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A former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, has accused President Muhammadu Buhari and Acting President Yemi Osinbajo of running a “fascist” government following an alleged raid of a guest house owned by the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu.

Ekweremadu, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, said his guest house was raided Friday morning by police officers.

But the police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, told PREMIUM TIMES Friday night that the police have “absolutely nothing” to do with the raid.

No agency has claimed responsibility for the raid. Calls to EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, were not answered Friday evening. The State Security Service does not have a contact person that interacts with the Nigerian public.

In an emailed statement,  Fani-Kayode said the development marked the latest in a relentless persecution of opposition figures and other citizens by the Buhari administration.

The former Minister of Aviation said Nigerians should rise up and demand a stop to ongoing attacks against democracy and the Constitution by Mr. Buhari.

“As each day goes by more and more people have come to accept the fact that the Buhari administration is a government of fascists,” Mr. Fani-Kayode said. “They are led and guided by dark and sinister forces whose sole agenda is to divide our people and destroy our country.”

“You illegally and indefinitely lock up Sambo Dasuki, El Zak Zaky, Ifeanyi Uba and countless others and you criminalise them before the world.

“Worse still you refuse to bring them before the courts of law or to give their lawyers full and free access to them,” the former minister added.

Fani-Kayode said while Mr. Buhari’s “dictatorial” tendencies could be understood due to his military dictatorship background, it was unfortunate that Mr. Osinbajo would allow acts of impunity to manifest while he is in charge.

Osinbajo is the acting president with Mr. Buhari in London for medical treatment.

“He is an erudite lawyer and a gentleman of good stock and noble blood and he really should know better,” Fani-Kayode said of the acting president.

He said opposition elements like himself would not succumb to persecution, calling on Nigerians to legally push back against alleged tyrannical actions of government.

“This is shameful and shocking. Raiding the homes of our friends and leaders like Ekweremadu and harrasing their children will not deter, stop or silence those of us that are in the opposition. It will only harden our hearts and strengthen our resolve.

“It is about time that Nigerians woke up and stood up to their madness and tyranny. We must employ all lawful means to resist them and expose them for what they are. Not only are they incompetent but they are also sadistic and wicked.

“Nowhere in the world do citizens sit by idly and say nothing when their rights are being violated in this way”, he said.

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The immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, who is facing corruption charges, has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to declare his prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, illegal.

In the suit asking the court to determine the constitutionality of a serving minister exercising executive power through a presidential directive, Mr. Adoke said his involvement in the Malabu Oil deal was limited to carrying out the directive of former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Named as the sole defendant in the suit was his successor, Abubakar Malami.

Adoke is accused by the EFCC of aiding the transfer of money to his co-defendant, Dan Etete, himself a former petroleum minister and conspiring with him to commit money laundering offences in the infamous $1.1 billion Malabu Oil scam.

But in originating summons to his counter-suit, which was signed by 11 lawyers led by Kanu Agabi and two other senior lawyers, Adoke asked the court to determine whether by virtue of sections 5(1), 147(1), 148(1) and 150(1) of the 1999 Constitution a serving minister of the country can perform the “executive power of federation vested on the president as directed by the president.”

Section 5(1) of the Constitution deals with the executive power of the President and how such powers can be exercise or delegated.

Section 147(1) and 148(1) outlines the duties and responsibilities of ministers and how those responsibilities are exercised in accordance with the wishes of the president while Section 150 (1) specifically deals with the responsibilities of the AGF.

Adoke prayed the court to declare that his involvement in the negotiation between the Nigerian government and Malabu Oil and gas Limited, Shell, Nigeria national Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Agip in the matter of OPL 245 was in “furtherance of the lawful directive/approval of the president in the exercise of his powers.”

The former AGF also asked the court to declare that any correspondence he had with J.P Morgan (the back which transferred the money to  Etete) and any other entity and ancillary actions and processes taken in respect to the Malabu oil deal was in obedience to the lawful directive of the president in the exercise of his executive power.

He further asked the court to declare that his prosecution by the EFCC in respect of Malabu deal on the account of carrying out the president’s directive was illegal, null and void and in breach of Section 5 (1) of the Constitution.

Lastly, he asked the court to declare that he cannot be held personally liable for carrying out lawful directive/approval of the president while he served as a minister.

In the affidavit filed in support of the originating summons, Adoke traced the evolution of the deal from 2006 until 2010 when Mr. Jonathan approved the transfer of the oil block to Etete maintaining that his role in the deal was shaped by former president’s directives.

“That at all time material the plaintiff carried out the Presidential directive diligently, faithfully, impartially and in good faith and without any personal gain to himself nor to any other person except as was agreed to by the known parties to the parties.

