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US Exposes Buhari’s Plan To Pay APC Governor $100 Million From Abacha Loot

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A plot by the Buhari-led federal government to pay an APC governor $100 million from the Abacha loot has been uncovered.

The United States Department of Justice says the Federal Government led by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, is blocking attempts to recover Abacha loot traced to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.

The DoJ made the claim in court papers filed before the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, Bloomberg reports.

The PUNCH reports that Bagudu, who is a close ally of Buhari and a prominent member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, was indicted by the US Government for helping the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, to transfer billions of dollars in the mid-90s.

According to documents from the DoJ, Bagudu spent six months in federal detention in Texas while awaiting extradition to the Island of Jersey.

However, before he was handed over to criminal trial in Jersey, he quickly agreed to return $163m to Nigeria and was released on bond to Nigeria, where he was meant to be prosecuted for money laundering.

However, on returning to Nigeria, he was cleared to contest in three different election cycles – once as a senator and twice as governor – all of which he won and now enjoys immunity.

In a report published by Bloomberg, on Friday, it was stated that the US Department of Justice says the Nigerian government is preventing the US from seizing Bagudu’s alleged loot.

“The DoJ also contends that the Nigerian government is hindering US efforts to recover allegedly laundered money it says it’s traced to Bagudu. Buhari’s administration says a 17-year-old agreement entitles Bagudu to the funds and prevents Nigeria from assisting the US, according to recent filings from the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington,” the report stated.

According to the report, the disagreement may hamper future cooperation between Nigeria and the US to recover state money moved offshore by Abacha, whom Transparency International estimates may have looted as much as $5bn during his 1993-98 rule.

“A commitment by Nigeria to transfer the funds to Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Bagudu appears to undermine Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to quell rampant graft in Africa’s top oil producer,” the report stated.

Neither Bagudu nor a spokesman for the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), responded to requests for comment.

A spokesman for Buhari said the settlement and the litigation were matters for Malami.

A spokesman for the DoJ declined to comment.

Successive Nigerian governments have sought to recoup the money looted by Abacha, who died in office, and have so far repatriated more than $2bn with the cooperation of other countries, according to US court filings.

The DoJ said in a February 3 statement that Bagudu, 58, was part of a network controlled by Abacha that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.”

Bagudu is the chairman of an influential body of governors representing the ruling All Progressives Congress, Buhari’s party.

“Despite the forfeiture action being initiated following a Nigerian state request in 2012, Buhari’s government now says it can’t assist the US because it’s bound by a settlement Bagudu reached with the administration of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, according to the court filings,” the report states.

Under the terms of that accord, which was approved by a UK court, Bagudu returned $163m of allegedly laundered money to the Nigerian authorities, which in exchange dropped all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him “stemming from his involvement in government corruption,” according to a December 23 memorandum opinion by District Judge John D. Bates in Washington D.C.

That meant “Nigeria renounced any interest whatsoever” in Bagudu’s trust assets, including those the US is attempting to recover for the West African nation, the opinion stated.

Bagudu was able to return to Nigeria after concluding the settlement and was elected as a senator in 2009. Six years later, he was voted in as Kebbi’s governor in elections that brought Buhari and his party to power.

After Bagudu successfully sued Nigeria for violating the 2003 settlement, Buhari’s regime reached a new agreement with him in October 2018, according to the court filings.

“That would result in the transfer of ownership of the investment portfolios, worth 141m euros ($155m) to the Nigerian state, which would then pay 98.5 million euros to Bagudu and his affiliates, according to Bates’ December 23 opinion. The funds are currently restrained by the UK at the request of the US,” it added.

Nigeria’s government claims the updated 2018 agreement with the Kebbi governor, which requires court approval in the UK, will “curtail and mitigate its looming exposure” from the judgment in Bagudu’s favor.

Buhari’s administration submitted the 2018 deal to the UK court in September to support its application to unfreeze the assets so they can be sent to Nigeria, according to the opinion. The court has yet to make a decision.

