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How govt officials stole billions from NEMA – Presidency

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Fresh facts have emerged on how seven government officials looted public funds from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) running into billions of naira.The officials have already been suspended by the governing board of the agency and are being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Com-mission (EFCC).

A top Presidency source yesterday confirmed to New Telegraph that a detailed report on how the officials misappropriated the funds has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari for consideration.

“The report submitted to the President shows the enormity of the crimes committed by the officials which comprised misappropriation of public funds, frivolous claims of personal emoluments and conspiracy with the other officials to short-change the Federal Government of due revenues, among others,” the Presidency stated.

On the former NEMA Director General, Mr. Sani Sidi, the report indicated that he maintained 20 different accounts in various banks. “EFCC found suspicious deposits amounting to $164,000 in his domiciliary account at Standard Chartered Bank alone, all within 18 months, i.e., between January 2014 and June 2015. “This almost averages out at $10,000 per month.

At the same time, he had up to £58,000 in his pound sterling account. He faces allegations of misappropriation of public funds, frivolous claims of personal emoluments and conspiracy with the other officials to shortchange the Federal Government of due revenues.”

On the suspended Director of Finance and Accounts, Akinbola Hakeem Gbolahan, the Presidency stated that he maintains many bank accounts with questionable transactions.

“EFCC, the report indicated, has noted in particular his account in GTBank where suspicious deposits were found, totalling N27,650,000 which is, in addition, the over £37,000 and $120,000 found in his domiciliary accounts, and his naira account which has several suspicious deposits in excess of N50 million, much of which flowed directly from NEMA,” the source stated.

For the Acting Director of Special Duties, Mr. Umesi Emenike, findings from the report revealed that funds meant for programmes and maintenance of the South- South zonal operations of NEMA under his supervision were paid directly into his personal accounts.

The government stated that 14 of the accounts have been discovered by EFCC in various banks, instead of the Zonal Office Account. “And he was found to have withdrawn freely in cash, by electronic transfers or through ATM machines, without any evidence of the money being used for NEMA activities,” the report said.

The report also shows that his subordinate, the Zonal Accountant, also made several cash lodgements into the personal account of Mr. Emenike. “About N238 million has so far been traced from NEMA directly to Mr. Emenike’s personal accounts which were placed in fixed deposits and used freely by the Ag. Director,” it said.

The report also revealed that the Director of Risk Reduction, Mr. Alhassan Nuhu, also maintained five bank accounts which were apparently used as conduits to receive and distribute money from NEMA’s coffers. According to the report, so far, Mr. Nuhu has not been able to give satisfactory account of the transactions, including NEMA’s funds moving through him to a company called Dambo Farms Limited.

“The case of the Pilot in charge of NEMA’s Air Ambulance is especially interesting. His name is Mamman Ali Ibrahim. On his own, he commercialized both the NEMA Air Ambulance and Helicopter.

“The report further indicates that EFCC traced at least N285 million to him, of which only N63 million was paid to the Accountant General’s Office and another N11 million was paid to NEMA, but the rest cannot be accounted for,” the Presidency said. According to the report, some of the money was, however, channelled to his family members through his company, Aerocare West Africa Limited, while others in foreign exchange were directly traced to the former’s accounts.

The report also indicted the Chief Maintenance Officer, Mr. Ganiyu Yunusa Deji, who was in charge of fuel supplies to NEMA Generators and was found to have been receiving regular returns into his personal account from the supplier, Rekimat Global Resource Limited. It was also noted in the report that since Mr. Ganiyu Yunusa was suspended, the fuel that used to last for one week now lasts for more than a month.

There is also the case of M. Kanar Mohammed, the Director of Welfare. His six bank accounts, according to the Presidency, were found to be replete with NEMA funds, including a N214 million meant for displaced traditional rulers in the North- East, N184 million paid by him to one Crystal Chambers and N29.5 million paid by him to a former minister, Abdul Bulama.

The report, however, indicated that all the indicted officers are still under investigation mainly by EFCC and their suspension was obviously to ensure they don’t remain in office to tamper with evidence in the process of due investigation.

“It is, therefore, expected that the final report of investigation will soon be ready, following which the seven NEMA suspended directors will face criminal prosecution,” the source said.

The source, who pleaded anonymity, said the seven officials that are aware of the report have been lobbying members of the House of Representatives to ensure that they are not found wanting by the EFCC which is investigating the matter. He stressed that all the seven officials are bent on covering up the matter

. Explaining further, the source said that details of the report revealed that the affected persons, in league with the former Director General of NEMA, illegally procured various papers from NEMA files in their bid to exonerate themselves. The source also noted that the officials, in doing so, intend to be in a better position to challenge their suspension, claiming they were innocent whistleblowers being victimized by the board.

