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Obanikoro, Omisore recover passports from EFCC, ex-minister returns to US

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A former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, has retrieved his passports from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Sunday PUNCH can report.

This is despite a directive by the Federal Government that 50 persons under investigations for fraud exceeding N50m are restricted from travelling.

An impeccable source in the EFCC told our correspondent that Obanikoro, who has an American passport and a Nigerian one, met certain conditions before his passports were returned to him.
He said, “Obanikoro was able to return over N100m out of the money he received from Dasuki. He showed genuine commitment to returning more money and assist the EFCC with investigations and his passports were returned to him.

“The fact that the commission returned the passports to him does not mean that he has been cleared.”
Obanikoro has been under investigation since 2016 for allegedly receiving N4.7bn from the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), in 2014.

The former minister allegedly handed over about N1.3bn to former Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and another N1.3bn to the then Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate in Osun State in 2014, Senator Iyiola Omisore.
After Fayose was arrested by the EFCC last Tuesday, however, it was learnt that Obanikoro travelled to the US.

“Obanikoro travelled out on Wednesday evening, saying he wanted to go for medical treatment. He gave no date when he would return,” a source said.

The former minister, who has defected to the All Progressives Congress, had declared his intention to run for the Lagos West senatorial district election but shelved his ambition at the last minute.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Omisore had also recovered his passport from the commission.

The former federal lawmaker was arrested by the EFCC in 2016 for allegedly receiving money from Dasuki through Obanikoro.

He subsequently returned N300m to the EFCC but his passport was seized by the commission.

Omisore had written to the EFCC, requesting that his passport be returned to him so that he could travel for medical treatment but his request was turned down.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Omisore had also recovered his passport from the commission.

However, the Osun State deputy governor, who recently contested the governorship election of Osun State on the platform of the Social Democratic Party, entered into an undisclosed agreement with the APC when the election was declared inconclusive.

He was reported to have entered into a series of negotiations with the APC leadership to support the APC candidate in the poll, Gboyega Oyetola, but the details of the negotiations were never made public.

It was during the negotiations with the leadership of the APC that Omisore was said to have recovered his passport from the anti-graft agency.

Omsiore’s media aide, Mr. Jide Fakorede, had said recently that his boss was no longer under investigation by the EFCC and that he was free to travel.

He had said, “Senator Iyiola Omisore was wrongly accused in 2016 and he surrendered himself to the EFCC for investigation and was given a ‘clean bill of health’ by the anti-graft body after a thorough investigation.

“It is on record that no case was instituted against him in any court of our land and neither was he arraigned before any court either. He has been enjoying his freedom and has even presented himself for election into public office passing through all security screenings. So we ask, what is the noise about?

“The basis for placement on the watch list and travel ban is to ensure that those answering EFCC charges are held within the country and for someone not having a current case with the anti-graft agency, there may be no basis to restrict his movement.”

Attempts to speak with the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, proved abortive as he did not respond to phone calls on Saturday.

When contacted on the telephone, Omisore rejected our correspondent’s calls and subsequently sent a text message saying, “Sorry, I can’t talk right now.”

Our correspondent sent a text message to him on whether it was true that he had retrieved his passport from the EFCC based on his agreement with the APC but he had yet to respond as of press time.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the EFCC had slammed five charges against former Governor Ayodele Fayose.

Barring any last minute changes, the former governor will be arraigned in Lagos this week for allegedly receiving money from Dasuki through Obanikoro.

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APC: Oshiomhole bows, says he accepts dissolution of NWC in good faith

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Former National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiohmole, says he has accepted the decision of National Executive Committee (NEC) to dissolve the National Working Committee (NWC).

The NWC was dissolved on Thursday following the recommendation of President Muhammadu Buhari. Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, was thereafter appointed the Chairman of the party’s caretaker committee.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Saturday, Oshiomhole said he had also directed his lawyers to withdraw his appeal pending at the supreme court. He was challenging his suspension as the party’s National Chairman.

According to the former governor of Edo State, he had no regrets for the role he played in the party. He also highlighted his achievements as party chairman.

“The APC under my chairmanship has done its best and the results are there. Of course we have now been dissolved and I have accepted that dissolution in good faith,” Oshiomhole said.

“I’m not going into the question of legality or illegality. The bottom-line is that the president who invited me to lead the party and who mobilised all the support for my emergence as chairman also presided over the meeting where the NWC has now been dissolved.

“Mr President graciously invited me to run for the office of chairmanship of the party in 2018 precisely about two years ago. The president told me then that if we do not reform the APC, we can as well forget about the party.

“You know that reforms are challenging and it will entail taking difficult decisions. Mine has been a life of trouble and I accepted this and I believe I did my best.

“I’m happy that at the end of the day, 2019 elections have come and gone thanks to Nigerian people, our president had more votes in 2019 than we had in 2015. We have more members in the senate and house of representatives.”

