…reopens cases against Fayose, Kwankwaso, Nnamani, Lamido, Sylva, others
•Diezani, other ex-ministers listed as agency vows not to spare politically exposed persons
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has reopened money laundering cases against 13 former governors and some former ministers, with the amounts involved running into over N853.8bn.
The PUNCH findings revealed that the amount at stake in the high-profile cases involving the former governors and ex-ministers was not less than N772.2bn, however, the anti-graft agency is currently investigating the N81.6bn that was allegedly looted in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
However, another $2.2bn was alleged to have gone missing through money laundering, fund diversion and misappropriation in recent times. The $2.2bn was allegedly diverted by a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; late media mogul, Raymond Dokpesi; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; and former Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, and others.
According to the EFCC, the money was meant for arms procurement in support of the war against terrorists, but it was laundered, diverted, and misappropriated.
While Dasuki was in custody of the Department of State Services in 2015, the EFCC arrested Dokpesi, Bafarawa, Yuguda and others.
They were all arrested after being indicted by a presidential committee that investigated arms procurement under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The committee said about $2.2bn was diverted for purposes other than arms procurement.
The affected persons include two former Ekiti State governors, Kayode Fayemi and Ayo Fayose; former Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle; two former Enugu State governors, Chimaroke Nnamani and Sullivan Chime; former Nasarawa State governor, Abdullahi Adamu; former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
Others are former Rivers State governor, Peter Odili; former Abia State governor, Theodore Orji; former Gombe State governor, Danjuma Goje; former Sokoto State governor, Aliyu Wamako; former Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva; and former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido.
Matawalle, who is currently serving as the Minister of Defence in the administration of President Bola Tinubu, is being probed for alleged N70bn money laundering; while Fayemi, who served as Minister of Solid Minerals Development in former President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet from November 11, 2015 to May 30, 2018, before resigning to contest the governorship election for his second term, is being investigated for an alleged N4bn fraud, while Fayose, a two-term governor of Ekiti State, is being investigated by the anti-graft agency for an alleged N6.9bn fraud.
Nnamani is being probed for an alleged N5.3bn fraud; Chime is being investigated over an alleged N450m campaign fraud as part of the N23bn allegedly shared by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, while Adamu is under probe for alleged N15bn fraud.
Kwakwanso is being probed for alleged non-remittance of N10bn pension fund; Orji is being investigated over alleged N551bn money laundering; while Odili is similarly being probed for alleged N100bn fraud. It is not yet clear how the probe of the ex-Rivers State governor will be handled as he obtained an order of perpetual injunction restraining the EFCC and other security agencies from a Federal High Court in March 2008, which has not been vacated to date.
Goje is being probed by the commission for an alleged N5bn fraud; Wammako is being investigated for allegedly diverting N15bn; Sylva, a former Minister of State for Petroleum under Buhari, is under probe for alleged N19.2bn money laundering; while Lamido is being investigated over an alleged N1.35bn fraud.
Diezani is being probed over several alleged money laundering cases running into several billions of naira and millions of dollars.
Sources privy to the development told our correspondent on Friday that the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, was reviewing all the high-profile cases, and had since his assumption of office reappointed investigators to take up the several probes without prejudice to the suspects’ social or political status.
“The chairman is reviewing all high profile cases, and he has ordered the investigators not to treat anyone differently, especially politically exposed persons, such as former governors and ministers, who were indicted for money laundering,” an impeccable source told The PUNCH.
The EFCC had also recently commenced the probe of some former ministers, Olu Agunloye (power, mines and steel), Olu Agunloye, over an alleged $6bn fraud on the Mambilla Power Project; and Sadiya Umar-Farouk (humanitarian affairs), over an alleged N37.1bn fraud.
Agunloye and Umar-Farouq served under former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Muhammadu Buhari, respectively. The EFCC is probing both former ministers and arraigned Agunloye, who was remanded in a custodial centre pending the perfection of his N50m bail.
The commission is also probing the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, and the embattled Coordinator of the suspended National Social Investment Programme Agency, Halima Shehu, over alleged N81.6bn fraud uncovered in the ministry.
The PUNCH learnt that the commission was also probing the chief executive officers of several banks, civil servants, and contractors in connection with the humongous fraud uncovered in the ministry.
Olukoyede had on Friday declared that all high-profile cases would be reviewed and revisited, while noting that indicted former or incumbent public officials’ corruption cases would not be overlooked or abandoned by the commission.
He made the declaration in Abuja through the acting Director of Public Affairs, EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, who spoke to journalists following a protest by members of the Zamfara Alternative Forum at the commission’s headquarters in Jabi, Abuja.
Members of the group had urged the anti-graft agency to revisit the probe of the immediate past governor of the state, Matawalle, over alleged N70bn money laundering.
