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AGF: Local lawyers recovered Abacha loot

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…says no amount of blackmail can stop loot recovery

 

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, yesterday insisted that local and not foreign lawyers recovered the Abacha loot from Switzerland. Malami, in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph in Kano, spoke against the backdrop of controversies trailing the payment of the Nigerian lawyers, who recovered the loot. Malami also added that no amount of blackmail would stop the Federal Government from further recovering loots outside the country. According to him: “Well, in addressing the issue of payment to the lawyers, it is important to take you through the antecedent of assets and money recovery before even the coming of this government. Originally, there is a constitutional provision that says all assets and funds recovered should go into the Federal Government’s consolidated account before anything is done over it.

So, there is that constitutional provision, but before the coming of Buhari administration, such provision was being observed by the previous governments in breach, in the sense that payment particularly for lawyers are deducted; particularly professional fees for lawyers were being deducted from the source, even the money was confirmed by the Federal Government that was the prevailing situation before this government. “And the amount that was paid then as professional fees went between 10 to 20 per cent.

So, when this government came in, President Buhari sought for my opinion on the percentage payment on recovered funds and I suggested that the reasonable amount that could be charged for services rendered, should be actually not above 5 per cent, looking at the volume of the money concerned and I equally suggested that in the interest of transparency, all money should first get into the consolidated Federal Government account and then, thereafter, processes should be conducted and consummated by the Ministry of Finance. “And I equally suggested to Mr. President that we should converge and accommodate certain organizations so that things would be done transparently and the world would know what we are doing is on a standard of transparency and accountability. Mr. President graciously accepted my proposals relating to the bringing in of professional bodies, payment of recovered money into the consolidated account and the accommodation of civil society organizations.

We now put it up that all recovery agents that are interested in the exercise should submit their proposals for the recovery plans. “It was against this background that a lot of lawyers, both local and foreign filed in their applications and proposals for the recovery. Of particular interest is the $321million you are talking about. The key lawyers that showed interest are one Recho Malfrini, a foreign lawyer and then one other lawyer by name Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN).

A point of interest with the regard to the foreign lawyer Richor was that his application was facilitated by a former President.” Speaking on the role of the foreign lawyer, Malami said there is an agreement between this government and Malfrini to make recovery. And being paid at the rate of 20-30 per cent and his deduction made at source and the agreement includes that no payment should be done to the coffers of the Federal Government is made till his money is paid. He said that it was not clear what services the lawyer rendered, “whether this $321 million was part of his facilitation. But a point of interest is that as at the time this government came in, the $321 million was not paid by the Swiss government. It was a subject of judicial litigation pending before a court. So, that is the crux of the matter.” “Now when an application was filed by Malfrini among others asking for 20-30 per cent as against the conventional 5 per cent approved by the Federal Government, still I wrote a letter to Mr. President to consider Malfrini against the background that he was part of the recovery processes. I also tried to convince Mr. President to allow him a special concession of having 10-15 per cent. Mr. President reluctantly considered my plea. “So, a letter of engagement was generated for him, but Ricoh Malfrini rejected the offer and now stated that he rejected the offer because of the complexity associated with the whole thing and wrote that he rejected the offer, insisting for 20-30 per cent, but Mr. President refused to grant that offer and now generated another letter. So, it was against this background that a consortium of lawyers with Nigerian origin now submitted their proposals and we accepted their letters and they swung into action. Arising from that, the money was eventually recovered and then when the money was recovered and paid to consolidated revenue account of the Federal Government, they now forwarded a letter seeking to be paid the 5 per cent professional fees agreed upon. I generated a letter to the Central Bank seeking for the confirmation of the payment of the said money into its account. The minister added: “Armed with the letter from the CBN and their letters of engagement, I now proposed to the Minister of Finance for the payment of their fee.” Speaking on the alleged disagreement with the Minister of Finance, Malami said the payment is being processed.

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Malaria, a threat to world community

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Chief Executive Officer of RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Dr. Kesete Admasu has raised the alarm over the threat malaria posed to the world population, saying half of global community was still threatened by malaria, an entirely preventable and treatable disease which takes a child’s life every two minutes.

In a statement to mark the World Malaria Day, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, urged governments, health bodies, private sector companies and the public to accelerate progress against malaria, making the 2018 World Malaria Day even more vital.

“After a decade of success in pushing back malaria, it is on the rise again and will come back with a vengeance if we do not act decisively now,” Admasu warned.

Admasu added: “Half the world is still threatened by malaria, an entirely preventable and treatable disease.

 “The malaria fight is at a crossroads and we could be the generation to end the disease for

good. If we don’t seize the moment now, our hard-won gains will be lost. We’re ready to

beat malaria – are you?”

The World Malaria Day is marked every April 25 globally to raise awareness on what to do to reduce its burden. The theme of the 2018 World Malaria Day is ‘Ready to Beat Malaria’.

Dr. Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, RBM Partnership Board Chair, said, “We also need citizen and community action around the world to drive momentum towards reaching global targets.

“The malaria fight is at a crossroads and we could be the generation to end the disease for

good. If we don’t seize the moment now, our hard-won gains will be lost. We’re ready to

beat malaria – are you?”

