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Malami:  $2.4bn Crude Oil Sale Loss Allegation  Lacks Merit

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Abubakar Chika Malami SAN Attorney General
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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, yesterday countered claims that the country lost over $2.4 billion revenue from alleged illegal sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil exported to China in 2015.

Malami faulted the allegations during the resumed Ad-hoc Committee investigation on the alleged sale of 48 million barrels of crude oil amounting to over $2.

4 billion and crude oil export to global destinations from 2014 to date.

Malami who is the Chief Law Officer of the Federation described the allegations as baseless, unfounded, lack merit and substance.

The House had in December last year resolved to constitute an ad-hoc committee to probe the allegation when it adopted a motion sponsored by Isiaka Ibrahim from Ogun State, at plenary.

The committee was also mandated to investigate all crude oil exports and sales by Nigeria from 2014 till date with regards to quantity, insurance, revenue generated remittances into the federation accounts or other accounts as well as utilisation of the revenue for the period under review.

Ibrahim had said in the motion that, “a whistle-blower alleged in July 2020 that he had in July 2015, brought to the attention of a committee purportedly set up by the president for the recovery of missing crude oil exports, the existence of 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil in storage at several ports in China, under the authorisation of the then Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to sell the cargo.”

But speaking at the hearing yesterday, Malami said that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation had filed a criminal suit against the individuals who purportedly raised the allegations being investigated by the Ad-hoc Committee.

According to him, the Individuals had attempted to defraud the Federal Government under the guise that the alleged crude oil stolen in China had been recovered.

Malami explained that the ongoing investigation initiated by the House was unconstitutional and subjudice, and argued that the prosecution of the petitioners which started in 2019 suffered setback as a result of series of adjournment caused by the absence of the accused persons.

He said the allegation in its own right is devoid of any reasonable ground pointing to a material suspicion cogent enough to invoke the constitutional oversight of the Committee.

“Let me state on record and for the benefit of Nigerians and the committee that the allegations relating to the 48 million barrels are baseless. The allegation is unfounded. It lacks merit and indeed substance.

“The allegation in its own right is devoid of any reasonable ground pointing to a material suspicion cogent enough to invoke the constitutional oversight of the Committee.

“Why do I say so? Sometimes in 2016 allegations were rife and hyped in the social media. There were allegations of existence of stolen 48 million barrels of Nigerian crude in China said to have been valued at 2.4 billion.

“President Muhammadu Buhari informally requested the attorney-general, making reference to my humble person, Mele Kyari, Lawal Daura, former DG of DSS; and late Abba Kyari; to look into it and advise. But unfortunately, for there to be a reasonable ground for suspicion, at least, you require certain basic facts.

“If you’re talking of a product, you cannot establish the substance relating thereto, without confirming the origin of the purported product in China. If you talk about a product in China. Is it of Nigerian origin? That can be ascertained by sample and specifications. Is it Bonny Light for example, which you know emanate from Nigeria or what is it.

“The basic details of the existence of the product and connecting it to Nigeria was not there at all. If you are talking of a product, the vessel perhaps that has taken it, what are the particulars and details of the vessel. There were not available at our disposal at all.

“Which authority is it that has taken custody of the product? There was no information at all. So the issue is simple. There were no reasonable grounds for suspicion of the fact that the purported oil product either exist in spirit or in fact or in indeed exist in China — and it is in no way connected to Nigeria. And all effort on our part to get details have proven abortive.

“So, it was a committee that was dead on arrival because it has not been formally constituted.

“So, we could not establish the substance in the allegation because detail information to confirm the existence and origin of of the shipment such as sample of the oil, vessel involved loading point etc, location of the crude in China etc were not provided

“So, we reported to the president that we were unable to confirm the veracity of the allegation hence no further action was taken by my office,” he said.

