The Federal Government has approved that the trial of 1,000 suspected Boko Haram insurgents detained in various locations of the country which resumes on Monday should be open a select members of the public and media.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), Mr. Salihu Isah.
He said the second phase of the trial at the Kainji detention facility in Niger State would be witnessed by some invited civil society groups and journalists.
“Unlike the first phase which was restricted, this phase is opened with some civil society groups, including human rights organisations and journalists invited to witness the proceedings”, Mr. Isah stated.
Giving a background to the resumption of the suspected insurgents’ trial, the minister’s media aide explained that it was as a result of the “conclusion of investigation of over 1,000 suspects as ordered by the court during its proceedings of October 2017 by the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.”
According to the statement, suspects with prima facie cases would be prosecuted while applications would be filed for the discharge of those without prima facie cases.
“Those discharged will undergo a process of de-radicalisation”, he explained.
Isah said the de-radicalisation exercise would be conducted by the Office of the National Security Adviser before the concerned suspects would be released to their various families.
Explaining further, he stated: “Recall, this exercise which is a concerted effort of the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Office of the National Security Adviser kicked off in Kainji, Niger State on Monday, October 9, 2017.
“Four judges were allocated to four dedicated courts to handle the trial located in a military facility in Kainji while defence counsels were provided for those suspects without capacity to hire private legal practitioners to defend them.
“Already, about 82 Boko Haram detainees have so far benefitted from the Federal Government’s window to plead guilty to secure low jail terms or unconditional release which is part of President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s concerted effort to boost its human right records and decongest the nation’s prisons.
“As a result, about 45 convictions have also been pronounced by the trial judges in the four syndicated courts established by then acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Abdu Kafarati. The various Boko Haram suspects were sentenced to jail terms ranging from two years to 15 years and with most of them backdated to the date of their detention.
“There are four categories of suspects at the Kainji detention facility who are classified as Boko Haram suspects who were hitherto investigated by the Joint Investigation Team set up by the Defence Headquarters otherwise known as DHQ/JIT.
“The case files of the suspected insurgents were then transmitted to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and after a careful review of the cases based on their individual merit, it was discovered that they have no prima facie cases that will sustain a charge against them in any court of law.
“As a result, they were recommended for release and handed over to the Office of the National Security Adviser for rehabilitation and/or de-radicalisation.
“The second category is the set of suspects that the Honourable Attorney General established prima facie cases against and charges already filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, who are also mostly in the detention facility under reference and may be willing to plead guilty for a lesser sentences.
“The third category are the suspects whose case files are either recommended for further investigation or that have no investigation conducted on them at all hence they do not have case files that will warrant the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to form any opinion in respect of their case.
“Also, the fourth category is that of the suspects whose cases were reviewed and a prima facie were found and may be willing to opt for a full trial.”
$8.1 billion MTN Sanction: Secret plans to reduce fine to $800 million
While the country is still outraged over the unlawful repatriation of $14 billion dollars by South African telecoms giant, MTN, development unfolding has revealed that there are behind the scenes arrangements to slash a fine placed on its Nigerian subsidiary from $8.1 billion to $800 million.
The new report drew the attention of the Nigerian Senate who resolved to seek explanations on the planned reduction by the federal government from a mammoth $8.1 billion to the new figures.
Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, Senate Committee Chairman on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, while addressing journalists on Tuesday said it became pertinent for the Senate to wade into the ‘back door’ arrangement between MTN and the Nigerian government.
“It was gathered that the federal government, working through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, may have concluded arrangements to cut the $8.1 billion fine to $800 million through the back door. The Senate said it was interested in knowing the percentage of reduction from $8.1 billion to $800,” he was quoted as saying, by Vanguard.
Mr. Ibrahim also called for detailed report to enable the Senate fully understand what transpired between MTN and CBN that led to the sanction.
