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Diezani Alison-Madueke faces bribery charges in London court

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• Diezani Allison-Madueke in London court on Monday
A former Nigerian oil minister appeared in court in London on Monday charged with receiving bribes in the form of cash, luxury goods, flights on private jets and the use of high-end properties in Britain in return for awarding oil contracts.

Diezani Alison-Madueke was Nigeria’s minister for petroleum resources between 2010 and 2015, during the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan.

She is the second high-profile Nigerian politician to face prosecution in Britain in recent years, following James Ibori, a former state governor who was convicted of fraud and money-laundering in 2012 and received a 13-year jail sentence.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and top oil producer but it suffers from systemic corruption in the political class which has hampered development and prevented its oil wealth from benefitting wider society.

Alison-Madueke was arrested in London in 2015, shortly after stepping down as minister, and was charged in August with six bribery offences. She has spent the past eight years on police bail, living in St John’s Wood, an expensive area of London.

Making her first court appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court, she spoke only to give her name, date of birth and address. She was not asked to enter a plea.

The charges against her, read out in court, all related to events alleged to have taken place in London during her time as a minister.

Prosecutor Andy Young said she was alleged to have accepted a wide range of advantages in cash and in kind from people who wanted to receive or continue to receive the award of oil contracts which he said were worth billions of dollars in total.

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The advantages included a delivery of 100,000 pounds ($121,620) in cash, the payment of private school fees for her son, and the use and refurbishment of several luxurious properties in London and in the English countryside.

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They also included the use of a Range Rover car, payment of bills for chauffeur-driven cars, furniture, and purchases from the upmarket London department store Harrods and from Vincenzo Caffarella, which sells Italian decorative arts and antiques.

Britain, Nigeria’s former colonial ruler, has long been a destination of choice for affluent members of the Nigerian political elite seeking to enjoy the benefits of their wealth.

London is a global money-laundering hub but it remains rare for public figures like Alison-Madueke to face prosecution for corruption-related offences. (Reuters)

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Binance, OctaFX, Coinbase, others blocked over forex crisis (FULL LIST)

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Binance, OctaFX, Coinbase, others blocked over forex crisis (FULL LIST)

The Federal Government has moved against online platforms of Binance and other cryptocurrency firms over alleged manipulation of the forex market.

Binance is a digital assets platform which serves as a window for peer to peer transaction allowing users to advertise interest to sell or buy currencies of their choice.

On February 5, 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed banks, non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs) to close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions.

The regulator also warned local financial institutions against dealing in crypto assets or facilitating payments for crypto exchanges.

CBN cited concerns over money laundering, terrorism financing, cybercrime, and the volatility of cryptocurrencies as reasons for the ban.

In December 2023, the Central Bank of Nigeria changed its stance on crypto assets and asked banks to disregard its February 2021 ban on crypto transactions.

This latest restriction on crypto websites is aimed at slowing currency speculation activities in the country, with Binance stating that its platform is not for currency pricing.

Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, argued that Binance and other crypto platforms should be banned from operating in Nigeria.

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He said the cryptocurrency trading platform is facing restrictions in multiple jurisdictions such as the United States, Singapore, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Reacting, Binance said its firm does not operate as a price discovery platform and FX rates are determined by complex forces that have nothing to do with the company.

The trading company said it provides a market-driven peer-to-peer (P2P) platform that is not meant to be a proxy for currency pricing in Nigeria.

SEE ALSO:  Enugu govt withdraws fraudulent approvals obtained by property developers

The platform users have complained about their inability to buy dollars.

The platforms blocked include:

– Binance

– Forextime

– OctaFX

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– Crypto

– FXTM

– Coinbase

– Kraken

– Kucoin

– Bybit

There are also many other platforms used in the cryptocurrency transaction in Nigeria.

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Military warns Nigerians calling for coup over economic hardship

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Military warns Nigerians calling for coup over economic hardship
• Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa
The military has issued a warning to those calling for a coup against President Bola Tinubu’s administration on account of the hardship in Nigeria.

Nigeria is currently facing one of its worst economic crises in history, triggering protests in different parts of the country.

Some people have said if things do not get addressed on time, the military could stage a coup and oust the government of President Bola Tinubu.

Reacting to this, Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, said those insinuating such do not mean well for the country, warning that the law would catch up with them.