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BreakingNews: Senator Abiola Ajimobi Burial Set for Sunday

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Burial arrangements for His Excellency Senator Abiola Ajimobi

Details of the funeral ceremony of His Excellency Senator Abiola Ajimobi have been released by the family.

In close consultation with the governments of Lagos and Oyo States, the date for the burial ceremony has been announced. Barring any changes, his body will be interred at the Senator Ishaq Abiola Ajimobi Central Mosque at Oke Ado, Ibadan at 12noon on Sunday the 28th of June 2020 after the traditional Muslim prayers.

To ensure that strict COVID-19 protocols are adhered to and in light of the current circumstances of our national health challenges, the family appeals to the public to observe strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols in their participation. Furthermore, details of the live media coverage of the funeral ceremony will be made public by tomorrow.

In the near future, details of a larger funeral gathering will be announced where a lot more of his well wishers will have the opportunity to pay him their respect.

Signed

Bolaji Tunji
SA Media
26 June 2020

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$2.8 BILLION AKK PIPELINE PROJECT: BUHARI STRIKES AGAIN!

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By Femi Adesina

Something good is already happening. Something marvelous is in store, as Federal Government kickstarts the $2.8 billion Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) National Gas Pipeline Project next Tuesday. It’s another humongous signature milestone by President Muhammadu Buhari, which will leave his footprints inexorably on the sands of time.

Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. Social Investment. And many others. Buhari is doing great things, which will pedestal him in the pantheon of great Nigerian leaders. And now, he has struck again. He is kicking off the AKK pipeline project, which will carry gas between the southern and northern parts of the country. The project will eventually extend to North Africa.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) initially announced tenders for the project in July 2013. A project proposal was submitted to the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission in June 2017, and the Federal Executive Council granted approval in December 2017. I tell you, this President Buhari has the heart of a lion.

If the intention was to continue to run the NNPC as an automated teller machine (ATM), as we have seen before in this country, will such staggering project ever be approved, not to talk of taking off? And some people are still asking for Change, when it is right before their very eyes.

The 614 kilometers-long national gas pipeline is Phase One of the Trans-Nigeria Gas Pipeline (TNGP) project, to be done on build and transfer public-private-partnership. It will transport 3,500 million metric standard cubic feet per day of dehydrated gas from several gas gathering projects located in southern Nigeria.

The project will be in three phases. Phase One is 200 kilometers-long, between Ajaokuta and Abuja, at a projected cost of $855 million.

Phase Two is 193 kilometers-long, between Abuja and Kaduna, to cost an estimated $835 million, while Phase Three is 221 kilometers-long, between Kaduna and Kano, at an approximate cost of $1.2 billion.
The project will eventually reach North Africa in subsequent phases.

What will AKK pipeline project do for Nigeria? Great and wonderful things. It will create steady and guaranteed gas supply network between the North and South, and will enhance power generation capacity. The industrial sector will be strengthened, local usage of gas will be promoted and increased, and the country’s revenue generation boosted through export of natural gas.

Nigeria is ranked the 7th most endowed natural gas country in the world. She sits on about 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas deposits, which can be utilized as gas to power, gas to petrochemicals, liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG), among others.

Over the years, Nigeria has exploited its oil resources more, to the detriment of gas, which incidentally fetches more revenue, but is also more expensive to prospect.
One big advantage the average Nigerian can look forward to is the evolvement of compressed natural gas (CNG), which is still at pilot stage in the country.

While presenting his performance report to the Federal Executive Council recently, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, spoke extensively about CNG, and what it can do for Nigeria as an alternative to petrol.
He listed the challenges of the oil and gas sector to include; under-recovery, crude theft, insecurity, high cost of production, very low LPG penetration, refineries shutdown, long contracting cycle, among others.

Sylva stressed that the oil and gas sector remains critical to the Nigerian economy, even as we strive to diversify. He identified CNG and LPG penetration as priority.
Said the Minister: “The switch to CNG will help reduce the burden of petrol subsidy on the finances of the country, and government should encourage Nigerians to use CNG as fuel for transportation.”

CNG began as a pilot project in the country in 2006, but target for conversion workshops was not met till 2015. About 4,000 vehicles run on CNG in Benin, Edo State, and it’s about 50% cheaper than petrol.
Vehicles running on CNG, statistics show, save about N1,143 daily, compared with petrol. This amounts to over N30, 000 monthly. The cost of converting the car can thus be recovered within six months.

Gas is cleaner energy, cheaper than petrol, and more friendly to the environment. Global warming will, therefore, be slowed down.

More than 175,000 vehicles run on CNG in America today, and 23 million worldwide. Nigeria will join the number, and boost productivity.

The Buhari signature projects will remain landmarks in Nigeria. Help me count them: Roads, rail, bridges, airports, agriculture, AKK… and may more.

Surely, we will always remember this President for good.

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