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Allegations of bribery, imposition trail LG elections in Ogun State.

Owolola Adebola
Nine chairmanship aspirants for  Abeokuta South Local Government, Ogun state, have said that a  chairmanship candidate, Hon. Omolaja Majekodunmi  should be questioned for alleged huge amount of money he reportedly  paid to the party leaders in order to get the chairmanship ticket.

Speaking on behalf of the nine aspirants was Hon. Enilolobo who disclosed  this on Monday during a press conference held at Local Government Secretariat, Ake, Abeokuta South, Ogun state.

The statement reads ” We, the undersigned, wish to express our profound gratitude to His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun, MFR for his unflinching support towards the progress of Abeokuta South local government for appointing the man of the soil and a cerebral administrator to pilot the affairs of the Premier local government in Nigeria, Abeokuta South, Hon. Ayodeji Michael Shomide.

“We are unperturbed by the claim of some disgruntled elements within the fold of the party to resort to character assassination by declaring the Transition Committee Chairman of Abeokuta South local government, Hon. Ayodeji Shomide as a person whose source of income is questionable.

“While they failed to question the flamboyant, lavish life style of a staff of the Ogun State Local Government Service Commission who paid the party leaders huge sum of money to fraudulently and unlawfully attempt to buy the party chairmanship ticket, a level 13 officer whose salary is 142,330.90k per month should be questioned of his source of multi million naira wasteful bribe offer to the party leaders in other to buy the party chairmanship ticket.
” It is so obvious that his income doesn’t commensurate with the multi million naira bribe offered the party leaders, therefore, his income and lifestyle is highly questionable.
“To set the record straight, Hon. Ayodeji Michael Shomide, popularly known as AY SHO, was born into the family of Ezekiel and Elizabeth Shomide of Abeokuta South local govt, Ogun State, Nigeria.
“He attended Springfield Nursery and Primary School and had his secondary school education at Baptist Boys High School (BBHS), Abeokuta, where he got his Secondary school leaving certificate.
” He continued his higher education at Plateau State Polytechnic, where he studied Diploma in Accounting and later furthered his studies at West London College, London, United Kingdom, where he studied Business Management.
“He is extremely motivated to constantly developing in skills and grow professionally.
” He is passionately confident in ability to engage challenges and come up with interesting ideas for unforgettable project development in housing, real estate and infrastructural development.
“Hon. Ayo Shomide, was appointed by His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Ogun State as the transition committee chairman of Abeokuta South local govt, where he is presently running the affairs of the local government as the number one citizen of the only Premier local govt in Nigeria.
“He established Builders Concept and Home Making Ltd. Hon Ayo Shomide is a seasoned Entrepreneur, a Builder and Property director by practice.
“Hon Ayo Shomide has demonstrated himself as good team leader, by bringing people together from beginning to the end of different projects.
“He chooses  to specialize in the construction and property industry as a result his confidence in collaborative efforts towards achieving same goal, in which he is demonstrating as the Chairman of Abeokuta South local government.
“He has since grown his company into a multi-million Naira organization.
“Hon. Ayo Shomide has much interest in service, representation and giving back to the society at large. He is happily married and blessed with children.
“However, it has become pertinent as stakeholders in the local government to lend our voice to the political imbroglio rocking the party, All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abeokuta South as some moneybag politicians have hijacked the peaceful co-existence of party members in the local government.
“Following series of attack and political assassination on the personality of Hon. Ayodeji Shomide by these moneybags, we have deemed  it fit to declare our support for the Transition Committee Chairman to continue his good work as the Chairman of Abeokuta South local government, regardless of any dirty political tactics engineered by a member of the Ogun State Cabinet from Abeokuta South Local Government, whose main target is the 2023 National Assembly election.
“We can never had it this good in Abeokuta South with the performance of Hon. Shomide in the council area.
“Despite, the paucity of fund couple with the global Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted economy of the state, Hon. Shomide had in the last couple of years tremendously improved on the wellbeing of the citizens of the local government.
“With Hon. Shomide at the helms, every household in Abeokuta South can feel the impact of the state government through our dynamic and visionary Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
“Hon. Shomide has facilitated among other developmental projects to include;
1- New Health care center @ Oke Egunya, Ago-Oba.
2- Almost completed Shopping Complex @ Kemta side of Itoku market.
3-  The New Itoku Market stalls(under construction)
4- Business support scheme for Adire textile producers within the LG, with an off taker arrangement.
5-  Establishment of Traffic Mayor under the enabling law of Trace.
6- Proposed Skill aquisition center @ Blairs Memorial Panseke.
7- Proposed construction of a new computer village in Panseke.
8. Construction of Ijaiye Gbangba dilapidated bridge, among other numerous human development projects.
“We, however, call on His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun to discountenance the rabble rousers trying to pull down the people’s choice just to score cheap political goal and to misdirect our people for his own selfish political greed.
“It is imperative to inform the public that, the party is yet to adopt any consensus candidate, despite the multi million naira bribe offered the party leaders, as those imposing a particular candidate against the advice of the Governor are doing so to cause confusion among party members and simply to justify their shameful act of bribe taking.
“While we caution sponsors of the FAKE adoption of other candidate in the local government, we want to appeal to His Excellency to allow Hon. Shomide who has be adopted and endorsed by 9 out 14 lawful aspirants to continue his good work to maintain the already peaceful political atmosphere in the local government.
“We are committed with the decision of the party Apex leaders and the Governor as the leader of the party in the state.
“We don’t want another betrayer that will scuttle the continuation of Governor Abiodun beyond first term, by anyone for their selfish agenda of 2023.
“Shomide is loyal, committed party man, well accepted and very dedicated grassroots politician that will protect the interest of His Excellency in the local government.
“He remains the candidate to beat at the coming local government election. He is the only Candidate that can challenge the oppositions in the local government with his track record and achievements in office in the last year and a half years.”the statement concluded