Musa said the Armed Forces would continue to do the needful to protect the country’s democracy.

He spoke while responding to questions from newsmen shortly after he commissioned the main entrance of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army and Officers Transit Accommodation, both at the Division Headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

While admitting that the country was experiencing some challenges, he said coup calls were improper because nations achieve more and develop faster under a democracy.

“Whoever is making that call (coup) does not love Nigeria. We want to make it very clear that the Armed Forces of Nigeria are here to protect democracy. We all want democracy and we do better under democracy. And so we will continue to support democracy. And any of those ones that are calling for anything other than Democracy are evil people and I think they don’t mean well for Nigeria.

“And they should be very careful because the law will come after them. We can see that with democracy a lot of things are happening in Nigeria. Yes, we are going through trying periods, I mean in life nothing is hundred percent.”

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He emphasized that what is needed is for citizens to be patient and give their support to the Tinubu government to succeed and put the enemies of the state calling for a coup to shame.

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“Everybody goes through a trying period in life, and it is what you do with them. You can see the government putting efforts to ensure that we come out better. And it is when you go through difficulties and come out better you will really appreciate what it is to build a nation. And so we are going through our trying period, but I can assure Nigerians that it will get better.

“All we need is for all of us to put our hands together to ensure that we defeat those enemies of the government, those enemies of this country that don’t want us to succeed. We will surely succeed and the Armed Forces are here to support the Government in ensuring that we develop, we succeed and to see that there is peace in Nigeria.”

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Enugu govt withdraws fraudulent approvals obtained by property developers

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Enugu govt withdraws fraudulent approvals obtained by property developers
Executive Chairman ECTDA, Mr Uche Anya at the press briefing in Enugu on Thursday

Enugu State Government, on Thursday, decried what it called worrisome activities of some developers parading fraudulent approvals.

Executive Chairman of the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, ECTDA, Mr Uche Anya disclosed this while briefing journalists.

He said such fraudulent approvals have been withdrawn, vowing that the government would never succumb to blackmail.

Anya said, “it is very disheartening that in spite of all we have done, we are still facing challenges in our development control, we have some unscrupulous developers who call themselves investors, sabotaging our master plan, corrupting the system.

“We have instances where people secured approvals using the Certificate of Occupancy, C of O of a different area and passed it on for a property in another location.”

He cited a particular outfit operating in Independence Layout, a night club, which he said has a land title of a property in GRA but passed it on for another property in Independence Layout

“On top of that, they went out of their way and built things not approved.

“We have a similar instance opposite Fire Service, you will see a huge building that we don’t know what to make of it, whether to call it a hotel or complex or whatsoever, in variance to what was approved.

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“Then you go to the bank of Ekulu River, people who have jettisoned even the setback they signed up for and they are parading fake approvals, distorting our place, threatening our bridges, we cannot afford to have another collapsed bridge in Enugu. We must save Trans Ekulu Bridge at all costs.

“So we want to tell the world that we are not afraid of doing the right thing.

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“We have withdrawn all the approvals that were fraudulently obtained and we intend to ensure that Enugu State, as much as we would do everything to encourage investors, will not allow unscrupulous people to violate our laws and end up blackmailing government officials.

“How on earth did someone get approval for a night club in Independence Layout using title documents of GRA?” Anya queried.

“All the people that have approval for one property and end up building up everywhere, we are also withdrawing such approvals.

“We need the world to understand that Enugu is a city of law and order and all our investment drives remain in front burner. All genuine investors have nothing to fear but those who want to corrupt the system have everything to worry about,” he added.

The ECTDA boss assured all genuine investors that Enugu State is open for investments.

He said, “we welcome people that want to make Enugu their preferred home. Enugu is home for all and this is what this administration is committed to.

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“Our 30 billion dollars investment drive for Enugu State is not a joke, and you can see that Governor Peter Mbah’s administration is not joking about it.

“You can see the massive infrastructural investment going on in all the places, you can see that we have paid attention to ease of doing business, the taxation system has been harmonized, this administration has zero tolerance for double taxation.

“You can see that E-government has taken firm root. For instance, we have eliminated corruption from our system of doing business.

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“In line with our ease of doing business, our land department is totally reformed, we can assure you that C of O in Enugu can be obtained within 72 hours if all your documentations are in order

“We also make it easy for every development approval to be processed and issued within 5 working days.”

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