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1.4b Laundering Case: How Ex-NBA Boss, Usoro Got N1.1bn From Akwa Ibom Govt -Witness

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The second prosecution witness, PW2, Abdulrahman Arabo, in the ongoing trial of Paul Usoro, SAN, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, for alleged N1.4bn fraud, has told Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the defendant received a sum of N1.1bn from the Akwa-Ibom State government.

Usoro was first arraigned on December 18, 2018 before Justice Muslim Hassan of the same court.

He was later re-arraigned on March 1, 2019 on a 10-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N1.4bn.

One of the counts reads: “ That you, Paul Usoro, SAN, Emmanuel Udom (currently constitutionally immune against criminal prosecution), Uwemedimo Thomas Nwoko (still at large), Nsikan Linus Nkan, Commissioner of Finance, Akwa Ibom State (still at large), Mfon Jacobson Udomah, Accountant-General, Akwa Ibom State (still at large) and Margaret Thompson Ukpe (still at large), sometime in 2015 in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence, to wit: conversion of the sum of N1. 410, 000, 000, 000.00 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Ten Million Naira), property of the Government of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity to wit: criminal breach of trust and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

He pleaded “not guilty” to the charge preferred against him.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, U.U. Buhari, at resumed sitting on Wednesday, 3rd of December 2020, Arabo, an investigator with the EFCC, told the court that the defendant failed to link the money found in his account to the cases he claimed to be handling in courts.

When asked by the defence counsel, O.E.B Effiong SAN, if he received any letter from the defendant that was addressed to the Chairman of the EFCC stating the details of the job he did for the Akwa-Ibom State government and the payment received, Arabo answered in the affirmative.

Arabo, during cross-examination by the defence, also revealed that “there was an allegation that the defendant was laundering money for the Akwa-Ibom State government, and the evidence showed that he received about N1.1bn between 2015 and 2016 from the State Government.”

Arabo, however, denied holding the defendant till the wee hours of the night of June 4, 2020, during his first visit to the EFCC office in Abuja.

He said the delay experienced by the defendant on the said day was due to the fact that he had been given a bail condition to meet and his international passport was to be brought to him at the EFCC office in Abuja from Lagos.

Justice Aikawa adjourned the matter to December 4, 2020 for continuation of trial.

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Don’t Disregard Experts’ Advice, NMA tells FG as Schools Resume

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Schools Resume

The Nigerian Medical Association on Sunday advised federal and state governments against disregarding medical experts on school resumption in Nigeria due to COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The NMA President, Professor Innocent Ujah, stated this in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents while commenting on government’s decision to reopen schools beginning from Monday (today).

 

Ujah stated that although the association would not advise government not to reopen schools, he stated that authorities must ensure compliance with COVID-19 guidelines of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

 

The experts spoke as coronavirus cases in the country rose from 75,062 on December 17, 2020 to 108,943 on Sunday, January 17, 2021.

 

Also during the same period, COVID-19 deaths increased from 1,200 to 1,420, an increase of 220.

 

Advising government on the rising cases, the NMA president stated, “What we are saying is that for schools to reopen, authorities must be prepared. We don’t know how long COVID-19 will last for us to say schools should not reopen.

 

“But what we are saying is that they (school authorities) must prepare to comply with the NCDC protocols of hand washing at several points not just one point.

 

“In the universities where we have a large number of people in faculties and departments, there must be points for hand washing and sanitizers. The issue of face mask is a must and social distancing in the classrooms is also important.”

 

He suggested that lectures should conducted online, adding, “Once we comply with these protocols, I believe they will reduce the spread.”

 

While stating that the association had earlier advised Federal Government not to deploy people for the National Youth Service Corps, Ujah, who is also Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, said that the NMA would continue to advise authorities.

 

He stated, “The NMA said that the NYSC should not deploy corps member for now. We don’t know what government will do, but we have to advise that authorities must listen to experts. That is one way of making progress, therefore reducing infections.”