He further disclosed that the OAGF was instrumental to the recovery of various sums of fund which were deposited in the Asset Recovery Account domiciled with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

These include: $322 million recovered from Switzerland in 2016; $311.4 million from US/UK; $15.4 million Abacha Loot recovered in 2020 from Northern Ireland; £12.2 billion recovered from Ibori; $20 million recovered from Licosta as well as £954 recovered from Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, respectively.

While responding to question on the recovered funds, payment and disbursement, he said: “Ministry of Finance is the coordinator of the whistle blower policy and all payments to Whistle blower are made by the federal ministry of finance, budget and national planning.

“It should be noted that whistle blowing thrives on confidentiality and protection of information. Therefore, disclosure the details of whistle blowers at a public hearing breaches the confidentiality provision of which the office of the attorney general was committed to on the account of personal security and the national security.

“So, arising from that consideration, I have taken pains to develop information taking into consideration the confidentiality element of it but providing same for the consideration of the committee exclusively.”

He explained that the details of international account, expenditure and statement of accounts are obtainable from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“For the information of the committee, the office of the Attorney-General does not maintain the custody of an account of associated recoveries are maintained by the Central Bank and open on the request of the office of Attorney General and then open on the directives of office of the Accountant General.

“As far as being a signatory or in any way being responsible in the management of such account is concerned, the office of the attorney general is in no way connected whatsoever.

“Whatsoever information that may be required as it connects to the details of the signatories, details for the management, details of the disbursement associated with the recoveries accounts, I suggest that the Federal Ministry of Finance, the office of Accountant General are exclusive custodians, managers and operators of the account, no the office of the Attorney General.

“What I am saying in essence is that reference or details, signatories, disbursement, associated information on all the recovery accounts should be routed to the Central Bank, office of the Accountant General and indeed, the Federal Ministry of Finance that are the operators, maintainers, custodians of this account in question,” Malami added.

The Whistleblower is believed to be one Marco Antonio Ramirez, an American businessman, who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for an alleged $368,698.24 fraud before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos could not continue today, April 26, 2023, due to the absence of the defence counsel, Lawal Pedro, SAN.

The EFCC is prosecuting Ramirez on an amended nine-count charge alongside his companies: USA NOW LLC, Eagle Ford Instalodge Group LP, and USA NOW Energy Capital Group LP.

“Marco Antonio Ramirez, USA NOW LLC, and USA Now Energy Capital Group LP, on or about the 26th day of July, 2013 at Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $250,000 from Gabriel Ogie Edeoghon under the false representation that the sum was his investment in your company:

“USA Now Energy Capital Group LP in the Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) United States of America Investor Programme, which investment would qualify him to be eligible to a USA Green Card, and which representation you knew to be false,” one of the counts read.

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Airports: Tinubu Seeks N24.6bn to Reimburse Nasarawa, Kebbi 

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By Lubem Myaornyi, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has written to the House of Representatives seeking the preparations and approval of a N24.6 billion Promissory Notes to reimburse Nasarawa and Kebbi States on the costs of their Airports taken over by the Federal Government.

Nasarawa is to be reimbursed N9.5 billion while Kebbi is to be reimbursed to the tune of N15.

1 billion.

In the letter read by the Deputy Speaker, Benjamin Kalu, who presided over the Plenary on Thursday, the President said, the takeover of the airports was in line with Item 3 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which placed the ownership of Airports and other Aviation related infrastructure in the exclusive list.

Similarly, the President in a separate letter presented an Executive Bill, the National Anti-Doping Bill 2024 for the House consideration.

The President said the bill seeks the creation of an agency for Nigeria to achieve world standards and codes on Doping by signatories to the international regulations.

He urged the House to give the Bill a speedy consideration before the commencement of the Olympic Games coming up later in July.

In another letter, the President sought the approval of a supplementary budget for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for the 2023 fiscal year.

Tinubu Transmits Bill on Sports Performance Enhancement Drug to Senate

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu has forwarded a bill to the Senate seeking to prohibit Nigerian athletes from consuming substances that enhance performance during or after competitions.

The president’s request was contained in a letter read by the Deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin, who presided over the plenary on Thursday.