“The plaintiff verily believes that he did not exceed the directives/ approval given to him by the President and did nothing wrong to warrant his prosecution on account of the implementation of the Settlement Agreement,” the affidavit stated.

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The Police in Ebonyi on Saturday confirmed the arrest of some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in various part of the state for alleged unlawful sensitisation programme.

The command’s spokesman, DSP Jude Madu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday that the arrested suspects also included members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).

Madu said that the suspects were arrested for unlawfully sensitising the public to stay at home on May 30, in observance of the group anniversary.

“They would be charged to court and the command would ensure that they are duly prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.

“IPOB and MASSOB are illegal groups and did not get permission from the police to embark on such exercise which threatens the peace and security of the state.

“The command with the directive of the Commissioner of Police, Mr Titus Lamorde, has commenced intensive sensitisation of the populace to disregard the sit-at-home directive and go about their lawful businesses,” he said.

Madu warned members of the group not to carry out outlawed activities within the state before, during and after May 30, as the full weight of the law would be brought on any defaulter.

“Any person or group found culpable would be arrested and duly prosecuted as the groups’ activities amount to mutiny or fighting a sitting and legally recognised government.

“IPOB and MASSOB are techniques developed by some individuals to gain public interest and recognition as the former is even a breakaway organ of the latter.

“These groups have not provided amenities or other forms of social security for the people they are directing to stay at home; it shows that their intentions are not sincere and must be rejected by all,” he said.

He advised the groups that not everybody was interested in issues concerning secession as people still remember the horrors of the civil war and other upheavals in the country after then.

According to him, they should realise that most people are not interested in their preaching, therefore, they should not force anybody to be involved in their illegal and unlawful practices.

Madu called on traditional rulers and town unions across the state to assist the police in sensitising the people and provide relevant information about the group’s activities.

“The command has distributed various call contacts (numbers) to the public to report activities of these groups within this period, especially molestation, if they refuse heeding to the stay-at home order.

“Any gathering of two or more people propagating the IPOB/MASSOB messages or executing related activities should be promptly reported to the police for immediate actions,” he said.

A NAN Correspondent who visited the state police command reports that the arrested IPOB members were upbeat and chanting solidarity songs.

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has appealed to Nigerians, especially Muslims, to use the period of Ramadan for reflection on national challenges and join forces with the Buhari administration to overcome them.

He gave the advice in his message to felicitate with the Muslim community in Nigeria as they join other faithful across the world to commence Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer.

The Acting President implored Muslims to seek maximum benefits from the Ramadan period by replicating the teachings of the Holy Prophet in all their engagements, both private and public.

He urged Muslims to use the Ramadan to renew their commitments to the virtues of love and peace taught by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and also works towards achieving them.

He noted that the period was one for spiritual perseverance, temperance, introspection and retrospection with the Almighty Allah.

The Acting President called on Nigerians to continue to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari and the nation in general.

Osinbajo, while wishing the Muslim faithful blessed Ramadan, urged them to also remember the less privileged in the society during the special period.

Muslims commenced fasting on Saturday following Sultan of Sokoto,Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar’s III, declaration of May 27, as 1st Ramadan, 1438 AH, signifying the commencement of the annual long-month fast by Muslims.

The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that Abubakar announced the sighting of the new moon in Sokoto, on Friday, in a broadcast.

Abubakar said that the new moon was sighted in various states of the country including Kebbi, Lagos, Adamawa, Bauchi, Delta, Cross River and Benue.

The Sultan stated that the reports of the sighting of the new moon were received from Muslim leaders and organizations across the nation.

Abubakar further said that the reports were duly verified and authenticated by the National Moon Sighting Committee.

He said that the sighting of the new moon of Ramadan also signified the end of Sha’aban, 1438AH.

The Sultan, therefore, called on the Muslim ummah to commence fasting accordingly.

Abubakar implored the Muslim Ummah to devote themselves fully to worship throughout the Holy month.

” We should also pray fervently for the blessings of Allah for President Muhammadu Buhari and others in leadership positions in Nigeria.

”This is to enable them to succeed in steering the affairs of our dear country, as well as sustenance of peace and stability in Nigeria and the world,” he urged.

He further called on Nigerians to continue to live peacefully with one another, irrespective of religious and tribal differences.

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Quran was revealed.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.

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Three Nigerian scammers who befriended many of their victims on dating sites have been slammed huge prison sentences by a Mississippi court after making tens of millions of dollars from their schemes. Rasaq Raheem, Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, Femi Alexander Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was sentenced to 95 years in prison; Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, was given 115 years and Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, got 25 years behind bars, according to a report by https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com A court in the Southern District of Mississippi had in February found them all guilty of crimes including mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud and theft of government property. Ayelotan and Raheem were also found guilty of conspiracies to commit bank fraud and money laundering.

