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There is Massive, Pervasive Corruption in Buhari’s Govt- US Report

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The United States Department of State has said there is a climate of impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari government that allows officials to engage in corrupt practices with a sense of exemption from punishment.

 

The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, said Nigeria had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its public service.

 

The US Congress mandates the executive to produce a report on the state of human rights worldwide every year.

 

For Nigeria, the findings in the 2018 Human Rights Report, released Thursday, were largely similar to those of the previous year’s report, indicating lack of real progress in the government’s anti-corruption war.

 

The report said, “Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.

 

“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services. There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year.”

 

The report stated that the country’s two key anti-corruption agencies, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had broad powers to prosecute corruption, but rarely applied such powers to conscientiously and logically prosecute corruption cases.

 

It stated, “The EFCC writ extends only to financial and economic crimes. The ICPC secured 14 convictions during the year. In 2016 the EFCC had 66 corruption cases pending in court, had secured 13 convictions during the year, and had 598 open investigations.

 

“Although ICPC and EFCC anti-corruption efforts remained largely focused on low and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential election, both organisations started investigations into and brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials. Many of these cases were pending in court. According to both ICPC and EFCC, the delays were the result of a lack of judges and the widespread practice of filing for and granting multiple adjournments.

 

“EFCC arrests and indictments of politicians continued throughout the year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivations on the part of the EFCC. In October the EFCC arrested and indicted former governor of Ekiti State Ayo Fayose on 11 counts, including conspiracy and money laundering amounting to 2.2 billion naira ($6 million). After a Federal High Court ruling, Fayose was out on 50 million naira ($137,500) bail.”

 

On financial disclosure, the report noted the constitutional requirement under the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (CCBTA) for public officials, including the president, vice president, governors, deputy governors, cabinet ministers, and legislators (at both federal and state levels), to declare their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) before assuming and after leaving office. The constitution calls for the CCB to “make declarations available for inspection by any citizen of the country on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe,” said the report. “The law does not address the publication of asset information. Violators risk prosecution, but cases rarely reached conclusion.”

 

Perhaps, more chilling was the finding that arbitrary deprivation of life and unlawful killings were prevalent in Nigeria in 2018. The report cited several examples.

 

It said, “There were several reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary and unlawful killings. The national police, army, and other security services used lethal and excessive force to disperse protesters and apprehend criminals and suspects and committed other extrajudicial killings.

 

“Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody.

 

“State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths generally did not make their findings public.

 

“In August 2017 the acting president convened a civilian-led presidential investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement, and the panel submitted its findings in February. As of November no portions of the report had been made public.

 

“As of September there were no reports of the federal government further investigating or holding individuals accountable for the 2015 killing and subsequent mass burial of members of the Shia group, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), and other civilians by Nigerian Army (NA) forces in Zaria, Kaduna State. “

 

The report noted the 2016 nonbinding report of the Kaduna State government’s judicial commission, which found that the Nigerian Army (NA) used “excessive and disproportionate” force during the 2015 altercations in which 348 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and one soldier died.

 

It said, “The commission recommended the federal government conduct an independent investigation and prosecute anyone found to have acted unlawfully. It also called for the proscription of the IMN and the monitoring of its members and their activities.

 

“In 2016 the government of Kaduna State published a white paper that included acceptance of the commission’s recommendation to investigate and prosecute allegations of excessive and disproportionate use of force by the NA.

 

“As of September, however, there was no indication that authorities had held any members of the NA accountable for the events in Zaria. It also accepted the recommendation to hold IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky responsible for all illegal acts committed by IMN members during the altercations and in the preceding 30 years. In 2016 a federal court declared the continued detention without charge of Zakzaky and his wife illegal and unconstitutional.

 

“The court ordered their release by January 2017. The federal government did not comply with this order, and Zakzaky, his spouse, and other IMN members remained in detention. In April the Kaduna State government charged Zakzaky in state court with multiple felonies stemming from the death of the soldier at Zaria. The charges include culpable homicide, which can carry the death penalty. As of December the case was pending. In July a Kaduna High Court dismissed charges of aiding and abetting culpable homicide against more than 80 IMN members. As of September the Kaduna State government had appealed the ruling. Approximately 100 additional IMN members remained in detention.

 

“In October security forces killed 45 IMN members that were participating in processions and protests, according to Amnesty International (AI).”

