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Boko Haram kills seven in fresh suicide attack

Boko Haram gunmen have mounted their first attacks since Nigeria’s government declared them “technically” defeated, killing seven people in a raid and suicide bombing, residents told AFP Wednesday. The attacks happened on Tuesday in a village in Gwoza, Borno State, near Sambisa Forest, where the army is looking to flush out remnants of the sect.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who has made crushing the rebellion a priority, in December said a sustained counter-offensive had reduced the group’s ability to strike effectively.

The first attack happened in Izgeki village, said one resident, who gave his name as Isyaku, from the town of Mubi in neighbouring Adamawa state.

“I received information from my relatives who fled the attack… that some Boko Haram gunmen on bicycles attacked Izgeki across the river from Izghe on Tuesday morning where they killed two people.

“The attack forced villagers to cross the river into Izghe. The gunmen pursued them. One of them who had a suicide belt on him blew himself up near the market, killing five people.”

Izghe was previously attacked in February 2014 where more than 100 people were killed as the rebels torched homes, opened fire and set off explosives.

Thousands of residents fled the attack into Adamawa towards the town of Madagali and elsewhere but following the army’s recapture of territory, some managed to return and begin reconstruction.

Izghe is in the district of Gwoza, which Boko Haram captured in August 2014 and which the group’s shadowy leader Abubakar Shekau declared the centre of its self-styled caliphate.

Ayuba Chibok, an elder in the town of the same name, said there was also an attack in the nearby village of Nchiha at about 10pm on Tuesday.

EFCC vows to prosecute Bureaux De Change involved in $2.1bn arms scandal

The Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has said no Bureau De Change operator involved in the ongoing $2.1bn arms deal probe will be spared.

Mr. Magu, who spoke during a courtesy call to his office in Abuja by Bureau De Change operators on Tuesday also re-iterated the existing mutual relationship between the Commission and the group in the areas of sensitisation and training.

According to him, “My operatives often tell me what they see you during investigations. We need to talk to you, as some of your operators are fond of carrying huge amounts of money out of the country, since they can no longer withdraw more than $300 using the ATM.

‘‘There are fraudulent involvements of Bureau De Change operators in the arms deal scandal. There are reports of some of your members withdrawing as much as N500million in two, three, four tranches in this arms deal scam. So, I am greatly disturbed. I think there should be a documentation regarding your activities, as this will enable your group to checkmate anyone who is involved in any fraudulent activity.”

Mr. Magu said operator found culpable would be prosecuted.

Anenih gave us N53 million’ – Yakasai

Elder Statesman, Tanko Yakasai Wednesday confirmed that Chief Tony Anenih gave him and 8 other prominent northerners N53 million for for advocacy visit to northern traditional rulers to mobilised their subjects for hitch free 2015 general election. Yakasai in a chat with Vanguard Newspaper said that “yes, myself and 8 others collected N53m from chief Tony Anenih to pay advocacy visit to prominent northern emirs to mobilised their subjects for a hitch free 2015 general elections”.

The former President Shehu Shagari Special Adviser stated that the development followed a request by the PDP stalwart to make available to him list of “9 apolitical but respected individuals from the north”.

He declared that the N53m disbursed to his team by the Benin High Chief catered for the group’s members allowances, transportation and hotels accommodation on a tour that took them to 18 states in the north.

Yakasai who vehemently denied link between the fund and campaigns for former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, listed former minister of state, foreign Affairs, Alhaji Mamman Anka, Barrister Bitrus Gwada and Alhaji Suleiman Lawal as beneficiaries of the money.

Other beneficiaries includes, Dr Bahago, Chief John Macklink from Plateau, and Senator Sodangi.

Yakasai had last week denied ever recieving financial patronage from Jonathan administration during an interview with Vanguard Newspaper.

The former political aide to second Republic NPN President had in the interview said “I want to make it categorically clear that no officials of the last regime either Mr. Jonathan, his lieutenant, agents, contractors or person having links or relationship with the last administration gave me cash on behalf of that regime for a reason.”

Ekweremadu defends purchase of cars for Senate committees

The Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekwerenmadu, has defended the cash provision for the purchase of vehicles for Senate Committees, describing it as “a necessary expenditure.”

Chief Ekweremadu, in Umunumo, Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, during the presentation of about 100 tertiary scholarship awards to students, powered by Senator Athan Achonu, also linked the huge cost of procuring vehicles for the lawmakers on the prevailing exchange rate for the United States’ dollar.

“It is an indisputable fact that the exchange rate for the dollar has hit the skies in these days and age and this has adversely affected every other commodity in the country,” Ekweremadu said.

Attributing the high cost of the purchase of vehicles for the Senate committees’ assignment to the increase of the exchange rate, Chief Ekweremadu opined that it was not unusual for Nigerians to blame the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the outcome of what  they saw as abnormal.

“It is not a crime to buy vehicles for the use of Senate committees. This would enable  members of the various committees to carry out their assignments without hitches,” Ekweremadu said.

