The United States government and Nigeria have reached an agreement on the return of over $23 million of the Abacha loot.
The agreement signing ceremony was held in the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami on Tuesday.
While Mr. Malami signed on behalf of the Nigerian government, the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard signed on the behalf of the U.S government.
According to Mr Malami, the fund when returned will be invested in three ongoing projects by the Federal Government, including the ongoing Abuja-Kaduna road and the 2nd Niger Bridge.
Nigeria has in the past recovered several other tranches of the Abacha loot, which are proceeds believed to have been diverted from public coffers by the military administration of General Sani Abacha in the 1990s.
In 2020, the US and Jersey also agreed to return over $308 million in confiscated funds to Nigeria.
In 2006, about $723 million in Abacha loot was returned to Nigeria from Switzerland.
25 Million Nigerians May Face Food Crisis By August 2023 – FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the Nations (FAO) has estimated that 25.3 million Nigerians are in danger of experiencing food crisis between June and August 2023 unless urgent steps are taken to scale up and sustain livelihood and food assistance.
FAO said this was contained in its October 2022 Food and Nutrition Analysis.
The analysis reportedly indicates that about 17 million people including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees in 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were in “crisis or worse level” through October 2022.
Of that number, three million are living in Borno, Adamwa and Yobe states, FAO said.
“Furthermore, an estimated 25.3 million people are projected to be in crisis or worse levels during the 2023 lean season (June – August) with 4.4 million in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, if immediate steps to scale up and sustain livelihood and food assistance are not taken,” it added in a statement.
The statement noted that the Government of the Royal Kingdom of Norway renewed its funding cooperation with FAO aimed at helping the most vulnerable populations in Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Taraba states with a special focus on women-led households.
The three-year intervention will benefit 43,990 households (about 307,930 individuals), according to FAO, with at least 45 percent of them being women as direct beneficiaries receiving items such as agricultural inputs, livestock assets, and energy saving stoves.
The beneficiaries reportedly include IDPs, host communities and returnees of relocated households with special attention paid to women-headed households.
Speaking in Abuja at a signing ceremony to kick-start the project’s implementation, the Ambassador of the Royal Kingdom of Norway to Nigeria, Knut Eiliv Lein said his country remained committed to supporting the efforts to restore the conflict-affected livelihoods in the North-East.
“This project we are signing here today is part of Norway’s larger support to Nigeria in general, including humanitarian efforts specifically targeting those in need in the North-East region.
“We have partnered with many organisations in addressing a number of issues, including health, food security, democracy, gender equality and more,” Ambassador Lein said.
On his part, the FAO Representative in Nigeria and to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Fred Kafeero appreciated the support by Norway, describing it as another milestone in strengthening the commitment in the fight against poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition in Nigeria.
“The new project, whose agreement we are signing here today, marks the continuous and fruitful collaboration, and partnership that exists between the Government of the Royal Kingdom of Norway and FAO in Nigeria,” Mr. Kafeero said.
“Thanks to this collaboration for years now, the conflict-affected populations of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states have greatly benefited from the agricultural-based livelihoods support that has enabled them to improve their food security as well as build their resilience.”
The support aims at enhancing resilience to the humanitarian crisis, climate variability and change of vulnerable communities; and building resilient livelihoods in the BAY states against the negative effects of climate change, FAO said.
The beneficiaries, who will reportedly receive special training on animal husbandry, farming and agribusiness, are IDPs, host communities and returnees of relocated households with special attention paid to women-headed households.
Kaduna Train Attack Victims Wants Compensation From FG
Victims of the March 28, 2022 train attack in Kaduna are demanding compensation from the Federal Government to enable them to restart life.
Their demand is coming just 24 hours after the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) resumed train operations on the Kaduna-Abuja route, eight months after it suspended operations following the attack that claimed the lives of nine passengers.
The victims, who spoke to journalists in Kaduna, lamented that most of them lost means of livelihood when they were in the custody of the terrorists who kidnapped them during the train attack.
“So, many of us have lost what we are doing and our source of income. As a citizen of this country, which I am very proud to be, I am expecting more from them (the government),” said one of the victims Mariam Idris. “I am expecting them to come to our aid.”