Dating back to at least 2001, the scammers were involved in multiple internet fraud schemes, resulting in losses in the tens of millions, according to the Department of Justice. It claimed that they would befriend women on dating sites, establish a romantic relationship and then either get them to send money or have them participate in fraud schemes, usually without the victim’s knowledge. The unsuspecting women would sometimes be required to cash counterfeit checks and money orders; use stolen credit card details to purchase goods; and use stolen personal information to take over victims’ bank accounts. They were also apparently used to launder money via Western Union and MoneyGram, and re-package and re-ship goods obtained fraudulently.

A whopping 21 defendants have already been charged in this ongoing case, 12 of whom have pleaded guilty to charges involving conspiracy and 11 of whom have been sentenced. The three Nigerians were among the six extradited from South Africa by US Department of Justice in 2015 to face charges of running a series of scams against gullible Americans over the past 16 years. Fourteen others resident in the US were also arrested to face trial in Gulfport, Mississippi on nine federal charges, including conspiracy to commit identity theft, wire fraud, bank fraud, theft of US government funds, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The indictment states that since 2001 the accused, were part of a string of scams against Americans, facilitated by internet communications.

These include the longstanding 419 scheme, whereby a massive windfall is promised once a small number of payments have been provided, but the DoJ claims it went much further than that. The team was also accused of running romance stings to bilk the lonely of funds, shipping fraud, running fake work-from-home businesses, check fraud, and plain-old hijacking of other people’s bank accounts and credit cards to divert funds. Global fraud continues to grow thanks to the internet and an increase in the use of both anonymizing technology and bots designed to mimic human behavior.

ThreatMetrix, which analyzes 20 billion annual transactions, blocked 130 million fraud attempts in Q1 alone, a 35% increase on the same time last year. However, it is Europe that has become a major fraud hotspot. There were 50% more fraud attempts originating from the region than the US in the quarter, the firm claimed.

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Controversy is trailing the N35million the Department of State Service, DSS, allegedly recovered from the official residence of Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court who is facing money laundering charges. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the Supreme Court At the resumed trial of Justice Ngwuta before the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Friday, the presiding Judge, Justice John Tsoho, revealed that part of the money was missing.

The DSS had through one of its investigators, Mr. John Utazi, insisted before the court that the total amount of local currencies it recovered from the defendant’s home was N35,358,000. It equally gave details of foreign currencies recovered after a “sting operation” it conducted at Ngwuta’s residence on October 8, 2016, as £35, 0915 (Pound Sterling), $319,096 (United States Dollars), R50 (South Africa Rand), €280 Euros, 380 United Arab Emirates Dirhams and 420 Gambian Dalasis. However, before transferring the monies which government lawyer, Mrs. Olufemi Fatunde tendered into evidence in nine bags and boxes, to the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for safe-keeping, Justice Tsoho ordered that they should be recounted.

Though the Judge directed that the foreign currencies should be counted in bundles since they were already wrapped and sealed, he said the Naira which were in loose currencies, should be recounted in presence of representatives from the prosecution, the defence and an official of the court. Justice Tsoho who equally rejected request by the prosecution counsel for the monies to be counted at the CBN, stressed that it should be done with counting machine of the court.

Meantime, at the resumed hearing of the matter on Friday, Justice Tsoho revealed that N22,160. 00 was missing from the money. While FG claimed that it tendered a total of N35,358,000, the Judge disclosed that only N35,335,840 was tendered before the court. Sequel to the development, the court gave Ngwuta’s lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, the nod to cross-examine the witness, Mr. Utazi, who is the fifth prosecution witness in the matter.

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The police in Abuja on Friday carried out a search on the Maitama, Abuja official guest house of the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. Ekweremadu Special Adviser to the Deputy President of the Senate, Mr. Uche Anichukwu who confirmed the development said that neither Ekweremadu nor any of his senior aides was informed before the search.

According to him only the steward was present when the policemen who claimed to be from the Force Headquarters arrived at the 10 Ganges Street, Maitama guest house. Mr. Anichukwu said nothing was found from the search.

The search happened about two weeks after Senator Ekweremadu alleged plans by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to raid him in either Abuja or Enugu. The EFCC in response at that time said that he needed not to fear if he had nothing to hide. Details later.

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Nigerian Muslims are to commence their 2017 Ramadan Fast on Saturday (tomorrow), the Nigerian Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs has said.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES at 7:30 PM, Friday, the Secretary General of NSCIA, Ishaq Oloyede, a professor, said the crescent moon has been sighted in several locations across the country, and that the fast would commence on Saturday.