The bill titled “National Anti-Doping Bill 2024”, if passed, will regulate substances that can be consumed by athletes during sporting events.

In the letter, Tinubu said the bill would provide a legal framework for the establishment of the National Anti-Doping Organisation to regulate sporting competitions.

He explained that the establishment of the agency was a requirement for Nigeria to achieve compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.

The World Anti-Doping Code (Code) is the core document that harmonises anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sports organisations and among public authorities around the world.

Tinubu noted that the law will help Nigeria avoid the imposition of signatory consequences and the inclusion of laws of hosting and participating rights at regional, continental and world championships or major athletic events.

“In accordance with the provisions of section 58 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, I forward herewith the National Anti-Doping Bill 2024 for the kind consideration of the Senate.

“The National Anti-Doping Bill 2024 seeks to create an administratively independent National Anti-Doping organisation, which is a cardinal requirement for Nigeria to achieve compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code and the international standard for code compliance by signatures.

The enactment of this vital legislation will also help Nigeria avoid the imposition of signatory consequences, the inclusion of laws of hosting and participating rights at regional, continental and world championships or major athletic events”, Mr Tinubu added.

The president, however, urged the lawmakers to consider the bill before the Olympic Games seminar scheduled to be held in Paris in July for Nigerians to be part of the competition.

 “It is my hope that this submission will receive the humankind expeditious consideration of the distinguished members of the Senate of the Federal Nigeria for passage of the same to law before the Olympic Games seminar in Paris in July 2024.

“Please accept, distinguished president, the assurances of our highest consideration. Regards.”

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Medical Tourism: Senate Mulls Health Infrastructure Development Agency

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The Senate at the plenary on Thursday passed through second reading, a Bill seeking for an Act to establish the Health Infrastructure Development Agency to provide a comprehensive framework to guide the planning, financing, construction, maintenance, and regulation of healthcare infrastructure in Nigeria.


The proposed legislation titled; “Bill for an Act to establish Health Infrastructure Development Agency,” was sponsored by the Minority Whip, Senator Osita Ngwu.

Leading the debate on its general principles, Ngwu who represents Enugu West senatorial district explained that the bill seeks to promote development and improvement of healthcare infrastructure so as to enhance healthcare access, quality, and delivery across the country.

