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Obanikoro in fresh N450m poll cash scandal

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday quizzed a former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, for allegedly receiving N450m from the Coordinator of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation in Lagos State, Adewale Onilere, during the countdown to the 2015 presidential election.

Operatives disclosed that the N450m was part of the N23bn ($115m) allegedly disbursed to the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 36 states of the federation by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.

A source at the EFCC told our correspondent that Onilere, who is the Chairman of the PDP in the Somolu Local Government Area, received N650m from the campaign organisation out of which N450m was given to Obanikoro.

He said, “Onilere received N650m and then delivered N450m to Obanikoro at his house. Onilere gave Obanikoro the money in the presence of some PDP leaders.

“So, on Wednesday, we invited Obanikoro to tell his side of the story. However, Obanikoro denied receiving any money from Onilere.

“Since Obanikoro is currently on administrative bail, we let him go. However, we have invited Obanikoro and Onilere to come to our office in two weeks’ time to face each other. Surely, we will get to the bottom of this.”

In a terse text message, however, Onilere denied handling stolen funds.

“It is certainly false and I know nothing about it. Thanks,” he said.

Obanikoro and his two sons, Babajide and Gbolahan, are currently under a separate investigation involving N4.7bn which was allegedly diverted from the Office of the National Security Adviser.

The ONSA, under the leadership of the then National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), was alleged to have paid N4.7bn into the bank account of a company, Sylvan McNamara, in which Obanikoro’s sons were directors.

Obanikoro had said in his statement on oath at the EFCC that after receiving the money in June 2014, he gave N1.219bn to the then governorship candidate of the PDP in Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose; while N1.3bn was given to the PDP candidate in Osun State, Senator Iyiola Omisore.

He also confessed to giving Fayose a separate $5.377m at Spotless Hotel in Ekiti State in the presence of party stalwarts including the then Ekiti State PDP Secretary, Mr. Tope Aluko.

Obanikoro was said to have kept about N785m for himself, which he allegedly spent while campaigning ahead of the PDP governorship primary in Lagos State, which Mr. Jimi Agbaje won.

However, the EFCC asked him to return about N584m of which he has already returned N137m

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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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