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EFCC raids ex-governor’s residence, uncovers 21 exotic vehicles

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ECONOMIC and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) operatives have raided the country home of former Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari over the ongoing probe of his tenure, The Nation learnt on Monday.

The EFCC team also searched the houses of Yari’s brother Jafaru and his intimate friend, Sha’aya Mafara.

About 21 exotic vehicles were found in the compound of Yari, former chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) until he left office on May 29.

Yari’s interrogation will determine how the vehicles were acquired, sources told The Nation.

Yari, who was out of the country at the time of the raid on Sunday, has been invited by the commission.

The former governor is being investigated for alleged questionable payment of N19 billion  from the London-Paris Club refund; N35 billion spent on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); Ecological and Stabilisation Fund and how he incurred N151, 190,477,572.02 liabilities on ongoing projects.

EFCC operatives from Sokoto Zonal Office deployed 15 operatives in Yari’s country home in Talata Marafa. The EFCC has been on the trail of the governor since 2017 but he enjoyed immunity while in office.

A source, who pleaded not to be named, said: “The raid of Yari’s home was in connection with the ongoing investigation of the former governor. He has some issues to clarify on his tenure.

“Most of the issues have been in public domain for a while, especially the alleged questionable payment of N19 billion from the London-Paris Club refund to some consultants by the NGF and mismanagement of Zamfara State’s resources.

“We are not pronouncing him guilty but we want him to appear for interrogation on some of the issues we have highlighted for investigation.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “Such a raid is allowed when we have superior intelligence on a Politically Exposed Person (PEP).

“For instance, our operatives uncovered 21 exotic vehicles in his compound. Yet, we have an allegation that a part of the N35 billion budgeted for IDPs in Zamfara was used to buy choice cars.

“The intelligence at our disposal made our operatives to search the houses of Jafaru Yari, the ex-governor’s brother and his intimate friend, Sha’aya Mafara. In fact, Yari’s brother was at his residence when our team got there.

“The onus is on Yari to explain how he came about the exotic vehicles; whether or not he declared them in his Asset Declaration Form; and if these vehicles were in his exit Asset Form as a former governor in May.

“Once he is able to justify the acquisition of the vehicles, the EFCC has no problem with Yari. Otherwise, he has a question to answer.”

The source said some suspects were facing trial over the London-Paris Club refunds.

The source said: “We need Yari to come to our office to explain his roles. He was central to the negotiation and disbursement of the funds.

“Some suspects are already on trial. A few others escaped abroad. But since Yari has no immunity again, let him just clarify a few things.

“We are hopeful he will honour our invitation.”

EFCC’s  Acting Head of Media and Publicity Mr. Tony Orilade, said: “It is true we went to the house of the former governor of Zamfara State, Yari, in respect of the ongoing investigation.

“Like we have always said, we won’t discuss our investigation with the media.

“At the appropriate time, when the investigation is ripe, we shall proceed to prosecution and we shall carry the media along.”

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POLITICS

Release political prisoners, Secondus tells Buhari

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The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Uche Secondus, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to release “political prisoners”.

Addressing reporters yesterday on the side-line of a visit to Adamawa State Governor Ahmadu Fintiri at the Government House in Yola, Secondus said there should be no room for political prisoners in a democracy.

He said: “We ask President Buhari to release political prisoners. It is not done in any political dispensation. What we are seeing today is as if we are in a military era. He should urgently release political prisoners and allow a political atmosphere and a country where there is freedom of speech.”

Urging the media to take the lead in the campaign for free speech, Secondus added: “I want to call on journalists and media managers not to sit on the fence. They can’t just sit and watch the country sliding. They played a major role in the past, removing the country from the hands of the military. They have tempered with some among them. It is time for them to join hands with the good people of Nigeria to stand on the path of truth, on the path of democracy.”

The PDP National Chairman stressed that freedom of conscience must be allowed in a political environment.

He alluded to the arrest of Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of the Africa Action Congress (AAC) in the last election and Convener of the #RevolutionNowMovement.