 

The report recalled the January 2017 bombing of an informal internally displaced persons (IDPs) settlement in Rann, Borno State, by the Nigerian Air Force, which resulted in the killing and injuring of more than 100 civilians and aid workers.

 

It said, “The government and military leaders publicly assumed responsibility for the strike and launched an investigation. The air force conducted its own internal investigation, but as of December the government had not made public its findings. No air force or army personnel were known to have been held accountable for their roles in the event. There were reports of arbitrary and unlawful killings related to internal conflicts in the North-east and other areas.”

 

The report identified the following human rights issues in Nigeria: unlawful and arbitrary killings by both government and non-state actors; forced disappearances by both government and non-state actors; torture by both government and non-state actors; and prolonged arbitrary detention in life-threatening conditions, particularly, in government detention facilities. Others are harsh and life threatening prison conditions, including civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on flimsy or no evidence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; criminal libel; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, in particular for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; and refoulement of refugees.

 

The report also identified as human rights abuse corruption; progress to formally separate child soldiers previously associated with the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF); lack of accountability concerning violence against women, including female genital mutilation/cutting, in part due to government inaction/negligence; trafficking in persons, including sexual exploitation and abuse by security officials; crimes involving violence targeting LGBTI persons and the criminalisation of status and same-sex sexual conduct based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and forced and bonded labour.

 

The report, however, noted that the government took steps to investigate alleged abuses but took fewer steps to prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

 

“Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government. The government did not adequately investigate or prosecute most of the major outstanding allegations of human rights violations by the security forces or the majority of cases of police or military extortion or other abuse of power,” the report added.

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EFCC Arrests Babagana for Alleged N7Bn Fraud through Ponzi Scheme

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Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested Babagana Dalori, chief executive officer of Galaxy Transportation and Construction Services Limited, for allegedly defrauding Nigerians through a ponzi scheme.

 

The commission said 27,400 Nigerians lost N7 billion through fake promises of high returns on their investment in Dalori’s companies.

 

In a statement, Tony Orilade, EFCC spokesman, said Dalori was discovered to have initially paid investors 200 per cent interest on their deposits in his companies.

 

He said the suspect later reduced the interest to 135 per cent “before the scheme crashed in 2018.”

 

“Dalori, who is currently undergoing interrogation in the Commission, had incorporated the firm in 2012 with one tricycle (Keke NAPEP), which through pool investments by members of the public later boasted of 50 tricycles,” the statement read.

 

“The entrepreneur later diversified into other business ventures while promising mouth-watering returns to investors.

 

“To suck as many unsuspecting victims into his ponzi net, Dalori engaged in massive advertisements on radio and television, including a production of a movie by A-list Nollywood actors, which aimed at convincing members of the public to invest in his companies.”

 

The anti-graft said a victim lamented the frustrations of unsuspecting investors who can no longer get their funds back.

 

According to the victim, “at the moment, he has used the investors money to incorporate different entities without getting their consent. He now has Galaxy Global Energy Concept Ltd, Galaxy Miners Concept Ltd, Galaxy Global Farms, Galaxy Computers, Galaxy Block Making Factory, Galaxy Hospital and Galaxy Hotel.”

 

The commission accused Dalori of committing a criminal act, saying all bank accounts belonging to his company have since been frozen.

 

Last year, EFCC cracked down on a similar ponzi scheme shortly after the shut down of Mavrodi Mondial Movement (MMM).

 

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NAFDAC Raises Alarm over Fake Anti-Hypertensive Drug in Circulation

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National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has alerted the public to the circulation of a fake anti-hypertensive drug.

 

Prof. Moji Adeyeye, director-general NAFDAC, in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja said the drug, Hydrochlorothiazide 50mg (containing Glibenclamide) was already on sale in Cameroun.

 

“NAFDAC is alerting the public, especially healthcare providers, to the circulation of confirmed faked Hydrochlorothiazide 50mg tablets in Cameroun.

 

“The faked product has been found to contain Glibenclamide instead of Hydrochlorothiazide.

 

“In March, the World Health Organisation was informed by an NGO in Cameroun that a medicine, presented as Hydrochlorothiazide 50mg tablets, has caused hypoglycaemia (deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream) in patients.

 

“Confirmatory laboratory analysis has established that the product did not contain hydrochlorothiazide, the stated active ingredient; rather, glibenclamide was instead identified,” Adeyeye said.