I never received N1.7 Billlion from Dasuki – Fani-Kayode

Former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode has denied media reports alleging that he received N1.7billion of the controversial arms deal fund from the office of the ex-National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.). Fani-Kayode, Fani-Kayode, who was Director of Media and Publicity, Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation, during the last Presidential election which Jonathan lost to President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement said he read with amusement the allegation made in the media report.

He said: “I read with amusement the allegation that was made in the media report that I was given 1.7 billion naira cash by President Goodluck Jonathan. This is false. A few hours later they changed their story and said that I received 1.7 billion naira from the office of the former NSA, Colonel Sambo Dasuki. This is also false.

“I have never received one kobo from President Jonathan himself, Colonel Dasuki or any other member of President Jonathan’s government. I have not ever been in receipt of any public funds and neither was I the beneficiary of any payments in cash, transfer, cheque or otherwise from any government official during the tenure of President Jonathan.

“As Director of Media and Publicity of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign organisation I received money on behalf of the Directorate of Media and Publicity which I headed from private individuals and companies during the election campaigns but these were not public funds but rather private contributions specifically for the Presidential and other campaigns.

“Such moneys were transferred into my account by the Director of Finance of the Presidential Campaign Organisation and that account was specifically set up for the purpose of running the publicity and media aspect of the campaign for the whole country and my Directorate.

“These private individuals and companies paid their contributions into a designated account which was provided and controlled by the Director of Finance and from there she transferred it to the accounts of the various Directors and various individuals that were running for public office that the PCO supported.

“The money that was sent to me for my Directorate by the Director of Finance was used in a lawful and responsible manner and by the time the campaigns were over my Directorate had paid all of its bills for services rendered and was not owing any media house or anyone else one kobo.

“The Presidential candidate of our party President Goodluck Jonathan, the D-G of the PCO, the Auditor of the PCO, the Advisor to the PCO and the Director of Finance of the PCO all received reports and saw the results of the efforts of my Directorate. Not only were they satisfied with our efforts but they also commended us.

“Those private individuals and companies that were kind enough to support and fund President Jonathans presidential campaign with their hard earned money were perfectly within their rights to do so and they were more than happy with our efforts as well.

“They also commended us. Even though we ended up losing the election we fought a very virile, strong, visible, historic and aggressive campaign and the Nigerian people can attest to this. The encounter with the APC was an epic one and it was probably the most active and gruelling electoral battle in the history of our country.

“Not one kobo of public funds was spent by or given to my Directorate during the campaign and as far as I am aware not one kobo of public funds was spent by or given to the PCO. Presidential campaigns all over the world cost huge amounts of money and Nigeria is no different.

“This is especially so when it comes to publicity and media. My Directorate was difficult to run and our work was capital intensive. We did not use marshmallows, pebbles, and grass to pay for all the services rendered to us and all the television and newspaper adverts were fully paid for with money.

“Nothing was done or given to us free of charge by anyone. This should not be a surprise to anyone as the APC and President Buhari’s campaign organisation did the same.

“I opened an account specifically for the funds that were used to run my Directorate and fund all our activities in order to ensure accountability and transparency.

“We also audited our accounts regularly and insisted on the highest level of professionalism from all those that worked for or with us.

“Since when such matters have become a crime or subjects of criminal investigations I don’t know. If it was a crime to speak up for Jonathan during the campaign they should just say so.

“If it is a crime to be a member of the PDP and to be in opposition they should just say so. If it is a crime to speak up for and defend President Jonathan and key members of his government after he has left office they should just say so.

“If it is a crime to oppose the Buhari administration and speak up against his gross violations of human rights that they are indulging in and the violation of court orders they should just say so.

“During the 2015 elections the PCO and my Directorate spoke up and campaigned for many PDP members who were running for public office and we funded and worked for them too. That was our job and I am very proud of the PCO and the role we all played despite limited resources.

“I am particularly proud of the efforts of my team at the Directorate and I can assure all those that care to listen and that refuse to be misled by the government propaganda machine that we did nothing wrong. All we did was run an effective campaign and we did so with private funds and not funds from the government.

“I am aware of the attempt by the government and my enemies to discredit me, smear my name and silence me by alleging all manner of wrongdoing but I am not in the least bit perturbed. As always my innocence will fight for me and my God will never forsake me.

“I know that this government is capable of doing anything, of inducing anyone to say anything and that they have no sense of decency, justice or fair play. They are prepared to charge anyone just for breathing the air if needs be and they can attempt to frame up anyone that they believe is a thorn in their flesh.

“I have always known this yet I refuse to run away or to be silenced and I will not be cowered. Though I have been warned and told over and over again by those amongst them who care for my well being that I have been listed down and targeted for persecution I am not in the least bit concerned about their evil plans for me. My life and destiny is in the hands of God and not theirs and He will fight for me and vindicate me.

“As I have always said, the night may be dark but joy comes in the morning. If it was a crime to use moneys that were freely donated by private individuals from lawful and legitimate sources to fund the Presidential and other campaigns let them say so.