They also claim that the Federal Government is yet to fulfil the promises made to them shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari upon their release in October, noting that most of them are already suffering from depression and psychological disorders that require urgent medical attention.
“Actually, they did collect our contacts that they would get back to us. But till now, nobody has said anything,” Mariam added.
“We are just living by His mercy because as of the time our family members realised ourselves in this mess, they have gone through difficulties – let’s be sincere.”
Mariam‘s tale is not different from that of Bala Mohammed who said “nobody gave us a single kobo” even when some of them are having health challenges.
“The health challenge we are facing now is very critical,” he added.
While he thanked the Federal Government for rescuing them, Mr Bala is asking for more.
“Our demand is that the Federal Government should come to our rescue because the trauma we are facing now is very critical,” he said. “We don’t have money to go to the hospital to take care of our health.”
Osun Tribunal Admits Adeleke’s Certificates as Exhibits.
— As Oyetola, APC Close Case
The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on Saturday admitted in evidence the file with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) containing the secondary school certificate and testimonial of Governor Ademola Adeleke of the State.
This is just as the Petitioners, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola and the All-Progressives Congress (APC), closed the prosecution of the matter, leaving respondents to state their defence.
The admission of the documents followed the appearance of INEC representative, Mrs. Joan Arabs, who brought Adeleke’s original files containing the certificate he submitted to the Commission in 2018.
It will be recalled that during the last sitting of the panel, the Commission had submitted blank document as the secondary school certificate of the governor, a situation that compelled the panel to order that the original file be brought, and to threaten to invoke Coercive Power if it fails to do so.
At the resumed hearing of the petition on Saturday, Counsel for Oyetola, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), said the hearing for the day was basically meant for the appearance of INEC representative to produce the Adeleke’s file in line with the court order.
Counsel for INEC, in his response, said that INEC representative was already in court with the files containing a clearer and legible certificate and testimonial in question, saying he would be willing to apply for the return of the documents to INEC, when the tribunal is done looking at it.
After the production of the documents, the tribunal, while discharging the INEC official, said, “You can now go if you wish to. No policeman will accost you again.”
Subsequently, Oyetola’s counsel sought to tender the documents which contain form CFO01 and its attachments, including Adeleke’s credentials, saying the original file brought to court is a primary evidence and he was comfortable with it.
Counsel for INEC, Chief Henry Agunedo (SAN), said he would be objecting to the admissibility of the documents on the ground that the basis for the production of the whole file was because only two pages of the earlier-produced Certified True Copies were in contention, saying tendering the whole documents was out of place.
Counsel for Adeleke and PDP, Niyi Owolade and Alex Izinyon (SAN) respectively, said they have objection to the tendering of the said documents, but they would reserve their objections till final address stage.
Izinyon also observed that the only documents in contention were only two pages which are Adeleke’s certificate and testimonial, saying the CTC earlier produced has not been tendered before the court.
Responding, Fagbemi said the practice everywhere is that INEC can only apply and get back the files after the dispensation of the cases, saying, “We asked for CTC and now that they brought this. We are fine, we will take it”.
Ruling on the documents tendered, the tribunal led by Tertsea Kume admitted the credentials and the Adeleke’s nomination form as exhibit ‘FILE D’ and taken as read.
It was after the tribunal admitted the documents that Fagbemi informed the panel that he had decided to close his case, saying, “My Lord, we rest our case”.
When the tribunal asked INEC to open his defence, Chief Agunedo said, it would be difficult for him to open his case on Monday, saying non-availability of his witnesses would make it practically impossible.
The panel then asked the counsel to meet and agree on adjournment date after which Counsel for INEC briefed the panel the outcome of the meeting.
Subsequently, the tribunal adjourned the case till December 20 for the respondents to open their defence, saying the adjournment was based on another engagement by the tribunal somewhere else between 12th and 19th December 2022.
Earlier, Oyetola’s counsel had informed the panel that the Court of Appeal in Abuja had reverted the judgement of a Federal High Court which disqualified Oyetola from contesting the election.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the sitting excited the members of the APC who witnessed the hearing, as jubilations erupted after the sitting of the panel. They chanted songs to eulogise Oyetola and the APC.
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