners can remain anonymous while using nominee directors as fronts and deploying the corporations to hide ill-gotten assets, launder funds, dodge litigations or evade tax.

An example is convicted former Nigerian state governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who was found to have used Solomon & Peters (a shell company registered in the British Virgin Islands) and Santolina Investment Corporation, (a company incorporated in the Seychelles), to steal public funds with which  he acquired assets valued at about  17.7 million British pounds while governor of the oil-rich state of Bayelsa.  Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has also  accused another ex-governor, Abubakar Audu, of  using two offshore companies in Bermuda (another tax haven) to hide ill-gotten assets.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is the 35th most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International’s 2012 rankings. Although the country has enormous oil resources, earning $24.5billion a year, according to the Revenue Watch Institute, most of its wealth are routinely stolen by kleptomaniac leaders who usually form shell companies to conceal their ill-gotten assets. The result is that the West African giant has remained among the most poverty-stricken in the world, ranking 156th out of the 187 countries rated in the United Nation’s most recent Human Development Index.

The Tax Justice Network, an international group campaigning against tax havens, estimates that about $11.5 trillion is held offshore by individuals – with a resulting annual loss of tax revenue on the income from these assets of about 250 billion dollars. “This is five times what the World Bank estimated in 2002 was needed to address the UN Millenium Development Goal of halving world poverty by 2015,” the group said. “This much money could also pay to transform the world’s energy infrastructure to tackle climate change.”

Ahmed Gulak is No.6 in the list of company officials
Ahmed Gulak is No.6 on the list of company officials

These funds are usually held via shell companies in tax havens. It is not clear whether that is what Mr. Gulak’s Erojim Energy and Equipment, registered in the BVI on June 8, 2006, set out to accomplish.  The company, with registration number 1032037, is listed on company website as a subsidiary of Erojim Group of Companies to which Mr. Gulak is directly affiliated.  The offshore Erojim has company chairman, Jimmy Ntuen Ernest (45,000 shares) and a certain Wang Yong (5000 shares) as directors.  Mr. Yong, listed on company website as director of commercials, is in turn related to around 40 other shell corporations, raising questions about whether he is a nominee director and what his real business motives are.

The Nigerian version of Erojim was incorporated in 2000 and it has, by its own admission, done businesses with the Nigerian government through its ministries of defence and education. It is not known whether Mr. Gulak has tapped his closeness to the government to facilitate businesses for Erojim. But it is common for officials in Nigeria to use fronts to corner contracts for themselves.

Company documents suggest that Erojim BVI is inactive having been struck out for non payment in October 31, 2007,  but owners have continued to showcase the firm on company website  as a viable subsidiary in the British Virgin Islands.  The group also suggests it has two subsidiaries in the United Kingdom – Barnes and Tubbies Linited (with registration number 6620080) and Erojim Investment Limited (with registration number 6620062) raising even more questions about the company’s seeming fetish for incorporating offshore companies not known to carry out business operations. Erojim’s chairman seems to peddle double identities as well. While he is known as (Obong) Jimmy O.Ntuen on company website, he is identified as Jimmy Ntuen Ernest in Erojim BVI’s company documents, again raising questions about his business tactics.

Mr. Gulak didn’t answer or return calls. He also did not reply to a text message seeking comments.  Calls to the number listed on company website were answered by a woman who said she does not work in Erojim and had no relationship with the company whatsoever. “This is my personal number as you can see,” she said, in a March 1 telephone exchange. An email enquiry bounced back, suggesting that the email address listed on company website is also not working.

Ex-petroleum  minister, former ports chief and their secret offshore company

In June 2008, Mr. Dakouru, 69,  a former petroleum minister and now a revered traditional ruler in Nigeria’s oil-rich but restive Niger Delta  region, teamed up with eight others – Aderemi Makanjuola, Olabode Makanjuola, Adeniyi Makanjuola, Sola Falola David Vickers, Bello Gwandu, Bashiru Bakare and Akin Kekere Ekun – to form Caverton Offshore Support Group.

