Court frees Ladoja over N4.7b money laundering charge

Rashidi Ladoja, a former governor of Oyo state was discharged and acquitted today by a Federal High Court in Lagos, over a N4.7 billion fraud charge brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

by Justice Mohammed Idris in his judgement said the evidence brought to the court by the EFCC was “too low on credible evidence.”

He therefore discharged and acquitted the former governor of Oyo state and Waheed Akanbi, who was Oyo State Commissioner for Finance during his administration.

Jeff Bezos accuses tabloid National Enquirer of blackmail

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and world’s richest man,  on Thursday accused the publisher of the National Enquirer of blackmail after it threatened to publish intimate photographs sent by the billionaire to his mistress if he did not cease his investigation into how the newspaper got the pictures.

It comes after the tabloid, having accessed private text messages, last month reported Bezos had an extramarital affair with former news anchor and entertainment reporter Lauren Sanchez — a leak that led to his divorce.

In a post on blogging platform Medium Thursday, Bezos said Enquirer publisher American Media Inc (AMI), led by David Pecker, approached him with a threat to publish the photos if he did not halt an investigation into the motives behind the leak.

He added the publication demanded he and security consultant Gavin de Becker, who is leading the probe, publically state they had “no knowledge or basis for suggesting that AMI’s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.”

De Becker mentioned in a recent Daily Beast interview that “strong leads point to political motives” — and that he was interested in Lauren Sanchez’s brother Michael, a vocal supporter of US President Donald Trump with links to his inner circle, as a possible perpetrator.

And in his Medium post, Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, pointed to AMI and David Pecker’s previous cooperation with Trump — including payments made to suppress negative stories, currently under investigation by federal prosecutors. One involves a woman who said she had an affair with Trump.

The hush money payment, and a similar one to another woman, was made on the eve of the 2016 election that Trump won. Trump is suspected of campaign finance violations because of the disbursements on grounds they were made to affect the outcome of the vote and should therefore have been reported to government campaign monitors.

Bezos, his newspaper and Amazon are all regular targets of Trump’s signature Twitter tirades.

Bezos also raised the publisher’s links to Saudi Arabia — whose Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accused of directing the murder of Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“My ownership of the Washington Post is a complexifier for me. It’s unavoidable that certain powerful people who experience Washington Post news coverage will wrongly conclude I am their enemy,” Bezos wrote in the blog post.

“President Trump is one of those people, obvious by his many tweets. Also, The Post’s essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder of its columnist Jamal Khashoggi is undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles.”

He added: “Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” Bezos wrote in the post, which was entitled “No thank you, Mr. Pecker” and included copies of emails from AMI.

“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favours, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out,” he added.

*Read Bezos response to National Enquirer in  Medium.com

2019 election: Buhari not sharing public funds – VON DG, Okechukwu

The Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, on Tuesday, said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was not sharing public funds, rather was investing the funds, in the nation’s critical infrastructures.

Okechukwu, who stated this in an interview with BENGBENRO, shortly after the APC Presidential campaign rally held in Aba, Abia State on Tuesday, reiterated the commitment of the Buhari-led administration to tackle the infrastructural deficits in the country, so as to enable investments and businesses thrive, for the general well being of the people.

The APC chieftain also lauded the recently-commissioned 9.5MW Independent Power Plant at Ariaria Market in Aba by President Buhari, saying, that would enhance the economic and industrial development of the commercial city (Aba).

Okechukwu, however, commended the people of Abia State and South East in general for the warm reception being accorded to the APC presidential candidate and the incumbent, President Buhari, urging them to massively vote for APC to enable south East zone to take its shot at the Aso villa in 2023.

His words, “I thank the people of Abia State for their turn out to welcome Mr. President. It shows that the South East is coming to the reality that President Muhammadu Buhari is the best for the country today.

“Because, he had embarked on most laudable infrastructural development of the country, spanning from 5000 kilometres of federal roads,5000 kilometre of standard railway,additional 5000 megawatts of electricity.

“What was demonstrated today, in the Ariaria Market Aba, where Mr President in the past year, had instructed that major markets and industrial bases of the country should have mini solar power plants.

