President Donald Trump issued an ominous warning to Iran on Sunday, suggesting that if the Islamic republic attacks American interests, it will be destroyed.
“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump said in a tweet.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise as the United States has deployed a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over what it termed Iranian “threats.” This account has been met with widespread skepticism outside the United States.
The White House has sent mixed signals in recent days, amid multiple US media reports of infighting in Trump’s cabinet over how hard to push Washington’s arch foe Iran.
The Trump administration has ordered non-essential diplomatic staff out of Iraq, citing threats from Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups, and sent an aircraft carrier and heavy B-52 bombers to the region.
On Sunday, a Katyusha rocket was fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone housing government offices and embassies including the US mission. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
According to US media reports, Trump’s long-hawkish national security advisor John Bolton is pushing a hard line on Iran, but others in the administration are resisting.
Trump himself said recently that he has to “temper” Bolton.
Iran’s foreign minister downplayed the prospect of a new war in the region on Saturday, saying Tehran opposed it and no party was under the “illusion” the Islamic republic could be confronted.
“We are certain… there will not be a war since neither we want a war nor does anyone have the illusion they can confront Iran in the region,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told state-run news agency IRNA at the end of a visit to China.
Iran-US relations hit a new low last year as US Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed unilateral sanctions that had been lifted in exchange for Tehran scaling back its nuclear program.
Saudi Arabia called Sunday for emergency regional talks to discuss the mounting Gulf tensions, saying that it does not want war with Iran but is ready to defend itself.
It comes days after mysterious sabotage attacks on several tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and drone strikes on a Saudi crude pipeline by Yemen rebels who Riyadh claimed were acting on Iranian orders.
King Salman invited Gulf leaders and Arab League member states to two emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences”, the kingdom’s official SPA news agency reported late Saturday.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said Sunday his country does not want to go to war with Iran but would defend itself.
Saudi Arabia “does not want a war, is not looking for it and will do everything to prevent it,” he said.
“But at the same time, if the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with strength and determination to defend itself and its interests.”
Oil producing countries met Sunday in Saudi Arabia to discuss how to stabilise a volatile oil market amid the rising US-Iran tensions, which threaten to disrupt global supply.
Oil supplies are sufficient and stockpiles still rising despite massive output drops from Iran and Venezuela, said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said at the meeting in Jeddah.
– ‘Childish regimes’ –
Qatar Sunday weighed in on the escalating tensions, saying it did not believe the US or Iran wanted a war in the region.
“US President Donald Trump has said he does not want war, and I do not think Iran wants war or instability in the region,” minister of state for foreign affairs Sultan al-Muraikhi told AFP on the sidelines of a Qatar Fund for Development briefing.
“I think if we move away from the childish regimes in the region, all troubles will be settled.”
Muraikhi said Doha — which remains isolated by neighbouring former allies in a long-running diplomatic dispute — has not yet received a formal invitation to either meeting.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt are among the countries that cut ties with Qatar in June 2017 over accusations it supports terrorism and seeks closer ties with Tehran.
Four ships including two Saudi oil tankers were damaged in mysterious sabotage attacks last Sunday off the UAE’s Fujairah, near the Strait of Hormuz — a vital maritime route for oil exports which Iran has threatened to close in the event of a war.
That incident was followed by drone strikes Tuesday claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned rebels on a major Saudi oil pipeline built as an alternative export route if the Strait of Hormuz were to be closed.
Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of ordering the pipeline attacks, targeting “the security of oil supplies… and the global economy”.
Magu Re-Looted Interest On ₦550 Billion — Report
A presidential panel that Investigated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s handling of recovered loot, has “seriously indicted” the acting chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, the News Agency of Nigeria reported Saturday.
Mr Magu was arrested on Tuesday and has since then been interrogated by a panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami on allegations of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by the commission.
He was later suspended and has remained in custody since then.
In his first public reaction to the Magu case, President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday said there were serious allegations of fraud against the EFCC chief, and the administration acted after a preliminary review of the accusations.
“There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system,” the president said through his spokesperson, Garba Shehu.
Citing the report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2017, the state-owned news agency, NAN, said there was a revelation how interests on N550 billion recovered by the EFCC in the period under review was allegedly re-looted.
NAN said the panel’s report that covered the period of May 29, 2015, to Nov. 22, 2018, also confirmed the concerns of the public about contradictory recovery figures emanating from Mr Magu.
“It is quite disturbing that conflicting figures are being circulated in the public space by EFCC as the amount of recovered funds,” it quoted the report as saying.
“For Foreign currency recoveries, EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.
“These inconsistencies cast a serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.
