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Customs impounds 13 vehicles from senator



  • Importer, dealer exonerate Saraki over N298m SUV
  • ABU VC clears Melaye of certificate scandal



The Comptroller- General of Customs (CGC) Compliance Task Force has impounded 13 vehicles belonging to a senator in Kano State. The identity of the senator was not revealed.

The seized vehicles were 12 new Toyota Hilux and one Land Cruiser Jeep. A source said the vehicles were smuggled into the country and were part of the 223 impounded vehicles.

The Task Force Zonal Commander, Mr. Bala Dole, who spoke in Kano yesterday, said the 13 vehicles were trailed from Maigatari in Jigawa, following an intelligence report.

Dole said 17 of the senator’s vehicles are still missing and that they are trailing them. “Based on the intelligence report, the vehicles were 30 in number, but we were able to trail 13 of them 12 of which were hidden in the senator’s compound. “We sealed the house and retrieved the vehicles and they are now in our custody,” Dole said the task force confiscated other items during special operations.

“The total value of the seizure made by the task force since it was established in July 2016, excluding the 13 Senator’s vehicles, is N269.5 million. “We are yet to determine the cost of the 13 vehicles belonging to the Senator.” Meanwhile, the importer of the controversial sport utility vehicle (SUV), in which the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was accused of acquiring with fake documents, Mr. Tokunbo Akindele, yesterday, said that Saraki had nothing to do with the importation of the vehicle.

Also, the car dealer, who bought the vehicle from the importer and supplied to the National Assembly, Mr. Lanre Shittu, also said that he did not receive any document from the National Assembly before he facilitated the supply of the SUV to the legislative institution.

This was as the Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Garba, also cleared Senator Dino Melaye of certificate scandal, proving that the lawmaker graduated from the institution in 2000, with third class degree.

The two businessmen and the Vice Chancellor cleared Saraki and Melaye while appearing before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, which was mandated by the Senate to investigate the allegations last week Tuesday.

In his submission, the importer, Akindele, told the Senate committee that the vehicle was first imported for Oando Group of Companies, but it arrived late, when the company no longer needed, thereby compelling the company’s Group Executive Director, Wale Tinubu, to request that he should help resell the vehicle.

According to him, it was then that he contacted the dealer, Lanre Shittu, to market the vehicle, and Shittu in turn approached the National Assembly for it when he saw an advert from the legislative body to purchase such vehicle.

He said: “In 2015, on behalf of the firm that I work for, Oando Plc., we imported a Range Rover bullet proof SUV vehicle. We imported it as the com-pany needed to use it for various operations around the country.

“The car took longer than was expected and by the time it reached Nigeria in September 2015, we decided that we will no longer be using the car, so we effectively parked it.

“The car was not imported for the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. In the process of clearing the car, we did not receive any documentation from the National Assembly.

We were not a part of clearing the car, we were the customer, we were expected to receive the car for our own use. “At no point did we submit any fake document for the clearing of the car.

We followed all due process in terms of payment to the company which handled the entire process for us.” In his presentation, Shittu said, “after the consignment of the vehicle from Wale Tinubu, the Oando Group Executive Director, the vehicle came late, they were not able to use it for the purpose which they ordered it for. He approached me on how we can help in selling the vehicle.

“I told him we didn’t have any buyer for now, but that if given on consignment, we would try and sell it off. Not quite long, there was a publication on vehicle acquisition by the National Assembly, in which we are a contractor.

“So, we put in on this vehicle. We were awarded the job to supply the vehicle on consignment from them. We facilitated the supply of the vehicle to the National Assembly.

There was never a time we sold vehicle to Bukola Saraki as a person or delivered a vehicle to him. “It was when the issue of Customs’ interception of the vehicle, sometime in January 2017, that they called attention to my office in Lagos.

And we got in touch with Oando and they sent us the documents in question. This same document was what they sent to Customs, which they said is fake. There was never a time we had any paper from the National Assembly to clear any vehicle.”

When he appeared before the committee chaired by Senator Samuel Anyanwu, Saraki stressed that the allegation was not true. Saraki said: “I am not an importer and at no point did I import an SUV Range Rover. As you know, this is a vehicle that is not a personal vehicle. It is a vehicle which was processed through the National Assembly.

I don’t know any-thing about the importation; I did not appoint any clearing agent or anything like that. “So I want to state categorically that this is not true and it is important that I come here and clear my name and put this matter to rest.

