The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has held a former president of the Nigerian Senate, Bukola Saraki, in custody over allegations of theft and money laundering, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
Mr Saraki, a former Kwara State governor, was detained on Saturday, sources familiar with the development said, a situation that may trigger another episode of troubles for the politician.
As senate president between 2015 and 2019, Mr. Saraki spent considerable time facing allegations of corruption and false declaration of assets. He was acquitted by the Supreme Court in June 2018.
However, in his new case with the EFCC, PREMIUM TIMES understands, Mr. Saraki is to answer questions over alleged theft and laundering of public funds using a network of cronies and proxy companies.
The suspected proxies, who executed purported contracts for Kwara State under Mr. Saraki, allegedly made returns, for many years, to the former governor, forming an organized network of dirty money flow.
The funds involved were huge, running into hundreds of millions in naira and hundreds of thousands in foreign currencies at various times, sources said.
Anti-graft investigators have obtained a list of the proxy companies involved and analyzed a pattern of suspicious transactions between them and Mr. Saraki, PREMIUM TIMES learned.
One of them has been reportedly responsible for funding Mr. Saraki’s lifestyle, including paying over a hundred million to settle the bills for rent and renovation of Mr. Saraki’s Maitama residence, PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation showed, based on interviews with persons familiar with the property.
More details later…
SOURCE: PREMIUM TIMES
Hardship: Lagos Govt Plans Distribution of Palliatives
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, announced his government’s plan to begin distribution of palliatives among other initiatives to ease the effect of high cost of living in the country.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed this in a live media chat with journalists on Thursday.
He said, “On the food palliatives, as we speak, I’m expecting over 200 trailers of rice coming from up north.
“Food purchase and distribution that will cover about 300,000 households that will have 10kg rice, 5kg garri, 5kg beans and have other small things like tomatoes in a combo bag.”
The governor added that there will be “Sunday Markets” where Lagosians can buy food items at discounted rates.
He said, “We are going to be opening ‘Sunday Markets’ in about 42 markets in Lagos. This time you’ll be buying at a reduced cost. We’re going to cap what you can buy at not more than N25,000 and we’re going to be giving you a 25% rebate immediately there.
Binance Collaborates with Nigerian Government to Enforce Regulatory Compliance on Its Platform
Binance, a prominent cryptocurrency company, has announced its collaboration with the Nigerian government to address non-compliant activities on its platform in accordance with the country’s regulations, Aso Naija Reports.
In a statement emphasizing its commitment to peer-to-peer (P2P) users in Nigeria, Binance cautioned that individuals engaging in manipulative behavior would be expelled from the platform.
Binance expressed its proactive approach by working closely with local authorities, lawmakers, and regulators to ensure compliance.
To reinforce its commitment, the cryptocurrency exchange platform has implemented several measures, including setting an upper limit for advertisements, filtering and removing inappropriate ads, requiring merchants posting ads to provide higher deposits, and establishing procedures to take action against any market manipulation attempts.
On a recent Tuesday, Binance temporarily disabled the sell option for Nigerian users, preventing them from selling their fiat currency, USDT, on the platform.
Additionally, the buy option for Nigerian users was capped at $1802.
Furthermore, Binance disabled the purchase of cryptocurrencies via P2P for Nigerian users, thereby affecting those who intended to sell their cryptocurrency assets such as Bitcoin, BNB, and Ethereum through P2P transactions.
These actions are part of the Nigerian government’s ongoing efforts, led by the Tinubu administration, to address the depreciation of the naira against the dollar.
Additionally, sources close to the Nigerian government have been discussing how cryptocurrencies have provided an avenue for individuals to bypass the country’s initiatives to increase dollar liquidity.
Forex Crisis: Federal Government Blocks Binance, OctaFX, Others
The federal government has reportedly blocked the online platforms of Binance and other crypto firms to avert what it considers continuous manipulation of the forex market and illicit movement of funds, Aso Naija Reports.
Sources within the major telecommunication companies in the country on Wednesday evening, February 21, that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) communicated the directive to telcos and they had started acting on it.