The CBN ordered MTN to refund the $8.1 billion to its coffers as sanctions for repatriating $14 billion using fraudulent Certificates of Capital Imports (CCIs). For their roles in the illicit transfer, MTN’s bankers were sanctioned by CBN with Standard Chartered attracting a fine of N2.4 billion, Stanbic IBTC N1.8 billion, Citibank N1.2 billion and Diamond Bank N250 million respectively.
While a Lagos court adjourned the hearing on the $8.1 billion dispute between Nigeria’s apex bank and MTN until December 4, THISDAY newspaper reports that both parties have reached a tentative agreement on the fines imposed on the Nigerian subsidiary.
Concerned about the negative impact the refund would have on the South African economy, MTN Group CEO and President, Mr. Rob Shuter, was in Abuja to discuss the risks the sledgehammer hit on South Africa’s cash cow would cause the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).
In February 2018, SATELLITE TIMES brought to public attention secret documents of MTN’s financial dealings found so outrageous it was tagged a national security issue, forcing the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to request the Department of Security Services (DSS) to step in.
In July, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a disguised visit to Nigeria however came with dual interests in MTN.
As President of South Africa, his intervention was needed to save one of South Africa’s biggest cash cows in foreign land. The other is that as a businessman, Ramaphosa has substantial interest in MTN.
In September, SATELLITE TIMES also exclusively reported how there were plans by some ultra-powerful lobbyists recruited from within and outside Nigeria, and from a few foreign governments including those of South Africa, UK and The United Arab Emirate (UAE) to stop the fine that threatened the existence of MTN’s operation in Nigeria.
Corruption: Emir Sanusi Lamido was under secret probe by govt. – Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Almost all through his 5-year tenure as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Sanusi Lamido did his best to uphold a squeaky-clean image as a public servant. He even put on a new toga, assuming the role of the country’s anti-corruption czar, speaking out against public and private sector corruption as well as supporting policies towards strengthening best practices.
A startling revelation however, in a new book, paints a diametrically-opposing picture of Sanusi with strong suggestions of sleaze and brigandage at the apex bank where he held sway from 2009 to 2014.
The level of corruption was ostensibly on a large scale; so much so that the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), a financial oversight body located in the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment initiated a probe.
The book, released 2018 and titled “Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines,” was written by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank economist who herself was a cabinet insider at the time Sanusi was the CBN governor.
Ngozi was Finance Minister, first in the Olusegun Obasanjo administration and returned to serve a second time in the same position but with an expanded portfolio as the Coordinating Minister for the Economy under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
For political expediency and also not to send the wrong signal to international investors, the Jonathan administration chose to keep the probe quiet.According to Ngozi, the President said “if the situation became public, it could reflect badly on the Central Bank Governor.”
While the outcome of the probe was being given official consideration at the highest level, Sanusi sprung a surprise. He wrote a letter on September 2013 to President Jonathan, alerting him that there was $49.8 billion missing from the country’s oil accounts between January 2012 and July 2013.
The new development spurred efforts towards reconciling the accounts by a joint task force comprising the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, The Finance Ministry and the CBN; but was hit by a major setback when Ngozi got a call from a Financial Times of London African correspondent, William Walis, of a leaked letter to the President (Jonathan) which alleged that $50 billion was missing from the country’s oil accounts.
Before she could act accordingly, the story of the alleged missing funds had spread like wildfire, leading to widespread outrage all over the country.
In December 2013, reports by the task force were ready and after professional consideration, the parties involved agreed that the unaccounted funds were between the ranges of $10.8 billion to $12 billion.
Though this reconciliation had been made, the country was already thrown in an uproar over the initial report of the missing $50 billion which led the National Assembly to call for a hearing.
To water down the attendant reactions that embraced the initial report, a press conference was organized where Sanusi admitted that his staff had erroneously tampered with the figures but after proper investigations by the task force, the CBN came to a resolution that only about $12 billion of the funds were unaccounted for.