“And the Ariaria Market own has been commissioned, and the traders are happy about that, and also the manufacturing concerns, especially the small scale entrepreneurs and Medium scale entrepreneurs in Aba.

“It is a good joy that President Buhari, is not sharing public funds, but he is investing the people’s money in critical infrastructures, so that the nation’s economic development will prosper, and our people, the entrepreneurs can expand their economic talents in different sectors of economic and industrial development.

“It is no more the issue of sharing money. It is now that the investment is coming in real terms, so that a lot of people could advance themselves without the government. This is where we are heading to.”

Nigerian workers boo Ngige, Gov. Yari, call them ‘Ole’

The chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, Abdulazez Yari of Zamfara, and Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, were booed by Nigerian workers yesterday while making their submissions at the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee public hearing on the new minimum wage.

The general consensus by critical stakeholders at the hearing was that N30,000 was affordable and that the issue of revenue formula review was long overdue.

BENGBENRO earlier reported that the Speaker of the House of Representatives,Yakubu Dogara, in his welcome address, declared that the N30,000 being proposed was not even enough, adding that Nigerian workers deserved a living wage.

Ngige and Gov. Yari were not spared by the workers who stormed venue of the public hearing in large numbers as they were both booed throughout their submissions.

Ngige, at a point, was forced to tell the workers that “if you like, don’t clap for me. As a rule here, you don’t clap.”

The workers replied with a thunderous ‘time up! time up.’

Ngige in his submission, had earlier told the panellists that the decision of the National Council of State, NCS, was not cast on stone, stressing that for anybody to say there was an agreement was a misnomer.

The Minister said that the Federal Government would pay level one federal civil servants a minimum of N30,000.

Also speaking, President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Ayuba Wabba, told the stakeholders that any increase in workers’ wages would not translate into inflation.

He said, “So far, 30 state governors have agreed to pay N30,000 and only six are still delaying their support.’’

On his part, Chairman of NGF, Yari pointed out that the forum accepted what was approved by NCS as regards the minimum wage of workers.

He said that governors were not against Nigerian workers, while pleading with them to understand the economic situation in the country.

“Let me also emphasize on the issue of revenue formula, the truth is that it’s long overdue for a review,” he said.

Shortly after his presentation, the congregation started chanting “Ole ole ole” to the hearing of chairman of NGF, Yari.

Other stakeholders, such as the private sector and the Small Scale and Medium Enterprise agreed, in their presentations, to pay N30,000 per month as minimum wage.

Akwa Ibom governor announces discovery of crude oil in Uruan

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has disclosed that the state would soon begin the exploration of crude oil discovered in Urua Local Council area of the state.
The governor disclosed this during his campaign yesterday at the council’s headquarters.

According to him, the state is now awaiting the conclusion of some paper formalities, adding that when completed, it would go a long way in expanding the state’s status and income from the federation account.

Emmanuel said the commencement of oil exploration would further boost the state’s economy and create employment for the people.

He said: “Uruan is at the verge of becoming one of the oil producing communities in the state. That is why you see a new oil rig in the area, and once we are done with signing of papers, we will begin exploration.”

The governor said his administration had established a green house agriculture farm project along airport road for the cultivation of special crops in the area.

“We are not playing politics of development, because campaigns should be issue based. I can assure the people of Uruan that everything ongoing in the area will be completed and commissioned before the end of this administration.

The greenhouse in Uruan will be commissioned by our presidential candidate,” he said.

The governor disclosed that about 2000 cattle had been purchased to reproduce in their natural habitat, before they are transported to the state for the production of milk and yoghurt.

He reiterated his committed to improved healthcare delivery, noting that such has made him to work towards massive turnaround for the Ituk Mbang General Hospital, which he said, has been in a serious state of disrepair.

“Ituk Mbang hospital was overgrown with weeds without maintenance and we turned its fortunes around by equipping it with modern facilities,” he said.

Emmanuel lamented that previous administrations did not even give a kilometer of road to the area, adding that the first ever range in the state is at Adadia, all of which he set up to boost the economy and create jobs.

A political leader in the area, Obong Peter Ekpe Atakpo, commended Emmanuel for being the first governor to fulfill a promise to develop the area.

