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Economy

Reps probe alleged $5bn diversion by CBN

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…As EFCC releases Innoson boss, accuses him of N1.4bn fraud***

The House of Representatives alleged on Wednesday that over $5bn had been diverted by the Central Bank of Nigeria from the Federation Account.

The House further stated that part of the money was kept in “secret accounts” known only to the apex bank.

In a resolution it passed in Abuja, the House set up an ad hoc committee to investigate several cases of non-remittances and under-remittances of revenue to the federation account by the apex bank.

A member of the All Progressives Congress from Osun State, Mrs. Ayo Omidiran, had raised the issue in plenary under matters of urgent national importance and called for urgent investigations.

Omidiran noted that the federation account was jointly owned by the three tiers of government, but managed solely by the CBN.

However, she informed the House that the CBN took advantage of being the custodian of the account to “manipulate the system by opening various accounts not known to the three tiers of government.”

She added, “Funds are remitted, hidden, diverted and spent without authorisation.”

The lawmaker observed that the $5bn would make some remarkable impact if it was used to fund the 2018 budget.

Omidiran cited some instances of the alleged diversion. She said in 2014, the sum of $339m was moved out, while in the next year, it was $446.3m.

She added that in 2015, $1.3bn was diverted out of the account in connection with Joint Venture operations.

“In March of 2016, $1.6bn was diverted to a secret account. There are others,” Omidiran told the House.

She added that the CBN abused its role of converting FOREX to naira by under-declaring the amount due to the federation account.

Omidiran told the House that such irregularities had accounted for the frequent postponement of the Federation Account Committee meetings in recent times.

She expressed surprise that the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation had not reported the alleged infractions for investigation.

In the meantime, the Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, on Wednesday, quizzed the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, over the arrest of the Chairman/Managing Director of Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, Chief Innocent Chukwuma.

Magu, who appeared before the committee to defend the EFCC’s proposed budget for 2018, was questioned behind closed doors for about 30 minutes.

Stepping out of the venue, the EFCC boss confirmed to journalists that Chukwuma was arrested by the anti-graft agency.

He, however, declined to make further comments, promising that the commission would release a statement on the matter soon.

The EFCC later released Chukwuma on bail but accused him and his brother, Charles, of alleged involvement in a N1.4bn fraud.

Earlier on Wednesday, members of the Senate took turns to criticise the EFCC for the manner in which the industrialist was picked up on Tuesday in Enugu.

The lawmakers accused EFCC of highhandedness and adopting military approach in the execution of its duties.

They therefore mandated the Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption to investigate the matter and report back to the chamber on Thursday.

The Senate, however, rejected an additional prayer by Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, which was seconded by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, that the Committee on Women Affairs should investigate the alleged assault on Chwukuma’s wife by the EFCC operatives.

The lawmakers added the task to the terms of reference of the probe panel.

Operatives of the EFCC had stormed Chukwuma’s home at Savage Crescent in the GRA area of Enugu on Tuesday, during which some of the senators alleged that his wife was assaulted before the businessman was arrested forcefully.

The EFCC operatives, who were said to be accompanied by heavily armed policemen, stormed the building around 7.30am.

At the plenary on Wednesday, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, raised a point of order to criticise the EFCC for the arrest, which according to him, is a private matter between a bank and its customer.

“If we reduce our security agencies to agencies of debt recovery, then we are doomed as a nation,” he stated.

Ekweremadu added, “I will like to seek your indulgence to raise the matter of Mr. Innocent Chukwuma, who we call ‘Innoson’, by the EFCC over a matter between Mr. Chukwuma and the Guaranty Trust Bank.”

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Economy

Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges

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Sanwo-Olu Urges Use of Innovative Technologies in Solving Challenges

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has called for the use of innovative technologies in resolving the economic and social challenges of the country.

Sanwo-Olu said this on Wednesday during the pioneer graduation of the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy (LJLA) at Konga Place in Lekki.

He said that the new platform of globalisation and Internet of things must be significantly employed to resolve new challenges encountered in the course of improving the living standards of citizens.

