Epunchng - Most read newspaper in Nigeria 12th-Oct-2017 - Page 7

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017 news 7 IPOB’s ban: FG writes to US, UK, others, lawyer faults move Ade Adesomoju, Abuja T HE Federal Government has formally notified the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other foreign countries about the proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra, and the designation of the group as a terrorist organisation, The PUNCH has learnt. The Federal High Court in Abuja had, on August 20, made an order proscribing the group upon an ex parte application by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN). The proscription order was published in the Federal Government’s gazette on the same day it was issued. The US and the UK had indicated that they did not consider IPOB a terrorist group. Malami, however, confirmed to The PUNCH on Wednesday that the foreign governments had been duly notified of the proscription of the group. The minister also told our correspondent that following the formal notification, the Federal Government would be seeking a Mutual Legal Assistance from the foreign gov ernments to cut off the funding of the group and deal with it and its members as terrorists. Our correspondent gathered last week that the Federal Ministry of Justice, through its Central Authority Unit, had sent separate letters to all the foreign missions operating in Nigeria. It was learnt that the letters, with copies of the Federal Government’s gazette, publishing the order of Justice Abdu Kafarati of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which proscribed IPOB, were served on a majority of the foreign missions in Abuja on September 27. When asked to give the identities of the specific embassies served with the letter, a top official of the Federal Ministry of Justice said, “Just think of any embassy you know is operating in Nigeria, they have all been served.” “All we did was to send copies of the gazettes attached to the cover letters to notify them of the status of IPOB as far as Nigeria is concerned. “Although the proscription widely reported in newspapers, has been published in the Federal Government’s gazette and advertised in newspapers as ordered by the court, we had to formalise it by notifying our foreign friends, I mean the foreign governments, which have embassies in Nigeria; and that was exactly what we did by sending copies of the gazette to them.” When contacted on Saturday, spokesperson for the US Embassy, Russell Brooks, said he could not comment on whether or not the embassy had received such notification from Nigeria’s Government. He stated in a text message sent to our correspondent, “Thanks for your inquiry, but we don’t routinely describe government- to-government correspondence.” Spokespersons for the embassies of the UK, Canada and France did not respond to HAVE A STORY FOR US? CONTACT: Politics: 08033461633 politics@punchng.com; General News: 08165625046 Online: 08033430804 generalnews@punchng.com; Business: 07068835954 business@punchng.com the text message inquiries sent to them by our correspondent last Friday, and resent to them on Wednesday. Confirming the development to our correspondent on Wednesday, Malami said the proscription of IPOB had been formally communicated to the foreign governments. He said a Mutual Legal Assistance request had been “generated” for the blocking of the sources of the funding of IPOB. “They (the foreign countries) have been communicated formally and a mutual assistance request has been generated requesting them to deal with them (IPOB) as terrorist, block their accounts and sources of funding, among others,” Malami said. The Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdu Kafarati, had, on September 20, issued the proscription order upon an ex parte application by Malami. The PUNCH had exclusively reported on September 26 that the Federal Government had gazetted the proscription order as directed by the court. The gazette, with commencement date of September 20, 2017, reads in part, “Consequently, the general public is hereby warned that any person or group of persons participating in any manner whatsoever in any form of activities involving or concerning the prosecution of the collective intentions or otherwise of the said groups will be violating the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended) and liable to prosecution. “This notice shall be cited as the Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice, 2017.” The Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, had told our correspondent that the Federal Government would write to the foreign embassies in Nigeria about the proscription of IPOB. Foreign govts won’t recognise FG’s letter –IPOB lawyer In his reaction on Wednesday, however, Mr. Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer for proscribed group and Nnamdi Kanu, its leader, said the international community had been notified that the proscription order issued against IPOB was being challenged in court. He said the group’s motion had been slated for hearing before Justice Kafarati on October 23. Ejiofor stated, “The fact is that each foreign country has its own laws that govern its state. Before now, America has told Nigeria that IPOB is not seen as a terrorist organisation. “So, as far as we are concerned, once the countries are not satisfied with the claim that IPOB is a terrorist organisation, the letters being written by the Ministry of Justice does not have the force of law and will not be given effect by the international community. “The international community knows that the proscription of IPOB and designating it as a terrorist organisation has political undertone. So they will not give such letter any recognition. “It