He listed the projects to include: Akwa Prime Hatchery, Anua-Mbak-Issiet road, Mbiaya Uruan road and Mbiatok Itam-Mbiaya Uruan road.

Others are Mbiaya-Ita-Ikpa-Mbiakong- Idu road, Ituk Mbang General Hospital, Adadia/Use Cattle Range, the Housing Estate-Ibiaku Ishiet, and Greenhouse Agriculture farm project.

FG to review revenue sharing formula over minimum wage

The Federal Government yesterday resolved to engage governors of the 36 states of the federation and the Council of State in a review of the nation’s federal allocation sharing formula.The review is part of demands by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) prior to its accepting the implementation of the proposed N30,000 National Minimum Wage for Nigerian workers.
Following the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, it was gathered that if agreed upon, the proposed wage would be taken care of as prescribed by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

The NGF had recently sought a new fiscal restructuring plan on the grounds that economic challenges in the states would make payment of the new wage difficult.Although the Minimum Wage Tripartite Committee led by the former Head of Service of the Federation, Ama Pepple, had recommended N30,000, the Federal Government agreed to pay N24,000, while the state governments insisted on N22,500.

A presidency source privy to the closed-door deliberations at yesterday’s NEC meeting said the Federal Government has decided to take the governors’ request to the Council of State for a definite resolution on the wage crisis.He said: “We are making progress. We will be meeting with the Council of State on Tuesday, January 22. The governors are asking for a review of the revenue sharing formula, and government is looking at that. The Minimum Wage Technical Advisory Committee that was inaugurated recently is looking into the revenue sharing formula.”

Asked to be specific on whether the Federal Government has agreed to allocate more resources to state governments, the source said: “Everything is in progress.”

Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige said NEC discussed the matter and agreed to meet members of the Council of State for a unified position.

President Buhari recently inaugurated an advisory technical committee for the implementation of the proposed wage. The committee, which was given one month to submit its report, will advise the Federal Government on new sources of funds and ways to implement the initiative in a sustainable manner.

BREAKING: Osinbajo chairs NEC meeting on new minimum wage

Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo is currently presiding over the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting, which will deliberate on the minimum wage request, among other issues, started around 11.26am on Thursday when Osinbajo arrived at the Council chamber.

After the National anthem, opening prayer was offered by Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong.

Other state governors in attendance included Lagos, Zamfara, Adamawa, Kebbi, Jigawa, Niger, Ekiti and Bauchi,

Among the deputy governors in the hall included Nasarawa and Ogun.

Also in attendance were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed.

Others at the meeting included Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefuele.

How PDP abandoned seven major projects in Osun – Fashola

The Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr.Babatunde Fashola, on Wednesday said seven Federal Government projects, totalling N18.186bn were abandoned in Osun State by Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led Federal Government.

He mentioned Gbongan-Iwo road, Ilesha-Osogbo road, Construction of Illie bridge, Ile-ife-Ifewara road, and Mayfair-Lagere road among others as some of the abandoned projects with attendant socioeconomic predicament for the affected communities.

Fashola, who was represented by the Federal Controller of Works in Osun State, Engineer Ezekiah Kehinde on Media inspection tour of all the Federal Government projects in the state hinted that the Buhari administration became worry over the development upon assumption of office in 2015.

He explained that contractors handling those projects had complained of paucity of funds to continue with the projects as a result of failure of the previous administration to pay them.

“The rate at which several important projects were abandoned in the state became a source of worry for this administration upon assumption of office, hence the urgent need for prompt intervention.

“The Federal Government considered those projects as fundamental for the socioeconomic survival of the people in those areas. Which informed the urgency in which those contractors were brought back to site and outstanding debts were cleared.

“Also, four more projects were added, totalling N8.45bn, which include the construction of Ila-Ora-Ekanmeje road, and emergency intervention at Ibodi-Ilesha road among others.

“It would have amount to waste of resources and insensitivity on the part of government if those projects were left there abandoned, after spending several billions to mobilise contractors to site.

“I can authoritatively tell you now that the Federal Government is not owing any contractor a dime any longer,” he said.

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China to back Nigeria’s anti-insurgency battle with N2b

China has pledged N2 billion (¥50 million) in military equipment to support Nigeria’s counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram.

