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‘Our Mandate Cannot Be Taken,’ Dino Vows To Appeal Tribunal Ruling

A file photo of Senator Dino Melaye

Senator Dino Melaye has vowed to appeal the court ruling which sacked him as Senator representing Kogi West and ordered for fresh election in Kogi West Senatorial District.

Melaye disclosed this in a Tweet on his official handle where he noted that his mandate cannot be taken.

He also made known his intention to be Kogi State Governor.

READ ALSO: Tribunal Sacks Dino Melaye As Senator, Orders Fresh Election

Melaye also released a statement and described the tribunal ruling as a total miscarriage of justice.

“The judgement is full of importation of information that is alien to the case. I, however, commend the courage and moral strength of the chairman of the tribunal for resisting evil and standing on the path of justice.

“I have confidence in the Appeal Court to right the wrongs contained in the pronouncements of the judgement,” he said.

Melaye in the statement also added that “I also want to tell those jubilating that their jubilation will be short-lived while appealing to my teeming supporters to remain calm as their mandate is safe and secured and cannot be taken through any mischievous means.”

The Senator said his legal team is already working on appealing the judgment.

Tribunal sacks Senator Melaye, orders fresh polls

Senator Dino Melaye has been sacked as the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District.

The National Assembly/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal in Lokoja, Kogi State handed down the sack today and ordered a fresh election.

Melaye was dragged to the tribunal by the All Progressives Congress candidate, Senator Smart Adeyemi.

In the now annulled election, Melaye polled 85,395 votes, while Adeyemi scored 66,902 votes.

But Adeyemi challenged Melaye’s victory on three grounds of irregularities, over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act.

The three-man panel led by Justice A. O. Chijioke agreed with Adeyemi’s objections.

In a unanimous judgment on Friday, the tribunal annulled the election and ordered another election in the senatorial district.

Melaye, who is nursing the ambition of running for the Kogi governorship seat, mocked the verdict as he tweeted:

“On Tribunal judgement. No cause 4 alarm at all. Even if it went my way they will still go to the Appeal Court. Our mandate can not be taken. We will get judgment at the Appeal Court. There will be fresh election in Kogi West bc I will be Governor. For my Senate mandate no shaking”.

Source: PM News

Tunde Adeniran Replaces Falae As SDP National Chairman

Prof. Tunde Adeniran

A former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran, has replaced Olu Falae, as the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The appointment of Professor Tunde Adeniran who is also a former Nigerian Ambassador to Germany was confirmed by the National Executive Committee of the party.

Prof. Adeniran was in acting capacity after the former party leader, Olu Falae stepped down.

Although he was earlier suspended for misconduct and anti-party activities, prof. Adeniran assured delegates and national officers of his commitment to actualize the political aspirations of patriotic Nigerians dedicated to national service.

“I assure you all that my leadership will be committed to repositioning the party as a veritable vehicle for the actualisation of political aspirations of patriotic and people-oriented Nigerians dedicated to national service.

He said his leadership has already set new electoral targets for the party, adding that the party could not win the 2019 presidential election because of crisis and litigation that followed the outcome of the SDP presidential primaries.

“There is no denying the fact that I took over the reins of leadership of our great party at a time of unease and manifest fracturing of its cohesiveness.

“By way of repositioning the party, we at the national headquarters have reviewed the journey so far, especially from February 2019 till date, and set new electoral targets for the party and we are already working assiduously with a strong sense of duty and a consuming passion for goal attainment.

Meanwhile, the party also appointed Mr Onu Agunloye as the Deputy National Chairman and Ms Sa’adatu Abdullahi as the National Welfare Secretary.

First of its kind: FBI arrests scores of Nigerians for wire fraud, BEC scams

U.S. authorities on Thursday unsealed a 252-count grand jury indictment charging 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a major conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through fraud schemes and launder the money through a Los Angeles-based network.

“We believe this is one of the largest cases of its kind in U.S. history,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna told a news conference.