 

She explained that the genuine version of the drug was for treatment of hypertension, while the falsified medicine poses grave danger to patients.

 

“Hydrochlorothiazide is used as an anti-hypertensive and diuretic medicine, whereas Glibenclamide is an anti-diabetic medicine.

 

“The falsified medicine presents a risk for patients who take hydrochlorothiazide for the treatment of hypertension.

 

“The label on the plastic container of this faked product states Laboratoires Sterop as the manufacturer; however, this company has confirmed to WHO that it did not manufacture or supply the faked product.

 

“The Falsified hydrochlorothiazide 50mg is presented in plastic containers of 1000 tablets each,” she said.

 

The NAFDAC DG further said the drug, which had a batch number of 16G04, also carried 16/2017 as its Manufacture Date and 30/05/2021 as Expiry Date.

 

“The batch number, as well as a number of other features shown on the label of the faked Hydrochlorothiazide 50mg tablets, do not correspond with genuine manufacturing records. The label is in English and French languages.”

 

She advised importers, wholesalers, and retailers to avoid illegal importation and sale of the drug in Nigeria as surveillance had been heightened to prevent such.

 

“Surveillance has been strengthened by NAFDAC at all ports of entry to prevent importation of the faked Hydrochlorothiazide 50mg tablets from Cameroun.

 

“NAFDAC has also heightened surveillance to prevent distribution and sale of the faked product.

 

“Healthcare providers and other members of the public are advised to be vigilant and contact the nearest NAFDAC office with any information on the product,” she said.

 

Adeyeye further advised those already in possession of the drug to submit it to the nearest NAFDAC office.

 

She advised consumers to report any adverse effects related to the use of medicines to the nearest NAFDAC office, citing its toll-free number 20543 on all networks, or via its e-mail pharmacovigilance@nafdac.gov.ng.

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Police Arrests 10 Suspected Sim Swapping Fraudsters

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Oyo State Police Command has arrested 10 suspected fraudsters who specialised in defrauding their victims by swapping their mobile phone SIM cards, through which they would have access to their banking details.

 

Shina Olukolu, commissioner of Police, Shina Olukolu said that operatives of the command went into investigation immediately a report was made by Adeniyi Ige,  Security Manager of Airtel Network Limited, to the police that the company had been receiving complaints from customers on the withdrawal of various amounts from their bank accounts through fraudulent SIM swapping.

 

Olukolu, spoke while parading the suspects at the state police command headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan, stated that among the complaints was the withdrawal of N180,000 from the account of  Professor Olapade O. James, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan.

 

The withdrawal from the professor’s account occurred on February 21, after the loss of signal on his mobile phone line.

 

The police boss stated further that when the network was restored, the professor started receiving notification alerts from his bank via email.

 

“Other complainants included one Godwin Unigbe, whose N3 million was withdrawn from his account using the same modus operandi; while Benjamin Udo Bassey lost N460,000 to the syndicate.

 

“Internal investigation conducted by Airtel Network Limited, however, traced the SIM swapping fraud to ISON BPO, a call centre network service providers, including Airtel Network, located in Ibadan, the state capital, and this led to the arrest of three ISON staff directly involved in the fraudulent acts, namely: Omotayo Azeez, Olufade Abdulgafar and Shiyanbola Harry.

 

“Further investigations led to the arrest of seven others, including Adesina Peter, Odugbesan Gbenga, Efiong Udofia, Arowosegbe Adewale, Adesanlu Kayode, Onasile Abiola, and the only female among them, Temitope Fatai.”

 

Olukolu said the suspects had confessed to the crime and would be charged to court soon.

 

While speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, one of the suspects, Abdulgafar (33), confessed to the crime.

 

He said he got to know about the workings of mobile phone technology while working with ISON BPO, which serves some network service providers.

 

He said all members of the syndicate had their roles in each of the operations carried out.

 

The police also arrested two Fulani men, Danneri Mohammed and Abubakar Woru, who allegedly attacked a businessman, Abduraheem (surname withheld) on the road Ayemojuba village, via Saki, while returning from the market on March 25.

 

The Commissioner of Police said that the suspects chopped-off the businessman’s left hand with a machete and also inflicted machete cuts on his head and face before dispossessing him of N3.1 million.

 

Olukolu stated that the victim was later rescued by some road users while he was writing in his blood, and the incident was reported at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operational base in Saki.

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