Secondus said: “The President must release political prisoners, particularly the presidential candidate of AAC, Sowore.”

The PDP chieftain, who said his party’s leadership was in Adamawa State to commiserate with Fintiri on the death of his father, enjoined the people to support the governor to record high performance.

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POLITICS

BMO to Atiku: you, not Buhari, impoverished Nigerians

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Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is directly responsible for the pauperisation of millions of Nigerians as head of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP), the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) said on Tuesday.

It said this contradicted his claims that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration ruined the country.

In a statement by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO noted that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election is again pushing a false narrative to fool undiscerning Nigerians.

“We are not surprised that the former Vice-President has jumped on a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report issued last month to take a swipe at a man he clearly considers as his nemesis.

“The UN body had noted that slightly over 98 million Nigerians were living in multi-dimensional poverty, but, as usual, the PDP presidential candidate did not fully grasp the details before launching an attack on President Buhari,” the statement said.

It added: “The report indicated that about 46 per cent of Nigerians were poor as at today, but Atiku Abubakar needs to be reminded that   60.9 per cent of Nigerians, or 100 million people, were living below the poverty threshold in 2010, and 120 million in 2012, according to the World Bank, which is the body that provides a global poverty headcount.

“Interestingly, the period the country had an exponential spike in the number of people living below $1 a day was during the 16 unbroken years that the former Vice-President’s party held sway in Nigeria.”

BMO also noted that the PDP stalwart created the pathway for Nigeria’s struggle with poverty alongside his then principal, Olusegun Obasanjo, with the less than transparent privatisation he presided over.

“It is not a secret that Alhaji Abubakar was the executor-in-chief of what has gone down in the annals of the nation as a major heist of the nation’s assets, an action that later pitched him against former President Obasanjo.

“He literally sold off several government-owned enterprises for less than their market values to his cronies to strip and cannibalise, and in the process, tens of thousands of workers were denied their livelihood and laid off without benefits. It is also on record that he kept one of the prized assets (Onne Port) to himself.

“Or, does he also have to be reminded of the period when the nation’s Education sector virtually collapsed but that was when he and former President Obasanjo established high profile private secondary and tertiary institutions?

“So, if Atiku is searching for the person who plunged Nigerians into multi-dimensional poverty, he should just look into the nearest mirror, or maybe he could tell us how many people he drove into penury and how many had their pensions paid, even after the terminal date of the Obasanjo administration.

“In case he missed the latest news, the Buhari administration, through its Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), has paid the outstanding severance package of over 1,500 verified eligible former workers and next-of-kin of deceased former workers of Savannah Sugar Company.

“The former Vice-President cannot say he has forgotten that these workers were not paid their benefits when they were disengaged in 2002, after the company was privatised.

“This is just one out of many examples of how President Buhari has been cleaning up the mess left by Atiku and his party’s leaders, who have not shown any form of remorse but are rather prepared to also insult the sensibilities of Nigerians.”

The BMO urged the former Vice-President to heed the advice of his former boss and seek proper forgiveness from Nigerians for the harm he did the country.

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President Buhari to inaugurate ministers August 21

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The 43 ministers-designate are to be inaugurated on Agust 21 by President Muhammadu Buhari, a statement by Babatunde Lawal, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs Office in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Ahead of their inauguration, ministers-designate are scheduled to undergo a two-day induction retreat at the State House Conference Room, Presidential Villa beginning from August 19.

The statement reads: “The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, invites all ministers-designate, head of the civil service of the federation, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries (specifically invited) to a two-day induction retreat to be presided over by his excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the retreat earlier publicised has been rescheduled.”

The objectives of the retreat, he said, include:

  • build a strong platform for synergy and teamwork, sensitise appointees on the status of the implementation of policies, programmes and projects of government from 2015 till date
  • acquaint the appointees with the roadmap for delivery of government’s priorities and next level agenda (2019-2023).
  • deepen the understanding of participants on best practices in conducting government business.

The statement said attendance at both events is mandatory and strictly by invitation.

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