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DASUKIGATE: Doyin Okupe in N1.6 billion cyber security scam

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  • As Court Grants Metuh N400m Bail

Two companies linked to Doyin Okupe, a former media aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, got at least N1.6 billion off the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, in three shady cyber security contracts, PREMIUM TIMES investigations have shown.

One of the contracts had instructions to hunt down unfriendly media websites with Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
It was a project conceived to shut down online media platforms perceived as friendly to Buhari or critical of Mr. Jonathan ahead of the 2015 election.
The other was a contract to intercept all optic fibre cables landing in Nigeria. The third was a passive mass and target GSM interception that had the ability to decrypt ciphers and operate undetected.

Mr. Okupe, a former Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to Mr, Jonathan, has so far evaded scrutiny in the ongoing arms contracting scandal where the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, is charged for allegedly mismanaging funds meant for the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeast region.
The government believes Mr. Dasuki’s actions led to the death of thousands of Nigerians and hundreds of Nigerian troops in the hands of Boko Haram fighters.
The contracts awarded Mr. Okupe’s close allies reinforces claims that the former NSA merely doled out cash and contracts to cronies and political associates and violated procurement regulations in the process.

In the three contracts investigated by PREMIUM TIMES, the NSA did not prioritize efficiency or due process and value for money in the awarding process. Rather, there was a pattern of hurried release of cash. In one instance, full contract sums were paid before delivery of products – and insiders claim product was never delivered.
In the three contracts, the NSA paid more than double the actual amounts of items purchased and relied on single source when it could have opened up the contract to competitive bidding.

On June 13, 2014, in the heat of the 2015 presidential elections campaigns, Romix Technologies Ltd, registered as an offshore and anonymous company in Cyprus, received N398 million – two million US dollars – payment from the Office of the National Security Adviser in Nigeria.
That was a part payment for a cyber-hooliganism contract that would later cost Nigeria $2.6 million.
The sum was wired to Romix technologies Ltd’s bank account account held with Luemi Private Bank in Zurich, Switzerland in June 2014.

The contract for which Romix Technologies was paid N398 million was merely explained as “supply and installation of cyber intelligence system software at the office of the National Security Adviser.”
The specific software was not stated. But PREMIUM TIMES investigations revealed that the true nature of the contract was to acquire tools to carry out Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on websites believed to be critical of Mr. Jonathan, ahead of the elections.

The actual purchase was a DDoS service called “The Systems” offered by Packets Technologies AD, an Israeli company operating out of Bulgaria.
Its job was simple – attack and bring down websites the NSA felt was not sympathetic to the administration of Goodluck Jonathan. This they did by flooding target website servers with malicious traffic.

In the meantime, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Mr. Olisa Metuh, N400 million bail and two sureties.

Metuh, who was brought to court from Kuje Prison with handcuffs on Tuesday, had last week applied for bail  after claiming innocence of the N400 million fraud charge preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, in his ruling, said the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty and therefore deserves bail.

Abang also countered the allegations that the defendant tore his statement while under EFCC custody, and held that such allegation was yet to be ascertained.

Against this backdrop, the judge granted the PDP spokesman bail but with the most stringent conditions since the trials bordering on the $2.1 billion fund allegedly meant for the procurement of arms by the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), started.
He said: “I have again carefully considered the provision of section 162 of the Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) Act 2015, and the counter affidavit by the respondent.
“The court of law cannot act on speculation. The allegations against the applicant by the EFCC cannot be used to deny the defendant bail.”

Justice Abang went further to list the conditions for the bail including; a bail bond of N400 million, two sureties, who must be resident in Abuja and owners of a property in Maitama, Abuja, with statutory registration of occupancy.

“The certificate of occupancy (Cof O) must be verified by the Chief Judge of the FHC,” he noted.
The Justice also ordered that the EFCC must within 24 hours verify the property in writing to the court.
•    “The sureties must also deposit his three years tax clearance to the court, an affidavit of means and two passport photographs,” he added .

•    He directed that Metuh is to also deposit his travel documents with the court.
The judge however in his ruling refused to grant bail to Metuh based on self-recognition, saying this was part of effort by the court to balance arguments by both parties.

Before the ruling,  the defence counsel, Chris Uche (SAN), had argued against the allegations of his client tearing his statement.
Uche noted that the EFCC since making its allegation have failed to produce evidence of the torn statements before the court.
He also said the commission had in paragraph five of their pool of evidence noted that investigation into Metuh’s matter has been “substantially concluded.”

“My lord, it may be pertinent to note that the respondent made a very vague allegation that the defendant tore some pages of his statement,” Uche said.

Citing Section 162 of the ACJ Act, the lawyer said a respondent shall file a charge only when the investigation is concluded.
He, however, insisted that the charge brought before the court by the commission was a bailable offence.

The deference counsel  prayed the court to passionately consider the application. “My lord, even courts have given bail to Dasuki who is said to be the source of the money and even Dokpesi; people whose monetary allegations is more than his own.”
He further argued that his client is a well known Nigerian, being represented by very senior legal representatives and will not jump bail.

