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PDP absolves Tinubu, APC in Toyin Saraki’s EFCC ordeal, says party behind probe

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has debunked claims that the ruling All Progressives Congress and one of its national leaders, Bola Tinubu, were behind the ongoing investigation of the wife of the President of the Senate, Toyin Saraki, for corruption.

The Kwara state chapter of the PDP said it was a petition it (PDP) submitted to the EFCC that got Mrs. Saraki into trouble.

“It has become imperative to inform the members of the public that we have every reasons to believe that a petition recently submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kwara state chapter is largely responsible for the invitation and eventual criminal prosecution of the former Kwara First Lady and wife of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki,” the party said in a statement by its spokesperson, Rex Olawoye.

The PDP added, “It will be recalled that our party had sometime early this year discreetly submitted a petition to the EFCC detailing how certain individuals in high places under the past administration of Dr. Bukola Saraki milked the state dry and left the people more impoverished than they met them.

“In the said petition, we carefully chronicled how state officials, including former First Lady, Toyin Saraki, former Special Adviser to the Governor on MDGs, Mr. Ope Saraki, Personal Assistant (PA) to ex-Governor Bukola Saraki, one Mr. Abdul Adama from Kogi state, a former Commissioner for Information, Mr. Tunji Morounfoye, all working in a ring, got enmeshed in a cesspool of corruption unprecedented in the history of Kwara state or any other state of the federal for that matter!

“Although, we believe that the arrest and prosecution of Mrs. Toyin Saraki is long overdue, we nevertheless take solace under the fact that the long arm of the law seems to have finally caught up with her and her cronies. We are particularly delighted that our painstaking efforts at chronicling the monumental heist that defined the eight years, almost uneventful rule of former Governor Bukola Saraki in Kwara, has not gone unnoticed.

“We therefore commend the EFCC for its resourcefulness and painstakingness. We pledge our cooperation with the EFCC and all other relevant anti-graft agencies to ensure that all those who knowingly looted our collective patrimony, but now walking the streets of Kwara free with their ill-gotten wealth, do not go unpunished.

“We urge the anti-graft agency not to buckle in to pressure or blackmail that is already being mounted by political jobbers over Mrs. Saraki’s invitation by the EFCC. Instead of sponsoring paid activist-for-hire to stampede the EFCC out of the prosecution, one would have thought that the most moral thing for Toyin Saraki and her handlers to do now is to allow the law to take its cause. Since the duo of Ope Saraki and Tunji Morounfoye are already standing trial for their crimes, one would expect Mrs. Saraki too to seize the moment and clear her name, instead of playing to the gallery.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we reiterate that the offences Mrs. Saraki is being accused of are criminal in nature and such offences are not known to be statute-barred. Therefore, the fact that it took over five years after Mrs. Saraki left office as Kwara First Lady before she is eventually brought before the law does not matter.

“What matters is that justice is ultimately served, especially for the sake of the hard-working Kwara civil servants, poor Kwara farmers and the promising children of Kwara who were and are still being subjected to all manners of deprivations as a result of the rapaciousness of a privileged few who could not contain the temptations to stare clear the cookie jar.”

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Dangote’s wealth surges by $1.3 Billion in three weeks, nears Senegal’s GDP

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Aliko Dangote recorded a boost of as much as $1.3 billion in his fortune in the year to January 21, a period that was a blessing to investment for shareholders of his cement firm, Dangote Cement Plc.

At $20.4 billion according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index on Friday, the wealth of Africa’s richest man now approaches the value of the economy of the entire nation of Senegal, which the World Bank estimates to have a gross domestic product of $24.9 billion.

Dangote owes the latest rise in its fortune to the execution of the second tranche of the share buyback of his cement firm this week, which investors are betting will lift the valuation of the company further.

Dangote Cement has so far yielded 11 per cent since the turn of the year, firming up its reputation as Nigeria’s biggest company by market value at a market capitalisation of N4.9 trillion as of Friday.

It contributes roughly half of Dangote’s wealth, reaching its peak level of N265.7 per share since 2010 on Friday.

The mogul, Bloomberg reported, is among the 35 billionaires of the top 100 in the world that recorded an increase in their wealth in January. The most phenomenal advance was the jump by $13 billion to $89.5 billion in the riches of India’s most affluent man, Gautam Adani.

Dangote’s wealth is on course to see a much greater boost later in 2022 when his $19 billion petroleum refinery project is expected to be delivered.

The 650,000 barrels per day capacity refinery is said to be the largest single-train refinery in the world and is located on a vast expanse of land, about six times the size of Victoria Island.

The refinery is expected to wean Nigeria off its almost absolute dependence on imported fuel and transform it into a net exporter, helping the government to conserve scarce forex.

