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‘Panama Papers’ Whistleblower Says Russia ‘Wants Me Dead’

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The whistleblower behind the “Panama Papers” which revealed major tax evasion and fraud worldwide said he feared Russian retribution, in an interview published Saturday by Germany’s Der Spiegel.

The magazine quoted him under his pseudonym John Doe as saying he had evidence of financial wrongdoing by top Russian officials and their allies which helped fund the war in Ukraine.

Asked by Spiegel whether he feared for his life, he said, “It’s a risk that I live with, given that the Russian government has expressed the fact that it wants me dead.”

When Spiegel asked John Doe about tax havens used by “strongmen in autocratic regimes”, he spoke of the alleged role they play in Russia, whose leaders deny breaking the law.

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Russian President Vladimir “Putin is more of a threat to the United States than Hitler ever was, and shell companies are his best friend,” he said.

“Shell companies funding the Russian military are what kill innocent civilians in Ukraine as Putin’s missiles target shopping centres.”

He said anonymous firms “make these horrors and more possible by removing accountability from society. But without accountability, society cannot function.”

He said Russian state-funded channel RT had aired a two-part Panama Papers docudrama featuring a “John Doe” character “who suffered a torture-induced head injury during the opening credits”.

“However bizarre and tacky, it was not subtle,” he said.

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“We have seen others with connections to offshore accounts and tax justice resort to murder, as with the tragedies involving Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jan Kuciak,” referring to investigative reporters killed in Malta and Slovakia.

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In what was billed as his first interview since the release of the Panama Papers in 2016, John Doe said he had no plans to come out from the cover of anonymity.

“The Panama Papers involve so many different transnational criminal organisations, some of them with links to governments, that it’s difficult to imagine how it could ever be safe to identify myself,” he said.

The Panama Papers were one of several leaks of financial documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Their revelations triggered the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland and paved the way for the leader of Pakistan to be ousted.

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Otunba Gbenga Daniel discusses progress on the establishment of aviation school in Ogun, SW Devt Commission bills

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Otunba Gbenga Daniel, former Governor of Ogun State and a current Senator has provided updates on two significant legislative initiatives: the South West Development Commission Bill and the establishment of an aviation college in Ogun State.

Daniel expressed satisfaction with the progress of both projects, highlighting their alignment with broader development goals for the region.

He outlined the strategic vision behind the proposed aviation college, linking it to the ongoing development of the airport project in Ogun State.

The idea for the aviation school gained momentum during his campaign, spurred by interactions with students from a technical college near Akaka.

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“We are moving and we are quite satisfied. The aviation school that we conceptualized has been part of our master plan for the airport project and in the course of our campaign; we were waylaid by students of that school. It is a technical college. They waylaid and said look, OGD you are passing by here but in this place, there is nothing going on.

“As God will have it, the runway terminates around Akaka. We then said this is the aviation school that we’ve been thinking of, this is it. We tap into that because we also know that there are challenges with money and budgets. So in that location there is already infrastructure. There are buildings, very few students, underutilized facilities and here we are, we now have an airport which by the special grace of God, the new governor appears to have gone very far with the completion. So pronto, we can’t have it better.”

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Emphasising the need to train people about aviation in all ramifications, the former governor elaborated on the broader vision of creating an “Aerotropolis,” a city designed around the airport that would include facilities for hangar construction, warehouses, and other aviation-related services.

“What we have done, many people did not know, the airport that we planned is not just an airport, it’s a big city. We call it Aerotropolis. An Aerotropolis is a city which contains facilities for everything – hangar construction, warehouses, all sorts of things – and all of that.

“But when we were conceptualising it, we actually called it an agrocargo airport and that’s what actually decided the location, that that location is equidistant to Lagos,Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode and Ibadan. We had planned that, from that location, people will bring their agricultural products there and it can be an export zone. So that was what we planned. So all of those things that have not happened, it’s just part of our master plan and God has just given us the grace”

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He expressed optimism about the project’s legislative progress, noting that the bill had recently passed its second reading and was on track for a public hearing.

“By the grace of God, last two weeks it was gazetted. That is the second reading and we think that with that one, the next thing is now for it to be subject to a public hearing.

“That is one bill that there was no need for any serious take-off grant. Unlike some other bills, this is just a low-hanging fruit, and we’re happy that, by the grace of God, that will come true,” he said.

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Turning to the South West Development Commission Bill, the lawmaker acknowledged its prior iterations and the renewed determination to see it through.

“The Southwest Development Commission Bill, of course, is not a new bill per se. It had been initiated in the past, but due to one thing or the other, it didn’t go beyond the second reading,” he explained.

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However, this time around, there is a stronger consensus on the necessity of the commission.

Daniel highlighted the importance of the commission in fostering regional development, echoing calls for restructuring based on Nigeria’s six administrative zones.

“People from each of the zones with a common destiny, common economic boundaries, common electoral affinities, common industrial or commercial activities, should be able to come together and look at things that are important to them, to be able to develop those peculiar things that are common to them, and get the federal government to support it,” he articulated.

The creation of the South West Development Commission aligns with similar initiatives for other regions, promoting economic units that reflect Nigeria’s zonal structure.

Daniel expressed hope and determination that the bill would succeed, reflecting a broader trend of regional development efforts supported by federal recognition and resources

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Gbenga Daniel clarifies misconceptions about yuletide palliatives from the presidency

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The senator representing the Ogun East District at the national assembly, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has clarified reports regarding the distribution of rice by the presidency to lawmakers during the last yuletide season.