Efforts to exonerate all wrongdoings by the parties involved were short-lived a day after the press conference following a television advert by the NNPC distancing itself from the controversy which further complicated the already dicey situation.
In February 2014 during their appearance before the Senate ad-hoc committee chaired by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, Sanusi in his defense when asked to speak, made a surprise u-turn and countered the initially agreed figure of $12 billion, Ngozi said.
In his defense, Sanusi said that while the unaccounted funds were not $50 billion, he argued that the money could not have been $12 billion either, tendering new exhibits alleging the figures to be $20 billion.
Sanusi fingered a subsidiary of the NNPC, the Nigeria Petroleum Development Corporation (NPDC), for the non-disbursement of $6 billion to the Federal Account.
Thrown off balance by the new revelations, Ngozi called for an independent forensic audit, a move she opined was the last resort to regaining lost public trust.
Though Sanusi was suspended for ‘financial recklessness’, his act was interpreted as punishment for whistle blowing, Ngozi added.
In June 2014, embattled Sanusi was eventually crowned the Emir of Kano after the death of his grand uncle, Ado Bayero.
On assumption into office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed that his administration will probe the missing $20 billion allegedly unaccounted for from the country’s oil accounts. Buhari said that though the former governor of the apex bank had already assumed the position as the new Emir of Kano, the probe for the missing monies fraudulently unaccounted for became expedient, adding that the figure was too huge to ignore.
CSO calls for action as Nigeria ranks among 14 countries where killers of journalists go unpunished
A civil society organisation (CSO), Safer-Media Initiative, has called on the federal government of Nigeria to take stringent actions to end impunity for crimes against journalists as Nigeria ranks among 14 countries where killers of journalists go unpunished.
The charge was made on November 2 in Abuja by the Executive Director of the organisation, Peter Iorter during a press conference with the theme “Impunity for Crime against Journalists, a Threat to Democracy”. The event was held as part of its activities to mark this year’s International Day to end Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
Participants at the event comprised representatives of the media, other civil society organisations, and the private sector.
In his opening remark, Iorter cited a UNESCO report which revealed that between 2016 and 2017, 182 Journalists lost their lives in the line of professional duty while in 2018; 86 of them were killed between January and October.
In a press release made available to SATELLITE TIMES, Iorter said that “shocking and infuriating is that in nine out of ten cases, the killers go unpunished. Even more disturbing is that Nigeria has consistently remained a contributor to those stunning global figures.”
In 2017, data collected by the International Press Centre (IPC) showed that at least two Nigerian journalists were killed while 12 journalists and media organizations in the country suffered various forms of assault.
The slain journalists are Famous Giobaro of Bayelsa State-owned radio station, Glory FM 97.1, who was shot dead on April 16; and Lawrence Okojie of Nigerian Television Authority, Benin, who was shot dead while returning from work on July 8.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in an annual global impunity index published few days ago said Nigeria ranked 13 out of 14 countries in the world where journalists are slain and the killers circumvent justice.
According to Iorter, the alarming global reports propelled his organisation to raise concern that the Nigerian press is under “grave threat”.
“It is unfortunate, worrisome, and unacceptable that violations and assaults on journalists have continued unabated under a supposedly democratic system of governance,” he said.
He further condemned the incessant harassment, physical violence, arrest and detention of journalists by agents of government including the Department of State Service (DSS), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), among others.
“Their salaries are paid with tax payers’ money to protect citizens; any action of theirs to the contrary amounts to breach of the social contract,” he added.
Furthermore, Ioter also insisted that the rights of journalists must be protected at all times.
He called on the National Assembly to recognize the urgent need to strengthen the laws that promote media freedom and provide protection for journalists.
While fielding questions from journalists at the event, Iorter said his organization is poised toward press freedom, safety of journalists and advancement of responsible media.
Mr. Peter Iorter is also an Editor at SATELLITE TIMES newspaper.
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