World leaders came together this month to renew commitments to step up funding and speed up innovations against the disease, but the battle was not yet won.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, said:

“World Malaria Day reminds us of the challenges that remain. The declining trend in malaria

cases and deaths has stalled and vital funding for malaria programmes has flat lined. If we

continue along this path, we will lose the gains for which we have fought so hard.

“We call on countries and the global health community to close the critical gaps in the

malaria response. Together we must ensure that no one is left behind in accessing lifesaving

services to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria.”-

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Strike: FG –JOHESU meeting deadlocked

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 The meeting between the Federal Government and the leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) to resolve the ongoing strike by health workers in Abuja on Wednesday night was deadlocked.

The National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna told the New Telegraph that although, the meeting was deadlocked, and both parties were still working out ways to resolve the issues. “Day of another meeting will be announced next week,” he added.

Obinna said, “JOHESU and the government is already discussing on the way to resolve the matter, but there are indications that not too long from now the matter will be resolved.”

It will be recalled that the national body of JOHESU declared the strike on midnight of Tuesday, April 17, after its efforts to get the Federal Government meet its demand failed, hence, prompting about 90 per cent of the health workforce, all of whom are members of JOHESU to proceed on the strike actions, which have left many patients unable to access medical care.

The health workers are demanding   the implementation of the adjusted CONHESS, the payment of specialist allowances to deserving health professionals, payment of arrears of the skipping of CONHESS 10, increase of age of health workers from 60 to 65 and the review of the composition of the Boards of Federal Health Institutions (FHIs).

JOHESU members include five registered associations including the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutes (SSAUTHRIA), Nigerian Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), the Non Academic Staff Unions (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union (NHWU) and the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Workers (NUAHP), the five of which have formed JOHESU,  a pressure group.

In effect, JOHESU members include nurses, medical laboratory scientists, pharmacists, record officers, physiotherapist, among others.

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PDP sponsoring herdsmen attacks- Reps member, Kazaure

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As armed bandits suspected to be Fulani herdsmen continue to kill innocent citizens and sack communities, a member of the House of Representatives, Muhammad Kazaure, has alleged that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), were behind the killings.

Kazaure made this known on Thursday in Abuja, at the inauguration of the board of trustees, Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO) as well as the launching of the book, ‘Amazing Testimonies of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Integrity.’

He noted that members of the PDP were making use of the funds looted during its 16 years in power to sponsor the ongoing killings by suspected herdsmen, in an effort to discredit the good works of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

“PDP messed up for 16 years and destroyed the economic and social life of the people. We are the ones that allowed them to talk, they should have been in the prison by now. I don’t know what this government is waiting for.

“They want to fight the progress and I am surprised some Nigerians are supporting them the people that looted our money.

“Majority of these kilings, there are people behind it. If we start arresting those looters, these killings will stop because they are the ones financing the killings,” he said.

On Senators call for Buhari’s impeachment, Kazaure noted that nobody could impeach Buhari saying, “they can do nothing, they are just wasting their time.

“We are the ones representing the people, we are the ones with them and they still want Buhari because of his integrity and honesty. All these propaganda will come and pass, President Buhari will be reelected to Presidency come 2019. Even if an election is tomorrow, Buhari will win the election,” he added.

Also speaking, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, alleged that members of the PDP have politicised the ongoing killings in some parts of the county to score cheap political points and enrich their pockets.

He stressed that the PDP was trying to maximise damage to the APC government as well as fight the APC’s stand on corruption, by trying to undermine its good works.

Adamu who maintained that the killings was an act of terrorism which has become an unfortunate phenomenon of our time, however, added that the PDP was using it as an avenue to make money out of innocent Nigerians

“This is an unfortunate phenomenon and because it pleases the opposition, they are being so inhuman, so unfair to try to bring the president on live. All the killings going on they are making politics out of it, theyvare making money out of other peoples misfortune.

“Yes the president has a duty as the commander in chief and we accept this, but to use this as a campaign issue against the government is most unfair and it is most ungodly

“We must stand up, every town, every village, every street and defend this government. Come out and be counted we have more people than they have.

“We are not asking you to break the law but we are saying stand up defend and promote the cause of this government within the armbit of the law, we must take this government down there,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Buhari Campaign Organisation (BCO), a non governmental organisation, has endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for another term in office.

Making the endorsement, the Chairman Board of Tustees of the BCO, Markus Gundiri, argued that Buhari has substantially delivered on his campaign promises in the areas of education, insecurity, health and the economy, but needs another four years to effectively bring about a total change in the country.

According to him, Buhari deserves another chance to rule Nigeria and complete the good works he has started, as he remains the only person capable of reviving the economy and ensuring peace and security.

“The continuity of President Muhammadu Buhari will usher a highly sophisticated economy that each and every one of us will be proud of. He has continued to fight illiteracy and disease in education and health, and he has brought about improvement in our security especially in the North East.

“They may be other areas where there are insecurities today but given another opportunity, he will tackle the issues of insecurity. No other person knows or have the skills to tackle the insecurity in the is country,” he said.

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