“While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgments were N543,511,792,863.47. These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgment exceeded its reported recoveries by N39,357,608,119.43.
“It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than thirty nine billion naira does not include interest accrued in this account since it was opened.
“It therefore cast serious doubt on the credibility of the figures and means that substantial amount of money has not been accurately accounted for.
“Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgments clearly establishes that interest element of over N550 billion has been re-looted relating to the period under review.
“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts,’’ the report stated in part.
NAN also reports that the report revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Mr Magu.
“The NFIU reports established that the Acting Chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases collecting bribes from suspects.
The report said a particular Bureau de Change linked to the Acting Chairman based in Kaduna has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of funds.
It also said N28 million was paid to a senior lawyer who is a close associate of the Acting Chairman.
NAN reports that the Salami probe panel is expected to continue sitting on Monday while Mr Magu’s lawyer, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, had on Friday applied for an administrative bail for his client, who is facing corruption and other charges before the panel.
Magu Used ‘Pastor’ To Buy ₦573 Million Property In Dubai — Report
A report by the Presidential Probe Panel has revealed details of how the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, allegedly used a cleric to launder funds abroad.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Magu is currently being interrogated by the panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami over allegations of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by the commission.
A copy of the report made available to NAN on Saturday in Abuja said one Pastor Emmanuel Omale of Hand of God Prophetic Ministry was used by Magu in laundering the funds.
Omale’s name was uncovered through an investigative report on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), and mentioned in the final report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA).
According to the report, the unknown clergy is alleged to have bought a landed property on behalf of Magu worth N573 million in Dubai, United Arab Emirate.
“Another individual who is helping in laundering funds for the Acting Chairman and who has been referred to in several petitions is one Pastor Emmanuel Omale (Hand of God Prophetic Ministry).
“He is reported to have travelled to Dubai with Mr Magu and his name was used in purchasing property in Dubai for Mr Magu.
“As an unknown pastor, the NFIU’s report showed huge movement of funds ranging from N573,228,040.41,’’ the report said.
NAN also gathered that efforts had been intensified to expose the real identity of the Pastor with a view to arraigning him for prosecution, if found culpable.
On the Diezani Alison Madueke case, the PCARA Report accused Magu of failure to cooperate with authorities in the United Kingdom to facilitate effective prosecution of the case.
“In the Diezani Alison Madueke case, the Acting Chairman is failing to further cooperate with the UK NCA to enable them charge the Former Minister to court in the UK.
“The Acting Chairman despite his knowledge that Mrs Madueke will not be extradited to Nigeria until after her trial in the UK, has consistently been accusing the UK government on the pages of print and electronic media of not wanting to extradite her to Nigeria,’’ the report maintained.
Magu was also accused of deliberately refusing to provide documentary evidence that would make the office of the nation’s Attorney-General to commence the extradition process of Diezani Madueke.
“This has strained the EFCC relationship with Europe most strategic partner,’’ the report further observed.
NAN reports that Magu, who is being held at the Police headquarters, Abuja, is expected to reappear before the Salami probe panel on Monday, to defend himself against several allegations.
Nigeria’s AGF, Malami Buys N300m Mansion For Newlywedded Son; Social Distancing Guidelines Flouted During Lavish Wedding
Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has purchased a N300m mansion in Abuja as a gift to his son who recently got married, Sahara Reporters reliably gathered.
The online news platform reports that Malami’s son, Abdul Aziz, who graduated from a university in Cyprus in 2018, is known among his circle to lead a flamboyant lifestyle purportedly fuelled by public funds at the disposal of his father, who remains one of the most powerful and influential figures in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was also reported by SR that guests at the wedding ceremony of Abdul Aziz, were seen in a video of the pomp occasion dancing and communicating close to one another without wearing face masks while spraying wads of US dollars and naira notes on the newly married couple, in clear violation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) directive on social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
Recall that part of the NCDC guidelines forbids social events like weddings where there are more than 20 persons in attendance.
But the video of the ceremony published by SaharaReporters on Friday clearly showed more than the stipulated number of persons at that ceremony.
Also, the open spraying of wads of cash at the event violates the Central Bank of Nigeria’s rule, which forbids anyone from abusing the naira by spraying and stepping on them in public.
Despite breaking the law in these regards, notwithstanding the fact he is Nigeria’s chief law officer, findings by SaharaReporters revealed that Malami had already made arrangements for a sizeable number of private jets to fly dignitaries from Abuja, Kano and Lagos to Kebbi State on Saturday for the second leg of the wedding where more display of opulence and gross disregard for the NCDC guidelines are expected to be showcased.
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