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I was never in charge of maritime industry —Saraki

Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation in a hearty discussion with Amaechi when the going was good


Eyewitness reporter

For three years after she was named the Minister of State for Transportation in 2019, Senator Gbemisola Saraki said she was never in charge of the maritime sector.
Her assertion contradicted the gentleman’s agreement between her and Rotimi Amaechi, who until his resignation from Mohammed Buhari’s cabinet to pursue his failed presidential ambition, was the Minister of transportation.
Amaechi,  as the then supervising Minister, in 2019, had delineated the duties of the two heads of the ministry to avoid any possible clash of interests.
At one of the public functions held in Lagos in 2019 at the beginning of his second term in office as the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi publicly declared that while he would focus his attention on railways due to the enormity of the project and its importance to the national economy, Saraki will be in charge of the maritime industry with his occasional supervision, especially as it concerns maritime security.
Ameachi had then acknowledged that he had abandoned the maritime industry for the rail sector when he first served as transportation minister from 2015 to 2019 but said his minister of state, Senator Gbemisola Saraki,  will fill the gap during his second term in office.
“In my first term as minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the heads of agencies.
“This time around, that won’t be happening again as I have instructed that the Hon. Minister of Transportation for State should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversee what is happening” Ameachi had declared.
However, Senator Saraki subtly debunked the claim three years after when she said that she was never in charge of the sector.
The minister was reacting to an inquiry from the curious journalists last week Friday why it took her one year to the end of her four-year tenure to come on a familiarisation tour of the sector she was supposed to be superintending.
“I was never in charge of the maritime sector. I was asked to supervise road transport”  the Kwara State-born politician declared.
Her revelation confirmed the widely held belief among the stakeholders that there was a repressed and smouldering animosity between the two Ministers.
Though Saraki tried to downplay the cat and mouse relationship with her former boss, stakeholders however believed that the two Ministers never got along well with each other.
Sources pointed to instances when the two Ministers were tactically avoiding joint attendance at maritime events.
Impeccable sources whispered to our reporter that the festering feud became noticeable when Saraki began to boycott events in the industry with her former boss.
It was further learnt that the boycott of events in the industry by the Minister of state may be a subtle protest against the apparent arrogation by Amaechi of official duties of the junior Minister which has led to the redundancy of Saraki.
It was gathered that throughout 2019 and the better part of 2021, Amaechi allowed Saraki to take charge of events in the maritime industry.
Sources claimed that towards the end of last year and since the beginning of 2022 up till his resignation as the Minister, Amaechi may have reneged on the gentleman’s agreement between him and his minister of state.
“During this period, the Minister took over the functions hitherto reserved for the Minister of state.
”This development seems to have irked Saraki who felt the Minister was trying to make her reductant.
“That was when she started to boycott functions at the maritime industry where she and her principal were likely to meet” a source who was in the know confided in our reporter.The absence of the minister of State at major maritime events became noticeable during landmark events such as  NIMASA’s unveiling of wreck removal in 2021,  the World Maritime Day, 2021,  and the inspection of the Lekki deep seaport by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It could also be recalled that Amaechi had made a couple of visits to the Lekki deep seaport, even on a Sunday, before the presidential visit, none of which Saraki attended.

Concerned maritime stakeholders claimed that the recent action of Ameachi, who is widely regarded as the ”Lion of the Niger Delta” may appear bossy to Gbemisola Saraki, who is also a strong-willed woman.
“The two Ministers are of strong-willed personalities who don’t brood nonsense.
“We all know the political antecedents of Amaechi who has a domineering posture.

” Gbemi is also made of sterner stuff given her role in the “Otoge” political tsunami in Kwara which eventually swept off  Bukola Saraki, her blood brother, from the political dominance in Kwara politics, a role which earned her the present position in the present dispensation.
“So, I don’t see how Amaechi, who has domineering posture could lord it over Gbemi, who is equally a woman of strong character, without skirmishes” a knowledgeable analyst declared.
However, stakeholders were skeptical if Senator Saraki could achieve much of the promises she made during her week-long tours of Lagos ports last week given barely one year she has as a member of the Buhari Administration before it is wound up.
The Minister came on the tour in the company of some Directors in the ministry.