The conspiracy included frauds involving business email (BEC scams), romance scams and schemes targeting elderly people.

Victims were targeted in the U.S. and around the world, and some lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Fourteen defendants were arrested, mostly in the Los Angeles region. FBI agents could be seen processing suspects in a downtown Los Angeles parking lot.

Six other defendants are believed to be fugitives in the U.S. and the others are abroad, mostly in Nigeria. Authorities said they hope to extradite them.

The investigation began in 2016 with one victim and a single bank account, said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office.

Among the people arrested are: Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizens. Others are: Jerry Ikogho, 50, of Carson (who was taken into custody on Sunday), and Adegoke Moses Ogungbe, 34, of Fontana, who were indicted as illicit money exchangers for the conspiracy.

In addition: Iro, Igbokwe, Ikogho, Ogungbe and three other defendants –Izuchukwu Kingsley Umejesi, 30, of Los Angeles, Tityaye Marina Mansbangura, 33, of Palmdale, and Obi Madekwe, 31, of Nigeria – are charged with operating illegal money transmitting businesses. Ogungbe and Mansbangura were also among those arrested this morning, and Umejesi is a fugitive currently being sought by authorities.

According to the FBI statement: Iro, Igbokwe and Chuks Eroha, 39, face additional charges for attempting to destroy their phones when the FBI executed a search warrant in July 2017. Iro also is charged with lying to the FBI in an interview conducted during the search. The complaint alleges that, when the FBI arrived to conduct the court-authorized search at Iro’s apartment in Carson, Iro broke his phone in half, while Igbokwe and Eroha threw phones from a bedroom window of the apartment. While Iro claimed he previously had broken the phone during an argument with his wife, the complaint details how the FBI was able to determine that the phone was operational until seconds after the FBI knocked on Iro’s apartment door to execute the search warrant. Eroha is believed to have fled to Nigeria shortly after the FBI executed the warrant.

Early in August, the FBI similarly arrested a Nigerian FORBES celebrated billionaire, who was accused of milking a branch of US owned Caterpillar subsidiary in the UK of $11.5m, among other atrocious frauds committed.

Read the Full Press statement by FBI today:

Massive International Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracy Detailed in Federal Grand Jury Indictment that Charges 80 Defendants

A 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed today charges 80 defendants, most of whom are Nigerian nationals, with participating in a massive conspiracy to steal millions of dollars through a variety of fraud schemes and launder the funds through a Los Angeles-based money laundering network.

The indictment was unsealed after law enforcement authorities this morning arrested 14 defendants across the United States, with 11 of those arrests taking place in the Los Angeles region. Two defendants were already in federal custody on other charges, and one was arrested earlier this week. The remaining defendants are believed to be abroad, with most them located in Nigeria.

The indictment alleges that the 80 defendants and others used various online fraud schemes – including business email compromise (BEC) frauds, romance scams, and schemes targeting the elderly – to defraud victims out of millions of dollars. According to a criminal complaint also unsealed today, co-conspirators based in Nigeria, the United States and other countries contacted the lead defendants in the indictment – Valentine Iro, 31, of Carson, and Chukwudi Christogunus Igbokwe, 38, of Gardena, both Nigerian citizens – for bank and money-service accounts that could receive funds fraudulently obtained from victims. Once members of the conspiracy convinced victims to send money under false pretenses, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the receipt of funds and oversaw an extensive money-laundering network, according to the 145-page indictment.

The indictment and criminal complaint allege that Iro and Igbokwe, who were among those arrested this morning, were involved in schemes resulting in the fraudulent transfer of at least $6 million in fraudulently-obtained funds – and the overall conspiracy was responsible for the attempted theft of at least an additional $40 million.

The fraudsters targeted victims in the United States and across the globe, including individuals, small and large businesses, and law firms. Some of the victims of the conspiracy lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fraud schemes, and many were elderly.