“We all raised the issue of the policy that is antipeople in the interest of Nigerians. This policy has no value at all and that was why this motion came up and we debated it in the interest of Nigerians.

But unfortunately, those who want to fight back went and thought there was something to blackmail us with.” In his submission to the committee, Senator Ali Ndume, who was invited as the petitioner, said that he did not petition the Senate, but only raised a point of order to enable the Senate investigate and clear the image of the chamber, which he said was at stake in the eye of the public.

“I did not petition. I raised point of orders 14 and 15. Also, the decision to refer the matter to this committee is not mine. It is the Senate’s decision. I am against anything that is anti-people and I am supposed to be commended for raising the point of order because it was done in public interest.

“I have no personal interest in the allegations against our colleagues, the President of the Senate and Dino Melaye. I don’t have any document to authenticate the allegation apart from what I read in the newspapers,” Ndume stated. Also, in the case of Melaye, he told the committee that he graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University and did his Youth Service at the Police College, Kaduna.

He, however, told the committee that he had not collected his certificate from the university, but has been using his statement of result. He said: “I gained admission with an offer of admission on the 6th of September, 1994 and the admission was to study Bachelor of Arts Geography and a copy of that admission letter will be tendered.

“I also have a second document to tender, my acceptance offer by the university. I also have the third document to tender, which is my result from the Ahmadu Bello University certifying me a graduate of the school.

“I also have here a document for my registration that I tendered where I have C5 in CRS, A3 in Agric, C6 in Economics, C6 in Geography, C6 in Biology and a credit in English.

“I will also tender that as evidence. After my graduation from the Ahmadu Bello University, the school sent my name to the NYSC for the mandatory Service and I participated in the one year NYSC. “I served in Police College Kaduna and by the grace of God, that year I won the National Prize of the DG and it is on record and verifiable and I beg to tender my discharge certificate from NYSC.

“My name as an undergraduate was Daniel Jonah Melaye. Jonah is actually my father’s name, so that is what I have on my university certificate. But Because I am now popularly known as Dino, I applied to the court and asked that I needed an affidavit for change of name and I submitted it to ABU.” In his submission, the Vice Chancellor of the ABU, Prof. Garba, confirmed that the senator graduated from the school in the year 2000.

He said: “From the records of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Senator Dino Melaye, who was at that time named Daniel Jonah Melaye, graduated with a third class degree of the Bachelors of Arts in Geography in the year 2000. And by this, he is a graduate of the university.

“In my honour, I reaffirm that Senator Dino Melaye graduated as Daniel Jonah Melaye during the third semester of the 1998/1999 academic session with a 3rd Class Degree in Geography, that is Bachelors of Arts in Geography.”

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Hospital ‘imprisons’ nursing mothers, babies over bills



  • Partner abandons teenage mother at facility


I do not have money to pay. Besides, the loss of the baby is depressing for me. I even begged them to consider my dead baby and empathise with me by reducing the bill, but they rejected all the appeals – Mrs. Funmulayo Adegboye, a petty trader



Eight women, who were newly delivered of babies, have been detained at the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, Lagos over their inability to pay accrued hospital bills arising from delivery services. Consequent upon this detention, the movement of the affected women has been restricted to the premises of the Maternity and Child Complex (MCC) domiciled at the Alimosho General Hospital.

The women, who often wear uniforms provided by the hospital, are closely monitored by security officials on duty who ensure that they are always restricted within the MCC. Investigation by New Telegraph shows that it is not only security officials that monitor the detained patients, even nurses on duty keep an eye on the patients anytime any of them steps out of the ward where they are being held.

One of the detained women, Fati Mohammed, had now been abandoned by her spouse owing to the couple’s inability to pay baby delivery service fee. Also detained are Mrs. Anna Ifoga, who is a petty trader; Mrs. Funmilayo Adegboye, also a petty trader, and Mrs. Basirat Kosoko.

According to reliable sources, appeal made to the hospital management by the trio of Funmilayo’s husband, Basirat’s father-in-law and Anna Ifoga, last Friday, seeking for them to be released on bond to enable them pay the outstanding bills by instalment while on release, was rejected by the hospital. According to the detained women, staff of the Welfare Unit, who intervened on their behalf, told the patients that the hospital management insisted that each of them must pay the outstanding bills before they would be allowed to go home. Although they had been discharged after baby delivery, they would not leave the premises of the hospital until they settled their bills.