Responding to the request of the protesters, Uwujaren revealed that Olukoyede had reviewed all inherited high-profile cases since he assumed office, adding that the commission would proceed with the probe of every indicted high-profile person.
He said, “I want to assure you that, as far as the commission is concerned, nobody is above the law. What the EFCC Chairman, Ola Olukoyede, has done since assuming office is that he has reviewed all the high-profile cases he inherited.
“And the EFCC Chairman has asked me to assure you that this case, like others, will not be an exception. The case will be reviewed, and the chairman assures you that something will be done under the law, and no one is above the law and no case shall be swept under the carpet.
“Rest assured that these cases will be revisited because the EFCC believes that no case should be swept under the carpet. If you have done something wrong and if our investigation is able to establish that you have a case, we will proceed with the matter.”
On May 18, 2023, the EFCC, through its spokesman, Osita Nwajah, had said Matawalle was being investigated by the commission over allegations of monumental corruption, award of phantom contracts, and diversion of over N70bn.
He stated, “The money, which was sourced as a loan from an old-generation bank purportedly for the execution of projects across the local government areas of the state, was allegedly diverted by the governor through proxies and contractors, who received payment for contracts that were not executed.
“The commission’s investigations revealed that more than 100 companies received payments from the funds, with no evidence of service rendered to the state.
“Some of the contractors, who had been invited and quizzed by the commission, made startling revelations on how they were allegedly compelled by the governor to return the funds received from the state coffers back to him through his aides after converting the same to United States dollars.”
PHOTOS: World Tallest Man Meets Shortest Woman Again
The World’s tallest man has reunited with the world’s shortest woman six years after their viral photoshoot in front of the Egyptian pyramids.
According to The Sun on Monday, Sultan Kosen, who stands at 8ft 3in, and Jyoti Amge, who is just 2ft tall, were a striking pair as they posed for pictures in Irvine, California, on Monday.
There is a 6ft height difference between the two, who earned their respective Guiness World Record titles in 2009 for ‘Tallest Living Man’ and 2011 for ‘Shortest Living Woman’.
Kosen, 41, from Turkey, and Amge, 30, from India, previously met for a photoshoot in Cairo, Egypt, in 2018, where they posed in front of the Giza Pyramids as part of a campaign to revive the country’s struggling tourism industry.
Their tall and small stature was caused by medical conditions. Amge has a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia that stopped her growth, while Kosen had a tumor that caused pituitary gigantism, which gave him a massive growth spurt aged 10.
According to the Guinness World Records, Kosen is the first person in more than a decade to measure over 8ft and is one of only 10 confirmed cases in history.
While he is the tallest man in the world, his family members are all average size. Kosen was also normal height up until his growth spurt when he was 10 years old.
His massive size is the result of a condition known as ‘pituitary gigantism,’ which is caused by an over-production of growth hormone.
Kosen unable to complete his education due to his size supported his family by working as a farmer.
In 2013, he married Merve Dibo, a Syrian native ten years his junior, though the language barrier between Turkish and Arabic posed communication challenges, ultimately leading to their divorce in 2021. Kosen ventured into acting, starring in the 2016 film “Achieving the Impossible” after traveling to Hollywood.In 2016, he traveled to Hollywood for his starring role in the film Achieving the Impossible.
On the other hand, Amge’s diminutive stature, resulting from achondroplasia, is characteristic of her condition, with the average female affected typically growing to 48 inches tall.
Her petite frame gained worldwide recognition, particularly after being officially declared the world’s smallest woman in 2011, weighing just 11 pounds as a teenager.
She pursued acting, notably appearing alongside A-list stars like Jessica Lange in “American Horror Story: Freak Show” as Ma Petit in 2014.
American Sues Lottery Firm Over $340m Win Declared As Mistake
A Washington DC man, John Cheeks, has filed a lawsuit against Powerball and the DC Lottery.
Cheeks had earlier thought he won a jackpot worth $340m (£270m), before Powerball and the DC Lottery, said they posted Cheeks numbers by mistake.
Powerball is an American lottery game offered by 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In January 2023, Cheeks saw Powerball’s winning numbers corresponded with his ticket. However, showing his ticket to the Office of Lottery and Gaming, Cheeks disclosed his claim was rejected and he is now suing the lottery for damages accumulating to the Powerball jackpot, the interest he would have earned on it per day summing $340m.
He said, “One of the claims agents told me my ticket was no good, just to throw it in the trash can.”
Cheeks is now suing on eight separate counts, among which are breach of contract, negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and fraud.
According to court documents, Powerball and a lottery contractor, the DC-based Taoti Enterprises, claim the confusion arose from a technical error, BBC reports.
