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Joseph Petitions VP Osinbajo Again Over N170m Deal with FIRS

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Benjamin Joseph, managing director of an Ibadan-based firm, Citadel Oracle Concepts has again petitioned Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President, against the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC); the Nigerian Police and the Attorney General of the Federation over his on-going prosecution for false petitioning and deceit by the Police.

Joseph is also accused of allegedly blackmailing officials of Zinox Technologies Ltd.

His petition arose from a N170 million contract for the supply of HP laptops awarded by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

Findings revealed that Joseph’s prosecution by the Nigerian Police before an Abuja High Court, arose after rigorous investigation following his petition in 2013 regarding a business transaction with his authorized representative, Princess Kama and ICT products distributors, Technology Distributions Ltd (TD).

Joseph who had previously petitioned Osinbajo, alleging that his company was used to defraud the Federal Government of over N200m over the non-supply of the said laptops, had recently sent another written petition to the Vice President against the security agencies and the Attorney General’s office.

Investigations revealed that upon receipt of the first petition, the Vice President had immediately minuted it to the appropriate authority – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for due investigation.

Subsequently, the Procurement Fraud Unit of the EFCC had visited the offices of the FIRS in the course of its investigation and found every unit of the HP laptops supplied with serial numbers nationwide and each unit traced to its respective user.

Further investigations showed the existence of a copy of a Letter of Authority which Joseph issued to the FIRS, with copies of his international passport, accepting the award of the contract for the supply of the HP laptops and appointing his associate, Princess Kama as his authorized representative to handle the transaction.

In addition to the office of the Vice President, Joseph had also petitioned the EFCC, Lagos who investigated and saw no merit in his complaint.

He had then lodged another complaint with the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police, Ikoyi, alleging that his signature on the board resolution to open an account at Access Bank was forged.

The SFU launched an investigation at FIRS offices and confirmed that the laptops were supplied with serial numbers intact.

 Also, a forensic analysis showed that the Board resolution documents were not forged but were actually signed by him.

Joseph had also petitioned the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) laying same claims against Princess Kama and TD without informing the DIG that he had earlier reported to the EFCC and SFU, Lagos.

The Police again launched a nationwide investigation which confirmed all items supplied with serial numbers.

When the Police Headquarters discovered that Joseph has wasted their time and limited resources on a false claim, the former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, arraigned him for deceit and false petitioning at an Abuja court under Charge Number CR/216/16 at the FCT High Court.

When our reporter tried to contact Mr. Joseph about the recurring petitions, the call to his line rang out.

Echika Ezuka, Corporate Communications Advisor to Zinox, disclosed that he is constrained to speak about Benjamin’s case as it is still pending before an Abuja High Court, noting that Zinox had also slammed a N2BN defamation suit on Premium Times which the defendant had been using for his campaign of blackmail.

According to Ezuka, Premium Times is yet to file its defense on the defamation case over two months since it was instituted.

“The on-going case for which Joseph is currently being prosecuted is between Citadel Oracle Concepts and another company which our Chairman has shares in. That company is Technology Distributions (TD), the biggest ICT products distributor in Sub-Saharan African representing major IT brands like HP, Lenovo, Dell, Microsoft and many others. TD is a totally different company from Zinox with different directors, shareholders, management team and a different line of business and Zinox was not in any way involved in the transaction.

“Citadel Oracle Concept Limited was one of the many IT resellers awarded a contract to supply HP laptops at FIRS in 2012 but had no funds to execute it and like few others, had approached TD who are authorized HP distributors in Nigeria with the help of his consultant Princess Kama whose Uncle, Chief Onny Igbokwe has been a long term reseller of TD to assist in supplying the laptops at a pre-agreed invoice value.

“This representative, Princess Kama had previously executed several other bids on his behalf.

“TD does not open bank accounts for contractors seeking to buy from it.  TD did not accompany the defendants to open any account. Instead, TD had insisted on protecting its business from indebtedness, and as such, nominated its staff – Mr. Chris Eze Ozims and Mrs. Shade Oyebode – to be signatories to an account which the defendant and his representatives had opened for the purpose of disbursement of funds as regards the contract. The forms were brought to TD’s office by the defendant’s representatives and we had nominated two of our staff as signatories.

“This was solely as security for the laptops supplied on credit and in view of previous bad experiences which had exposed the business to bad loans. Upon payment of the sum for the contract, TD had gone ahead to deduct the invoiced sum of the supplied laptops and had its staff resigned as signatories to the account.

“Contrary to the series of lies and half-truths by the defendant that his company was used to defraud the Federal Government of over N200m, it is worth stating here that a series of investigations by the EFCC, SFU and the Nigerian Police shows that the HP laptops were duly supplied to the FIRS by TD whom his representative had approached to assist with the supply of the items on credit. Also, the FIRS is in possession of documents such as copies of his international passport, photographs and Letter of Authority, accepting the award of the contract for the supply of the HP laptops and appointing Princess Kama as his authorized representative to handle the transaction.

