Fayose Appoints New Commissioners, see full list and other major headlines you missed today

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Dear KFBers, we have loads of interesting stories on our Major headlines you missed today feature. Enjoy!

Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, on Friday named new members of the State Executive Council.

Fayose had about a month ago dissolved the Ekiti State Executive Council.

The appointment of the new commissioners was contained in a statement by Fayose’s Special Adviser on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka.

Those appointed and their designations are Barrister Kola Kolade, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice; Hon. Ayo Alabi. Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Hon Lanre Ogunsuyi, Information, Youths and Sports; and Hon Taye Otitoju, Lands.

Others are Hon. Gbenga Olajide, Budget and Planning; Hon Jide Egunjobi, Education, Science and Technology; Chief Tunde Ogunleye, Water Resources; and Olayinka Ogundayomi, Women Affairs.

AMCON, EFCC Collaborate To Recover N4.6trn Debts

In a renewed strategy to recover a whopping total debt obligation of over N4.6 trillion owed Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) by recalcitrant debtors across the country, AMCON yesterday met with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The purpose of the meeting, LEADERSHIP Friday gathered, was for both agencies to consolidate on the gains of their relationship, especially as it borders on investigating, prosecuting and compelling all obligors of AMCON in accordance with the relevant statutes.

The meeting between the two government agencies led by AMCON managing director/chief executive officer, Mr. Ahmed Kuru and EFCC’s acting chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu resolved to take another look at some banks and their officials that were instrumental to the abuse and violation of internal processes that led to the huge non-performing loans in AMCON’s portfolio.

The agencies are planning to revisit, reinvestigate and duly prosecute such banks and the officials involved.

The EFCC acting chairman who welcomed the AMCON boss and his team described the assignments of both agencies of government as “very tough, overwhelming and challenging”.

Magu, however, said he was happy that AMCON under Kuru is doing everything within its mandate to confront the obligors with all the risks involved in the process of doing so.

He said it was for this reason that EFCC established AMCON desk with dedicated EFCC officials who ensure that all AMCON related cases in EFCC receive speedy attention.

Magu assured Kuru that the AMCON Desk at EFCC will continue to be functional adding that the EFCC is willing to increase the number of personnel on the desk if so required and would be willing to establish a Lagos branch if necessary to make sure these huge loans are recovered in the interest of the Nigerian economy.

Condemning the impunity with which the transactions were done, the EFCC boss affirmed that some of these obligors “who took loans without the intention of paying back” did not envisage that someday an agency like AMCON will come knocking on their doors, seeking to recover the loans.

According to him, given the similarity in the objectives of both agencies, there is need for joint trainings towards fostering better understanding between AMCON and the EFCC.

While reaffirming the commitment of the EFCC to cooperate and provide the much needed support to AMCON, Magu urged AMCON to ensure that justice is done in all cases because most of the obligors may not have acted alone in their unwillingness to repay, but with the connivance of some of the bank officials whose motive was to cheat the banks ab-initio.

He disclosed that “in appropriate circumstances, these bankers would also be called upon to account for their roles in granting these questionable facilities”.

On his own part, Kuru who thanked the acting chairman of EFCC for graciously receiving the AMCON delegation expressed appreciation for Magu’s passion and cooperation in the collaboration with AMCON toward recovering the enormous bad debts from recalcitrant obligors of AMCON.

While appreciating the immense contribution of the AMCON Desk at EFCC, Kuru who thanked the acting chairman for creating the unit that has led to several recoveries added that AMCON is willing to provide the required support to the AMCON desk at EFCC by providing information, logistics and training to the team to enable them carry out their assignment without hitches.

He also thanked all EFCC staff members who are currently on the AMCON Desk for a job well-done since it was established.

Recounting AMCON’s role in the economy, especially in the banking sector, Kuru also stated that since its establishment, AMCON acquired debts from 22 banks worth N3.7 trillion and provided financial accommodation to 10 banks of about N2.2 trillion.

He observed that despite AMCON’s recovery efforts, the corporation still holds unresolved loans in excess of N4.6trillion which represents about 75 per cent of total national budget.

The MD noted that failure on the part of AMCON to resolve the debts will have far reaching implication for the nation at large.

The AMCON boss who further stated that EFCC and AMCON have similar mandates of ensuring economic stability highlighted some of the challenges militating against AMCON’s recovery efforts including slow judicial process, concealment of assets by the obligors, forged documents and in some instances, collusion between the bankers and the obligors among others.

How Saraki Fraudulently Obtained Court Order Freezing Sahara Reporters Account - Sowore

The publisher of the online medium, Sahara Reporters, has vowed to challenge an order of a Kwara State High Court which blocked bank accounts linked to him last month.

Omoyele Sowore said the July 25 garnishee order in Ilorin, the state capital, was “fraudulently procured” by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as part of an ongoing libel suit against him and his platform.

A judge, Adeyinka Oyinloye, had issued the order to the United Bank for Africa, UBA and Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, bankers of Mr. Sowore and Sahara Reporters, instructing them to immediately seize all funds held in a string of accounts associated with the defendants.

The development has been condemned by media rights advocates, who warned judicial officers to exercise restraint in pronouncing judgments in libel cases.

Mr. Oyinloye’s order came nearly a month after he also awarded Mr. Saraki up to N4 billion in damages on June 28.

The judge also said Sahara Reporters and Mr. Sowore must pay 10 per cent (N400 million) interest on the N4 billion monthly until both the principal damages and accrued interests are finally cleared.

Mr. Saraki instituted the case in Ilorin, his hometown where he is considered the most powerful political personality, accusing Sahara Reporters of publishing defamatory content against his personality.