Recall that towards the end of last year, during the yuletide, there were reports that the presidency shipped trailer loads of rice to House of Representatives members and senators as palliatives to be given to their constituents. Some lawmakers denied receiving the items while others said they were supplied.

Addressing the confusion, Daniel explained that the initiative was part of a broader effort to provide constituency support, rather than a direct distribution of trailer loads of rice.

He provided insights into the actual proceedings, stating, “No, that was not what happened. To the best of my knowledge, it is part of the provision for constituency support. I am aware that a vote was announced that would be available for each of the senators. It wasn’t mandated for specific use, but rather to encourage senators to provide some form of relief to their constituents during the challenging period of December and January.”

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Contrary to claims of trailer loads of rice being distributed, the lawmaker emphasized that the process was more bureaucratic and less immediate.

“The process of, let’s say, the bureaucracy, I’m aware that this is May but some people have still not got anything. We got something about two weeks ago,” he noted.

Despite the delays in the distribution process, Daniel highlighted that his office had been proactive in providing palliatives to constituents throughout the period.

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“We have been doing our own palliatives. We’ve done in December, in January. Every month we go and do massive palliatives. So we’re not waiting for it. But if and when it comes, okay, there’s no problem.”

The confusion seems to stem from differing reports on how the palliatives were distributed. Daniel explained, “Finally it was supposed to be worked out with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and I think that some people got consignment from the ministry, others got their own independently.”

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He commended the presidency’s efforts to support lawmakers in their attempts to assist constituents.

“There was a commendable effort to encourage lawmakers to go and do something to add value to what is going on in their various constituencies. That’s the way I’m going to put it.”

While there was an initiative to provide support to lawmakers for their constituents, the former governor clarified that it was not as straightforward or immediate as some reports suggested.

According to him, the aim was to encourage lawmakers to offer tangible support during a challenging period, a goal that he and his team have been actively pursuing independently.

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Otunba Gbenga Daniel clarifies why The Compass Newspaper was established, lists achievements as Ogun governor

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Former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, has clarified the motivations behind the establishment of The Compass newspaper, denying any intentions of using the platform to oppose Senator Bola Tinubu.

In an interview the former governor granted a national newspaper, Daniel addressed these misconceptions and highlighted the extensive developmental work undertaken during his tenure, much of which he felt was underreported.

Reflecting on the media landscape during his governance, he stated, “I took over from a newspaper mogul, Chief Olusegun Osoba, and I was not expected to get good press. The sympathy was really not with me; it was with my predecessor. People thought I would crash within a few weeks.”

Facing persistent negative press, Daniel felt compelled to create a media outlet to accurately document and publicize his administration’s achievements.

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He emphasized that the establishment of The Compass was a strategic move to counteract biased media coverage rather than a tool for political vendetta.

“We needed to have a platform to also record what we were doing. We did a lot of work that people still do not know,” he explained.

Daniel lamented the lack of social media at the time, which would have allowed for more direct communication with the public without reliance on traditional media channels.

“Unfortunately, we did not have the level of social media that we have today. If that existed, nobody would need the traditional media.

“But you know, you people at that time, once you blocked us, you blocked us here, you blocked us there, I was finished (laughs). If we were working 24-7, nobody would see this. They would say you are not working because you people have blocked everybody. So that was what happened.

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“I’m not a newspaper person. But, at that stage, we needed to have a platform to also record what we were doing. We did a lot of work that people still do not know.

“For instance, we are thanking our current governor for now working on the (cargo) airport. But this was part of our master plan, which we decided, we did everything we needed to do, we got all the approvals before we left. But you people (press) will not report it.”

“We secured three free trade zones in Ogun State. The Olokola Free Trade Zone, which is where Dangote Refinery was supposed to be but because you people did what you had to do, we lost that one to Lagos. But I said to people, well, Lagos is still the same. If it’s lost to Lagos, it’s fine.

“In any case, where we wanted to put it is inside Ijebuland. All these places where they are in Lekki is still part of Ijebuland, under Lagos. So we’ve not lost anything.

He also said the Kajola Transportation Free Trade Zone, and the Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone, were all initiatives under his administration. These zones were designed to boost industrialization and economic growth in the region.

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Daniel also pointed out the numerous educational institutions established during his tenure, including the Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic in Ijebu-Igbo, the Gateway Polytechnic in Sapade, the Tai Solarin University of Education, and several others. He stressed the transformative impact these institutions had on the state’s educational landscape.

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“You’ll be shocked if I tell you that in the course of our administration, we established probably about seven tertiary institutions and campuses. I can count for you. We established Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic, Ijebu-Igbo. We established the Gateway Polytechnic in Sapade. We established another one in Igbesa and another one in Itori. We established the Tai Solarin University of Education. We established the School of Nursing in Ilaro. We took the old Tai Solarin College of Education to Omu. It’s now known as Sikiru Adetona College of Education in Omu. We established Gateway Industrial & Petrochemical Institute (GIPI) in Oni. What didn’t we do? But you people didn’t report it.”

In terms of industrialization, Daniel noted the development of the Sagamu Interchange area into a major industrial hub.

“That axis now is probably the biggest industrial zone in the country. Companies like Nestle, Coleman Cables, CTK, and the biggest international breweries are now located there. It is the fastest-growing industrial arena in the entire country,” he said.

Addressing the media directly, Daniel humorously added, “There’s a whole lot that you people refused to report for us.”

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