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Northern states fight over new oil wells

A crisis appears to be brewing over the ownership of the Kolmani oil and gas field, as both Bauchi and Gombe States have started laying claims to the oil wells.

Officials and residents of the two states have also accused each other of attempting to appropriate the site, which is said to contain one billion barrels of crude oil reserves and 500 billion standard cubic feet of gas.

The development comes barely two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated oil exploration at the Kolmani oil field by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited and its joint venture partners.

Kolmani in North-East Nigeria reportedly has oil in commercial quantities with Oil Prospecting Licences 809 and 810, cutting across Kolmani One, Two, Three, Four and Five.

Speaking during the event, Buhari disclosed that the project has attracted over $3 billion in investments so far.

The president said, “We are pleased with the current discovery of over 1 billion barrels of oil reserves and 500 billion cubic feet of gas within the Kolmani area and the huge potential for more deposits as we intensify exploration efforts.”

 “It is, therefore, to the credit of this administration that at a time when there is near zero appetite for investment in fossil energy, coupled with the location challenges, we are able to attract investment of over $3bn to this project,” he added.

Buhari noted that the governors of Bauchi and Gombe states had given assurances of their unwavering commitment and willingness to ensure support and cooperation in their localities.

However, the governors’ assurances seemed to have been forgotten as the two states declared that they were the rightful owners of the oil-rich field.

While insisting on Gombe’s ownership of the contentious Kolmani field, the Special Adviser to Gombe State Governor on Information Management and Strategy, Alhaji Ahmed Gara-Gombe, blamed the boundary commission for the controversy.

He stated, “The truth of the matter is that the Kolmani oil well is in Gombe State: Akko Local Government, Pindiga Emirate, Tai District, Kaltanga Mamuda Ward.” It has nothing to do with Bauchi State or Alkaleri Local Government.

“If putting the records straight is what is seen as a crisis, so be it. “The National Boundary Commission, the NNPC, are hypocrites in this matter; they know the truth, and they should come out clean.”

According to Gara-Gombe, the solution is to give Gombe what belongs to it, adding, “Kolmani One is in Bauchi State in Alkeleri; let them go and explore that one. Four oil wells are in Gombe.

He noted, “Again, we need an independent jury to determine and verify our claims.” Our people, whose land was dubiously taken in the name of an access road and who were paid between N64,000 and N117,000 as compensation by the NNPC, must be paid appropriately.

“NNPC must go to the Gombe side and also construct a road like they did on the Bauchi side.” Besides, Pindiga (Gombe) to Kolmani is shorter and friendly terrain than the Bauchi (side) which is longer and an unfriendly terrain.’’

Echoing the governor’s aide, a lawyer, Abdullahi Inuwa, blamed a former group managing director of the NNPC, who passed away recently, for awarding the land to Bauchi State.

The late NNPC GMD was reportedly an indigene of Misau, Bauchi State.

Inuwa explained that their beef was not with the federal government but with the NNPC, noting that the president was misinformed about the true owners of the land.

He stated, “The true position is that we did not accuse the Federal Government directly, but our accusation points at the NNPC, not the Federal Government per se.” We have been accusing the NNPC of manipulation since the late GMD’s time, for trying to create a smokescreen by portraying the fact that Kolmani is in Bauchi while Kolmani is in Gombe.

“There is a village head in Kolmani who is answerable to the district head, who is also answerable to the Pindiga emirate under the Akko Local Government.” Our position is that Kolmani is in Gombe, not Bauchi.

“The Federal Government or the President has been misled by the NNPC, especially the highest ranking officers of the NNPC that are of Bauchi State origin,” Inuwa further alleged.

He declined to speak further on how the late NNPC GMD allegedly caused the brewing feud, but simply claimed that the NNPC had shown preference for Bauchi State.

He said, “If you go to Misau, you will see so many developments made by the NNPC in Misau, where the late GMD came from.” On the issue of boreholes constructed by the NNPC in the area, there are more boreholes on the side of Bauchi and less on the side of Gombe.

“Also, in that area in Bauchi where oil is alleged to have been discovered from the borders, all the fenced blocks are on the side of Gombe; there is no area on the side of Bauchi surrounded by walls where oil is to be drilled.”

