Buhari to sign revised 2020 budget today [Sun]

  • 2021 MTEF ready September •As Finance Minister parleys NASS leadership on 2021-2023 FSP

Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, Thursday met with the leadership of the National Assembly on plans to submit the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) later this month.

The Minister while briefing principal officers of the Senate and House of Representatives led by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had given directives for her ministry to expedite action on next year’s budget estimates to enable him present the proposal to the National Assembly by end of September this year.

She further noted that in keeping with the January – December budget cycle, Buhari will today sign into law, the revised N10.8 trillion budget for the year 2020 passed by the National Assembly in June.

“This for us is a journey towards ensuring that the progress that we have made as a collective to return the fiscal year to January – December is maintained for the 2021 budget as well. “The President has directed that we must deliver the budget to the National Assembly by the end of September,” the Finance Minister said.

While giving an update on the 2020 budget implementation between January and May 2020, Ahmed revealed that the Federal Government’s retained revenue was N1.48 trillion, representing just 56 percent of its target.

On revenue generation  she stated that out of government’s  total receipts, oil revenues accounted for N701.6 billion; while non-oil tax revenues stood at N439.32 billion; with Companies Income Tax (CIT) and Value Added Tax (VAT) collections at N213.24 billion and N68.09 billion respectively.  According to her, Customs collection stood at N158 billion.

“Other revenues amounted to N339.51 billion, of which Independent revenues was N80.22 billion. Recoveries and Stamp duty collected during the period are yet to be booked in the fiscal accounts,” Ahmed said.

On expenditure performance for the same period (January – May 2020), she disclosed that N1.25 trillion was expended for debt service; and N1.32 trillion for personnel cost, including pensions.

She also revealed that at the end of May 2020, only N253.33 billion had been released for capital expenditure.

While giving  the underlying assumptions for the macro-economic parameters and targets of the 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, she pointed out that these were “revised in line with the emergent realities.”

She stated that the Oil Price Benchmark for the 2021 fiscal year was pegged at USD$35; and USD$40 for 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Oil Production (mbpd) was placed at 1.86 for 2021, 2.09 for 2022, and 2.38 for the 2022 fiscal year; while the Exchange Rate remains at N360 to USD$1.

Ahmed stressed that, “although Nigeria’s total production capacity is 2.5 million barrels per day, current crude production is about 1.4 million barrels per day – in compliance with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ production quota – and an additional 300,000 barrels per day of condensates, totaling about 1.7mbpd.”She added that while the World Bank forecasts that crude oil prices will rise gradually from an average of USD$42 per barrel in 2021 to USD$44.5 per barrel in 2022; and USD$47pb in 2023, it is also expected that Brent crude oil prices may average $41 per barrel during the second half of 2020 and $50pb during 2021, climbing as high as $53pb  by the end of next year.

“The nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to increase from N130,836.1 billion in 2020 to N132,125.4 billion in 2021 and then up to N138,415.8 billion in 2023,” Ahmed said.

 

Lobby for Magu’s job intensifies [Sun]

  • Retired police DIG, AIG, FCT commissioner favourites

As the probe of the embattled chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, who is believed to have been removed from office, over corruption allegations enters its fifth day, intense lobby has begun for his office.

Sources confirmed to Daily Sun that the EFCC has been thrown into confusion as  two top management officials were in contention over who administers the commission.

“The confusion is not helped as the Presidency is yet to speak on the matter,” the source said.

Although, the Secretary to the Commission is said to be the next in rank to the chairman, it was gathered that being a civilian, he was not favoured to step into the position.

The source said those jostling for the job included retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and Assistant Inspector General (DIG) as well as a serving Commissioner of Police.

It said the weight of allegations against Magu by the AGF and Minister of Justice, and the belief that he may not return, had made the hunt for his successor necessary.

“With Magu not seen as returning to the post, it becomes imperative that someone must take over.  In fact, in the last four days, there has been intense lobby from influential persons within and outside the Presidency for his successor.”

The source named FCT Police Commissioner, Bala Ciroma, as one of the candidates favoured for the job, but declined to name the retired DIG and AIG.

“The choice of Ciroma has not only received the backing of some influential figures in Aso Rock, but also from the top echelon at the Force Headquarters where he is considered fit for the job.”

The panel has been sitting for over three weeks scrutinising corruption allegations from the  Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami against the EFCC boss.

