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Court freezes suspended Abiodun’s aide’s bank accounts, seizes Lekki home

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Tuesday ordered the interim forfeiture of the funds and properties traced to Mr Abidemi Ganiyu Rufai, the suspended aide of the Ogun Governor facing wire fraud charges in the United States.

The order covers Rufai’s property located at House 11. Omodayo Awotuga Street, Bera Estate, Chevy View, Lekki, Lagos and funds in his accounts with two new generation banks.

Justice Tijjani Ringim made the order sequel to an ex parte motion filed and argued by a counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) Ebuka Okongwu.

The EFCC joined Rufai and his firm Omo Mayodele Global Investment as 1st and 3rd respondents in the suit.

Okongwu told the judge that it was essential for the court to grant the prayer of interim forfeiture to preserve the res and prevent further dissipation of the defendants’ funds.

He furnished the judge with an affidavit sworn to by an EFCC investigator, Usman Abdulhamid, detailing the agency’s investigation of Rufai in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The investigator stated that Rufai had already dissipated a suspicious N29.37million in tranches of N5,000,000, N5,000,000, N2,730,000, N1,100,000, N2,040,000, N2,000,000, N2,000,000 and N5,000,000.

The funds were warehoused in his accounts in three banks.

Rufai was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport in New York on May 14 over alleged $350,000 COVID-19 unemployment fraud from Washington State Employment Security Department, in the United States.

He was indicted for alleged conspiracy, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Justice Ringim in a bench ruling granted the EFCC’s order as prayed in the motion paper.

“I am satisfied by the averment in the affidavit deposed to by Usman Abdulhamid and the legal submission of the counsel that this application should succeed and same is accordingly granted as prayed,” he held.

The judge also ordered the EFCC to publish the order within 14 days from Tuesday for any interested party to show cause why the funds and properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

H3 adjourned further proceedings till December 1, 2021.

According to the affidavit, the EFCC investigated Rufai’s sources of income and bank accounts.

It found that on 19th March 2020, there was an inflow of N4,500,000, which was further dissipated the same day in five tranches of N1,000,000 (in four places) and N500,000 into Rufai’s Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Account.

It said the transaction recurred in the 1st Respondent’s account domiciled with the 3rd Respondent.

Subsequent transactions included but not limited to “transactions of the sum of N5,000,000 on the 27th March 2020, N5,000,000 on 3rd April 2020; N2,730,000 on the 7th April 2020; N1,100,000; N2,040,000 on the 14th April 2020; N2,000,000 on the 27th April 2020; N2,000,000 on the 28th April 2020; N5,000,000 on the 13th May 2020, and numerous other transactions, which were all dissipated to his GTB Account on the same day of the inflow.

“Further analysis revealed that prior to the first inflow on the 19th March 2020, the 1st Respondents account rarely receives such traffic and huge inflows.

“Upon proactive investigative method of asset tracking and recovery conducted by the Commission, it was revealed that the 1st Respondent owns a property located at HOUSE 11. OMODAYO AWOTUGA STREET, BERA ESTATE, CHEVY VIEW, LEKKI, LAGOS, NIGERIA,” it said.

The EFCC added that it wrote various letters of investigation activities to various financial institutions, agencies and related regulatory bodies, some of the responses of which are still being awaited.

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PHOTOS: Buhari on condolence visit to UAE

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President Muhammadu Buhari is currently in Dubai on a condolence visit over the death of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates.

Zayed Al Nahyan died at the age of 73 on May 13, 2022.

The country’s ministry of presidential affairs had declared a 40-day state mourning with flag flown at half-mast and the suspension of work in the public and private sectors for three days.

Buhari departed Nigeria on Thursday and arrived in Dubai in the early hours of Friday.

He was accompanied by Zubairu Dada, minister of state foreign affairs; Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy; Mohammed Bello, minister of federal capital territory, and Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation.

Below are photos.

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Protest in Abuja over council chairmen tenure extension

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Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory have taken to the streets to protest the tenure extension of six area councils’ chairmen and councillors.

The chairmen and councillors’ terms in office elapsed on Thursday and the newly-elected officials were supposed to be sworn in today.

But the FCT minister, Muhammad Bello, cited a court judgement and extended the officials’ tenure by one year.

Displeased by the extension, residents in the Gwagwalada Area Council on Friday morning took to the streets.

The residents, who barricaded the roads and made bonfires, are demanding a reversal of the decision.

The incident, it was gathered, obstructed vehicular movements in the area.

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Nigerian government moves to end ASUU, poly lecturers strikes, begins arrears payment

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ASUU

The Federal Government has commenced the payment of minimum wage arrears, which it owed lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as part of efforts to end ongoing strikes by the unions, The PUNCH has learnt.

The National President of ASUP, Dr. Anderson Ezeibe, and the Chairman, ASUU FUTMinna, Dr. Gbolahan Bolarin, confirmed this in separate interviews in Abuja on Thursday.

The two unions are currently on strike following the inability of the government to meet their demands including the payment of minimum wage arrears and release of revitalisation funds, among others.

While ASUU commenced its strike on February 14, 2022, ASUP is currently on an initial two-week warning strike.

Confirming the payment on Thursday, Ezeibe, however, said that was just the beginning.

He said, “The government has started responding. They just started paying the salary/minimum wage arrears, the one they have refused to pay.

“However, that is just one of the demands, so we have not reached anywhere. They have not attended to the others, but I can confirm that people have started receiving alerts of the arrears owed.”

Also, Bolarin, said, “Some of my members got alert of their minimum wage arrears; their salaries are still pending.”

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