“And not only that, if you are to go to Barambu during the late NNPC GMD’s administration, I was informed about a store constructed by the NNPC in Barambu, which is part of Bauchi, and I was told there is a laboratory there.”

“If they had treated us fairly, whether Kolmani is in Bauchi or Gombe, we would just remain mute; we would not say anything.” As time goes on, the way and manner in which they are treating us as if we don’t know what we are doing is what has provoked us to come out and voice our grievances and also tell the world that this is our position: that we are not ready to relinquish Kolmani, which is in the process of annexation from the side of Bauchi through the NNPC.

Inuwa gave the assurance that the contention would not degenerate into violence, noting that they were ready for dialogue.

He said, “We have heard about the challenges in the Niger Delta, but sadly, in this case, it is the government, through the NNPC’s selfish interests, that is trying to create problems and disharmony.

“Some of us have parents who hail from the other side, the Bauchi side; we go to their market, they come to our market.” We intermarry; we are one. NNPC’s senior officers should remember the oath of allegiance; they are first from Nigeria before considering themselves as indigenes of Bauchi.

Speaking further, he stated, “I don’t think it will escalate to the Niger Delta extent.” From the outset, if someone like the late NNPC GMD had engaged both communities from both sides of the boundary, it wouldn’t have escalated. “Our doors are not closed for dialogue, and I believe our leaders will resolve it amicably.”

A resident of Pindiga, Gombe State, Salisu Mohammed, said they would not allow themselves to be moved to Bauchi, adding that the discovery of oil should not be a reason to lose one’s origin.

He said, “We are casting our votes with respect to the state assembly in Gombe and not the Bauchi house of assembly.” We are not ready to be snatched because of oil to a different state.”

Speaking to our correspondent on the telephone, the Commissioner for Information in Bauchi State, Yakubu Ningi, said that the state government would consult widely before making its position on the matter known to the public.

He said, “Although the governor has been invited to speak on the matter on a television program, he did not go because he realized that the matter is taking on a different dimension.”

“He wants to have wider consultations, after which the Bauchi State government’s position on the matter will be made public.” His Excellency said you’ll need to give us some time to articulate our position before going to press later on.

Reacting to Gombe’s claims over the oil field, Muhammad Bako, the member representing Pali Constituency in the Bauchi State House of Assembly, where the area is situated, stressed that the area belonged to Bauchi.

He added, “This issue is not an issue for the youths because when you bring in the youths, the issue has become a child’s play.” They are being sponsored by people, and they don’t know exactly where the boundary is.

“The chairman of the National Boundary Commission hails from Gombe State, but when the issue of verifying the boundary came up, he went and saw it; they were thinking the boundary was in Gombe.”

“But when they saw it, they left and never returned because they saw the truth that the oil was in Bauchi and not in Gombe.” And you know when people want to cause problems or crises, they use the youth, but I am calling on them not to cause trouble that will consume them. “They are being sponsored by people who don’t know anything about this oil.”

Going down memory lane, the lawmaker said that the oil was first discovered when Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was a minister.

Bako argued, “This oil was first discovered when Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was the minister of works; that was when the history of this oil started.” Then, during the regime of the late General Sani Abacha, he started drilling the oil at Barumbu, and then he died.

“When Olusegun Obasanjo came in, he allegedly sent messages, and the oil well was reportedly blocked, and the issue was no longer talked about.” So, when Buhari came, he started the drilling again.

“The one (oil well) in Barumbu was just flushed.” And then, two new ones were drilled. The one that was flushed in Barumbu and the two new ones are not in Gombe. “The boundary between Bauchi and Gombe and these oil wells is up to 20 kilometres,” he stated.

To buttress his argument that the area belongs to Bauchi, the lawmaker said all the communities in the jurisdiction were paying taxes to the state government.

He added, “There are traditional rulers in Bauchi and Gombe states.” In those communities where the oil has been found, all their traditional leaders pay their taxes to the Bauchi State government. The traditional rulers in Gombe have been paying their taxes to Gombe for the past 100 years.