is also important to state that we have filed our application to vacate the proscription order and the hearing is coming up on October 23.” EFCC traces N2.1bn to Patience’s dead mother’s account Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja T HE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has traced N2.114bn to the bank account of Magel Resort Limited, which was allegedly owned by Mrs. Patience Jonathan and her late mother, Mama Charity Oba. According to the EFCC, the total amount of money traced to Mrs. Jonathan is now N17bn. Patience, the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, had, last week, filed a N2bn fundamental human rights suit against the EFCC, accusing the anti-graft agency of subjecting her to psychological trauma, unnecessary persecution and going as far as freezing her late mother’s accounts. However, an interim report of the EFCC, made available to The PUNCH, accused Mrs. Jonathan of perpetrating fraud through some of her non-governmental organisations. The report adds that at least N17bn, including funds from some government agencies, were paid into the accounts of Mrs. Jonathan’s NGOs. The report states, “Another company owned by Mrs Jonathan is Magel Resort Ltd. It was incorporated by Mrs. Jonathan’s late mother. But Patience Jonathan became the sole signatory to the account of the company by board resolution upon the demise of her mother. “Though registered as a resort agency, sources at the EFCC disclosed that the agency was probing the circumstances in which the firm secured over N200m IT contract from the National Information Technology Development Agency. “The contract was allegedly bankrolled through the National Information Technology Development Fund. Several other persons under investigation for money laundering by the anti-graft agency were discovered to have made payments into the company’s account including a hotelier in Central Area, Abuja, who has been invited for questioning. “The total sum allegedly laundered through the account of Magel Resort Limited, owned by Mrs Jonathan and her late mother, is put at N2.114bn.” The commission alleged that another NGO, owned by Patience, Ariwabai Aruera Reach Out Foundation, had various accounts but the principal account was domiciled at Diamond Bank. The EFCC said it stumbled on evidence in which several government agencies made payments into the account. A total inflow of N2.4bn was allegedly recorded in the account between 2009 and 2015. The commission alleged that some of the NGOs had Patience’s domestic servants as directors. The report adds, “Investigations equally discovered that Mrs. Jonathan maintains a dollar account with Diamond Bank which received huge financial inflow from her domestic aides. “Some of the domestic aides that made payments into the accounts are also trustees of her so-called NGO and director in her companies. The balance in the account was $12,831,173. “Another dollar account of the former First Lady was discovered in Skye Bank. Inflows into the account came through deposits by domestic aides of Mrs. Jonathan. Intelligence reports indicate that most of the purchase of luxury items by the former First Lady was through the Platinum card of the account. The total amount in the account is $7.9m.” The anti-graft agency said a total of N1.8bn was deposited in the account of Flinchley Top Homes Limited, another company linked to Mrs Jonathan. The money was allegedly deposited by her domestic aides between 2009 and 2015. The report adds, “Another discovery was the N2.1bn and N1.8bn deposited into the accounts of AM PM Global Network Limited and Pagmat Oil and Gas Limited respectively, between 2009 and 2015. Both companies are linked to the former First Lady. “Another N1.140bn was also allegedly laundered by Mrs. Jonathan through the account of Lawari Furniture and Baths Limited, whose address is given as 100 Akamfa Road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. “The bulk of the money was deposited by Bureau de Change operators.” It was learnt that the BDC operators had been invited by the EFCC for questioning. It was further alleged that the addresses of most of the companies were discovered to be fictitious as mails sent to them were returned undelivered. In his reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the former President’s wife, Belema Meshack-Hart, urged the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, to honour the National Assembly’s invitation rather than engage in media trial. Meshack-Hart also rubbished allegations that his principal was using her NGOs to perpetrate fraud. He stated, “I won’t exchange words with them since the matter is in court. The House has invited the EFCC chairman many times but he has refused to honour the invitations. Let him go and tell the National Assembly what he knows. “However, it is not true that Dame Jonathan used her foundations to launder funds. The foundations helped over 700 people with heart diseases. “ CODE OF ETHICS • • We are guided by the principles of factual, balanced and fair reporting and commentaries. We believe that these principles and ethical conduct are the basis of public trust and confidence. • We believe that a system of self regulation, through a professional code of ethics under an • independent body would best serve the interest of the profession and society. We subscribe to the Ombudsman mechanism established by the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, supported by other stakeholders, to mediate complaints against the press on ethical conduct and recommend redress. For more information, please contact: Office of the Ombudsman, Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria 8, Maryland Crescent, Maryland, Ikeja. Or e-mail: ngrombudsman@yahoo. com