Former Minister of State for Petroleum, Edmund Daukoru.. Photo: Courtesy  http://news.mongabay.com via google
Former Minister of State for Petroleum, Edmund Daukoru.. Photo: Courtesy http://news.mongabay.com via google

But in the run-up to the formation of the company, brothers Adeniyi Makanjuola and Aderemi Makanjuola had, on March 23, 2008, partnered with two other Singaporean brothers , Claes Thortensen and Olav Thortensen, to incorporate CT Offshore (W.Afica) Ltd, a Shell company in the British Virgin Islands.

Olav and Claes are chair and president respectively of Thome Group of Companies, a Singaporean company which, according to company website, “offers a wide range of shipping services including full technical management of every kind of oil and chemical tankers, LNG vessels and other specialist tonnage.”

A year later, March 28, 2009, Mr. Dakouru’s Carveton Offshore and the Thortensen’s Thome Offshore Management Pte Limited became directors/shareholders of CT Offshore. The purpose for which the parties formed CT Offshore remains unclear. Caverton Offshore is not known to refer to CT Offshore as its subsidiary or investment vehicle. The group’s annual reports for 2009 and 2010 only referred to Carverton Marine Ltd and Caverton Helicopters Ltd as the company’s only subsidiaries. The company’s website is also silent on the existence of CT Offshore just as the Thome Group, joint owner of the secret company, did not list CT Offshore  among its six subsidiaries. The cloak of secrecy around the company and the unwillingness of its owner to discuss its existence raise questions about the real reason for its incorporation.

Caverton and its officials wouldn’t comment for this story. An official, Uteh Assang, who identified herself as a personal assistant to Aderemi Makanjuola said owners and top managers of the company were unavailable for interview. She promised to pass our enquiry along to her bosses who would then return our call. The call wasn’t returned.  Subsequent calls were unanswered just as our email enquiry was sent back by the company’s server.

Top businessman, Samir Ajami and his secret Nigerian company

Samir Ajami, an expatriate with American and European roots, is well known in Nigeria as managing director of Givanas Nigeria Limited (which produces consumer goods such as milk, tomato paste, corned beef, sardine and teabags) and Negatrex Limited (which specializes in the production of soaps and beauty products).  The businessman is also known as one of the two trustees of Givanas Charitable Foundation, which provides scholarships to indigent university students and engages in other philanthropist activities in the country.

What many Nigerians definitely do not know is that Mr. Ajami has a third company concealed through a shell company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. That company is Lagos-based Eko Resources Supreme Limited, which produces detergents and medicated soaps.  Eko Resources was incorporated in Nigeria on June 3, 2004 with its directors being Sadikin Sungkono  and Jokoraharjo Nur Bambang (both Indonesians) and WW Trade Limited, a secret firm registered in the British Virgin Islands. Out of the 3750000 shares that have been allotted by Eko Supreme, WW Trade owns 3748000 while Sungkono and Bambang hold one share each.

Mr. Ajami hid his interest in Eko Supreme by simply buying into WW Trade at the British Virgin Islands. That way, his name does not appear in company documents and authorities definitely can’t trace the company to him. It is not known why the businessman decided on this tactic. Calls to his offices in Lagos were not returned. Email enquiries were also not responded to. However, hiding ownership this way helps businessmen elsewhere to conceal assets, evade tax and become monopolies through fronts.

WW Trade was incorporated in the BVI on November 5, 2001 with 50,000 allotted shares and authorized capital of $50,000.  The eight directors at  inception were Teddy Jeffrey Katuari, Freddy Ignatius Katuari, Eddy William Katuari, Finney Henry Katuari, Hanny Sutanto, Alex Ivan Tanojo, Handoyo Sutanto and Gen Tijn Tan. By September 15, 2005, ownership had changed, leaving Samuel Chee Wee Seng, Sungkono Sadikin and Edwin Katuari as directors and on October 10, 2005, without a meeting of directors, the authorized capital of the company was raised from $50,000 to $20,000,000, divided into 20,000,000 shares of $1 per value.

And on July 1, 2007, Mr. Ajami became a director of the company. But that was after acquiring a total of 3, 907,692 of the company in five installments: 1,333,333 (Nov. 4, 2005), 666,667 (July 22, 2006), 307,692 (Aug. 23, 2006), 1,200,000 (Dec 22, 2006) and 400,000 (February 23, 2007). He is currently the second largest shareholder in the company, behind only Universal Wellbeing Pte Ltd, a Singaporean Real Estate Developers, which has a total of  12,700,900 shares. By implication , Mr. Ajami is the second largest owner of Lagos-based Supreme Resources, although the company describes itself as a subsidiary of Wing Corporation, an Indonesian company that exports detergents, soaps, foods and beverages around the world.