Besides Magu, the retired Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Panel has begun grilling other officials alleged to have been involved in the sales of seized properties under the watch of the embattled EFCC boss to appear before it.

The panel which has DIG Mike Ogbezi (Police), Hassan Abdullahi (Department of State Service), Douglas Ekwueme (Nigeria Fintelligence Intelligence Unit), Mallam Shamsudeen (Office of the Accountant General of the Federation), Mohammed Abubakar (Ministry of Justice) and Kazeem Atilebi (Civil Societies Organisation) as members, also asked directors and sectional heads to bring files of cases handled since 2015 including forfeited assets and all cash releases within seven days.”

Magu was said to have appeared before the panel with his lawyer, yesterday. At the session,  top management officers led by Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, secretary of the Commission and other directors were summoned to state what they knew about the allegations against the embattled acting chairman.

A source told Daily Sun last night: “The panel did not do anything concrete on Monday and Tuesday. It only asked general questions. The real work on the 22 allegations started on Wednesday. At the hearing, Magu’s counsel, Wahab Shittu, reminded Salami about the need to be fair to the accused, saying that he wrote a two-page article in his defence when he had crisis. He also argued that the panel lacked the power to detain Magu on the grounds that it was a fact finding panel to unravel the truth. He added that Magu has served his country meritoriously and should not be denied his fundamental human rights and treated in bad manner.

The panel chairman replied that Magu’s detention was at the instance of the IGP, saying that it would recommend the reversal of the action for fair hearing. The panel also directed Rotimi Oyedepo, who appeared with Magu on Monday to come and conclude his testimony.

Daily Sun also learnt that the panel promised fair hearing, even as Justice Salami has said he was yet to make any recommendation for Magu’s suspension since he was just taking his defence.

“The panel finished sitting at about 9pm. Today is the first day the panel will really make appreciable progress on the allegations. Letters of invitation will be sent to certain EFCC officials to come and testify.

“The officials will also shed more light on certain allegations and adopt documents to be submitted in response to the allegations. The officials include Director of Operations, Legal, Internal Affairs and Asset Forfeiture,” the source said.

  • Magu ‘boys’ testify today on disposal of seized property

Meanwhile, Daily Sun reliably gathered that some persons, within and outside the Commission fondly called “Magu boys”  and “who did all the known and the ‘under the table’ deals for which Magu is being probed” have also been summoned.

An EFCC source told Daily Sun, I can tell you for free that as I speak, none of the so-called Magu Boys has been invited. Only Bashir Abdullahi was at the Villa yesterday. At about 6pm none of the directors have been invited to testify.

The only person who was invited was the former Director of Organisational Support, who is now a Commissioner of Police, Mr Bolaji Salami. He later returned to the Police Headquarters.

Barring any last minute change, several of of them would start appearing before the panel.

 

NEC, PTF to hold further discussions on reopening of economy, schools [Sun]

The National Economic Council (NEC) said it would hold further discussions with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF) on reopening of the economy and schools.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State made this known while briefing State House correspondents after the virtual NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.

He said the council took the report on the interface between NEC’s ad hoc committee and the PTF on the easing of the lockdown and reopening of the economy: “A lot has been done because we have had several meetings with the PTF and our inputs have been taken in the briefings to the president and the guidelines have been released.

“Since we started the meeting on May 28, lots of decisions have been taken and these decisions have already started to impact on the economy. Currently, both the formal and informal sectors of the economy have gradually been reopened, apart from a few segments that still need to be discussed and we have also realised that the rural areas have also been opened to farming activities.

“And we have also in the course of our discussion agreed on the need to open the interstate borders to travels, which also means travel by both road and train services is now possible and domestic flights are suppose to have resumed from yesterday July 8.’’

He said the interface also discussed the reopening of worship centres in many states of the federation, including FCT.

“Worship centres have been reopened with good protocols to be put in place, which ought to be monitored by the various states and the FCT. So, a lot is actually being done; we talked about the issue of opening up schools but this will be further discussed later today following the press briefing that was given by the minister of education.

“So, we will be meeting with the PTF on COVID-19 this evening at 8pm to further discuss issues surrounding the opening of schools but the economy is open now, apart from restrictions to international travels and restrictions to sporting activities.

“The other course that had to be stood down is the resumption of higher institutions and other classes, aside the graduating classes and also in the workplace.