30 students, 15 men and 15 women, between 18 and 35 years, graduated from the academy after a one-year course and mentorship in leadership.

The Lagos Leadership Summit (LLS) is a pivotal platform dedicated to empowering Nigeria’s young professionals with the skills and insights essential for success in various leadership roles.

With a focus on leadership excellence, ethical governance, and youth inclusion in governance, the summit offers a unique opportunity for participants to engage with renowned leaders and industry experts.

” You have to be able to innovate for us, you are here as leaders of not tomorrow but today. Proffer solutions that the government can use as a tool, to solve the challenges that we are facing today but more importantly to solve global issues.

“And that is why we started the Lateef Jakande Leadership Academy. For us as a government, we felt how well can we honour a man than for us in public sector to set up a cream of new leaders.

“So we set up this school that has the first set, the one-year fellowship, who indeed have not only shown us that we took the right step, they have been outstanding individuals,” the governor said.

The guest speaker and former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, noted that it was important for followers to trust their leaders for a successful outcome.

“The people need to trust the government, they must know the capability of their leaders so that when issues beyond human expectations happen, the followers can show empathy to the plight of their leaders.

” I have always been an advocate that believes that the process is as important as the result, the end shouldn’t justify the means, the process is crucial, it serves as a blueprint for others coming behind,” he said.

Similarly, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, Deputy Governor, who spoke on “Leadership And Community Engagement”, stated that to achieve effective leadership in Nigeria, there was the need to navigate complex political, economic and social landscapes.

Hamzat urged the citizens to be involved in governance while stressing the need for collaborations with private stakeholders and the public sector.

According to him, community engagement with government at all levels is pivotal to the nation’s development.

In her address, Mrs Ayisat Agbaje-Okunade, LIJA’s Executive Secretary, noted that the challenges faced required leaders who are not only capable but compassionate, visionary, and adaptable.

According to her, leadership must transcend rhetoric and manifest tangible outcomes.

“We need leaders who inspire confidence, foster unity, and drive transformation.”

Agbaje-Okunade urged the participants to embrace the responsibility that comes with leadership and pave the way for a generation of new leaders.

The keynote speaker, Mr Abubakar Suleiman, Chief Executive Officer, Sterling Bank, said that leadership is about leading people on a new purposeful journey.

Suleiman said being a strategic thinker and a transformational leader was what makes leadership different from management, adding that the future is being crafted in leadership.

“In essence, as a leader, you must be able to lead people to the future hence, you must be convincing for people to be bold to follow you, able to trust and believe in you.

“For one to be a leader, the people must be able to believe and trust you to take them to the future where you have never been to,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Tunbosun Alake, Commissioner, Innovation, Science and Technology, stressed that leadership had nothing to do with being young or old but having good values and character.

The commissioner advised the participants to pursue excellence in their various career paths to succeed in life.

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Economy

Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu Urges Sacrifice, Integrity For National Rebirth

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Eid-el-Fitr: Tinubu urges sacrifice, integrity for national rebirth

 President Bola Tinubu has urged Nigerians to continue to make sacrifices and exhibit integrity for national development.

Tinubu said this after observing the Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Eid Ground at Dodon Barracks on Wednesday in Lagos.

The President also called on Nigerians to continue to have faith in his government and remain patriotic citizens.

Tinubu said that the Renewed Hope Agenda of his administration, aimed at bringing prosperity to Nigerians, was being diligently implemented.

Encouraging Muslims to extend the values of sacrifice and resilience beyond the fasting period, Tinubu emphasised the need for Nigerians to prioritise the exhibition of love for their country.

‘’The resilience and sacrifice that we have shown and made during these months should be preserved.

“Be a kind and cheerful giver. We must love our country more than any other country because this is the only one we have.

‘’We must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The Renewed Hope Agenda is alive, well and fine, and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful. Without hope, there is no salvation.

“Without hope, there is no development. Without hope, there is no life. Eid Mubarak,’’ the President said at the end of the prayers led by the Chief Imam of Lagos State, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla.

Earlier in his sermon, the Chief Imam urged Nigerians to shun all acts of violence, ensure peaceful co-existence, and continue to have faith in the country.