“This case is part of our ongoing efforts to protect Americans from fraudulent online schemes and to bring to justice those who prey upon American citizens and businesses,” said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. “Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use BEC schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims. This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators – no matter where they reside – and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains.”

“Today’s announcement highlights the extensive efforts that organized criminal groups will engage in to perpetrate BEC schemes that target American citizens and their hard-earned assets,” said Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “Billions of dollars are lost annually, and we urge citizens to be aware of these sophisticated financial schemes to protect themselves or their businesses from becoming unsuspecting victims. The FBI is committed to working with our partner agencies worldwide to continue to identify these cyber criminals and to dismantle their networks.”

Iro and Igbokwe essentially were brokers of fraudulent bank accounts. According to the indictment, Iro and Igbokwe collected bank accounts, fielded requests for bank account information, provided that information to co-conspirators around the world, and laundered the money obtained from victims – all of this in exchange for a cut of the money stolen from victims of the various fraud schemes.

If a bank account with a specific business name was required to trick a business-victim into making a payment, Iro and Igbokwe often coordinated with “money mules” to open accounts that could receive funds obtained, according to court documents. In addition to making the fake business name mirror the name of a legitimate company, members of the conspiracy routinely filed fictitious business name statements with the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder’s Office that were presented to banks when the fraudulent accounts were opened.

Once a victim deposited funds into a bank account or a money services account, Iro and Igbokwe allegedly coordinated with others to further launder the funds. Members of the conspiracy sometimes wired funds to other bank accounts under their control; in other cases, they simply withdrew funds as cash or negotiable instruments such as cashier’s checks.

When stolen funds were withdrawn as cash, the defendants frequently used illicit money exchangers to move funds overseas, generally avoiding transferring the funds directly through banking institutions, the indictment alleges. To do this, Iro and Igbokwe coordinated the transfer of a victim’s funds from a fraudulent bank account they controlled to U.S. bank accounts belonging to illicit money exchangers. Those money exchangers, in turn, used a Nigerian banking application to transfer other funds in naira (₦), the currency of Nigeria, from Nigerian bank accounts they controlled to the Nigerian bank accounts specified by Iro and Igbokwe. This method was used to transfer millions of dollars to Nigerian co-conspirators without directly transferring funds overseas. The indictment alleges that Jerry Ikogho, 50, of Carson (who was taken into custody on Sunday), and Adegoke Moses Ogungbe, 34, of Fontana, were among those who served as illicit money exchangers for the conspiracy.

Each of the 80 defendants named in the indictment is charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to launder money, and aggravated identity theft. A number of the defendants also face substantive fraud and money laundering charges.

Additionally, Iro, Igbokwe, Ikogho, Ogungbe and three other defendants –Izuchukwu Kingsley Umejesi, 30, of Los Angeles, Tityaye Marina Mansbangura, 33, of Palmdale, and Obi Madekwe, 31, of Nigeria – are charged with operating illegal money transmitting businesses. Ogungbe and Mansbangura were also among those arrested this morning, and Umejesi is a fugitive currently being sought by authorities.

Iro, Igbokwe and Chuks Eroha, 39, face additional charges for attempting to destroy their phones when the FBI executed a search warrant in July 2017. Iro also is charged with lying to the FBI in an interview conducted during the search. The complaint alleges that, when the FBI arrived to conduct the court-authorized search at Iro’s apartment in Carson, Iro broke his phone in half, while Igbokwe and Eroha threw phones from a bedroom window of the apartment. While Iro claimed he previously had broken the phone during an argument with his wife, the complaint details how the FBI was able to determine that the phone was operational until seconds after the FBI knocked on Iro’s apartment door to execute the search warrant. Eroha is believed to have fled to Nigeria shortly after the FBI executed the warrant.

The charges contained in the criminal complaint and indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

This investigation is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the United States Department of State provided substantial assistance during the investigation.

Several agencies provided support during today’s takedown or during the investigation, including the United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office and the California Franchise Tax Board.