“In the workplace, there are still some restrictions; not all civil servants are allowed to come to work because of the likelihood of crowding; so that is being further discussed in various states.

“I do know that civil servants in various categories are allowed to come but not the totality of the workforce.’’

He added that the reopening of bars, nightclubs and other entertainment centres was still on hold until further discussions.

Okowa said that advice was being taken from consultants who were monitoring the rate of transmission in the country.

 

Panel questions EFCC chiefs as Magu’s probe, detention continue [Punch]

  • Magu attempted to probe NSA for alleged financial crime, stopped by Malami
  • Lawyer files application for suspended anti-graft agency’s boss release today

The presidential panel investigating allegations of corruption levelled against the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, on Thursday quizzed the EFCC Secretary, Olanipekun Olukoyede, and some directors of the commission.

The PUNCH gathered that the EFCC officials were asked questions about the allegation of diversion of recovered funds levelled against Magu.

It was learnt that top officials of the EFCC were invited to either corroborate or fault some explanations Magu had made before the panel.

The suspended EFCC boss has been in the police detention since Monday when he was arrested in front of the old EFCC headquarters on Fomella Street, Wuse 2, Abuja and forced to appear before the presidential panel at its sitting in the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The suspended EFCC boss was subjected to several hours of interrogation on  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday by Justice Ayo Salami-led panel.

He was asked to respond to 22  allegations levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in his memo to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

Besides alleged diversion of recovered loot, Magu was accused of selling or mysteriously releasing about 157 oil tankers seized in Port Harcourt without following due process.

Also, a report by the Auditor-General of the Federation last year alleged  that about N13.96bn recorded  as salaries and wages in the consolidated financial statement of the EFCC were not in the anti-graft agency’s trial balance submitted for reconciliation

Panel grills Magu for 12 hours

On Thursday, Magu spent 12 hours before the presidential panel.

After the interrogation, Magu was again driven back to the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, where he spent the fourth night in police custody.

Magu arrived at the Aso Villa Banquet Hall as early as 9am according to his lawyer, Tosin Ojaomo.

The suspended EFCC boss was subsequently brought before the panel led by Salami, and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, FCID, Mike Ogbezi.

A source at the panel said the directors who were quizzed by the panel, absolved themselves of involvement in funds diversion.

In a related development, fresh information indicated that the embattled former EFCC boss attempted to probe the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Monguno, for an alleged undisclosed financial crime.

A senior Ministry of Justice official said Magu did not seek the approval of the President and the supervising Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation.

The authorities were said to have got wind of Magu’s plan and immediately nicked it in the bud.

The source stated, “Apart from courting trouble by attempting to probe NSA Monguno, Magu was also disrespectful to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who accused him of insubordination. This is why no one is pleading for him because his cup is full. His attempt to probe the NSA who was said to be instrumental to his appointment marked the genesis of his troubles.”

Meanwhile, a group of anti-corruption campaigners, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, on Thursday asked the anti-graft agency to immediately launch a thorough investigation into the relationship between Magu and a former senator, Buruji Kashamu.

Lawyer files application for Magu’s release today

Speaking on plans to secure the release of his client, Magu’s lawyer  said he would submit  an application to the police authorities for his release.

He explained that he was unable to see his client on Thursday, despite waiting for hours at the Force Criminal Investigation Department,  Garki.

He said,”I just left the FCID now (8:30pm) having waited endlessly to see Magu, but they had not brought him back from the Presidential Villa. Tomorrow (today), I will file an application before the police authorities for his release,” he stated.

In another interview, he said,  “We are still trying to get him bailed. I was there early in the morning but I was told he had already been taken to the Villa. They have not shown us any remand order. However, I was told that he is being treated decently.

“The problem is that once he is taken from there (FCID) at about 8am, he remains with the panel till evening. The DIG is the one in charge as regards detention and he has the power to approve administrative bail. I have been trying to see him as regards Magu’s case.”

When asked about the status of Magu, Ojaomo responded, “He is in high spirits. I am confident that Magu will emerge victorious.”

The lawyer said he would return to the FCID by 8am on Friday to make a formal application for bail.

“On Friday I will make a formal application for bail.”

Ojaomo rubbished insinuations that Magu could be detained perpetually without a court order because he is a serving police officer.

“Our aim, for now, is just to get him out of there. Every Nigerian has a constitutional right to liberty. Even though what we hear these days is that the police can keep him because he is a senior officer, I do not subscribe to that. He ought to be treated like a Nigerian”, the lawyer said.