“No election campaign anywhere in the world, including that of President Buhari was run with just words, goodwill, grass and pebbles and neither were we given free campaign adverts or air time. All these things were run and paid for with large sums of money.

“This is especially so with publicity and media because that was the lifeblood of the various campaigns. I repeat, there is nothing that we did in the campaign organisation or that my Directorate did that Lai Mohammed, Buhari and the APC did not do in theirs. As a matter of fact they spent far more than we did but I have no idea where they got their money and whether they were private or public funds.

“Most importantly my Directorate and, as far as I am aware, the Jonathan Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation did not receive any public funds from any government official or office to run our campaign. Of this I am absolutely sure and I am very confident because I made a point of asking and insisting that this must be so. These are the facts and I eagerly await my accusers, persecutors and detractors.

“Meanwhile I shall continue to live my life in peace, I shall not be intimidated by the boastful threats of the enemy and I will continue to live my life in the usual law-abiding manner that I have always done.

“It is expedient and necessary for me to speak out now even though the EFCC has not said a word on this matter or even confirmed that there is indeed an investigation going on. This is because the modus operandii of the Commission of late is to leak their intentions to SaharaReporters before they strike and abduct their victims.

“This has happened on a number of occasions and sadly they use such mediums to tell all manner of lies about the case and the accused to the public. By the time they finish they would have convicted their victim in a vicious smear campaign and media trial which is usually plagued and fuelled by lies and falsehood.

“It is for this reason that I have taken this opportunity, whilst I am still at liberty, to tell the Nigerian people the truth and let them have all the facts. I sincerely hope that my statement will help to clarify matters in the eyes of the public regardless of whatever lies that they will soon be inundated with by a desperate, weak and wicked government. I fear them not because my life is in God’s hands. God bless Nigeria,” Fani-Kayode said.

We’ll arrest more influential Nigerians soon — EFCC chair

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has said more influential Nigerians would soon be arrested to face prosecution as the EFCC under him has reinvigorated the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Mr. Magu, who made the disclosure on Wednesday in Abuja at a forum with online and broadcast media managers, said since his appointment as acting chairman of the EFCC, he had undertaken the re-ordering of the agency’s priorities for effective implementation of its mandate.

“The effect of this, which is obvious for all to see, is the investigation, arrest and prosecution of some of the most powerful forces in Nigeria, who have questions to answer on their stewardship whilst in office.

“A former National Security Adviser, former ministers, former governors, serving and retired military men, a media mogul and several others, are among those we have called to answer critical questions concerning the management of our commonwealth.

“As we speak, many more influential Nigerians are on the radar of the EFCC and, in the coming weeks, they would have their days in court and Nigerians will be kept fully abreast of the results of our investigations,” Mr. Magu said.

The EFCC boss said in carrying out the mandate of the commission, he has been guided by the “fear of God, national interest and the rule of law”.

IMF chief wants Nigeria’s forex restriction to be temporary

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has said that the Nigerian government’s decision to restrict foreign exchange, a move that has affected millions of citizens, should only be a temporary economic step.

Ms. Lagarde, who is in Nigeria on a four-day working visit, said this when she met members of the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday in Abuja.

“Additional exchange rate flexibility — both up or down — can help soften the impact of external shocks, make output and employment less volatile, and help build external reserves,” she advised. “It can also help avoid the need for costly foreign exchange restrictions – which should, in any case, remain temporary.”

The Nigerian government has imposed restriction on foreign exchange access, blocking the use of Naira credit and debit cards abroad, and for online transactions requiring payment in foreign currencies.

Ms. Lagarde also spoke about the government’s proposal to remove fuel subsidy.

She said the benefits of fuel subsidy in Nigeria are hugely skewed in favour of the rich at the expense of the poor.

“The subsidies that are still in place for kerosene and diesel should be targeted at those that need it most,” Ms. Lagarde said.

APC seeks partnership With Communist Party of China

The All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday signalled its intention to enter into partnership and cooperation with the Communist Party of China (CPC), the founding and ruling political party of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

This was a fallout of meeting held between the APC National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni and a Chinese government delegation led by the chargé d’affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, Qin Jian. The meeting was held at the APC National Secretariat in Abuja.

At the meeting, the Chinese chargé d’affaires Qin Jian, disclosed to the APC leadership that the Chinese President Xi Jinping has invited President Muhammadu Buhari to China on a State Visit on a yet-to-be-announced date.

Mai Mala Buni who was represented at the meeting by APC’s Director of Organisation, Alhaji Kyari Abubakar, said: “China is a very important technical and trading partner to Nigeria. Both countries have enjoyed excellent social, economic and cultural relations. As China is aware, Nigeria recently witnessed a change of government which ushered in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The time for better cooperation between both countries is now as the APC and the President Buhari administration works to deliver on its Change mandate.”

He said healthy relations between Nigeria and China will ultimately be of benefit to Africa. At party level, the APC National Secretary identified capacity building and collaboration as areas Nigeria’s APC and the Chinese CPC can partner.