In a court filing, a Taoti employee said that on 6 January 2023 – the day Mr Cheeks bought his ticket – a quality assurance team was running tests on the website.
On that day, a set of test Powerball numbers, which matched Mr Cheeks’ numbers – was posted on the website “accidentally”, according to court documents. Those numbers remained online for three days, until 9 January, adding that the numbers online did not match the numbers that were drawn at the last lottery draw.
The BBC reports that neither Powerball nor Taoti responded to its request for comment on the case.
“This lawsuit raises critical questions about the integrity and accountability of lottery operations and the safeguards – or lack thereof – against the type of errors that Powerball and the DC Lottery contend occurred in this case,” Cheeks’ lawyer, Richard Evans, told the BBC.
He believes the winning numbers corresponded to Cheeks’ numbers and was privileged to the “entire jackpot,” adding that “this is not merely about numbers on a website; it’s about the reliability of institutions that promise life-changing opportunities, while heavily profiting in the process.”
While speaking, Cheeks expressed confidence in the law system, saying, “I know the justice system will prevail.”
The case is therefore scheduled for hearing on February 23.
One Dead, 21 Injured In US Super Bowl Parade Shooting
One person has died and 21 people were wounded in a shooting in Missouri at the end of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade in the United States.
Officials said they treated eight victims who were in immediately life-threatening condition and seven others who had suffered injuries that could prove life-threatening.
According to BBC, nine children were among the wounded – all are expected to recover. And, the police said they have arrested three suspects in connection to the shooting.
The shots were fired west of Union Station, the train station in downtown Kansas City, which was where the parade ended at around 14:00 local time (20:00 GMT) and thousands of fans had gathered to watch the festivities.
Local reports said Kansas City Chiefs players were still on a stage there when the first shots rang out.
The gunfire caused the watching crowd, including the city’s mayor and his family members, to run for cover.
Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said officers responded immediately after the gunshots broke out and detectives who were on the scene quickly opened an investigation. The Fire Department also sprang to action, administering aid to the injured.
More than 800 police officers were already on the scene to monitor the parade, officials said. The city’s fire department was also present to provide medical attention if needed.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Chief Graves said a total of 22 people were struck by gunfire – one of whom is dead – and three individuals were arrested.
A local radio station said one of its DJs, Lisa Lopez, was killed in the shooting.
The surviving victims were transported to three local hospitals, officials said, with the immediately life-threatening cases taken to hospital within 10 minutes of the shooting.
Nine children aged six to 15 with gunshot wounds are being treated at Children’s Mercy Hospital, chief nursing officer Stephanie Meyer said.
“The one word I would just use to describe what we saw and how they felt when they came to us was fear,” Ms Meyer added.
Local hospitals said they were also treating people who were not shot but who had suffered other injuries in the sudden stampede that followed the shooting.
City officials did not release the names of any of the victims. They also did not share any information about the suspects who were arrested, including what might have led to the shooting.
A law enforcement source told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, that the shooting appeared to be the result of an argument that turned violent. The source said it was not terrorism-related.
Police said they are investigating a motive and gathering physical as well as digital evidence. They asked for any witnesses or individuals with information to contact law enforcement.
A city ‘heartbroken’
The shooting broke out as the city was celebrating a second straight Super Bowl win by the Kansas City Chiefs. But this lesser-known American city was robbed of its exhilarating and unifying moment.
Kansas City’s mayor Quinton Lucas said he was inside the Union Station when he and others heard the sound of gunfire. He and members of his family started running.
“We went out today like everyone in Kansas City looking to have a celebration,” Mr Lucas said at Wednesday’s news conference.
“I was there with my wife, I was there with my mother. I never would’ve thought that we, along with Chiefs players, along with fans, hundreds of thousands of people, would be forced to run for our safety today.”
In a statement, the Kansas City Chiefs organisation said it was “truly saddened” by Wednesday’s violence. It added that its players, coaches and staff – as well as their families – were accounted for and safe.
Travis Kelce, the star tight end of the team whose relationship with Taylor Swift became a cultural phenomenon, wrote on social media that he was “heartbroken over the tragedy that took place today.”
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a wide receiver for the Chiefs, also took to social media after the tragedy. He said he wanted to get in touch with the young victims of the shooting.
“I want to make sure they’re doing ok,” Mr Valdes-Scantling said. “But would love to help them out any way I can and get them some stuff from the team to help with the recovery.”
The mayor emphasised that the city had security measures in place, and it should make the public think deeply about a path forward. Despite hundreds of law enforcement present, he said, this incident still occurred due to the presence of bad actors with guns.
In a statement, US President Joe Biden also reflected on the issue of gun violence in the country.
“Today’s events should move us, shock us, shame us into action,” he said, as he called for gun reform and a ban on assault rifles in the US.
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