Uche also said the second prayer of the applicant was a consequential relief backed by the primary relief.
According to him, the relief was to protect any order made by the court and also avoid any form of ridicule to the orders of the court.
“My lord, the practice these days is when an accused person is brought before the court and granted bail, a fresh charge arises and re-arrested,” Uche said, urging the judge to give a directive that will protect the dignity of the court.

He also decried the state at which Metuh was brought into the court- being under handcuffs.
“My lord, the accused was brought here in handcuffs. The last time he was not brought in handcuffs, did he run?” Uche queried. He made the point that the country is not under military rule, adding that there was no need for such actions.

But the counsel to EFCC, Sylvanus Tahir, in his objection, said the application by the accused person lacks necessary materials.
Tahir said  the charges are offences punishable with a minimum of three years imprisonment. Citing the section 162 paragraph C of the ACJ Act, the Prosecuting Counsel, asked the court to take into cognizant the tendency that if granted bail, the applicant might jump bail.

He also reiterated that the applicant had torn and tried to chew a statement he had written to the commission before his arraignment.
Tahir said all the seven charges against Metuh were based on money laundering and related offences.

•    Objecting to the applicant’s prayer for a directive against the commission if court orders are flouted, Tahir said other offences maybe unearthed during the course of investigation.

•    He said granting Metuh bail would also amount to interference with ongoing investigation by the anti-graft agency.
•    Metuh who has been in detention since January 5, first in the EFCC custody and later in Kuje Prison, will also today know about the fate of his application before the court, where he sought to enforce his fundamental human rights and his release from detention.

•    He was charged alongside his company, Destra Investment Limited, after they were alleged to have collected the sum of N400 million from Dasuki.

•    The PDP has condemned the handcuffing its National Publicity Secretary, Metuh, even when the court is yet to hear his case, describing it as a brazen display of authoritarianism  by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government.
•    In a statement issued by its  National Secretary, Wale Oladipo,  the party said the development has  expectedly elicited widespread public outcry.

It said the act  clearly betrays an extra-judicial, top political witch-hunt policy of the APC, carefully designed to humiliate, embarrass and portray PDP leaders as common criminals and set the stage to cow and decimate opposition and perceived foes of the government.

“The question remains, if not to mortify, dehumanise and break our National Publicity Secretary, who has been very vocal against the APC administration, and of course to send a signal to others critical of the government, what else would have informed the decision to produce him in court in handcuffs, even when his case does not border on security threat?

“Is this an attempt to sway the court and ambush the judicial process against our National Publicity Secretary, all because of his stance against observed ineptitude and dictatorial tendencies of this administration?

“The PDP invites all Nigerians and the international community to note the emerging barefaced abuse of state power and violation of constitutional provisions regarding the arrest, detention and eventual arraignment of our spokesperson.

“Nigerians by now, should be extremely scared that our country is fast drifting into a police state where being in opposition or holding views divergent to that of the government makes one a criminal and an enemy of the state.

“For now, the target of the on-going lopsided war against corruption is the PDP and its leaders. All APC members, including those with known corruption issues are immune from investigation, arrest and prosecution.

The opposition party said it was more worrisome that institutions of government, especially security and corrective agencies have now fallen victims of dictatorial abuses.

“Our fear now is that in no time, ordinary citizens of Nigerians, who in the last 16 years have lived under the rule of law and constitutionally guaranteed personal liberty, would begin to suffer brutality and oppression.

“Under PDP administration, some Nigerians, including APC leader and former Governor of Lagos State, Senator Ahmed Tinubu, were tried but never humiliated; now we see security operatives under this regime being used to crush and humiliate the opposition.

“Finally, while we study the bail conditions, we urge all PDP members to remain calm, united, focused and continue to pray for the nation and her people. We also urge the media to remain on the side of justice, fairness and rule of law and resist the pressure of being used as a tool to promote arbitrariness and abuse of process in the so-called fight against corruption,” PDP said.

Meanwhile the All Progressives Congress (APC) has said it is marveled at  how  PDP continues to blame everyone but itself for its self-inflicted problems which has led to the sorry state the PDP finds itself.

In a statement signed by its National Secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, the ruling party said PDP now sounds like a broken record with its daily conspiracy theories blaming external forces and unseen hands for its electoral misfortunes and on-going probe of some PDP leaders and the immediate-past PDP-led administration.

“The question begging for answers is: Why does the PDP choose to grope in the dark while reality stares it in the face? Did the PDP not know that it will one day pay for the impunity, recklessness and shocking mis-management of the country’s common wealth perpetuated under its watch for 16 years?

“For the record, the APC has no hand in the in-fighting and resultant implosion being witnessed in PDP’s hierarchy. Perhaps the wind of change has blown through the PDP camp and many PDP members realise the need to embrace and enforce change.

The APC reiterates that PDP members who are genuinely inspired by the APC-led administration are welcome to the APC fold. It is their right to abandon a sinking ship and join one that is smooth-sailing,” he said.

PREMIUM TIMES with additional report from THIS DAY

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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