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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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Africa’s Renewable Energy set to Soar by 2022 – IEA

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Paolo Frankl, head of the renewable division at the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), has said that strong demand is set to give a huge boost to renewable energy growth in Sub-Sahara Africa over the next five years, driving cumulative capacity up more than 70%.

From Ethiopia to SA, millions of people are getting access to electricity for the first time as the continent turns to solar, wind and hydropower projects to boost generation capacity.

“A big chunk of this growth is hydro because of Ethiopia, but then you have solar … in SA, Nigeria and Namibia, and wind in SA and Ethiopia as well,” said  Frankl.

He forecast installed capacity of renewable energy in the Sub-Sahara region almost doubling from around 35GW now to above 60GW given the right conditions.

Ethiopia has an array of hydropower projects under construction, including the $4.1 billion Grand Renaissance Dam along the Nile River that will churn out 6 000MW upon completion.

“Africa has one of the best potential resources of renewables anywhere in the world, but it depends very much on the enabling framework, on the governance and the right rules,” Frankl said at a wind energy conference.

The transition to a low-carbon trajectory to reduce harmful greenhouse gases is creating opposition from the coal industry and fuelling uncertainty in countries where job creation was linked to coal mining.

In Africa, this tension and its impact on new investment have been best illustrated by SA’s state-owned Eskom and its reluctance to sign new deals with independent power producers, according to analysts.

 

“The continent has a lot of potential, but the problem is financial and political issues, so all of our projects are being delayed for quite a long time, like with Eskom,” said Mason Qin, business development manager for southern and eastern Africa at China’s Goldwind.

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U.S Urges FG to Invest more in Science, Research

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The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has urged the Nigerian government and the private sector, to allocate adequate funds to the ministry of Science and Technology, to realise its full potential and advance development of the nation.

Jonathan Fanton, President, of the academy, made the call at a dinner to mark 40th anniversary of Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) located in Lagos.

Fanton, who identified science and technology as the key to national development, added that the benefit that would accrue to its citizenry would be massive, if properly funded.

According to him, investment in sciences will boost production and healthcare delivery among others in the sense that it will aid in capacity building, researches and innovations.

“I recommend significant increase in funding for basic sciences by government, industries private sector, for this will go a long way to ensuring food security, poverty reduction and improve academic standard .

“Such investment will also avail children the opportunity to embrace science as their courses of study both in secondary and tertiary institution of learning.

“Because laboratories in schools among others will be well equipped to enhance easier learning,” he said.

Prof. Mosto Onuoha, President, Nigerian Academy of science said the goal of the organisation was to ensure that the gains of science and technology were brought to bear in the solution of national problems.

Onuoha, who identified science as critical in national development, said it cut across all spheres of life and economy which include health, water, sanitation, hygiene, electricity, transportation, Agriculture and education.

The president reiterated that no remarkable progress would be made worldwide without sciences adding that it was a transformation agent.

He however, said improved investment in the sector would go a long way to boost the capacity of professionals in the area of research, students’ performance, environmental sanitation and health care delivery.

Onuoha, who identified inadequate fund as one of the changes bedeviling the academy however, urged the Federal Government, industries as well as philanthropists to prioritise investment in the sector for quality and efficient service delivery.

He however, expressed the determination of the academy to ensure better future for the citizens particularly the younger generation.

“Science has solutions to diseases, water borne problems, energy. There are lots of problems befalling man kind that science can effectively resolve.

“Our people die of environmental and sanitation problems and these issues can only to be tackled scientifically.

“Our goal and aspiration is to see young children embracing science technology, develop interest in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Agriculture and Biology as against what is obtainable now.”

Similarly, Donald Duke, former Governor of Cross Rivers State, while congratulating the academy for giant strides, made so far, however, urged them to collaborate with governments at all levels to ensure that science was well captured in schools curriculum.

Duke, who reaffirmed that “we are moving faster to the technological world’’, said this required every Nigerians to embrace it and as well be science compliance or else you would be left behind.

According to him, if science and technology are well captured in school curriculum, it will go a long way to enhance school performance and national development.

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NITMA 2017 Gathers Momentum, To Reward Professionals

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By peter oluka

National Information Technology Merit Award (NITMA), the flagship award of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS) is set to reward corporate organisations and individuals for keeping for their professionalism and innovations over the years.

With a track record of success since 2009, NITMA is credible, forward looking and important in promoting long term sustainability of the IT sector and developing Nigeria’s knowledge society.

It is a responsibility NCS does not take lightly to acknowledge, celebrate and reward corporate organizations and individuals who are outstanding in their various Information Technology (IT) practice and have also contributed immensely to the development of the profession in Nigeria.

NITMA is awarded only to companies and individuals with valid licenses to practice Information Technology (IT) in Nigeria i.e must be registered by: Nigeria Computer Society (NCS); Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) and Corporate Affairs Commission (for corporate organizations).

Award Highlights:

  • Conferment of fellowships
  • IT Personality of the Year Award
  • Industry Award
  • Special Recognition Awards
  • Scholarship Awards

NCS, annually through NITMA, recognizes and rewards excellence and tremendous contributions in the development and deployment of Information Technology in the country and the Diaspora. Category awards are based on IT specialization, NCS standards and global best practices. Professional fellowships are also be conferred on deserving members.

High profile NITMA awards are uncommon incentives and goals for members of Nigeria’s IT community to strive towards. The special recognition of exceptional performance encourages others to strive for similar success.

The annual event attracts not just professionals, innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs, but also policy makers and decision makers in the private and public sectors.

The 2017 edition is billed to hold as follow:

Venue: MUSON Centre, Onika, Lagos

Date: Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Time: 5.00pm prompt

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