“So, if a traditional ruler dies in any of those communities, would a new one be installed by Gombe State?” He will be installed by the Bauchi State government and not Gombe. And because of that, they have no excuse.”

The lawmaker sued for peace, admonishing the people of the area not to encourage militancy over the oil discovery.

Reacting to Bako’s claims, the media aide to Gombe governor, Gara-Gombe, simply stated, “Does it mean that the chairman of the National Boundary Commission, who is from there and is their son, has rejected his home state and is now supporting Bauchi?” Do they love Gombe more than he does? “You need to ask him to give you an answer.”

Commenting on the controversy, Deputy Director of the National Boundary Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Bulus, said the agency was not aware of the contention over the oil field.

When asked if the NBC would address the tussle, he said only the director-general of the commission, Adamu Adaji, could speak on the matter, adding that he was out of Abuja now.

On his part, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Garba-Deen Muhammad, said attention should rather be focused on oil production from the wells now.

“Let us worry more about the oil supply for now.” “This one (the ownership tussle) can wait,” he stated.

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Army silent over court jailing COAS

The Nigerian Army has declined to respond after a court ordered the remand of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, and the Commandant, Training and Doctrine Command, Minna, Major Gen. Stevenson Olabanji, for alleged contempt.

A high court sitting in Minna, Niger State, had issued a warrant of arrest and subsequent remand of both Yahaya and Olabanji in the custodial center.

The case was said to be between Adamu Makama and 42 others versus the governor of Niger State and seven others.

Counsel for the plaintiffs, Mohammed Liman, had prayed the court to send the army chief and commandant to the custodial center for disobeying an order made on October 12, 2022.

Ruling on the application, Justice Halima Abdulmalik said, “An order is made committing the Nigerian Army Chief of Staff, General Farouk Yahaya, and the Commander, Training and Doctrine Command, Minna, i.e., the 6th and 7th respondents, into the custody of the correctional center for contempt of the order of this honourable court made on 10/12/2022.”

The judge ordered that the army chief and commandant remain in custody until they purged themselves of the contempt.

The case was adjourned until December 8.

Several attempts to get the reaction of the Nigerian Army were not successful.

Calls and a text message to the phone number of the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, were not answered.

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Terrorism Financing: Foreign NGOs, fintech firms linked

The Federal Government has said that foreign non-governmental organizations, banks, financial technology firms, and point-of-sale terminal operators have been linked to terrorism financing in the country.

It identified the affected NGOs to include those operating in terror-prone areas and engaged in humanitarian activities, service provision, and faith-based activities.

These were contained in the 2022 National Inherent Risk Assessment of Terrorism Financing in Nigeria report. The report assessed the level of terrorism financing risks the nation was exposed to.

According to the report, investigations by security agencies have revealed constant interactions between the use of cash by terrorist actors and financial institutions, bureaus de change, fintech firms, and designated non-financial businesses and professions.

Following the outbreak of insurgency in the North-East, many foreign non-profit organizations commenced operations in the country, but the assessment report said many of them had been indicted for terrorism.

The assessment, obtained by our correspondent on Monday, relied on data from intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Department of State Services, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, and various regulatory and supervisory agencies.

Other contributors to the report include the Corporate Affairs Commission, Defense Intelligence Agency, Federal Ministry of Justice, Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Extractive Industries Initiative, Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Office of the National Security Adviser, and the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering.

It said investigations indicated that current account products associated with BDCs and NGOs’ corporate customers were observed to be connected with terrorism financing activities.

The government observed that the abuse of the nation’s financial system includes the movement of large sums of cash in high-risk locations, the use of illegal forex dealers to perform currency exchange, and the use of multiple vendors by NGOs.

Overall, the report concluded that the inherent TF risk of NGOs in Nigeria is rated as high.

The assessment stated, “The findings of this report indicate that TF in Nigeria is generally associated with the use of cash.” This notwithstanding, field information flowing from law enforcement investigations as well as financial data have revealed constant interactions between the use of cash by terrorist actors and financial institutions, bureau de change, fintech firms, and designated non-financial businesses and professions.