Apart from Binance, other platforms such as Forextime, OctaFX, Crypto, FXTM, Coinbase, Kraken, among others, were equally blocked.
According to the publication, Presidency and regulatory sources said the government decided to move against Binance and other crypto firms following reports that currency speculators and money launderers were using them to execute criminal activities.
Authorities believe the ‘criminal activities’ going on on platforms are contributing significantly to the weakening of the naira.
Ondo State Govt Declares 2 Days Public Holidays As Late Gov. Akeredolu’s Funeral Commences
The commencement of the funeral ceremony for the late former governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has resulted in the declaration of a two-day public holiday by the Ondo State Government, Aso Naija Reports.
The ceremony began on Wednesday, February 21, with traditional rites taking place in his hometown of Owo.
Distinguished guests in attendance at the ceremony included Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Governor Duoye Diri of Bayelsa State, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq of Kwara State (who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum), and Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa of Ondo State.
Late Governor Akeredolu, who passed away on December 27 following an extended illness while receiving treatment in a German hospital, is scheduled to be laid to rest on Friday in Owo.
Also, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ebenezer Adeniyan, issued a statement outlining the burial activities that have been ongoing since last Thursday.
The Shedule Of Events In Ondo State Is As follows:
– Wednesday, February 21: The day began with Ajabue, traditional rites, in Owo from 9 am to 4 pm.
A Special Court Session was held at Court 1, Ondo State High Court Headquarters on Hospital Road, Akure, at 10 am.
This was followed by a Lying in State and Commendation Service at Akure Township Stadium at 1 pm.
In the evening, an Evening of Tributes took place at St. Andrews Church on Imola Street in Owo from 4 pm to 7 pm.
– Thursday, February 22 (Public holiday): A Service of Songs was held at St. Andrews Cathedral on Imola Street in Owo at 4 pm. The Wake-Keep was held at Maranatha Villa in Owo at 8 pm. Additionally, there was a Candlelight Procession & World Gyration by the Kegites Club, which took place from 8 pm until dawn.
– Friday, February 23 (Public holiday): The Funeral Service was held at St. Andrews Church on Imola Street in Owo at 10 am. Immediately following the burial service, the interment took place at the burial site in Owo.
This portion of the event was strictly for the immediate family.
Additionally, a reception was held at Mydas Hotel and Resort on Ikare Road in Owo at 1 pm.
– Saturday, February 24, 2024: An Akeredolu Memorial Friendly football match was played at Akure Township Stadium in Akure at 3 pm.
– Sunday, February 25, 2024: The funeral events concluded with a Thanksgiving Service at St. Andrews Church on Imola Street in Owo at 10 am.
Government Threatens to Open Borders for Cement Imports Amid Price Dispute with Nigerian Manufacturers
The Nigerian government has issued a potential threat to open the borders for cement importation if local cement manufacturers do not reduce the price of the commodity within the country, Aso Naija Reports.
Arc Ahmed Dangiwa, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, expressed this stance during an emergency meeting with cement and building materials manufacturers held in Abuja on February 20th.
Dangiwa emphasized that key materials required for production, such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum, which are readily available within Nigeria, should not be priced in dollars.
The minister argued against the manufacturers’ justifications for high prices. He dismissed the excuse of rising gas prices, as gas is a raw material abundantly found within the country.
Additionally, he refuted the claim that increased mining equipment costs should impact cement prices, stating that these manufacturers have been using the same equipment for decades, and the cost should not be a significant factor.
Dangiwa pointed out that the government had previously closed the borders to cement imports in order to support local manufacturers.
However, he warned that if the government were to reverse this decision and allow mass importation, the prices of cement would plummet, adversely affecting local manufacturers.
The minister urged the manufacturers to demonstrate greater patriotism and cited BUA cement as an example of a company that had shown willingness to lower the price of its cement to below the agreed range of N7000 to N8000.
He questioned why other manufacturers could not do the same.
In response to the manufacturers’ challenges, the minister emphasized that many countries face similar or worse difficulties.
Nevertheless, he stressed the importance of citizens coming together in times of crisis to effect positive change.
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