 

Saturday PUNCH had reported that the Federal Government shunned a recommendation by the Economic Sustainability Committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and decided to re-open orientation camps nationwide on Tuesday amid rising COVID-19 infections.

 

According to the report, the Osinbajo-led committee had in June 2020 recommended that while the NYSC programme could continue, the three-week orientation exercise should be suspended for two years.

 

Schools resume in Lagos, Ogun, others

Meanwhile, nursery, primary and secondary schools in states including Lagos, Ogun, Ogun, Ebonyi and Nasarawa will today resume academic activities for the second term of the 2020/21 academic year.

 

Some higher institutions, both federal and states, had also signified their intention to resume academic activities today.

 

Resumption at basic schools was delayed in many states following the second wave of COVID-19 as well as the advice by the NCDC.

 

 

Schools in Oyo State, however, resumed on January 4, while schools in Edo and Anambra states will resume in February.

 

The Lagos State Government, in a statement on Friday, affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in the state below tertiary level should resume on Monday (today).

In the statement, the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, urged students and staff members to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

 

Also, the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, had on Friday directed all primary, secondary as well as government science and technical colleges to resume academic activities on Monday.

 

Arigbabu appealed to parents, guardians, teachers, school administrators and other stakeholders to ensure full compliance with all coronavirus protocols

 

Also, the Ebonyi State Government will deploy two nurses in each public school ahead of today’s resumption to stem the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The Chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Mr Francis Elechi, who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria, explained that the nurses would assist the teachers, who had been trained on the preventive measures against the second wave of COVID-19.

 

Similarly in Nasarawa State, Governor Abdullahi Sule approved the resumption of all schools in the state with effect from today.

 

The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hajiya Fatu Sabo, in a statement said the ministry had put machinery in motion to ensure maximum compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols.

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BREAKING NEWS: NSCDC CG Hands over To Madu As Tenure Ends Today

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Alhaji Gana Muhammed, Commandant General, Nigeria Securiry and Civil Defence, official tenure ends today.

He, at about 3.32 PM, handed over the affairs of NSCDC to the Deputy Commandant General Operation, Kelechi Madu.

Madu will be incharge pending the official announcement of the new substantive CG by the mr President

Details later

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Nigerian Law School Rejects Law Graduates Of Benin Republic Varsity

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The Council of Legal Education has reiterated its ban on Law graduates of the Houdegbe North American University, Cotonou, Benin Republic from being admitted into the Nigerian Law School.

The Council also advised parents and students to exercise due diligence in the choice of educational institutions “in order to avoid frustration at the end of the day.”

In a statement by the Secretary, Mrs Elizabeth Max-Uba, on Friday, the Council said after its meeting to consider the appeals of the affected graduates on November 25, 2020, it resolved to sustain the ban imposed in 2015.

Part of the reasons for the ban, the Council said was that the university is domiciled in Civil Law jurisdiction yet its law faculty was offering Common Law courses only, and that the subjects of the programme were specifically designated Nigerian.

The Council also noted that the students of the school were 100% Nigerians and the language of instruction was English, whereas French is the lingua franca of Benin Republic, adding that “the lecturers were Nigerians drawn from faculties of law in the South West region of Nigeria, who were teaching there on part-time basis.”

“Information gathered from independent sources indicated that the university had no approval from the regulatory authority in that country to run a law programme in the university until 2016, after the decision was taken by the Council to suspend admission of its graduates to the Nigerian Law School,” the statement read.

“There are continuing concerns over substandard tertiary institutions in the West African sub-region, Benin Republic in particular, that target Nigerian students for commercial or monetary gains only.

“Although the Council has no regulatory control over institutions domiciled outside Nigeria, it is vested with powers to determine who is admitted into the Nigerian Law School and under which conditions.

“It also has the responsibility to ensure that candidates admitted to the Nigerian Law School have obtained the minimum standards in learning and have imbibed the basic tenets of the law.”

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