 

I’m planning vigorous defence to free Hushpuppi – US lawyer [Punch]

Gal Pissetzky, the legal representative of alleged Internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, has said he has a good chance of beating the fraud allegations against him.

The lawyer, who spoke to The PUNCH on Thursday, said he planned to put up “vigorous defence to get him out of the case.”

Pissetzky is a top Chicago-based criminal defence attorney and has been involved in many notable cases in the United States of America.

Hushpuppi was arrested by the Dubai authorities in a sting operation.

Together with his gang, the 37-year-old was alleged to have defrauded 1,926,400 people from different parts of the world and stolen about 1.6bn Dirham (N168bn).

The Dubai police later handed him over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US, where he was arraigned on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, among others.

The FBI also alleged that Hushpuppi attempted to defraud an English Premier League football club of £100m (N48.4bn).

Pissetzky told Forbes that the suspect was not guilty of the crimes.

“Absolutely not guilty of [the] charges they are accusing him of. (Abbas) was running a legitimate business and a very legitimate Instagram account and did not take part in any scam or fraud,” he said.

When contacted, Pissetzky also told The PUNCH that the suspect’s case would go before a jury.

He said, “There is always a chance, absolutely. That’s why they hired me and that’s why I am going to put up vigorous defence and defend him. I will give him good representation. He has a chance. In the United States of America, you have a jury system.”

Asked if he would consider a plea bargain with the system to reduce Abbas’ sentence, Pissetzky said it was a discussion between him and his client.

 

Magu battles for bail as EFCC chiefs face panel [Nation]

             N4b allegation: Osinbajo demands probe

             16 top officials before Salami committee

Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, who is under investigation by a presidential panel, has requested bail from custody.

He has spent the fourth day at the Force Criminal investigation Department (FCID).

Magu has been detained at the FCID since Monday when he first appeared before the panel.

The presidential panel is probing Magu for allegations of misconduct levelled against him by Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Abubakar Malami.

Also on Thursday, 16 top officials of EFCC and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), appeared before the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel sitting in Abuja.

Among those grilled are: Secretary to the EFCC Mr. Ola Oloyede, Director of Operations Mr. Mohammed Umar and a former Director of Organisational support – now a Commissioner of Police – Bolaji Salami.

A source said: “The committee gave the EFCC chiefs one week deadline to submit the list of cases investigated and prosecuted since 2015.

“I think the committee is interested in the status of each case. The sectional heads promised to meet up with the timeline.”

It was learnt that Magu returned to the detention facility in FCID about 8pm.

Investigation showed that lawyers defending Magu made an oral submission for his bail.

They pleaded with the committee to prevail on Inspector-General of Police to release Magu on bail because it is his fundamental right.

A source said: “At the sitting of the panel, Magu’s counsel applied for bail. Since the panel did not order his detention, it advised the lawyers to address their request to Inspector-General of Police Mohammed Adamu.

“Although a member said the Chairman of the panel could act on the panel, however, said it is the IG’s responsibility.

The lawyer argued that “apart from being on the grounds of fundamental human rights, the application for bail was borne out of Magu being a senior police officer.

“Ordinarily, Magu ought to be detained at the Police Officers Mess pending the conclusion of investigation not behind the counters as the case is at the moment.

“On his first day in FCID custody, he slept on a chair throughout the night. He opted to stay in a cell but he was asked to sleep in an office. For safety reasons, he chose to sleep on a chair.”

“Magu is appearing before a fact-finding panel, there is no justification for detaining him,” his counsel said.

A member of the committee said Magu was being “detained based on directive.”

Following the counsel’s submission, members of the committee, according to sources, asked Magu and his counsel to leave the hearing room for some minutes.

But no decision was taken on the bail request.

Magu also denied giving N4billion to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Sources quoted Magu as saying: “I did not tell the panel that I gave the Vice President N4 billion. Where will I get such money? Do I have access to such funds? It is part of mudslinging. Please clear this. I do not have any control of such cash, I did not order the transfer of N4 billion to the VP or to anybody.

“The name of the Vice President never came up at the panel’s session at all. Since the VP was not an issue, I could not have mentioned that I gave him N4 billion.”

The Vice President on Thursday asked the Inspector-General of Police to investigate malicious tweets on the alleged N4billion given to him by Magu.