The inherent vulnerabilities of each sector were assessed by the extent to which products and services offered are found in domestic investigations, or STRs, in relation to TF. Current account products used by corporate clients of Bureau de Change and NPOs/NGOs have been seen to be connected to TF activities.

The use of bank accounts in the movement of TF funds has featured prominently in both intelligence and investigations related to TF.

“Financial data have also shown that the illegal currency exchangers comingle transactions in their personal accounts as well as entity accounts held and controlled by them with that of their BDC activities.’’

In a particular investigation, the FG disclosed that almost all the individuals profiled on suspicion of having links to TF maintained at least one bank account.

It noted that illegal currency exchangers primarily conduct their financial transactions through bank accounts.

The report further affirmed that the number of individuals engaged in illegal currency exchange business is very high, as revealed by a recent TF investigation involving a large number of exchangers.

This, it said, has been brought to the attention of regulators and law enforcement agencies, adding that “transactions through agent banking products, mainly point-of-sale payments and ATM payments, have also been linked to TF.”

The government noted that a larger percentage of transactions linked to terrorist financing were initially carried out in cash, which was sourced from both legitimate and illegitimate activities.

“However, cash collected is usually placed into the financial system directly through bank deposits and indirectly through POS transactions and transactions with DNFBPs,” it said.

Investigations by security agencies had also indicted 19 firms linked with illegal money exchangers considered to be connected to terrorism financing.

The report added, “Illegal money exchangers have been featured in several TF investigations.” Within a three-year period beginning from 2019, about 19 companies linked to these illegal money exchangers have used their companies to comingle funds considered to be linked to TF.

Illegal money exchangers are not subject to any form of regulation, and as such, they do not implement any preventive measures. The activities of the illegal money exchangers provide a channel for moving illegally obtained funds for TF.

Though the government has strengthened the legal system with the enactment of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, which expanded the terrorism-financing offenses and included a framework to implement targeted financing sanctions against TF, the NIRA report admitted that terrorists regularly adapt how and where they raise and move funds and other assets to circumvent safeguards that jurisdictions have put in place to detect and disrupt their activity.

It explained that an understanding of TF risk would inform national counterterrorist financing strategies and assist in the effective implementation of a risk-based approach toward CFT measures.

In a bid to deepen financial inclusion, the report observed that the last two years had witnessed a tremendous increase in money transfers involving the use of POS linked to fintech firms, noting that the rising volume of transactions, however, raises concerns about the purpose of the cash transfer.

‘’For instance, in 2021, Nigeria recorded a total POS transaction of N6.43 trillion. These POS machines are issued by deposit money banks and Fintech firms. However, the narration of the transactions is obscure, which raises concerns. Fintech POS conceals the identity of the sender of the funds at the recipient point, thereby posing vulnerability. More so, investigations have revealed that the POS operators have been used by kidnappers and their associates to move ransom collected from relatives of victims.

“In Nigeria, the banking sector, virtual asset service providers, designated non-financial businesses and professions, other financial institutions, insurance, NPOs, and capital market sectors are the sectors that were assessed as being particularly vulnerable to TF,” the study further stated, stressing that the cross-border nature of TF can pose additional challenges for the identification of risk.

Apart from ransoms, the report noted that terrorist groups derived funds from the sale of arms, donations from sympathizers, the trade in dried fish, proceeds from seized farms and livestock, as well as human and drug trafficking, including the sale of tramadol.

It further noted, “For instance, two arrested Boko Haram kingpins who headed the tramadol trafficking ring had frequented the Zinder market in the Niger Republic for their nefarious activities.” They specifically trafficked tramadol from Lagos, Nigeria, to Libya, where they exchanged their drug consignment for weapons.

“The estimated annual revenue for the group during the period of the report cannot be ascertained due to insufficient data.” However, from the records of law enforcement agencies, ransom payments to Boko Haram and its affiliates in the North-West by victims of kidnappings were estimated at about $19 million within the reviewing period (2019–2021).

The NIRA report also said law enforcement sources showed that an estimate of N91m was raised by a few communities in one state in the North-West and presented to a terrorist group as protection fees in the last quarter of 2021 alone.