Dangote’s investment ambition knows no bounds, and the industrialist has told the Financial Times his intention to buy an English football club when his refinery project is done and dusted. David Pilling, the Financial Times journalist who interviewed him on the subject in 2018, said Dangote talked of buying Arsenal “as though discussing (buying) the latest model of iPhone.”

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Herdsmen from Libya, Mali, others still killing people in Benue- Governor Ortom

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Cabals have taken over Nigeria – Gov Ortom raises alarm

Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom has raised the alarm that herdsmen from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal were still maiming and killing the peace-loving people of his state.

However, President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to crush terrorists across the nation before he hands over power in 2023.

Buhari’s reassurance is coming as the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has called on governments at all levels to take urgent steps to stem the menace of anti-social and criminal acts going on in schools nationwide.

Also as part of the efforts to tackle banditry, the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH), maintaining peace in Plateau and parts of Kaduna and Bauchi states, has trained 103 youths on armed combat and intelligence gathering.

Speaking on ARISE NEWS Channel, Ortom however, disclosed that the strict enforcement of the state’s 2017 Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law has reduced the level of insecurity, pointing out that herdsmen now comply with the provisions of the law.

The state government had enacted the anti-open grazing law on May 22, 2017, to curb the nefarious activities of herdsmen carrying AK-47 rifles about the state, maiming peasant farmers, killing them and taking over their parcels of land.

But following the failure of the law to deter herdsmen from destroying farmlands and killing farmers, the Benue State House of Assembly amended the law, which was signed by the governor on Thursday with stiffer penalties against violators.

Speaking on the amended legislation, Ortom acknowledged that all “is going well with the enforcement of the law except for the notorious criminal elements of Fulani herdsmen, who came from Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Senegal.”

Ortom noted that the intention of the criminal elements “is not for grazing or doing cattle business, but to send people away and take over their land.

“Currently, as I talk to you, those people who come around with AK-47 rifles, AK-49 rifles and other associated sophisticated weapons are not just here with cattle. These notorious elements come to kill or maim our people.”

The governor cited the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), who attempted to return to their homes and continue with their farming activities, but were attacked, maimed and killed.

He lamented that the activities of the notorious criminal elements “are part of the reasons we have still over 1.5 million IDPs in our camps across the state.

“The children, who are not going to schools, are not happy. The old men, who are forced to stay in these camps, are not happy. The camps we established here are not even standard. Sometimes, the camps are sited in the school environment.

“The one close to a standard camp is what we have in Makurdi here. The General Theophilus Danjuma Committee constructed it to rehabilitate people. No person wants to live in this camp. But they are forced to live there.

“They want to go back. I am ready to provide logistics for them so that they can go back. But those who attempted to go back were maimed, killed and raped. These terrorist Fulani herdsmen amputated women’s hands.

“The security personnel posted to Benue State have also done their best. But over 100 of them have been killed since 2017. If security personnel, who were trained with sophisticated weapons, were killed, what do you expect averaged farmers, who were displaced and in distress, to go back and do?”

The governor, thus, commended all security agencies including Operation Whirl Stroke, the Army, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the agro rangers for working hard to ensure compliance with the anti-open grazing law and maintaining relative stability in the state.

The governor disputed claims that the legislation “is targeted at Fulani herdsmen in the state. This amendment came as a result of those who felt they have enough money to pay fines or demurrages.

“The issue of the cattle business, as it is today in Nigeria, is not just being done because they have collected enough money. So, they are always ready to pay those meagre sums,” noting that the Tiv, the Igede and the Idoma are equally affected.

Within five years that it had been experimented, Ortom clarified that the law “is not targeted at Fulani herdsmen, Hausa, Jukun or Igbo. It is targeted at every person, including the indigenous people of Benue State.”

He noted that the state’s livestock guards have done well by arresting over 50,000 heads of cattle, while over 600 people were arrested for carrying out open grazing.

“These include the Fulanis, the Hausas, the Tiv, the Idoma and the Igede,” he added.

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Lagos declares end of COVID-19 fourth wave

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The fourth wave of COVID-19 is over in Lagos, the state government has said.

Commissioner for Health in the state, Prof Akin Abayomi, said that consistent decrease in COVID-19 case positivity was an indication of the end of the fourth wave in the state.

Abayomi in an update on his Twitter account said there was a reduction in positivity rates of COVID-19 infection from 29.3 per cent recorded on December 21, 2021, to 1.9 per cent on January  20, 2022.

He put bed capacity utilisation at only two percent and fatality rate at 0.71 per cent.

But the commissioner asked Lagosians to get vaccinated and continue to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions to further reduce the spread of the virus.  

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