Osinbajo made the demand in a July 9 petition to the IG, signed by his lawyers, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan and Abimbola Kayode.

 

NEC okays governors’ input in N2.3tr stimulus plan [Nation]

The National Economic Council (NEC) has approved the participation of state governors in the implementation of recently approved N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), who is also the Chairman of the NEC, disclosed this during the virtual NEC coordinated from the State House, Abuja on Thursday.

Vice President Osinbajo, according to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President, Office of the Vice President, Mr Laolu Akande, said two governors might soon be coopted into the Economic Sustainability Committee (EAC), for the implementation phase of the platform.

The governors had made a presentation at the NEC on how the states can collaborate effectively with the Federal Government on the implementation of the N2.3 trillion stimulus programme.

Osinbajo said the governors welcomed the plan and committed to working with the Federal Government, adding that such  collaboration would be helpful and bring synergy.

Besides, state governments would also be actively involved in the process of executing projects in the plan, especially those based in their domains, in collaboration with other stakeholders and partners.

It would be recalled that while receiving the report of the Economic Sustainability Committee, President Muhammadu Buhari had described it as a national plan which has gone through wide consultations. The endorsement of the governors at today’s NEC follows the President’s description of the Sustainability Plan.

These were some of the highlights at the 105th meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by the Vice President with several governors, ministers and heads of MDAs including the CBN Governor and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, in attendance.

Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who is also the Chairman of the NGF adhoc committee on the collaborative implementation of the NESP, commended the Osinbajo-led ESC for a job well-done and noted that State governors were committed to the successful implementation of the plan.

Specifically, El-rufai said: “In agriculture, each state is to make available 20 hectares of land for cultivation and with the contribution of lands from States, he added that governors will appreciate land clearance as an incentive.

“In Mass housing, NEC welcomes the plan to build 300,000 housing units across the country with an average of ten thousand homes per State,” El-rufai noted while also calling for a nationwide mortgage system to support the plan.

Also briefing journalists on the recommendations of the interim report of the NEC adhoc committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ease the lockdown, the Committee Chairman and Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa said “the committee recommended that the Honorable Minister of Health should ensure the continuous provision of all essential health services in-order to ensure that people do not die from other diseases needlessly”.

According to the report presented by the governor to council, “the Presidential Task Force (PTF) should provide the operating guidelines to the States to enable them domesticate same given their peculiarities, norms and traditions, especially in opening of markets, religious places and schools etc.

Okowa noted that the major recommendation arising from the meeting is the proposed health workers allowance being planned by the Federal Ministry of Health. The ‘Hazard’ allowance should not be imposed on States but presented with general guidance to enable each State negotiate with its health workers based on its ability to pay.

He added that the Committee’s interim report presented to NEC today recommends “that there should be rapid testing, tracing, isolation and treatment, and the NCDC and PTF should provide each State with laboratory testing facilities and ensure effective sample collection”.

Other highlights of the meeting include the presentation of the 2021 to 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) by the Federal Ministry of Finance, State Budget and National Planning.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed also reported to council that the balances in the under listed accounts:

             Excess Crude Account (ECA) balance as at 7th July, 2020 is $ 72,406,952.48

             Stabilisation Account balance as at 7th July, 2020 is N40, 310,991,995.15

             Natural Resources Development Fund Account balance as at 7th July 2020 is N131, 598,414,041.89

There were other presentations at today’s NEC including on Polio and the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Breakthrough As Nigeria Creates Own Testing Kits [Leadership]

Nigeria has recorded a significant breakthrough as the federal government yesterday announced the country’s indigenous development and validation of RNA Swift, a test kit for the identification of SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent for Covid-19.

The testing kits will help accelerate the capacity to test people and effectively manage the Coronavirus pandemic.

The RNA Swift testing kit is said to be capable of improving testing and bring the power of large scale and precise testing closer to Nigerians.

Addressing a world press conference in Abuja, the minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, said “The RNA Swift has amazing precision for the detection of SARS-COV-2 and will be commercially available at a price that places it ahead of competitors in terms of sensitivity and affordability”.

According to Onu, the RNA Swift was borne out of a need in the agricultural sector to test Nigerian farmers and labourers, even as he hinted that in the coming months, 5million farmers will be tested with the RNA Swift kits from the first 10 million kits to be produced.