Between 2019 and 2021, another law enforcement source documented ransom payments, including levies and taxes imposed on communities totaling N364 million.

In 2019, the NFIU was said to have received a suspicious transaction report involving an NGO that paid a total sum of N166m to a vendor company and its director.

The report added, “In a period of one and a half years, the company received total inflows of $99 million from five different NGOs operating in the North-East.” The director of the company received the sum of N67 million. The account of the vendor company had been dormant for over 10 years. The account had no financial activity prior to the inflows.

“The account of the director was also dormant for five years.” A profile of the directors of the company showed that they were in their thirties.

The government said in the last three years, 15,307 banditry and kidnapping attacks occurred, while 411 and 204 terrorist attacks were recorded in 2019 and 2021, respectively, resulting in the deaths of over 1.693 civilians.

“This has no doubt affected the national economy as it has affected business and investment activities.” A state like Borno has lost over $9.5 billion in the last three years on the reintegration of internally displaced persons.

“Investors avoid doing investments where money laundering/TF is significant, which ultimately can harm the FDI trends of the country. Accordingly, these threats have warded off foreign investors because most expatriates are being kidnapped, some of whom have been killed in the last few years. “The situation has worsened trade investment and contributed to reducing revenue inflows,” it concluded.

Commenting on the development, a security expert, Jackson Ojo, said, “Terrorism financing has been going on for a very long time.” But you see, in our country, whenever high-profile personalities are involved, it is not against the law. However, if it is people with low personalities who are involved, it is against the law.

“This present government does not have the willpower to fight any level of insecurity because most of its high-profile personalities are part of it.” “It starts with such arrests or investigations but later closes or is never heard of, which is why these illicit businesses continue to blossom in the country.”

Another expert, Hassan Stan-Labo, said, “The government has not been able to adequately handle the insecurity situation in the country due to its way of handling fundamental issues that concern the ordinary man on the street.” The election is approaching, and the government is looking for all sorts of excuses to distract the public. “Nigerians have lost hope in the government of the day.”

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IGP confirms “use and dump syndrome” of politicians

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has asked officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force to be apolitical before, during, and after the next general elections.

The IG issued the warning during a visit to the Kogi State Police Command headquarters in Lokoja on Monday.

He said, “Let me sound a note of warning to you all: be apolitical before, during, and after the forthcoming election.” “You must not allow yourselves to be used because they will dump you after the elections.”

“You have a duty and responsibility to uphold the constitution and to protect the lives and property of citizens; you cannot afford to fail in carrying out these tasks.”

The IG promised to look into the challenges facing the cops, especially the rank and file, with a view to providing an enabling environment that would bring out the best in them.

Meanwhile, the Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has vowed not to allow politicians to drive the state back to the era of crime and criminality.

The governor was speaking on Monday while playing host to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, who visited him in his Lugard House Office, Lokoja.

He said, “We are in possession of credible intelligence reports that some political elements are out to foment trouble during and after the general elections; this administration will not allow insecurity to be smuggled into Kogi through the boot of politics.”

Earlier, Baba had described Bello as a dogged crime fighter who had made the state unsafe for criminals.

“I’ve never heard him cry that he doesn’t have control of security in his state.” That is because he is able to synergize and cooperate with all the security agencies as well as lead from the front. Security is everybody’s business. When you have a leader who is leading from the front, others will follow. “That is what is happening in Kogi,” the IG said.

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Tinubu Supporters Hold March in Kano as Ganduje Assures Free and Fair Elections

Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, assured the people of Kano State on Sunday of free and fair elections during the 2023 general election.

The governor stated this while addressing the All Progressive Congress (APC) supporters who organized a one-million-man match in support of the presidential candidate of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

According to the governor, the APC and other parties in the state are on board with the idea of free and fair campaigns and elections.

Speaking with a local media house at the event, the governor, who is visibly happy with the attendance, said the march has surpassed one million and is heading to five million.

“By looking at my face, you will know I am happy; my deputy, who is the gubernatorial candidate, is happy; even the people of Kano are happy.”

“If you see the mammoth crowd for over one hour now, we have been standing here, we have been taking salutes, we have been directing them to the main venue of the event for over one hour now, and they are still passing; it’s more than one million marchers, and we are heading to five million marchers,” Ganduje said.

