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Newspaper review: Buhari at UNGA canvasses international material support for anti-corruption war

September 20, 2017 10:43 AM
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The headlines of mainstream Nigerian newspapers for Wednesday, September 20, are focused on on President Buhari's speech at United Nations General Assembly in which he canvassed for international support for anti-corruption war.

Thisday reports that President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday called for international co-operation and material support for his administration’s prosecution of the war against corruption and asset recovery.

Buhari, who made this call while delivering a speech during the General Debate of the 72nd Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, said institutions in the country were being strengthened to promote accountability and curtail corruption.

Buhari, whose statement was emailed to journalists in Nigeria, told the gathering of world leaders that the country’s desired goals could only be achieved when the international community co-operates with it and provides critical assistance and material support.

According to him, Nigeria would also co-operate with the international community in the fight against transnational crimes including cybercrime, human trafficking and forced labour.

“Through our individual national efforts, state institutions are being strengthened to promote accountability, and to combat corruption and asset recovery.

“These can only be achieved through the international community cooperating and providing critical assistance and material support. We shall also cooperate in addressing the growing transnational crimes such as forced labour, modern day slavery, human trafficking and cybercrime,” Buhari said.

Arguing that Africa’s faith in democracy remained unwavering, Buhari recalled how the collective efforts and resilience of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forced out the former president of The Gambia, Yahyah Jammeh, as was the case earlier in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Our faith in democracy remains firm and unshaken. Our regional organisation ECOWAS came together to uphold democratic principles in The Gambia – as we had done previously in Côte d’Ivoire,” he stated.

He said the frontiers of democracy and good governance were being enthroned in Africa including the creation of the atmosphere for the conduct of free and fair elections and promotion of the rule of law.

“In the last year, the international community came together to focus on the need for gender equality, youth empowerment, social inclusion, and the promotion of education, creativity and innovation. The frontiers of good governance, democracy including holding free and fair elections, and enthronement of the rule of law are expanding everywhere, especially in Africa,” he added.

He also canvassed the support of the international community in stopping members of ISIS from fleeing into the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin to take refuge, emphasising that co-operation was necessary because the region does not only lack sufficient resources to fight ISIS but its response capacity was also weak.

“These co-operative efforts should be sustained. We must collectively devise strategies and mobilise the required responses to stop fleeing ISIS fighters from mutating and infiltrating into the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, where there are insufficient resources and response capacity is weak,” he noted.

Vanguard reports that the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, yesterday, said Nigeria’s foreign debt stood at $15.05 billion, while the domestic debt portfolio was put at N14.06 trillion in June this year.

Investigations by Vanguard showed that the foreign debt profile was $11.41 trillion, while domestic debt was N14.02 billion at the end of December 2016.

The NBS in its report on Nigerian Domestic and Foreign Debt – June 2017 data, showed that $9.67 billion of the debt was multilateral; $218.25 million, bilateral, while $5.15 billion was from the Exim Bank of China, credited to the Federal Government.

The report stated: “The total Federal Government debt accounted for 74 per cent of Nigeria’s total foreign debt while all states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, accounted for the remaining 26 per cent.

“Similarly, total Federal Government’s debt accounted for 78.66 per cent of Nigeria’s total domestic debt, while all states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, accounted for the 21.34 percent balance.”

A breakdown of the Federal Government domestic debt stock by instruments reflected that N7.5 trillion or 68.41 per cent of the debt was in Federal Government Bonds. About N3.3 trillion or 29.64 per cent are in treasury bills, while N215.99 million or 1.95 percent are in treasury bonds.

The report read further: “Lagos State has the highest foreign debt profile among the 36 states and the FCT, accounting for 37 per cent; Kaduna, 6 per cent; Edo, 5 per cent; Cross River, 4 per cent; and Ogun, 3 per cent, followed closely.” Similarly, the report stated: “ Lagos State had the highest domestic debt profile among the thirty-six states and the FCT, accounting for 10.39 per cent; Delta, 8.04 per cent; Akwa Ibom,

Punch on its part reports that the Federal Government and former President Goodluck Jonathan have disagreed on the planned military operation in the South-South and the South-West codenamed Operation Crocodile Smile.

Jonathan, who spoke on Tuesday, believed it was an anomaly for soldiers to be deployed for internal security, a responsibility that is meant for the police, saying the deployment of troops internally was to intimidate the citizens.

But the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, countered the former President, arguing that under the past administration, headed by Jonathan, soldiers were deployed in Onitsha, where 16 persons were reportedly killed.

Jonathan criticised his successor, President Muhammadu Buhari, for planning to extend the military show of force to the South-South and the South-West.

Jonathan said this in a Facebook post on Tuesday which was signed on his behalf by his aide, Reno Omokri.

Jonathan stated, “However, we want to advise the Buhari administration, which has announced plans to extend the military show of force to the South-South and the South-West through Operation Crocodile Smile, to thread with caution.

“Nigeria is no longer under military rule. In a democracy, you separate the military from the police. The military is not meant to fight criminality within a nation because they are trained to fight a nation’s external enemies.

“It is the police that are trained to fight crime internally. When the military starts doing the job of the police and starts fighting or doing what they call a ‘show of force’, the effect will not be to reduce crime. The effect will be to intimidate people.”

The Nation also reports that Armed with evidence of alleged diversion of the London-Paris Club refund, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has applied for the forfeiture of over N1.823billion by some consultants hired by the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF).

Besides, a suspect, Mr. Ifeanyi Okafor, has told EFCC detectives that he was a “fictitious consultant” to the NGF, which paid him $3 million from the loan repayment to states.

He said his company, Mountain Crest, was hired by the Governors Forum for an unexecuted consultancy job, it was learnt yesterday.

Apart from Ifeanyi, four other consultants have been invited for interrogation by the anti-graft commission.

According to a source, who pleaded not to be named in order not to jeopardise the probe, the commission has approached the court for the forfeiture of the following: N1. 230billion by Melrose General Services Company; N500million by a governor; and $1million and N100million paid to Gosh Project by Mountain Crest Limited.

The source said: “We have gone to court on some payments made to some consultants by the NGF. We filed two applications before the court, but we could not secure final forfeiture because the court was on vacation and the matters were adjourned till October.

“Our detectives found that N3.5billion was paid to Melrose General Services Company but only N1.2billion was discovered when the investigation of the diversion of the London-Paris Club refund started. We have initiated a court process for the final forfeiture of the N1.2billion to the Federal Government. We need to perfect the forfeiture with a court order.”

Of the cash given to some entities through Melrose, N220 million has been recovered into the Federation Account.

“The Managing director of Xtract Energy Services, a company that deals in Forex Trading, confirmed that Wasp Networks Limited transferred N170, 000,000 on the 16th January 2017 to Xtract Energy Services Limited’s FCMB account for the purchase of $350,000 which he later transferred into Wasp Networks Stanbic IBTC US dollar domiciliary account,” the source said, adding.


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