Speaking to New Telegraph, Basirat’s father-in-law regretted that his son, who is Basirat’s husband is out of job, hence was unable to raise money to pay the N149,000 bill for taking delivery of his baby through caesarean section.

However, Basirat’s fatherin- law initially paid N98,000, leaving a balance of N51,000 to be settled later. Both Basirat and the newly delivered baby were held in the health facility in Igando for two weeks until Monday, February 19, when her father-in-law rallied fam-ily and friends to pay the balance of N51,000. On her part, Funmilayo, who also delivered her baby through caesarean section, was rushed to Alimosho General Hospital on emergency. She lost the baby three days after it was delivered.

However, she was given a bill of N103,000. Although her husband, Mr. Adegboye, had paid N15,000, his appeal to the hospital through the Welfare Unit, was similarly rejected. The detained Funmilayo still has an outstanding bill of N88,000 to settle. Adegboye said his appeal to get the N103,000 bill reviewed downward was rejected by the hospital management. He said: “I have tried to raise money to no avail. I am very disturbed about the way the hospital staff are treating my wife now.

“Presently, my wife has been chased away from the hospital bed; she has been sleeping on a chair in the last four days. They no longer allow her to sleep on the bed. “Although she is not also being served food, hospital staff said both the bills for the two daily meals served to patients at the cost of N800 at N400 per meal and the N250 daily for the bed space will continue to run.

“I do not have money to pay. Besides, the loss of the baby is depressing for me. The baby had died in my wife’s womb even before the surgery was done. “I even begged them to consider my dead baby and empathise with me by reducing the bill, but they rejected all the appeals.”

Funmilayo has been ‘detained’ for two weeks. On her part, Anna has paid N118,000 of the N160,000 bill for caesarean section delivery, remaining a balance of N42,000. She has been held in the hospital for one month because of her inability to pay the balance of N42,000. Relating her ordeal, Anna told New Telegraph that she had gone through labour for two days at the Ikotun home of a traditional birth attendant (TBA) and owing to the delayed delivery; she was rushed on emergency to the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando where it was found that the baby had died in her womb.

Similarly, days after the caesarean surgery, it was found that the stitched stomach had collapsed, through which the open wound was emitting pus. She said: “I was taken into the theatre again where the medical doctors stitched the wound for the second time.

“The stiches have, however, healed now, but I have not been released to go home because of my outstanding bills.” Of all the detained women, Fati Mohammed’s case is the most pathetic. She has been in the hospital for over two months.

Fati, who is from Baga in Borno State, does not know her real age, but appeared to be under 20 years. Going by the turn of events, Fati, whose baby also died even before the caesarean surgery was carried out, may have been abandoned to her fate, considering that neither the man who impregnated her, Diri, nor any of those who rushed her to the hospital has been coming to the hospital to check on her.

It is not clear how much has accrued as her total bill for the caesarean section. Although, the baby died, Fati is lucky to have survived. Relating her ordeal, Fati said she fled Borno State after her husband was slaughtered by Boko Haram members. Also, she said she did not know where the only son of that relationship was presently.

Fati followed others who were fleeing from Boko Haram in Borno, in a trailer to Lagos State and on getting to Lagos, however, she cohabited with some Hausa-speaking people at Alaba in Ojo area of Lagos, where a young Hausa indigene, driving commercial motorcycle, later impregnated her. She said after falling into labour for two days, she was rushed to the Alimosho General Hospital, Igando, where it was found that her baby had died in her womb. Hence, the surgical operation was conducted on her and the dead baby removed. She said: “I did not attend any antenatal throughout the nine months of the pregnancy. However, when labour set in, I laboured for two days but could not be delivered of the baby.”

The caesarean surgery conducted on her to remove the dead baby at the Alimosho General Hospital was successful, but she has not been able to settle the bill. When asked how much the bill amounted to, she said only the nurses could say.

The sad aspect of it is that after visiting Fati on a few occasions but could not pay the bill, Diri, Fati’s spouse stopped further visits to check on her. Presently, Fati disclosed that the man who impregnated her had absconded. Both Fati’s father and mother were killed by the Boko Haram insurgents way back before she arrived Lagos. On how she has survived in the last two months that the hospital management restricted her movement, Fati explained that the hospital had been kind enough to be giving her food daily. She said the meal of patients who could not eat due to health challenge, was sometimes given to her, considering that she had no other source of food or income.

“Sometimes, when some patients cannot eat their food, they will give me the food. I also beg for water to drink,” Fati said. Efforts to get the reaction of the Public Relations Officer of Alimosho General Hospital failed. However, a reliable source in the hospital told New Telegraph that most of the patients being held for inability to pay their bills, were unbooked patients.