Youth, women, and persons with disabilities from the 44 local government areas of the state gathered in the state metropolis to support the APC presidential candidate.

The one-million-man match began from the Emir’s palace, and the Kano State governor received thousands of supporters at the Government House Roundabout. The match continued from there and ended at the racecourse in Nasarawa Local Government.

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Borno Attacked by Suspected Jihadists; Troops and Civilians Killed

Security sources and residents said Sunday that jihadists attacked an army base and a town in northeast Nigeria, killing soldiers and civilians, in the latest violence to rock the region.

Fighters from Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) riding trucks fitted with machineguns stormed the town of Malam Fatori, in Abadam district, late Friday and early Saturday, they said.

“ISWAP terrorists attacked Malam Fatori and caused huge destruction, which we are working to quantify,” a military officer told AFP.

“They attacked the military base and engaged troops in a fight while a second group went on a killing spree and arson in the town,” said the officer, who asked not to be identified.

The first attack, near the Niger border, came at dusk Friday, leading to a fierce battle with soldiers who repelled the assault, said resident Buji Garwa.

In a predawn attack on the base and the town on Saturday, the jihadists hurled explosives and killed residents, while others drowned in a river trying to flee.

“It is not clear how many people were killed because we all fled the town and are now gradually returning to assess the damage,” Garwa said, adding that a large part of the town had been set afire.

“We have started combing the bushes and picking up the bodies of those killed and searching along the river banks to find those washed up on the shore,” he said.

Another resident, Baitu Madari, said she had counted a dozen people who were killed in her neighborhood.

“I have no idea of the number of dead bodies recovered in other parts of town.” “The destruction is really huge,” she said.

According to an intelligence officer, the attackers came from nearby Kamuya village.

“Kamuya is the largest ISWAP camp in the Lake Chad area, which is just eight kilometres (five miles) from Malam Fatori,” the source said.

“All the previous unsuccessful attacks on Malam Fatori were launched from Kamuya, which is well fortified with mines and heavy weapons,” he added.

Malam Fatori, 200 kilometers from the regional capital Maiduguri, on the fringes of Lake Chad, was seized by Boko Haram jihadists in 2014 but clawed back by the military in 2015.

A base was established in the town to repel attacks from ISWAP, which split from Boko Haram in 2016 and turned Lake Chad into a bastion.

In March, thousands of people who fled to Maiduguri and into neighboring Niger were returned to Malam Fatori on the orders of the Borno state government, despite concern by aid agencies.

The jihadist conflict, which broke out in 2009, has killed over 40,000 people and displaced around two million in the northeast.

The violence has spilled into neighboring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, prompting a regional military force to fight the insurgents.

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“My head was hit on a wooden table” – Chidinma

Chidinma Ojukwu, the alleged killer of the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV, Usifo Ataga, told a Lagos State High Court sitting at Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, on Thursday that she was slapped and forced to sign statements written by policemen in the state.

Chidinma, who testified in her trial-within-a-trial as defence witness one, told Justice Yetunde Adesanya that policemen, including Assistant Superintendent of Police Olusegun Bamidele, and Olufunke Madeyinlo, told her to sign statements against her will.

She said Bamidele told her to narrate the statement he wrote to the state commissioner of police after tearing the statement she wrote.

Chidinma is on trial for the alleged murder of Ataga. She is also charged with stealing and forgery alongside her sister, Chioma Egbuchu, and one Adedapo Quadri.

Addressing the court on Thursday, Chidinma, while being led in evidence in the trial-within-a-trial by her counsel, Onwunka Egwu, told the court that on June 23, 2021, she was in her room at home when her 10-year-old sister informed her that some men were asking after her.

The witness said, “Immediately, my sister called my Dad (her foster father, Onoh Ojukwu), who came out and asked who the men were? They said they were policemen from (SCID), Panti, and that they came to arrest me and to search the house or that I should go in and bring the (Ataga’s) phone.

“I said I don’t know where the phone and car is and one of the policemen slapped me. My dad said you cannot slap my daughter in my house and the policemen tried to enter the room from the passage.”