The four stories at issue, which included news and opinion contents, were published between September and December 2015, court filings published by Vanguard Newspapers showed.

Although the Vanguard quoted Mr. Saraki’s lawyers as alleging that Mr. Sowore frustrated all efforts to serve court summons on him, the publisher contradicted the claim in an exchange with PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday.

He explained that Mr. Saraki’s lawyers and associates ‘conspired’ to send court papers to wrong addresses both in Nigeria and United States in order to deprive him of a chance to defend himself before the judge.

“They sent their notice to 142 W. 29th Street, New York, when for a fact Sahara Reporters’ address is situated at 146 W. 29th Street, New York,” Mr. Sowore told PREMIUM TIMES.

“So, you can see they deliberately sent it to the wrong address so we won’t be aware of the lawsuit,” he added.

In Lagos, where Sahara Reporters opened a multimedia facility on Isaac John Street in May 25, Mr. Saraki’s lawyers also sent the notice to the wrong street number, Mr. Sowore said.

The publisher said when he heard that a court process that involved him was going on in Ilorin, he informed his lawyers in Lagos to obtain documents relating to the case.

“But while they were trying to get the June 28 judgement and other relating documents, the garnishee order was issued,” he said.

Mr. Sowore condemned Mr. Saraki’s tactics but said Sahara Reporters’ activities have not been ‘seriously impeded by the development.’

“They blocked only funds in the bank accounts in Nigeria. But our activities have always been run from the United States,” the publisher said
The money blocked in Nigeria belongs to Sahara Reporters Media Lab which is a foundation, Mr. Sowore added.

He said that the media lab was never part of the libel action as ‘it didn’t even exist as at the time the case was instituted.’

“But Saraki used his intrigues and influence over the State Security Service to get the Media Lab account frozen,” Mr. Sowore said.

Specifically, the account was holding the remaining portion the $300,000 grant which Sahara Reporters Foundation received from MacArthur Foundation earlier this year, Mr. Sowore told PREMIUM TIMES.

“We’ve done a lot of projects from the $300,000 so far paid to us by the MacArthur Foundation. The rest of the money is what the court blocked,” the publisher said.

Lanre Arogundade, Director at International Press Centre in Lagos, criticised the judgement as hasty, lopsided and draconian.

“The judiciary needs a lot of caution in entering judgement against the media. This is because we’re looking at the issue of possible libel or defamation which is often used to suppress the media,” he said.

He said the N4 billion judgement against Sahara Reporters was largely aimed at bankrupting the platform than serving justice to the plaintiff.

“When you award a damage of N4 billion, you have gone beyond getting justice for whoever was offended to wreck the organisation,” he said.

He said Mr. Saraki got the judgement because of his status as a highly-placed public official.

“If not because it was Saraki that went to court, the judgement might have been different, especially for an ordinary man,” Mr. Arogundade said.

“It was an overkill,” he added.

Mr. Arogundade observed that the Constitution vested the powers to monitor the activities of public officials in the press, but added that such authorities do not necessarily shield media practitioners from being diligent in the course of their duty.

“We’re not saying journalists should not be fair, reliable and responsible in their activities, but any attempt to make them become fearful will not be tolerated,” he said.

Mr. Arogundade said Sahara Reporters Foundation should not have been targeted by the court as it was not a party to the lawsuit.

Mr. Saraki’s spokesperson, Yusuf Olaniyonu, declined to issue comments on the allegations to PREMIUM TIMES despite repeated efforts by this newspaper between Tuesday andWednesday.

The Senate President was quoted online as saying he would donate all damages awarded to him from the lawsuit to support some media houses in financial distress across the country.

PDP Welcomes New Entrants, Says No Special Privilege For Anybody

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is open to new members, but there will not be special privilege for anybody, its national chairman, Ahmed Makarfi, has said according to Premium Times.

Mr. Makarfi made the statement yesterday in Abuja when he received a delegation of PDP Rescue Group, led by its chairman, Wilberforce Juta.

Mr. Makarfi pledged that the party would create level-playing field for all its members.

“We are open to reconciling with everybody. We are open to accepting new entrants into the party, but no special privileges for anybody coming into the party.

“That is not an issue to be contemplated. No exclusivity. It will be inclusive without any special privilege to anybody or group of individuals.

“That is how the ruling party got it wrong. We should learn from that.

“What we need to do is that we will create level-playing field; and we don’t lord it over those who have slaved for the party,” Mr. Makarfi said.

The chairman stressed the need for the party to evolve mechanism for dedicated and loyal party men and women, stressing that that is how the members could remain committed.

“If there is no such mechanism, people can question themselves; why do you have to continue exhibiting such loyalty and commitment to the party?

“People can as well be nomadic politicians and migrate to where the pasture is green for whatever reasons.

“In some African countries, we didn’t hear of this kind of mobility, but in Nigeria, we are nomadic politicians.

“We have many nomadic politicians and they should behave well. They will be welcomed but I stand by what I have said earlier,” the chairman insisted.

  I’m Ready To Fund Additional Police Area Commands, Let’s Have One In Ikorodu & Badagry- Ambode
 Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State yesterday, requested for two additional Police Area Commands, saying they would go a long way in tackling the nefarious activities of criminally minded persons once and for all.

Ambode, who made the request when the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Idris Ibrahim paid him a courtesy visit at the Lagos House in Ikeja, said the additional Area Commands, if granted, would be set up in Ikorodu and Badagry, assuring that the State Government was ready to provide the funds to set them up.

“I am ready to fund additional area commands in Lagos, so I am requesting that we should do two additional commands in Lagos, one in Ikorodu and another one in Badagry. There is a need for us to pay more attention to the Ikorodu axis because of the kind of reports that we are getting from there,” the Governor said.

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