The Ambassador of China to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjuan, said the initiative was part of military cooperation agreed upon by both nations in 2018.

He made the disclosure during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Nigeria’s Minister of Defence Mansur Muhammad Dan Ali and the ambassador on behalf of China.

“In September 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari led a Nigerian delegation to China to attend the Africa-Chinese forum. At the forum, he held bilateral discussions with President Xi Jinping on several areas of cooperation particularly in the area of military-to-military relations.

“At the meeting in China, an initial pledge of ¥6 million was made in support of the Nigerian military. Now, another ¥50 million has been made to support the counter- insurgency operation of the military,” said Pingjuan.

He noted that Nigeria and China relations have continued to grow from strength to strength in the economic sector and other spheres. He added that the implementation of the peace and security agreements contained in the MoU would further cement the relationship.

Responding, Ali commended the Chinese government for standing by Nigeria in the fight against terrorism, saying: “Insurgency is no longer a country’s problem alone; it is now a global issue. So, countries must join hands together to fight and defeat it.”

Reiterating Nigeria’s commitment to a strong and lasting relationship, the minister expressed hope that the cooperation would be pursued with more vigour.

Meanwhile, troops from the newly formed Nigerian Army Special Forces Command, supported by the Air Force and Navy, have cleared Boko Haram terrorists from Zare, Kukawa, Cross Kauwa and Gudumbali in Borno North.

The Army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, confirmed this in a statement yesterday. He said: “The troops, who are in high spirit, had since linked up with other forces in Baga where they cleared the Naval Base and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, in the process, the Special Forces lost one officer and a soldier, while five others sustained injuries. The remains of the two fallen heroes and the wounded have since been evacuated. The injured soldiers are in stable condition and receiving medical attention.”

According to Usman, the troops are now busy clearing the remnants of the terrorists within the northern Borno axis with special emphasis on the Lake Chad region.

“The Special Forces attained these great strides in close operational synergy with the Air Task Force of the Nigerian Air Force, which gave intelligence and close air support by bombarding the terrorists. The outstanding and daredevil exploits of the Air Force pilots gave more courage and firepower to the troops. Similarly, the Nigerian Navy Special Forces were not left out of these gallant efforts,” he said.

In another statement, the military urged people to provide information to troops. It said: “The terrorists have clandestinely been going about threatening innocent residents, warning them to vacate their ancestral homes. So far, out of fear, several inhabitants have moved out from their communities, including Auno, Jakana and Mainok along the Maiduguri-Damaturu road.

“Consequently, we wish to inform all well-meaning citizens, especially within Maiduguri metropolis and its environs, to promptly report the presence of suspicious persons or avail the security agencies with information about such persons.”

He warned that failure to provide information would be viewed as collaboration with Boko Haram.

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima also solicited the support of the Nigerian Legion to complement efforts against the insurgents.

He stated this when the outfit’s chairman, Col. Williams Mamza (rtd), and the Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Abdulmalik Biu, paid him a courtesy visit, ahead of the January 15, 2019 Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

Prophecy: T. B Joshua describes 2019 as ‘very fearful’, reveals what may happen in Nigeria

Prophet T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church of Nations, SCOAN, has labelled 2019 as “very fearful.”

He also said there may be interruption of democracy in the year 2019.

In a Youtube video, Joshua said he saw this while praying at an undisclosed ‘prayer mountain.’

He started by saying, “I am here because I know where I need to grow. When we know where we need to grow, it is victory itself.”

The prophet said he was there “to know the mind of God concerning this fearful year 2019 and also to pray for you and the world at large.”

He called on Nigerians to pray against “a stopover” and “the interruption of the democratic practice” as Nigeria prepares for the elections next month, February 2019.

“I like being one with nature – where there are no disturbances, where we don’t need to close our eyes to pray,” he explained, indicating he had been in prayer and fasting for several days to begin the New Year.

“I developed this habit right from the beginning of my ministry… When I need a quiet place, I run to the wilderness, to the mountain,” he continued, conspicuously barefooted, simply clad and holding his Bible.

He proceeded to offer prayer for his viewers, stating that “whatever hinders you to greatness” would “give way” and “whatever that does not reflect Jesus in your life” would “be removed.”