He said a formal announcement would be made by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar 111, who he said had scheduled a press conference for 8:00PM Friday.
“We wish Muslims in Nigeria and all over the world a prayerful, meaningful and purposeful Ramadan,” Mr. Oloyede said.

The Sultan had on Thursday urged Muslims in the country to be on the lookout for the new moon for the month of Ramadan on May 26 (today).
Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, had also on Thursday announced that the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan would begin on Saturday.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (Sawm) to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Mohammed according to Islamic belief.
This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

According to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths, Ramadan lasts 29 to 30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
The beginning and end of Islamic months are determined by the sighting of the new moon.
Lebanon’s top Islamic authority, the mufti, said Ramadan would also begin in the country on Saturday.
A similar statement was made by officials in Iraq’s Muslim Sunni minority.

During Ramadan, Muslims have to abstain from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to sunset.
Devout Muslims also mark the month by intense worship, performing special nightly prayers and reading Islam’s holy book, the Koran.
Fasting is one of Islam’s five pillars, alongside declaration of monotheism, prayer five times a day, alms-giving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Friday visited the Garki Model Market in Abuja where he interacted with traders to know how they are faring and how the government could tailor policies to aid them.
The acting president’s visit was part of activities to commemorate the two years in office of the Buhari administration.

He arrived the market some few minutes after 3 p.m. to a rousing welcome by both traders and customers, and spent about forty minutes interacting with the marketers.
A few of them who spoke to Mr. Osinbajo complained of the high cost of rent paid for their shops, while others complained of rising cost of food items they buy and sell.
A trader who sells rice, Nasiru Kurfi, complained of inadequate storage space, saying that the management of the market had not been able to complete the shops they paid for long ago.
The acting president promised to take up both the matter of high rent and spaces with the management of the market.
He also called on the traders to combine carrying out business activities with farming.
“The more we farm, the more cost of products will come down,” he said.

The Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, and other presidential aides accompanied Mr. Osinbajo on the visit.
I just stopped by at theGarki market, Abuja.
This lady and I discussed some of the issues she faces in the sale of fish at the local market

Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the visit, Mr. Osinbajo’s Spokesperson, Laolu Akande, said the surprise visit was part of activities to mark the second anniversary of the administration.
“He wanted to feel the pulse of Nigerians and to hear directly from the people and have one on one with them and assure them that the administration was committed to improving the economy and ensure life gets better for them,”Mr. Akande said.
The visit came a day before the commencement of the annual Muslim fast and Mr. Osinbajo urged the traders to keep prices low for their fellow citizens.

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The Nigeria Police Force is on red alert over plans by Biafra agitators to shut markets and stage protests in southeastern Nigeria on 30 May.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafra Independence Movement (BIM) and other groups have termed the day sit-at-home day to register their grievances with the federal government.

Moshood Jimoh, the Force Public Relations officer, said the police were deeply concerned with the security implications of the planned actions and urged the groups to shelve their plans in ”the interest of national security”.

He said the actions are part of renewed hostilities and subversive propaganda aimed at undermining law and order in the south eastern states by these groups, their associates, sponsors, apologists and sympathisers.

“Consequently, the Commissioners of Police in the affected States and their supervising Assistant Inspectors General of Police, have been directed by the Inspector General of Police to be strict, polite, civil and firm in dealing with the situation and put all the Police Personnel and Police Anti-Riot equipments on red alert to deal decisively in accordance with the law with any eventuality from these groups, that can disrupt commercial activities, vehicular movements and safety of lives and properties in some States of the Federation considered to be flash/vulnerable points which have witnessed the unfortunate disturbance of public peace by these groups in the recent past.

“The Force sees the activities of these groups as not only unlawful but highly provocative and capable of causing breach of the peace currently being enjoyed in the South East States and other States of the Federation. The planned protests and orders of Market closure and illegal unilateral self imposed restrictions of vehicular movements by these groups in the affected States should be disregarded by all well meaning Nigerians. The Nigeria Police Force, hereby advised the members of the public to go about their lawful duties and other responsibilities without any fear or apprehension as adequate security arrangements have been put in place for the safety of every Nigerian throughout the Country by Nigeria Police Force and other Security agencies.

” The Nigeria Police Force is not unaware of the rights of every Nigerian to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and freedom of movement, as essentials of democracy provided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended particularly sections 38, 39, 40 and 41. However, these rights must be observed with decorum, in good faith and without violating the rights of other millions of Nigerians to free movements and access to public/private facilities and their means of livelihood on daily basis.

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