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EFCC to invite Saraki’s aides, others over N19b Paris Club scam

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to arrest several aides and persons linked to Senate President Bukola Saraki for their alleged role in the N19bn illegally deducted from the N522bn Paris Club loan refund.

About N3.5bn out of the N19bn was said to have been traced to Saraki and several persons close to him, an EFCC report has said.

In the report, which was submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari about two weeks ago, the EFCC mentioned Saraki’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Gbenga Makanjuola; Mr. Kolawole Shittu, Obiora Amobi and Oladapo Idowu.

Others, who allegedly took part in the diversion, include a former Managing Director of Saraki’s family defunct bank, Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, who is the current boss of Melrose General Services Limited, Mr. Robert Mbonu; and the Relationship Manager to the Senate President in Access Bank, Kathleen Erhimu.

A reliable source within the EFCC told one of our correspondents on Tuesday that the commission could invite any of them soon and might go ahead to arrest them based on the outcome of investigations.

He said, “We can arrest any of the indicted persons anytime. The fact that we submitted a report to the Presidency doesn’t mean we are waiting on the President for the next line of action.

“We only submitted the report to intimate the President with the development and current investigation. It is a normal practice.”

Meanwhile, one of our correspondents learnt that Buhari had yet to take a decision on the report presented to him by the EFCC.

A source in the Presidency told The PUNCH that it was not Buhari’s style to rush into taking a decision on such a matter.

“You should know the President’s style by now. He will not rush into taking a decision. He will weigh all options before a decision will be taken,” he said.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said he did not have any information on the matter.

“I don’t have any information on the matter. Be assured that once I have information on it, it will be communicated,” Adesina said.

The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said he was not aware of any plan to arrest Saraki’s aides.

Olaniyonu had earlier denied allegations that any money from the Paris Club loan refund was paid to Saraki.

He alleged that the EFCC boss was on a revenge mission based on the false belief that Saraki blocked his confirmation at the Senate two weeks ago.

“It is obvious that at this point when Mr. Magu believes the Senate President should be blamed for his failure to secure confirmation as the chairman of the EFCC, he would want to fight back by cooking up reports and masterminding its leakage,” he added.

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Army withholds salaries of 45 soldiers in Borno

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Authorities of the 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, have withheld the salaries of 45 soldiers, according to sources.

The soldiers, who were among the 149 troops of the 153 Task Force Battalion withdrawn from Marte, Borno State, after spending three years in counterinsurgency operations, were accused of for abandoning their duty posts.

The battalion came under attack on three occasions during which several soldiers were killed while a range of weapons, equipment and vehicles were either carted away or destroyed.

The battalion was overhauled after the last attack in February.

A source said necessary changes were made and troops who served with the battalion were moved to different formations in Maiduguri before a new deployment was made.

“Some of the soldiers who were not seen at their new units were believed to have gone on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). Their salaries accounts were not credited in April,” he said.

But one of the affected soldiers said the allegation of desertion against them was untrue.

“We were not given our salaries and when we asked our supervisors in the 7 Division, we were shocked to hear that we had forfeited all our entitlements over desertion.”

Attempts to get the response of army authorities were not successful.

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EFCC goes after top officials of PDP over N10bn scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has invited officials of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for questioning over alleged criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of funds and fraud.

This is coming barely a month after a chieftain in the PDP, Kazeem Afegbua, petitioned the anti-graft agency to scrutinise the Secondus-led National Working Committee on financial misappropriation.

In the letter of invitation dated May 17, 2021, and addressed to the Prince Uche Secondus, the EFCC said the need to obtain certain clarification from the party has become imperative.

The agency, however, requested the party’s National chairman to release the National Auditor, National Organising Secretary and Director of Finance to report at the EFCC headquarters from May 19th to 21st 2021.

The agency also requested the national officers to honor the invitation with relevant documents relating to sole of forms into the party’s elective positions from January 2017 to date.

Kazeem had in his petition alleged that much of the financial transactions of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus has been shrouded in mystery, accusing the leadership of deliberate attempt to shortchange the party in the build up to the 2023 general elections.

However, Secondus had since denied the allegation and filed a N1 billion suit against the petitioner, Kazeem Afegbua.

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Nigeria’s drug control agency approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has granted approval for the conditional emergency use of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria.

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is the third vaccine recommended for administration in the country.

The director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojiola Adeyeye, in a statement on Tuesday, said information on the vaccine shows it met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.

She said, “The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is administered as a single dose. Results from a clinical trial involving people in the United States, South Africa and Latin American countries found that Janssen COVID-19 vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.

“The Phase III clinical trial involved over 44,000 people. Half received a single dose of the vaccine and half were given placebo (a dummy injection). People did not know if they had been given Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine or placebo.

According to her, the trial showed a 67 per cent reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases after two weeks in people who received Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine.

The most commonly reported side effects were pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and nausea. Most of these side effects were mild to moderate in severity and lasted 1-2 days.

On the vaccine safety, Adeyeye said NAFDAC, in line with its pharmacovigilance and safety monitoring plan for COVID-19 vaccines, will closely monitor and subject the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine to several activities that apply specifically to COVID-19 vaccines.

The AstraZeneca vaccine which Nigeria has been giving out has garnered many sceptics internationally after some recipients of the vaccine died.

At least 16 countries including Germany, France and Sweden have suspended the use of AstraZeneca, which put on the Nigerian government to suspend it.

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