Chidnma said when the policemen were taking her away, she told her foster dad to call the family lawyer, Egwu, adding that when they got to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, she was taken to the office of a policeman, Razak Oseni, who, alongside other policemen, questioned her.

She said, “We went back to my house and then returned to the DCP’s office and he started questioning me. I told him I don’t know anything about the death of Mr. Ataga, and that was when they made the video that was played in court.

“The DCP said I should make my statement then the IPO, Bamidele, took me to the interrogating room with Mr. Chris, and gave me a blank statement form and asked me to write what happened.

“I started writing, then he (Bamidele) took my left hand and handcuffed it to the chair. I wrote what I said at the DCP’s office. While writing the statement, Bamidele read through it and said it was not what happened.”

Chidinma said she told Bamidele that she was writing what happened, adding that before she started writing the statement, she informed him to help her confirm if her foster father had called the family lawyer.

She said, “He (Bamidele) said my (foster) dad cannot make a call as he was in custody. That was when I started writing the statement. When he said the statement I wrote was not what happened, and I told him it was what happened, I received two slaps from Mr. Jemiyo.

“Jemiyo and Chris sat at the back and Bamidele was facing me. He said you are going to write the truth, tore the statement I wrote, and presented another blank statement form. I told him I was writing the truth and you tore it.

“He said if I did not comply, my family, my dad, 10-year-old sister and relative will be charged in the murder case. He (Bamidele) brought out his phone, played the video obtained from the scene of the apartment and showed me pictures of Mr. Ataga’s body.

“He said now you are going to write and then I started writing. He said why I am slow and I received another slap on my back. I told him that I was not feeling well and needed to rest. He (Bamidele) said there was no time, he then collected the statement form from me and he started writing. Chris then handcuffed my hands to the chair.”

Chidinma said Bamidele initially asked her questions but later stopped, adding that after he was done writing, he read the statement to her, and she said what he wrote was not what happened.

She said, “He said this is what you are going to say or else my family will be charged. He read the statement to me again and told me that I should rehearse it. He said that is what I should tell the CP.

“Bamidele and Chris returned in the morning and said I should sign the statement but as I was reluctant in signing it, Chris said I should because nobody is coming for me and that they will provide me with a good government lawyer.

“After signing the statement, I was brought out of the interrogation room, given water to wash my face, and then we entered a vehicle and drove to Ikeja. When we arrived at Bamidele took me to the CP and I said what Bamidele wrote.”

She said she was taken down stairs after her interrogation at the CP’s office, where she saw a lot of people (journalists) with cameras, adding that she was not feeling well at the time.

Chidinma said, “After I was taken to the press, then we drove back to Panti where Bamidele said we are going to do a video recording, and he said I should say everything he had written in the statement and they recorded the video which was played here in court.

“I was returned to the cell; in the evening on the same June 24, Oseni brought me out of the cell, took me to an office, where Madeyinlo and another female officer Bola were. When Oseni left, I was given a blank statement form and I was told to write another statement.

“Jemiyo also walked in and I said I had already written a statement. I said I am tired and have not eaten. I was just sitting when Jemiyo came beside me and hit my head on a wooden table. This was when officer Bola had left.

“Madeyinlo said I should start writing. I picked the pen, wrote the date, my name, then she (Madeyinlo) started dictating to me and said that I should write what she said. I started writing and at the end of writing the statement, she asked me to sign.”

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Late Microsoft Founder’s Art Collection Sold For $1.6bn

An auction of paintings and sculptures from the collection of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen fetched a record $1.6 billion over two days, Christie’s auction house said on Thursday.

The successful auction in New York, where five works fetched more than $100 million each, was a sign that the art market continues to grow despite global economic uncertainty in the wake of the Ukraine war.

The record figure for an art auction had been set on Wednesday evening with more than $1.5 billion sold, Christie’s said in a statement. The second day of the sale on Thursday fetched $116 million.

“The Paul G. Allen collection attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Christie’s galleries around the world, and has now made history, setting the record for the most valuable auction sale ever,” said Guillaume Cerutti, CEO of Christie’s, in a statement.