“Today is my fifth week of assuming the leadership of the Ministry of Transportation”, she declared last week Friday in Lagos.

“We came to take stock of the sector. We had taken the stock of the Road sector,” she said.

Giving her summation of her findings at the end of the tour, she declared” Apapa and Tin Can ports are in terrible need of repairs.

“We will go and come back for repairs.

“We have the short, medium, and long-term plans for this. We need to start with rehabilitation here. Another problem here is power”

The  Minister met various groups who are stakeholders in the industry.

Among them are women groups in maritime, terminal operators, stevedores, maritime workers union groups, haulage, and transport operators, maritime lawyers, freight forwarders, and maritime press.

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We have political will to ensure CVFF is disbursed—-Saraki

Senator Gbemosola Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation
—- expresses sadness over unending delay
Eyewitness reporter

The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Rukayyat Gbemisola Saraki has expressed willingness to muster the necessary political will to ensure the controversial Cabotage Vessels Financing Funds (CVFF) are disbursed before she leaves office.

She expressed sadness over the delay in the disbursement of the interventionist funds, 19 years after it was set up which she said was critical to the empowerment of the struggling indigenous ship owners.
The Minister made this commitment Friday during the interactive media parley she held in Lagos to round up her week-long tours of Lagos ports.
The Minister, who was fielding questions from journalists, declared that her ministry would work with the National Assembly to expedite action of the disbursement process.
She disclosed that she was part of the senators who passed the Cabotage Act in 2003 which gave birth to the CVFF and it was disheartening that 19 years later the funds are yet to be disbursed.
 “It is really very disheartening that the fund has not been disbursed but we will work with the National Assembly to ensure its disbursement.
“Just watch, it has to be disbursed, especially with the coming on stream of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“In the course of this visit, I have also interacted with so many stakeholders, including the indigenous ship owners.

“I know the number of vessels that Nigerians had 10 years ago and I know how many they have now.
“The funds is very critical for the empowerment of indigenous ship owners and we know many of them have gone under”

“It is really a shame that this fund has not been disbursed, I learnt the value is $350 million now and I am not sure any part of it is missing.

” We will work with the National Assembly to pass the guidelines. It is not really about the Federal Ministry of Finance but I think it is more of the political will to disburse it and I think we have the political will to do so.”
The Minister disclosed that the guidelines for the disbursement of the fund have been formulated and awaiting the approval of the  National Assembly.

She added that the disbursement would follow the approval by the National Assembly after beneficiaries must have been shortlisted.

According to her, the approval would soon be secured and the fund disbursed in no distant time.
She regarded the non-disbursement of the CVFF as a national shame and embarrassment.
CVFF is a two percent contribution by indigenous ship owners on every Cabotage contract executed and is meant for fleet expansion and empowerment of the shipping capacity of indigenous ship owners.
Since 2003 when the Cabotage Act was enacted and 2006 when the CVFF guidelines were enacted, no disbursement was made as the funds have become a subject of controversy and subject to serial abuse.
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P&ID fraud : Court convicts, winds up Marqott Nigeria Limited.

Owolola Adebola

Justice D.U Okorowo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has convicted and wound up Marqott Nigeria Limited,  one of the 30 companies associated with the  Process and Industrial Development Limited, P & ID,  for money laundering.

The company was convicted on Thursday,  June 16, 2022, after being found guilty of four-count charges bordering on money laundering preferred against it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

Count one of the charges read: “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to comply with the requirements of submitting to the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, a declaration of activities of Marqott Nigeria Limited contrary to Section 16(1) (f) read together with Section 5(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011(as amended and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.”

Count two read:  “That you, Marqott Nigeria Limited, being a designated Non-financial Institution; and Giovanni Beccarelli, Valentina Fantoli, and Dimitri Duca, being directors of and signatories to the bank account of Marqott Nigeria Limited, sometime in September 2014, in Abuja, within the Abuja Judicial Division of the Federal High Court, failed to develop programs to combat money laundering and other illegal acts, to wit: failure to designate at management level a compliance officer within any strata of Marqott Nigeria Limited, contrary to Section 16(1)(f) read together with Section 9(1)(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended) and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 16 (2)(b) of the same Act”.

At the point of the first arraignment on February 7, 2022,  the defendant pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, setting the stage for a full trial.

In the course of the trial, the EFCC presented many witnesses and tendered many documents as exhibits.

In his judgment,  Justice Okorowo found Marqott Nigeria Limited guilty of all the four-count charges and convicted it accordingly.   He also ordered that the company be wound up  and its entire assets forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Marqott was first arraigned on Monday,  February 7, 2022, for being an accomplice in the $9.6bn Gas Supply and Processing Agreement between the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and  P&ID.

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