“It is important to note that in the entire transaction leading up to this case, in all the above investigations and reports, Zinox Technologies Ltd. was not in any way involved. The transaction only involved Technology Distributions Ltd. and its staff. Also, Leo Stan Ekeh was not involved in the said transaction and the investigations. It is because of their blackmail intent that Premium Times – the only medium the defendant is using for his nefarious plan – have continued to use photographs of Ekeh and Zinox as the caption for their stories, even when the company has no bearing with the matter.”

Barr. Chijioke Orji, an Abuja-based lawyer expressed disappointment over the long-drawn nature of the case. According to him, the government should step in and ensure that the wheels of justice moves faster in bringing an end to the seemingly unending suit.

“I have followed this story with keen interest since it started about four years ago. I must say I have been very disappointed with the delays in the prosecution of the case. It is unfortunate that there are a lot of things that are wrong with the judicial system.

“Why is the Federal Government wasting tax payers’ money over a case that a number of security agencies has investigated with the same conclusion? After investigations, the EFCC (Lagos and Abuja), the Special Fraud Unit and the office of the Inspector General of Police all have evidence that the HP laptops, which the defendant claimed was used to defraud the Federal Government, were indeed supplied yet we are still hearing that the defendant is now petitioning the Vice President against the same security agencies he initially petitioned.

”From the facts of the matter, it is clear that the defendant (Benjamin Joseph) and Premium Times are clearly looking for a political solution to avoid his prosecution. This makes the claims of blackmail by Zinox even more valid. If, as alleged by the defendant, Zinox Technologies and TD or its officials defrauded the Federal Government by failing to supply the HP laptops awarded by the FIRS, then the various investigations should have proved this.

“Instead, we are seeing a situation where the offices of the FIRS nationwide have been searched several times and the laptops, serial numbers and individual users confirmed. So what does the defendant want? Does he want to receive the N170m for laptops already supplied? What about the payment to the company who supplied the laptop on credit as a gesture of goodwill to his representatives?

“During the last hearing, his previous associate Princess Kama had testified on oath before the court that Joseph was only intent on blackmailing the Zinox Chairman, Leo Stan Ekeh noting that she had documentary proof including a letter of authority signed by him authorizing her to execute the contract on his behalf.

““It is obvious that the defendant, who is currently standing trial for false petitioning and deceit, is deliberately leading the Vice President and the EFCC on a wild goose chase with his endless petitions. It is indeed a shame that it is taking this long to conclude the trial and put him behind bars. It is sad that our justice system can allow such grievous cases to drag interminably,” he concluded.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Ogundare, Newcross CEO Donates Digital Library To LUTH

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(L-r): Professor Afolabi Lesi, provost college of Medicine University of Lagos Idi-Araba; Dr. Bolaji Ogundare, Ceo Newcross Petroleum; Professor Oyinkan Sofola, dean, Faculty of Dental Science, College of Medicine University of Lagos and Professor  Akinbo, deputy provost, College of Medicine University of Lagos, during the handing over of a Library built by Dr. Ogundare for the Faculty of Dental Science, College of Medicine University of Lagos Idi-Araba

By peter oluka

As part of efforts to expand access to global information and aid learning in medical education, Dr Bolaji Ogundare the chief executive officer (CEO) of Newcross Petroleum, has donated a digital library to the Faculty of Dental Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Lagos Idi-Araba, Lagos.

During the handing over ceremony held recently, Ogundare called on the private sector players to consider urgent and massive investment in health education as that will tremendously improve capacity and competencies for Nigerian hospitals and aid availability of world-class healthcare services locally in the country.

During his address, the Dental Surgeon remarked that the library which he donated to his alma-mata was built in memory of his late father, Mr Samuel Olatunji Ogundare, describing the project as his contribution to health education in the country.

Ogundare said he was challenged to take on the project due to the low level of infrastructure in the College, appealing for urgent private sector intervention for infrastructure upgrade at the Faculty of Dental Sciences.

“Infrastructure upgrade and personnel motivation can help this College a great deal. If the private sector invests more in healthcare services, capital flight will be prevented and many healthcare services for which Nigerians travel abroad can be accessed at affordable rates and convenience locally. I urge all well-meaning citizens and business interests to urgently intervene.”

Commending Ogundare for his contribution to the college, the provost of the College of Medicine, Professor Afolabi Lesi said the library mirrors the core of the educational institution. This project has touched on the essence of this institution of learning.

Prof Lesi urged other alumni of LUTH in public and private sectors to emulate Ogundare by investing in healthcare services and educational development. He therefore promised that LUTH management will maintain the project maximally.

 

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CFA’s Startups Hangout Slated for This Friday 

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By justice okemgba

The CFA Startups Hangout edition for October 2017 is slated for this coming Friday, October 20, 2017.

The CFA’s Startups Hangout, is as a strategic forum, where Startups meet to learn from successful Entrepreneurs who come over to speak to them on their successes and pitfalls they encountered on their way to success, as well as how they overcame challenges in their organisations, so that the Startups too can learn and follow through.

Wale Ajisebutu, The Vice-Chairman, 21st Century Technologies, will be available to speak to the Start-ups at the event.

He is a Chartered Accountant by training. He ventured into the Telecommunications industry after a stint in trading.