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Herdsmen in army uniforms kill another 43 Benue farmers

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Less than 24 hours after herdsmen killed 19 people, including two catholic priests in Benue State, the insurgents, in the wee hours of yesterday, attacked 15 villages in Guma and Gwer West local government areas, leaving at least 43 farmers dead. According to residents, the herdsmen were dressed in the Nigerian Army uniforms and attacked Mbakpaase, Tse- Umenger, Tomanyiin, Tse-Ali Agudu and Mbanyiar communities.

 

The herdsmen in Gwer West attacked 10 council wards. It was gathered that the heavily armed men, numbering over 50, stormed Tse- Umenger on Tuesday night at about 7p.m. and set the entire village on fire, killing 19 people. It was gathered that while the attack was going on, another group of the insurgents numbering over 20 attacked Tomanyiin in Saghev council ward, Tse- Ali Agudu, Mbanyiar at Mbawar council ward at about 11 p.m., killing 19 persons.

 

As if the killings were not enough, the herdsmen also invaded and attacked Abiam village in Sengev council ward of Gwer West Local Government Area, killing eight people. They abducted one person and took him to an unknown destination. Chairman of Gwer West, Mr. Francis Ayaga, told journalists that the herders have occupied 10 out of 15 council wards of the local government areas.

 

Ayaga, however, said that he could not ascertain the casualty figure as more bodies were being retrieved from the bush. A resident of Gwer West, who did not want his name mentioned, said the victims who were taking refuge in Naka, had gone to the villages, to find out whether they could return to their homes when the herdsmen swooped on them.

 

The resident recalled: “The victims went home to find out whether their villages were safe for them to return, but they were attacked and abducted by the herdsmen. This morning, the herdsmen collected a phone of one of victims and called his family members, and while he was still speaking, they executed him.

 

The herdsmen also called and told family members of the victims to go and collect bodies of the deceased. But nobody could go there because the herdsmen are still occupying the place.” A former governorship aspirant, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in the state, Dr. Tivlumun Nyitse, from Umenger community, said that the invaders killed many people and burnt several houses stuffed with food items.

 

 

Hordes of inhabitants, who deserted their homes are said to be taking refuge in the bush, while in Mbakpaase, corpses recovered were hurriedly buried by the villagers, who had since fled for safety. As at press time, many people were still missing.

 

The Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said that he was yet to obtain details about the killing. He promised to divulge the details as soon as they were ready. Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyange, has blamed the persistent killing of Benue people by herdsmen militia on the refusal of the Federal Government to effect the arrest and prosecution of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore. Ikyange stated this while reacting to the attack on a Catholic Church in Ayar, Mbalom, in Gwer Local Government Area that left two Catholic priests and 17 other worshippers dead.

 

He recalled that the Assembly had in a unanimous resolution in June last year, drawn the attention of security agencies, the Federal Government and the international community to threats issued by the socio-cultural association for prompt action.

 

The Speaker lamented that if the Federal Government and security agencies had heeded the call by the Assembly, government and prominent indigenes of the state, the attacks would have been averted and the leadership of the group brought to justice.

 

 

Ikya, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Bem Abunde, described the attack on St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Ayar, Mbalom, where Reverend Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Iorlaha were killed as an affront, not only to the Catholic Church, but the entire Christian community in the state and beyond. He reiterated the Assembly’s call on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency, carry out practical steps towards arresting the sponsors and executors of what he described as “execution of a systematic agenda” aimed at taking over the One of the survivors Benue valley from its original inhabitants.

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How herdsmen attacked church, killed 19 worshippers

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Fulani herdsmen armed with sophisticated weapons, yesterday, attacked and killed two Catholic priests and 19 worshippers during an early morning mass at Ayar Mbalom in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.

 

The priests are Rev. Fathers Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha, serving at the Saint Ignatius Quasi Parish, Ukpor-Mbalom. They were killed inside the church.

The attack came four days after the murder of 10 persons by herdsmen in Guma Local Government Area and the destruction of 300 houses by men alleged to be military personnel, in Naka, the headquarters of Gwer West Local Government Area of the state.

 

A survivor of the attack, Peter Iorver, told New Telegraph that: “The herdsmen came and opened fire on the church while morning mass was going on.

“After they attacked and killed those in the church, they left and started shooting sporadically, killing residents around the area.