In total, the collection included “155 masterpieces spanning 500 years of art history”, with all of the works on offer sold, the Christie’s statement said.

The works to breach the $100 million mark included: Georges Seurat’s “The Poseurs Together – Small Version” ($149.2 million), Paul Cezanne’s “La montagne Sainte-Victoire” ($137.7 million), Vincent Van Gogh’s “Orchard with Cypresses” ($117.1 million), Paul Gauguin’s “Maternity II” ($105.7 million) and Gustav Klimt’s “Birch Forest” ($104.5 million).

Christie’s, which is controlled by French billionaire Francois Pinault’s holding company Artemis, had earlier announced that all proceeds from the sales would be donated to charity.

American billionaire Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, although the two later fell out. In 2009, he signed the “Giving Pledge”, a promise to donate the majority of one’s wealth to charity. He died in 2018.

The value of this week’s auction broke the previous record for an art collection, set by the Macklowe collection at $922 million at Sotheby’s earlier this year.

With the sales of the Macklowe and Allen collections, and the sale of a portrait of Marilyn Monroe — “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” by Andy Warhol — in May for $195 million, 2022 is on course to be the most lucrative year ever for the art market.

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Alleged Money Laundering: Gov. Matawalle proposes EFCC property search

Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has offered to allow the EFCC access and ransack the property which the agency alleged its operatives found a certain humongous amount of money for laundering through cash payment of salaries.

According to a statement by the governor’s spokesman, Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, the offer became necessary “in view of the grand designed connivance by enemies of Zamfara state and vanguards of disruption to rupture the hard-earned reputation and progress of the governor”.

Dosara further stated that “to demonstrate the commitment of the state government in this direction, the governor has already directed his attorneys to officially communicate to the agency this offer and list of demands in this direction, including retracting the fake news by the Sahara Reporters against his person.

“Government will not take it lightly with anyone who tries to add salt to security injury inflicted on the good people of Zamfara through tarnishing the good image of the Governor to be distracted from the efforts and successes being recorded in the fight against banditry in the state.

“The Governor has since the assumption in office about four years ago as the Executive Governor of the state, has been administering the state in the most responsible ways and manner, credibility, in spite of the enormous security challenges and meagre resources at the disposal of the government and cannot be allowed to turn subject of relegation and ridiculing in the eye of the public.”

Mr. Dosara who serves as Commissioner of Information, further asserted that the Zamfara state government under Gov Bello Mohammed Matawalle has never paid its workers salary through table payment and cannot afford doing so at this material time when the government agreed to implement the national minimum wage of Thirty Thousand Naira (N30,000).

He said Governor Matawalle has been committed to the wellbeing, welfare and the security of lives and property of the people of the state and will not allow enemies of the state to distract him from the good job he has been doing.

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17 nations, including Nigeria, to combat terrorism and money laundering

Seventeen African countries have agreed to work together to curtail money laundering and terrorism funding in the region.

The countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

The countries’ Financial Intelligence Units met in Abuja on Tuesday, to develop an action plan that would provide effective solutions to the financial complexities associated with terrorism and the proliferation of weapons in the region.

Speaking at the units’ inaugural meeting, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said terror attacks have stifled development in the region.

He lamented that terrorist groups are waxing strong in the region as a result of the multiple sources of funding they have been receiving from both local and international partners.

Mustapha said, “The frequency of terror attacks around the region due to the activities of Boko Haram, the Islamic State of West African Province, and other related groups has deprived many people of attaining their full potential at a very significant cost to the socioeconomic development of the region.

“The security threats and other forms of insurgency are being aggressively tackled by various governments and institutions, however, the sophisticated and evolving techniques used by the terrorists in financing their activities have continued to be the greatest challenge facing the region.

“The terrorist groups have managed to sustain their operations with the finances they received from multiple sources, aided by the complex transnational and transactional criminal networks that are operating in the region alongside their global partners.”

Mustapha added that terrorism funding would be eradicated when the countries adopt regional measures to tackle the scourge.

The Director-General, Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, Edwin Harris Jnr. urged the government of member countries to give their support to their FIUs to enable them to carry out their mandates effectively.

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