His company, 21st Century Technologies, was incorporated in in 1997 and began operations in 1999. Today, 21st Century Technologies has evolved into a major player in the Telecommunications industry.

His clientele includes some of the largest Multinationals, Oil and Gas firms, Hotels as well as several blue chip organisations, not just in Africa, but across the world. He is a perfectionist and gentleman to the core, who believes that Nigerians can build great companies and this is a vision he is working hard to achieve.

Also to speak at the October edition of the CFA’s Sartups Hangout, is Nkiru Balonwu, Managing Partner at RDF, a Consultancy that provides counsel to clients in the public and private sectors on strategic communication, organizational strategy and stakeholder engagement.

Prior to RDF, Nkiru was CEO of Spinlet, the leading music digital distribution platform on the continent. In addition to a structural turnaround, Nkiru drove the re-branding of the company and ensured it was profiled properly through tactical placement of strategic communication.

Nkiru is also the Founder of Bukkipa; a simple accounting mobile application designed for individuals and small businesses to aid effective cash flow management. She holds a Doctorate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master’s and first degree from University College London & University of Manchester, respectively.

The saying also goes, that, health is wealth and it is only when you are healthy, that you can run your Startup well. In this regards, therefore, The Bridge Clinic will be on ground to make a brief presentation on health issues to the Attendee Startups as well as give them free blood pressure and glucose level tests. Our team appreciates this great gesture on the part of the management of The Bridge Clinic.

Past editions of the hangout had featured prominent successful Nigerian Entrepreneurs, such as Austin Okere, Founder, CWG, Banke Alawaye, Country Manager, Praekelt, Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu, CEO, InfoGraphics, Afolabi Abiodun, CEO, SB Telecoms and Devices, Bolaji Finnih, CEO, TechPreneur Africa and Ommo Clark, CEO, iBez Solutions. Nadu Denloye, PhD, Co-Founder of Telnet and Director,CDNet, Deepankar Rustagi, the Co-founder, VConnect, Adeoye Abodunrin, ED,Xpos Technologies, Simeon Ononobi, Co-Founder, MyAdsGlobal, Helen Anatogu, CEOand Founder, iDea Nigeria, and Yele Okeremi Founder of Precise Financial Systems and others.

The October 2017 edition of CFA’s Startups Hangout will be sponsored by TAMS and Remita.

We look forward to the active support of more brands for the future editions of this selfless mission to help many Nigerian Startups to learn, grow and sustain their businesses for the development of the Nigerian Entrepreneurial ecosystem in particular and the Nigerian economy in general.

We also appreciate our media partners, Guardian Tech,  Nigerian CommunicationsWeek, Connectnigeria, ITPulse and cfatech.ng, for their unflinching support in sharing this rare opportunity to learn from successful Entrepreneurs to our numerous Startups in Nigeria.

The October 2017 Edition of CFA’s Startups Hangout, holding on October 20, 2017 at Adna Hotel, Ikeja GRA, Lagos is a free event, but registration is compulsory for every Startup that will be attending.

Limited seats are available, therefore, you need to register early, to book for a seat at the event.

You can register for the October 2017 edition of CFA’s Startups Hangout @ http://startups.cfatech.ng

 

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Zoto Launched ‘Zoto Smile’ To Support Benue Flood Victims with N.5m

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Zoto Smile

By peter oluka

Zoto, a product of Hedonmark Management Services Limited and Nigeria’s fastest mobile payment app under its charity initiative Zoto Smiles has collaborated with Eagles HOPE Foundation (NGO) to extend financial support and rehabilitation to flood-affected people in Benue state.

As a startup in Nigeria, Zoto believes that any challenge can be met if you have innovation in your DNA.

Keeping in spirit with its DNA, Zoto via its initiative Zoto Smiles has announced that they will contribute N10 every time Zoto app is used to recharge or pay bills.

By funding the relief efforts of local NGOs, donations to this fund have the potential to build stronger response capacity so that these NGOs are better equipped to face future challenges.

While announcing the new initiative, Oshone Ikazoboh, co-Founder, Zoto said, “It is a difficult time for the flood affected people as more than 110,000 people in 24 communities including Makurdi, the state capital, had been displaced by the floods. With our initiative Zoto Smiles, we’ve made our donation process a community effort where every person gets chance to contribute towards community building by a simple recharge or bill payments made via Zoto App. We are liasoning with our NGO partner to ensure quick supply of relief material. We offer condolences to the families who lost their loved ones and pray that the situation normalises soon.”

Money is the quickest, most effective contribution most people can make during times of disaster. Zoto believes that people and communities are intrinsically good and generous and want to come forward and help in the rehabilitation of victims of natural disasters, but they are held back due to the lack of proper avenues.

Zoto is a safe, fast and easy way of making payments in Nigeria. It has more over 1 million registered users.

It is a mobile money and mobile commerce service licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Zoto is compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and SSL 128 bit encryption designed to ensure that all companies that process, store or transmit credit/debit card information maintain a secure environment.

The platform is available on iOS and Android and has established itself as one of Nigeria’s best payment solution.

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