They were referred cases from other hospitals brought in on emergency, which the facility responded to, saving their lives, based on its Motto: ‘Patient First’. According to the source, if they had come to the Alimosho General Hospital from the onset of their medical care, especially in care of antenatal, “that way, at least 50 per cent of their bill would have been paid before delivery.”

The source said the hospital battled to save their lives before asking for money. “In order to extend life-saving services to patients on emergency too, the hospital needs to have recurring cash for that,” the source added.

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Missing schoolgirls: Parents weep as angry youths attack gov’s convoy




  • Govt denies Army’s rescue
  • EU condemns abduction
  • Geidam: We’re still searching for missing girls


Parents and guardians of the missing schoolgirls in Government Girls Technical College Dapchi, Yobe, broke into tears when Governor Ibrahim Gaidam visited them without saying a word on the whereabouts of the girls. Parents and guardians of the missing schoolgirls in Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe, broke into tears when Governor Ibrahim Gaidam visited them without saying a word on the whereabouts of the girls. Boko Haram insurgents attacked the school on Monday night. After the attack, 96 girls were declared missing. While less than 50 have so far returned, over 50 students are still missing. The waiting parents wept profusely as the earlier news that the girls were rescued turned out to be false.

The governor’s comments that they are still searching for the missing girls irked the youth who set up barricades and burnt tyres in the streets. The angry youth hurled missiles at the governor’s convoy while several vehicles had their windscreens smashed.

The angry youth were shouting “Bakayi Karyane (bring back) our 94 schoolgirls”. They accused the military and Yobe State government of telling lies about the rescue. A resident in Dapchi town, Alhaji Musa Gaji, said they want girls back. Hundreds of youths, women and parents of the abducted schoolgirls had embarked on peaceful demonstration on the road linking the town to the school premises before the arrival of the governor. Addressing the parents of some of the schoolgirls that are still unaccounted for at the District Head’s palace in Dapchi yesterday, the governor urged the parents to remain faithful as security operatives were still searching for the girls.

He said: “Soldiers have been pursuing the insurgents, although they receive information that the Boko Haram insurgents had passed some areas, but the communities in the areas said they did not spot the girls along with the insurgents.

“The girls scattered during the attack, and we can’t be sure whether they were lost or taken. We have no certainty that these boys (Boko Haram) took these girls. “Nobody saw these girls being taken in vehicles. It is possible some of the girls came across motorists and they gave them a ride to some places.” He assured that government and security operatives would not rest on their oars until the missing girls were accounted for.

The governor directed the Education Ministry officials and the school administration to work closely with the security agencies to establish the actual number of the girls that are still unaccounted for and to contact parents and the community for possible information that could be useful in the investigation. Meanwhile, Alhaji Abdullahi Bego, Director General to Yobe governor on Press affairs, in a statement yesterday, recanted on the rescue of the abducted schoolgirls by the Nigerian Army. The state government said it gave false report about the rescue of the girls.

Consequently, the state government apologised for the false news. Bego said: “The public may recall that we issued a statement last (Wednesday) night in which we announced that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi who went missing after Boko Haram terrorists had stormed their school last Monday were rescued by officers and men of the Nigerian Army who are currently executing the war against the Boko Haram insurgents.

“We issued the statement on the basis of information provided by one of the security agencies that is involved in the fight against Boko Haram and which we had no reason to doubt. “We have now established that the information we relied on to make the statement was not credible. The Yobe State Government apologises for that.”

The Yobe Government, on Wednesday, issued a statement claiming that some of the missing girls had been rescued. Bego disclosed that the Nigerian Army had rescued some of the abducted girls. “The Yobe State Government hereby informs the public that some of the girls at Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC), whose school was attacked by Boko Haram terrorists last Monday, have been rescued by gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.

“The rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army. “We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course. “His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, who is very grateful for the gallantry and hard work of the officers and men of the Nigerian Army involved in the operation, is monitoring the situation closely and will make a statement in due course” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had appealed to parents and guardians for additional time to search for the missing schoolgirls. The minister made the appeal while fielding questions from newsmen when he led Federal Government delegation to Dapchi yesterday.

He said the actual number of the missing schoolgirls would be determined in the next few days when parents come forward with complaint of their missing wards. Also, the delegation of the European Union (EU) to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the abduction of some schoolgirls in Yobe State.