Many of the FBI’s Legal Attachés provided assistance throughout this investigation, as did the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, and foreign authorities around the world. In particular, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office thank the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom and the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Osnabrück, Germany for their contributions.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Anil J. Antony and Joseph B. Woodring of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section.

Source: PM News

Outcome of NEC meeting: FG to recover N614bn debt from 35 states

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed says the Federal Government has resolved to recover N614 billion loan facility from 35 states of the federation.

The minister revealed this when she briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at the State House, Abuja.

Ahmed said each of the affected 35 states received N17.5billion as bailout from the Federal Government.

She said that already the Council had agreed to constitute a team to finalise modalities for commencement of repayment of the loan facility.

The team according to her would be constituted from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Ministry of Finance.

She said: “The Ministry of Finance briefed NEC on the progress of the facilitate detailing how the Federal Government has made a total of over N614 billion available to 35 States being N17.5 billion each.

“Council agreed to constitute a team from the Nigerian Governors Forum to meet with the CBN and Ministry of Finance to finalise modalities for commencement of payment.’’

The minister further revealed that she updated the Council on the activities of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Excess Crude Account (ECA) and other special accounts of the federation.

She said the Committee requested for extension of time to finalise and present its report during next meeting of the Council.

Ahmed also made presentation on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Medium Term Strategy Paper. She said that the presentation was to get inputs and recommendation from the Council for further presentation to Federal Executive Council for approval and implementation.

She underscored the importance of the presentation as follows: “Nigeria macroeconomic environment has stabilised in recovering gradually.

“There have been eight successive months of economic growth since emerging from recession.

“The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), remains the basis for the Medium Term fiscal strategy.

“The draft 2020 to 2022 Medium Term Fiscal framework indicates that Nigeria faces significant medium-term fiscal challenges especially with respect to revenue generation.

“Therefore there is need to improve revenue collections and expenditure management,’’ she said.

The minister also highlighted successes recorded as follows: “Macro-economic stability has been achieved with growth in end Q3 2019 at 3.01per cent.

“Continued increased in Real GDP from 1.89% in Q2018 to 2.01 percent in 2019.’’

She also told the Council that there had been significant growth in the nation’s non-oil sector.

Ahmed noted that contribution of the non-oil sector to GDP had increased by 90.4per cent in the first quarter of 2018 to 90.9per cent in first quarter of 2019.

The minister noted that inflation had continually declined since 2017 from 18.72per cent to 11.08per cent in July 2019 while unemployment rate at 20.1per cent at third quarter of 2018.

She, however, stressed the need for more diversification to boost inclusive growth, adding that the Buhari administration “is strongly committed to employment generation in this second term.’’

On the nine billion dollars London Court judgment against Nigeria, the minister said the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami had assured that Nigeria would appeal against the judgment.

Source: PM News

4 killer policemen sacked, arraigned in court

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

The Lagos State Police Command has sacked four policemen who shot dead two unarmed suspects at Iba area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.

The Commissioner of Police Lagos State, CP Zubairu Muazu had ordered the arrest of the four police officers involved in extrajudicial killings of two unarmed suspects at Iba.

“The Policemen were subjected to internal disciplinary proceedings at the Provost Department. They were tried on three count charges bothering on discreditable conduct; unlawful and unnecessary exercise of authority; and Damage to Article.

“The four policemen were found guilty and awarded the punishment of dismissal from service and prosecution. They were subsequently handed over to Homicide section of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba for prosecution in conventional Court,” Bala Elkana, Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO,  said in a statement on Thursday.

The four suspects, Ex-Inspector Fabiyi Omomayara, Ex-Sergeant Olaniyi Solomon, Ex-Sergeant Solomon Sunday and Ex-Corporal Aliyu Mukaila were today arraigned in Magistrate Court 5, Ebute Meta for conspiracy and murder and were remanded in Ikoyi prison.

“The case is adjourned to September 23 for Directorate of Public Prosecution, PPP advise. This will serve as deterrent to others,” Elkana said.

Source: PM News