Source: The PUNCH

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Inside Nigeria

Northern States Back FG On Schools’ Closure

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Education commissioners in the 19 Northern States have resolved to reopen schools only when it is safe to do so, following the spike in cases of COVID-19.

The commissioners in a communique in Kaduna on Saturday, after a virtual meeting to consider schools reopening and other issues to strengthen the education sector, said keeping schools closed in the face of the spike in COVID-19 cases across the country was a sure step to ensure that children remained safe.

The communique was signed by Dr Shehu Makarfi, Commissioner for Education, Kaduna State, who is also the Chairman of the northern states School Exchange Programme (SEP).

Other participants were his counterparts from Bauchi, Gombe, Niger, Nasarawa, Adamawa, Taraba, Kogi, Kwara, Katsina, Kano, Borno and Jigawa.

The commissioners applauded the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, for taking a decisive stand against school reopening and pledged their full support.

They resolved that “schools should be reopened only when it is safe to do so and when states have complied with the minimum COVID-19 safety protocols as outlined by the NCDC.”

They also said their states would “participate in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and other examinations only when it is safe to reopen schools and when coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Education.”

They planned to carry out holistic assessment of schools to determine safety status for reopening and submit reports to their respective governors for consideration.

They also urged their respective states to take steps to provide critical facilities required for reopening of schools as specified by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

“Schools’ infrastructure, such as dilapidated classrooms, students’ hostels, source of safe water, sanitary facilities, including hand washing equipment and security are critical and should be improved.

“We will equally clear schools of bushes and grasses, as well as fumigate school’s surroundings to support learning and ensure safety when schools resume,” they said.

They, however, appealed to the Federal Government to support states in putting safety measures in place for school reopening.

According to them, many states may not have the financial strength to embark on such a huge capital-intensive project.

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Inside Nigeria

Presidency Breaks Silence Regarding Probe Of Ex-EFCC Boss, Magu

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The Presidency has finally issued a statement regarding the probe of the embattled former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu after nearly two weeks of deafening silence on the matter.

Ibrahim Magu was removed as acting Chairman of the EFCC after he was arrested on the order of a special Presidential panel set up to investigate allegations of corruption and insurbordination against the anti-corruption Czar.

Journalists had been barred from the investigation venue and news regarding the ongoing case against Magu had been from largely unconfirmed sources as the Presidency kept mum on the matter.

Reacting to the investigation of Ibrahim Magu, in a statement, the Presidency said the traivails of the former EFCC boss was an indication that the Federal Government was serious about It’s war on corruption.

Senior special assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said in the statement;

“Those who see Mr Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat.

“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.

Under this President and government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.

“Mr Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.

“No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.”

Mr. Shehu Garba said further that specific, detailed allegations were made against Magu and preliminary Investigations revealed that a detailed investigation was necessary hence the constitution of a Presidential investigative panel.

He thereafter justified the suspension of the anti-corruption Czar saying;

“As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the Chief Executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the Chief Executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.

“The EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.

“Therefore, the suspension of Mr Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.

“The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.

“Meanwhile, Mr Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.

“We must realise that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.

“What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of Accountability and the recognition of the Rule of Law.”

“Therefore, the suspension of Mr Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.

“The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.

“Meanwhile, Mr Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.

“We must realise that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.

“What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of Accountability and the recognition of the Rule of Law.”

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Inside Nigeria

Why I Suspended Magu — Buhari

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Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has explained why he suspended Ibrahim Magu as Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

This was contained in a statement signed by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity).

According to the statement: “A series of documented allegations were made against the Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Following a preliminary review of the allegations leveled against the Ag. Chairman and several other members of his staff, there were grounds for a detailed investigation to be conducted.

“Hence, an investigative panel was constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.

“As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the Chief Executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the Chief Executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.”

Below is the remaining part of the statement:

“The EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.

Therefore, the suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.

The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Mr. Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.

We must realize that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.

What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of Accountability and the recognition of the Rule of Law.

Those who see Mr. Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat.

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.

Under this President and Government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.

Mr. Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.

No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media & Publicity)

July 11, 2020.”

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