 

“They burnt over 50 houses and destroyed food and farm crops as they retreated to their base. My stepmother was one of the victims; she was at the mass when the attack happened.”

Director of Communications, Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, Rev. Fr. Moses Iorapuu, who confirmed the incident, said: “Two of the priests were killed by the herdsmen in the attack, which also left many parishioners and locals dead.”

Rev. Father Iorpuu, in a statement in Makurdi, decried the attack, which he said seem to elude even security men’s watchful eyes.

 

He said: “In their classic style, they burnt down homes, destroyed food items and killed at will.

 

“The police seem to know nothing of the attacks, which have been going on in other villages within Benue State since the Anti-Open Grazing Law came into effect last year.
“Many people are asking why the international community has remained silent over the massacre of Benue citizens.

 

“There were over 170,000 internally displaced persons before the Naka invasion and, surely, with the current situation in Mbalom, Benue will be flooded with thousands more.

 

“What cannot be said at this point is the consequences of the death of missionaries in the killings that have been ignored by government for over a year.

 

“The Catholic Diocese of Makurdi, which is one of the largest dioceses in Nigeria, has been active in providing relief materials, including education and skills acquisition lessons.
“To go for the priests means total destruction of everything we stand for and believe in, as a people.”

 

A government source, who also confirmed the killings, but did not want his name mentioned, said: “The attackers also burnt nearly 50 houses and sacked the entire community.”

Benue State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said the killings were carried out by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, confirming that two priests were killed during the attack.

 

Owoseni said when the command got wind of the attack, it quickly mobilised its men, who swiftly commenced what he called a wider aerial surveillance of the place in pursuit of the attackers to see whether they can be tracked.

“After doing a wider coverage of the general aerial surveillance, we also went to the church where the incident happened where we were told that the attackers, about 30 in number, came in about 5 a.m. and opened fire on the church and further went to the burial ceremony where priests were supposed to officiate.”

The Commissioner of Police, however, confirmed that 16 people were killed, adding that the police had taken the corpses to Bishop Murray Hospital, adding that dozens of its men had been deployed to the now deserted communities to intensify search and apprehend the attackers to face the full wrath of the law.

 

He described the killers as “armed marauders who were out to kill innocent people of the state.”

 

“We are ready to go after them with all the resources available at our disposal in collaboration with other security agencies,” Owoseni said.

 

The state Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, who briefed journalists on the incident, called it a “black day for the state” and described the situation as sad and unacceptable,” stressing that the situation, as it is, clearly shows that the state is under siege.

 

Abounu described what happened as a calculated attack, well planned and well executed.
“This is another black day in Benue State. I am saddened, the governor, who is on leave, is saddened, Benue people are very sad, because I can put it now that Benue State is under siege. We have been attacked from all corners and this is unacceptable.

 

“What has happened is a calculated attack, well planned and well executed. They must have taken their time, they hit their targets and they got what they desired to get.

 

“I understand that two reverend fathers were killed right inside the church and this is a new dimension of attack. It has never happened before and, therefore, it is very worrisome. I also understand that 17 other people lost their lives, making a total of 19 and you can see why this is another black day in the history of Benue State.

 

“We are under siege and I do believe that this has gone beyond the normal herdsmen/farmers’ crisis; what we are having at the moment is attack by insurgents and these insurgents could come from any background and should, therefore, be regarded as a serious matter.”

 

He appealed to the Federal Government and security agencies to take a cursory look at the matter as, according to him, “it is no longer the usual herdsmen/farmers’ crisis, but an issue of insurgency like we have in the North-East and should be treated as such.”

 

Abounu, who urged all hands to be on deck in order to foster peace in the state, disclosed that when he learnt of the matter, he swiftly alerted key security agencies, including the DSS, the 707 Special Forces Battalion and Commissioner of Police and were on top of the situation.

 

Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom yesterday cut short his vacation to return home and address the security challenge of the persistent killing of Benue people by armed herdsmen.

 

The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Terver Akase, commended his deputy, whom he said has done a commendable job while he was away.

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JUST IN: Police Arrest Senator Dino Melaye

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Senator Dino Melaye, who had earlier stated that he would appear before the police today is currently in police custody.

The lawmaker’s arrest is coming 24 hours after he was detained and later released at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on his way to Morroco on Monday morning.

Security operatives on Monday also laid siege on Melaye’s house in Maitama, Abuja.

The senator who represents Kogi west was on Tuesday arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police (IGP’s) Monitoring Unit in Abuja, after driving himself to the office of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS).

He is being interrogated over his alleged involvement in the supply of arms to some political thugs arrested in Kogi State.

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