Mr. Ajami didn’t respond to our request for comments. When a call was placed to his office on March 2, an official, Bola Arowosegbe, requested that questions be emailed directly to her. “Message received and shall be directed to Mr. Ajami,” Mrs Arowosegbe later wrote in response to our email. “He shall revert soon.”

Mr. Ajami is however yet to respond.

Musikilu Mojeed, PREMIUM TIMES managing editor, is member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is an independent network of reporters in more than 60 countries who collaborate on cross-border investigations. It is a project of the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.

Arik Air passengers to Uyo, Lagos, Port Harcourt stranded in Abuja, By Aminu Bello

Arik Air passengers
Stranded Arik Air Passengers at the Abuja airport

Arik Air passengers to Uyo, Lagos and Port Harcourt are stranded at the Abuja Airport.

We are at the lounge listening to Arik’s incessant ‘regret’ announcements.

Passengers have been stranded since 11 a.m. Arik Flight W156, W155 to Lagos have been reschedule for  9 p.m. Passengers heading to Port Harcourt will have to wait till 9:45 p.m to see if they would be airlifted.

Aminu Bello sent this in via twitter handle @am_inu

Tension in Ogun varsity as students threaten showdown, By Ogunjimi Taiwo

Olabisi_Onabanjo_University__OOU___Ago_Iwoye___Ogun_State_270159333

Tension is high in Olabisi Onabanjo University as students prepare to ground all activities and lock down the school on Monday, March 18, 2013. The cause of the tension is due to the lingering issue of repetition that the Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Saburi Adeyemi, is bent on implementing; a policy that will affect more than 5000 students.

The Vice Chancellor had announced in January that students who were unable to pay their fees for the previous session(s) will have to write letter of reinstatement, after which they would be reinstated to their previous level. The announcement caused a three-day protest in the school, which led to boycott of lectures. The final decision reached by the Senate on Tuesday, March i2, 2013 is that despite all pleas, the students must repeat.

This information has further heightened the tension on campus.

The school management itself is aware of the tension. The matriculation ceremony that was supposed to hold on Thursday, March 14, 2013 was postponed for fear of it being disrupted by angry students. Policemen have being deployed to the school premises in anticipation of the shutdown.

Information from the school is that all students are unified on the planning and holding of the protest. The Students House of Senate(SHS), the activist group(CDHR) on campus, religious groups, and even the Student Union Government that were known in times past to shy away from protests/confrontation have been reported to be ready to lead the protest.

The SUG President, Comrade Omojola Ayokunle was quoted to have said he is tired of begging, and that all their beggings have not changed the VC’s mind as he is hell bent on implementing the policy. In fact, it was reported that the letter of appeal that was written by the SUG President to the University Senate was torn and as at Friday evening, the University refused to reply the Student Union’s letter.

As the stage is set for a massive confrontation between students and the management/government, a warning must be sounded loud and clear that the world is watching! Situations like the Nasarawa massacre must not repeat itself. The students’ right to protest is guaranteed in the Nigerian constitution.

Stakeholders, both at home and in the diaspora, must rise up and join their voices with the students to call for a reversal of a policy that will see more than 5000 students repeat their levels.

Ogunjimi James Taiwo sent this in by email

PHCN’s broken pole endangers lives in Awka, By Uduchukwu Chukwuemerie

 

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Hello Editor,

Please help me to alert the Power Holding Company of Nigeria PLC, PHCN, Awka District, that this almost fallen electricity Pole in the picture above is endangering the lives of the people at Akoyeli Street, Awka in Awka-South LGA of Anambra State.

If not quickly and safely removed, the lives of people in the area is at great risk because the pole is close to the ground.

The pole lost its foundation as a result of the ongoing road project in the area.

It was expected that PHCN would successfully relocate all electric poles in the area before the road project commenced but they failed to do so.

The pole is located at Akoyeli Street very close to Choice Hotels, Awka.

Thanks for your understanding.

Yours Sincerely,

Uduchukwu Chukwuemerie,
07086381290.