The EU, in a statement by its press officer, Mr. Modestus Chukwulaka, said: “Targeting children and abducting young girls as they seek to attend school is an attack on our common humanity. “The girls deserve freedom and a chance to shape their own future.”












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N650m campaign funds: EFCC rejects Akinjide’s settlement offer



The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has rejected an offer for an out-of-court settlement by a former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, Ms. Jumoke Akinjide, and two others on trial over alleged N650 million fraud. Akinjide was, on January 16, re-arraigned by the anti-graft agency alongside Senator Ayo Adeseun and one Chief (Mrs.) Olanrewaju Otiti, before Justice Muslim Sule Hassan of a Federal High Court in Lagos on a 24-count charge bordering on the alleged offence. At the last hearing of the matter, the former minister, through her lawyer, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), notified the court of plans to engage the EFCC on an out-of-court settlement talks.

However, at the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, EFCC’s lawyer, Nnaemeka Omewa, told the court that he has the instruction of his agency to reject the said proposal, as it was not in line with the provisions of Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

Consequently, he expressed his readiness to proceed to trial in the case. Responding, Ayorinde, Akinjide’s lawyer, while expressing his displeasure at the EFCC’s stance, said the case against his client and other defendants is political.

“The defendants came up with the proposal in line with Section 14 of the EFCC’s Act. Sadly, I was just being informed of the EFCC’s decision on our proposal. I am confident that the case is a sham and will be defended vigorously, as it is political, unnecessary and waste of resources,” the silk said. On his part, Adeseun’s lawyer, Micheal Lana, said the decision of the EFCC to reject the proposal amount ed to a betrayal of trust.

The lawyer chided the EFCC for deceiving his client to withdraw a suit that was filed against the agency and one of its prosecutors, Rotimi Oyedepo, under the guise that the criminal charge over the alleged N650 million fraud will be dropped. Lana said: “Oyedepo made a proposal to us and we believed him.

Based on this, we had to withdraw a suit we filed against him and the EFCC. We have now fulfilled the conditions by withdrawing the suit while the money he requested for was also paid. “It’s sacrosanct ethically that such a thing is not condoned in the legal profession.

Oyedepo was the initiator of the settlement and we are highly disappointed in him.” In his submissions, Otiti’s lawyer, Akinola Oladeji, aligned himself with the submissions of other defence lawyers by condemning the action of the EFCC.

He also drew the court’s attention to a motion seeking to vary his client’s bail that has been pending before the court. He said his client’s plan to travel abroad for medical check-up has been delayed owing to the fact that the court is yet to hear the motion.

But, Omewa denied that the case was politically motivated, adding that the allegations against Oyedepo were false. “The EFCC is not a political party. We are an independent organisation and not out to witch-hunt anybody. There is no documentary evidence that they had any such agreement with Oyedepo that they should withdraw their suit. There’s no evidence before my Lord,” he said. In a bench ruling on all the submissions, Justice Hassan said: “I have listened to the arguments. Since the settlement had broken down, I will go to the trial of this case.

The third defendant’s application is not ripe for hearing; it shall be taken at the next adjourned date.” Trial in the matter subsequently commenced with the EFCC calling its first witness, Mrs. Kehinde Adeniyi. While being led-inevidence by the prosecutor, the witness, who is a banker, told the court that she gave a cash sum of N650 million to Akinjide, Adeseun, and one Hon. Yinka Taiwo, on the instruction of one Martins Ozuogbe, from her bank’s head office. She said: “On March 26, 2015, I received a call from our Head of Operations, Mr. Martins Izuegbe, that we should pay the sum of N650 million to Akinjide, Adeseun and Hon. Yinka Taiwo, once they produce two means of identification and sign a receipt of payment. “They came, signed and the payment was made.

The payment was in naira. They came with their Hillux van to pick up the cash.” The receipt of payment was later tendered in evidence by the prosecution. Speaking under crossexamination by Akinjide’s lawyer, Ayorinde, the witness disclosed that she made three statements to the EFCC. The statements were also tendered in evidence.

Adeniyi added that she merely carried out the instructions she was given, and that she did not know the source of the funds. While admitting knowing Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the witness denied knowing how the money was used.

Further hearing in the matter has been adjourned to March 8 and 9. In the amended charge, the defendants were accused of receiving N650 million from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Alison-Madueke, to influence the outcome of the 2015 general elections. The money was said to be part of the $115 million allegedly shared by the former minister to influence the election results.

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