He asked those in leadership positions to remain faithful to their oaths of office and work towards alleviating the suffering of the less privileged.

‘‘Let us not forget our brothers and sisters in Gaza and other areas of conflict,’’ the Chief Imam said.

He offered prayers of God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection for the President and the Lagos State government, as well as for peace and stability in the country.

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Economy

Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

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Lawmaker Secures Release of 4 Persons Involved in Illegal Arms Manufacturing in Delta

Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta), on Wednesday, disclosed that he had secured the release of four family members involved in manufacturing arms at the Onicha-Olona Illegal Arms Factory in Delta.

Nwoko representing Delta North Senatorial District, who disclosed this in an interview in Abuja, said that the release of the four persons was through collaborative efforts.

On March 12, troops of 63 Brigade, Asaba, uncovered an illegal arms manufacturing factory in Onicha-Olona, Delta North Senatorial District and arrested eight family members in connection with the crime.

Nwoko disclosed that efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“Following my recent visit to the headquarters of 63 Brigade, Asaba and productive discussions with the Brigade Commander, I am pleased to announce progress in addressing the situation regarding the illegal arms factory discovered in the Onicha-Olona community, Delta.

“Efforts have been made to ensure fair treatment for those involved, balancing justice with the opportunity for rehabilitation and contribution to society.

“I am pleased to reveal that through collaborative efforts, I have successfully secured the release of four family members implicated in the illegal activity.

“However, our commitment to upholding the law remains unwavering, and endeavours continue for fair judgment and potential pardon for the remaining four individuals,” he said.

The lawmaker stressed that the underlying issue highlighted by the discovery, however, remained of paramount importance.

“We must seize the opportunity to redirect the talents demonstrated by those involved towards lawful and productive endeavours.

“The young man in the family, known for his passion and ability to build drones, exemplifies this potential.

“His skills should be harnessed and put to good use,” he said.

Nwoko added that the Industrial Revolution served as a pertinent historical precedent where individual efforts catalysed transformative change and made possible by governments that created conducive environments.

“We can emulate this model here. We can provide support and opportunities for talented individuals like the young drone builder, and stimulate a new wave of innovation and economic growth in Nigeria.

“As previously stated, Nigeria’s economy faces significant challenges exacerbated by escalating imports, particularly in the realm of arms and weaponry.

“Therefore, we must harness our indigenous talents for the greater good and bolster our local industries,” he said.

Nwoko further said that the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), as well as the Ministry of Science and Technology, have crucial roles to play in this regard.

According to him, by engaging with individuals possessing such skills, we can offer them legal avenues for their expertise to flourish.

“The aim is not only to prevent the proliferation of illegal arms or other weapons manufacturing but also to channel these talents towards legitimate industries for national development.

“I reiterate the need for the government to support and integrate such offenders with specialised skills and talents into the formal economy.

“This initiative should focus on recognising their capabilities and providing opportunities for them to contribute to the development of our local indigenous technology.

“As noted earlier, an individual capable of modifying an AK-47 magazine, originally designed to hold 30 rounds, to accommodate 60 rounds using rudimentary equipment, holds immense potential for greater achievements.

”Such individual can do more with proper legal support and access to adequate resources.”

He disclosed that he was committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partnering with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.

“I am committed to proposing or supporting a new law aimed at assisting talented and skilful individuals involved in illegal activities and also partner with law enforcement agencies in these endeavours.”

“They have the intelligence and insights of the potential beneficiaries of this “amnesty” drive towards creating a new cadre of indigenous technologists.

“This law would establish an agency dedicated to providing government support and resources to rehabilitate and engage these individuals in legal and productive activities.

“I tentatively suggest naming this proposed law the “National Talent Rehabilitation and Integration Act”.

“This legislation will not only focus on rehabilitation but also on harnessing the skills and talents of offenders for the benefit of society.

“By providing a structured environment and necessary support, this agency will facilitate the transition of individuals from illicit activities to lawful and productive ventures.

”And they will be contributing to both their personal rehabilitation and national development,” Nwoko added.

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