He described the development of the testing kit as “Nigeria’s gift and contribution to help Africa and the world fight the Covid-19 pandemic”, adding that by encouraging Nigerian scientists and innovators, the country has the capacity to find solutions to global challenges.

Onu confirmed the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB) when he said, “I want to confirm to you that the RNASwift product team is in consultation with the African Development Bank for the funding of an African-wide testing programme for COVID-19 and the establishment for RNASwift production in Nigeria”.

The minister noted that the development of the test kit was as a result of careful planning and strategic investments of the Ministry’s departments and agencies.

He commended the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Finance, as well as the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Sheffield University, scientists and the organised private sector (OPS) for their collaborative efforts in the development of the testing kits.

Earlier, the minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, said his ministry is working hard to ensure food security in the country by supporting the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

He said his ministry will continue to be in the forefront of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic by ensuring that the newly developed testing kits is made available to test over 5 million farmers across the country.

He commended the efforts of the federal government in minimising the spread of the virus.

He further admonished Nigerians to look inwards, be more organised and focused so as to achieve greatness and more technological feats for the nation.

The acting director-general of NABDA, Prof Alex Ukpa, said the invention of the RNA Swift testing kit will improve testing and bring the power of large scale and precise testing closer to Nigerians.

He added that this approach will enable Nigeria and Africans at large get the needed attention to survive the pandemic.

Akpa commended two Nigerian companies, Graeme Blaque Advisory and Cellulant Nigeria Limited, for their support in the validation of the testing kit.

He further said the testing kits will be produced in Nigeria so as to meet the testing needs of the entire African continent.

“The RNA Swift kit will not only revolutionize Africa’s PCR-Based Covid-19 testing but will also lead to expanding it by at least 50 times while reducing cost, relative to the conventional kit, by over 500%,” he added.

 

Osinbajo Writes IGP, Wants Alleged Link To ‘Magu Funds’ Investigated [Leadership]

Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has asked the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to investigate allegations that he received N4 billion from the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.

Reports had surfaced that Magu gave the vice president N4billion, while Osinbajo also allegedly gave instructions to Magu to release some of the recovered loots.

In a petition dated July 8, 2020 and addressed to the IGP, the vice president, through his lawyer, Taiwo Osipitan, said Jackson Ude, publisher of the said report, will continue to publish the “false claims” on social media until an action for “criminal defamation” is commenced against him.

Osinbajo’s lawyer noted that if the allegation is false after investigation, the IGP should initiate criminal proceedings against Ude.

He said, “We act as Solicitors to Prof Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (“our Client”) and on

whose instruction we write this petition against one Jackson Ude for criminal defamation.

“These vicious and malicious publications are meant to achieve one objective only, to represent to his readership and others (Nigerians and foreigners) that our client is a dishonest and disloyal public officer and consequently unfit for the position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which he is occupying.

“We are of the view that unless an action for criminal defamation is commenced against the said Mr Jackson Ude, he will continue to use his social media platform to publish materials that are false and criminally defamatory of our client’s reputation.

“In view of the above, we humbly request that you cause the above allegations, made against our client, to be investigated and if the suggested investigation confirms our complaint of the falsehood of these allegations, to initiate criminal proceedings pursuant to the provisions of sections 391 – 395 of the penal code act for criminal defamation against the said Jackson Ude.”

Meanwhile, the suspended acting chairman of the EFCC, Magu, yesterday, appeared before the Justice Ayo Salami – led presidential panel sitting inside the old banquet hall of the presidential villa.

The appearance which is the fourth since the sitting began on Monday also saw the appearance of the secretary to the EFCC, Olanipekun Olukoyede and some directors.

Right from the first day of the interrogation, Magu remained in police detention at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja.

Magu appeared with his lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, a former attorney general of the Federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, who incidentally set up the EFCC during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He is facing 21 corruption allegations from the attorney general of the federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

The panel had summoned the directors from the commission to give insight on some of the allegations against the embattled chairman.

Over three weeks, the panel has been sitting and scrutinising the corruption allegations against the embattled chairman.

Yesterday, secretary to the EFCC, Mr Olanipekun Olukoyede and the Directors of the commission appeared before the Presidential panel investigating corruption allegations against Magu.

LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel invited the top management officers of the commission to testify on some of the allegations against Magu.

They were said to be grilled for hours over their knowledge of some of the allegations against the embattled EFCC boss.

Magu is facing 21 corruption allegations from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

 

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