He further explained that it seeks to strengthen the healthcare system by focusing on the modernization of healthcare facilities by leveraging public-private partnerships for sustainable infrastructure development.
The lawmaker lamented that the Nigerian healthcare industry faces challenges associated with outbound medical tourism, inadequate medical personnel and deteriorating medical infrastructure.
Making reference to a report by the International Trade Administration, which stated that Nigeria is still underdeveloped, lacks modern medical facilities and its healthcare indicators were some of the worst in Africa, Ngwu recalled that to reverse the trend, the government approved the second National Strategic Health Development Plan (2018-2020).
He pointed out that part of the objective of the plan was to improve availability and functionality of health infrastructure required to optimize service delivery at all levels, saying that it’s against this background that this Bill is proposed.
The lawmaker added that the Bill was a bold attempt at not only reversing the medical tourism of Nigerians to other countries, but also seeks to make Nigeria a medical destination hub within the shortest possible time.
“Healthcare infrastructure constitutes a major component of the structural quality of a health system. It is a key pillar that supports the aim of promoting improved standard of medical care and wellbeing. The Bill outlines the responsibilities and powers of a Board, emphasizes collaboration and coordination among stakeholders, and provides for the issuance of regulations and guidelines to support effective implementation of its objectives.
“The Bill proposes the establishment of an Agency to administer the framework for policy direction, standards, guidelines, efficient construction processes, and quality control measures. The Agency would also ensure that healthcare facilities are designed, constructed, and maintained to meet the highest standards and support the delivery of quality healthcare services.
“The Bill emphasizes the importance of rural healthcare access and outlines strategies for addressing healthcare disparities in rural areas. By implementing these strategies, Nigeria can enhance healthcare access and delivery in rural communities, improving health outcomes and reducing disparities. Provision is also made to accommodate the importance of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the types of PPP models that can be employed. By implementing these guidelines, Nigeria can effectively leverage the expertise and resources of the private sector to improve healthcare access, affordability, and quality,” Ngwu said.
Thereafter the Bill was put to a voice vote by the President of the Senate; Godswill Akpabio who presided over the session and it was passed and referred to the Committee on Health Institutions.
Senate Passes North West Development Commission Establishment Bill
Similarly, the Senate on Thursday passed the North West Development Commission (NWDC) establishment bill, to address challenges facing the seven states in the zone.
This followed the adoption of the report of the Senate Committee on Special Duties, on the NWDC (Establishment) at Thursday’s plenary.
Presenting the report, the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Shehu Kaka from Borno State said the purpose of the bill was well structured and strategically streamlined, for the socio-economic development of the North West zone of the country.
He added that the commission’s establishment would bring the federal government closer to the north western states, and meet the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
Kaka, therefore, urged the Senate to pass the bill.
The lawmakers unanimously passed the bill when it was put to a voice vote by the deputy senate president, Barau Jibrin who presided over the plenary.
In his remarks, Barau commended his colleagues for supporting the bill’s passage.
He said the commission would address the challenges, facing the zone and, by extension, the country.
Describing the North West as the food basket of the country, he said the commission would also work toward the restoration of infrastructure, destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents and bandits in the zone.
“So if we are serious about ensuring we have food, and for food security to be attained in this country, we must provide the necessary infrastructure for all our key sectors to thrive well.
“This commission is needed. I commend you all for supporting this; no one said no. Everybody supported this idea. So, now we are pushing the Bill to the House of Representatives for their approval and then, to Mr President for assent,” he said.

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Herdsmen Kill Pregnant Woman, 10 Others in Benue

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From Attah Ede, Makurdi

Suspected armed herdsmen again reportedly killed a pregnant woman, 10 other persons during attack on Akilo community in Usha council ward in Agatu West of Agatu Local Government Area (LGA) of Benue State.

It was gathered that the victims were killed in their homes by the marauders who invaded  the community at about 3:30pm on Sunday.

The caretaker chairman of Agatu LGA, Mr.

Yakubu Ochepo, who confirmed the killings, said that “11 people  were killed.

Ochepo said of the number of  deaths recorded, seven corpses have been recovered.

According to him, A pregnant woman corpse, an elderly man and that of five youths have been recovered, adding  that the community members were able to achieve this through the  aid of soldiers and Air force personnel deployed to the area.

“Soldiers and Air Force went there yesterday (Sunday), to recover the corpses. There were gunshots and they were running away only to regroup again.

“I’m in Makurdi now to report to Operations Whirl Stroke. We need more hands. We hear they captured some alive and threw some into the river but we are still waiting for more reports from the area.

“We have not been able to recover the remaining four corpses yet,” he explained.

Ochepo appealed to both the state and Federal Governments to take drastic action towards ending the carnage by deploying more security personnel to Agatu to check the activities of the killer herdsmen in the LGA.

When contacted, the Benue State Command Police Public Relations Officer, Catherine Anene said she was yet to get information about the fresh attack in Agatu.

It would be recalled that three farmers were reportedly killed by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen at Ogbaulu community in Agatu LGA.

 The victims were working on their farms when the herders came to slaughter them.

Similarly, on April  9, 15 persons were killed after suspected herders attacked same Ogbaulu community.

It was gathered that the attackers conducted relentless attacks on the area for two weeks, invading  all the villages the area.

The Chairman of Agatu listed some of the communities currently  under siege by armed herders in Agatu LGA as: Olegomakwu, Onahe, Ocholonya, Okokolo, Ugboju, Olegobidu, Odugbeho, Odejo, Ogbaulu, Imwenyi, Adana, Ologba-Gishu, Iwarri, Ejima-gope, Ejima-gochi, Ikpele and Okpokpolo.

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