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Court Admits Suspended Accountant General, Two Others to Bail in Alleged N109bn Fraud

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Justice Jadesola Adeyemi-Ajayi of a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Maitama, Abuja, yesterday granted bail to the former Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris and two others arraigned before her on an alleged N109 billion fraud.
The bail was granted in line with the same terms and conditions of the earlier administrative bail granted the defendants by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

Idris alongside Mr. Godfrey Akindele, Mr. Mohammed Usman and Gezawa Commodity Market and Exchange Limited were last week arraigned before the court on a 14- count criminal charge bordering on alleged stealing and breach of trust and money laundering to the tune of over N109 billion.
However, following their plea of not guilty, the court had ordered their remand at the Kuje Correctional Center, Abuja pending the hearing and determination of their bail application and subsequent trial.

Ruling in the bail applications argued by Chief Chris Uche, Mr. Peter Abalaka and Mr. Mohammed Ndayako for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively, the court held that the offenses charged against the defendants were bailable and that the court was inclined to admit them to bail.
“In line with the due process and supremacy of the law, the defendants are still entitled to bail, irrespective of the enormity of the allegations against them”, the court held.

The judge further observed that the EFCC did not in any of its processes, stated that the defendants misbehaved while on administrative bail.
Conditions attached to the bail was that the defendants must remain within the FCT, Abuja, and must seek consent of the court before travelling out.
Defendants are also to depose to an affidavit of assurance to abide by all their bail conditions.

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The court held that the defendants must deposit their passports with the Court’s Registrar and also give assurance that they would not procure alternate passports during the pendency of the case.

Meanwhile, the judge ordered that the defendants should remain in custody at the Kuje Correctional Center until they are able to perfect their bail conditions.
Part of the 14-count charge against the defendants read: “That you, Ahmed Idris between February and December, 2021 at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, being a public servant by virtue of your position as the Accountant General of the Federation accepted from Olusegun Akindele, a gratification in the aggregate sum of N15.1 billion which sum was converted to the United States Dollars by the said Olusegun Akindele and which sum did not form part of your lawful remuneration but as a motive for accelerating the payment of 13 per cent derivation to the nine oil-producing states in the Federation, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 155 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and punishable under the same section.
“That you, Ahmed Idris while being the Accountant General of the Federation and Godfrey Olusegun Akindele while being the Technical Assistant to the Accountant General of the Federation between February and November, 2021, at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, in such capacity, entrusted with certain property, to wit: N84.390 billion committed criminal breach of trust in respect of the said property, when you dishonestly received the said sum from the Federal Government of Nigeria through Godfrey Olusegun Akindele trading under the name and style of Olusegun Akindele & Co., and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC earlier disclosed that a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, Aliyu Ahmed, whose name was originally included in count-11 of the charge, would appear as one of its witnesses in the matter.
Besides the Permanent Secretary’s testimony, the agency, said it was in possession of confessional statements that were made by both the former AGF and his co-defendants.

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It said the extra-judicial statements were made in the presence of lawyers representing the defendants, adding that some of the witnesses, among whom are contractors, admitted that huge sums of money were paid to them by the former AGF, for contracts they never executed.
President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Idris as AGF on June 25, 2015.
He was subsequently re-appointed for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labour groups, who had argued that he ought to have been retired after clocking 60 years.

The ex-AGF was arrested on May 16 by the EFCC over allegation that he diverted and laundered over N80 billion from the public coffers.
The EFCC said its investigations revealed that the ex-AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies, non-existent contracts and other illegal activities, using proxies, family members and close associates.

It alleged that the funds were also laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.
Idris was arrested in Kano, following his alleged refusal to honour invitations of the EFCC for questioning.

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Naira appreciates against USD at forex market amid Binance clampdown

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Naira has returned to its appreciation against the US dollar in the foreign exchange market amid the restriction of Binance, a cryptocurrency platform.

Data from FMDQ showed that the Naira appreciated N1,609.51 at the close of trading on Wednesday from N1,615.94 on Tuesday.

This represents an N6.43 or 0.4 per cent appreciation compared to the N1,615.94 recorded at the closing of Tuesday’s trading.

Meanwhile, the Naira exchanged for N1,500 per USD on Wednesday at the parallel market from N1,618.489 on Tuesday.

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Naira Rates, the parallel market exchange rate, showed that the Naira appreciated 1,463.098 per USD on Wednesday.

The development triggered a massive selloff at the Binance Market.

Theheute recalls that Naira had continued its appreciation trend on Monday.

However, it depreciated against the USD on Tuesday for the first time since last week.

At the end of Tuesday’s 293rd Monetary Policy Committee meeting, the Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Olayemi Cardoso, reiterated his commitment to strengthen the Naira against USD at the forex market.

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The CBN had announced the resumption of foreign exchange sales directly to eligible Bureau De Change Operators.

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Ghana passes anti-gay law

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The Ghana Parliament, on Wednesday, passed the bill on human sexual rights and family values, commonly referred to as the anti-LGBTQ bill.

The bill, called the Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, was introduced by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

Press reports that the bill was a Private Members Bill led by Sam Nartey George, the MP for Ningo-Prampram.

The bill prohibits LGBTQ activities and makes it illegal to promote, advocate, or fund them, as reported by Citi Newsroom.

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Local media also reports that individuals caught engaging in the activity could face a jail sentence ranging from six months to three years, while those who support or promote the activity may be sentenced to three to five years in prison.

This is coming after years of the bill being in parliament and going through various stages, facing backlash and efforts by opponents to block it or make changes.

In Ghana, homosexuality is currently prohibited by law and can result in a prison sentence of up to three years.

According to the new legislation, the maximum sentence will be extended to five years.

This proposal will also criminalise the distribution of materials that are considered supportive of LGBTQ rights.

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According to Citi Newsroom, Parliament approved the bill one day after Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, the Board Chair of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, urged President Nana Akufo-Addo to reject it.

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Takyiwaa Manuh, a senior fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, mentioned to CBS News that Akufo-Addo has not approved any previous privately sponsored bills for legal reasons related to the country’s constitution.

According to Manuh, the speaker of the parliament did not conduct the necessary analysis of the bill.

She believes that if the bill becomes law, it will significantly impact the judiciary, police, and other areas of society.

“I am sad, disappointed and surprised that our commitment and democratic principles in this country appear to be so shallow.

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“This bill represents a real danger to our country, and we are looking to the president to uphold the values of our country and constitution,” she said.

The bill will need the President’s approval to take effect.

It remains uncertain whether President Akufo-Addo will approve the bill.

In 2021, the United Nations expressed concerns about the potential impacts of the proposed law, Human Sexual Rights and Family Values, warning that it could lead to state-sponsored discrimination and violence against sexual minorities.

In May 2023, Uganda implemented strict anti-LGBT legislation, which includes severe penalties such as the death penalty for certain homosexual acts.

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Elumelu in global academic limelight as TEF case study becomes Harvard’s curriculum

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In an unprecedented move, the Harvard Business School, the graduate business school of Harvard University, is set to cast the spotlight on the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), recognizing the Foundation’s extraordinary philanthropic achievement in a ground-breaking case study.

The case study, the first of its kind on any philanthropic organization in Africa, is to be launched on Thursday, February 29, 2024, before a class of graduate students in Boston, Massachusetts, and will explore the Foundation’s unique approaches and transformative initiatives, showcasing how strategic philanthropy offered by TEF is driving positive change and elevating countries and communities.

This move by Harvard underscores the Foundation’s pivotal role in empowering young African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries and places the Foundation at the forefront of global discussions on transformative and catalytic philanthropy, acknowledging its significant contributions towards fostering entrepreneurship in Africa.

In addition to delving into the foundation’s innovative approaches and the resultant impact it has garnered over the years, the event will also feature an exclusive acknowledgment of the Founder of TEF, Tony Elumelu’s economic philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions the private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the African continent.

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The Tony Elumelu Foundation is the leading philanthropy, empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, driving poverty eradication, catalyzing job creation across all 54 African countries, and increasing inclusive economic empowerment.

Since the launch of the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme in 2015, the Foundation has trained over 1.5 million young Africans on its digital hub, TEFConnect, and disbursed over USD$100 million in direct funding to 20,000 young African women and men, who have collectively created over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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Tony Elumelu who spoke on the impact of TEF on the African youth said, “TEF is creating economic hope and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs. We know that entrepreneurship is the antidote to poverty, youth unemployment, and insecurity. Through the intervention of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, we are encouraging our young people, giving them hope through the seed capital we provide, capacitating them through the training and mentoring we provide, and setting them up to create businesses that will succeed and create even more jobs. Collectively we are fixing the challenges that we have on the continent.

Continuing, he said, “The Tony Elumelu Foundation was set up to create more successful African business leaders. We want to replicate our own success and create entrepreneurs who will build more prosperity on the continent and for the continent. It’s all about transforming our society and making sure that we leave society better than we met it. It is not about the money that we have in our bank accounts, it is about the legacy that we make and the impact we create. Prosperity for all is what will create the security, harmony, and peace that we need.”

The Harvard Business School session will provide a platform for thought leaders, scholars, and business enthusiasts to engage in a meaningful discussion on the role of philanthropy in shaping sustainable and inclusive economies. As the world grapples with complex challenges, the Tony Elumelu Foundation stands as a beacon of hope, showcasing how strategic philanthropy can be a driving force for positive change.

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