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David Mark dragged into global secret assets storm

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• Senate President linked to eight firms on Virgin Island

Facts & Figures

The eight firms associated with Mark:

•Sikera Overseas S.A •Colsan Enterprises Ltd •Goldwin Transworld Ltd
•Hartland Estates Ltd •Marlin Holdings Ltd •Medley Holdings Ltd
•Quetta Properties Ltd •Centenary Holdings Ltd

14312MP •The secret code for Mrs Vikky Preye Mark’s account at the Swiss branch of HSBC

£6m .The cash in four accounts —three at the Northern Bank, Isle of Man, and one at the Allied Irish Bank, Jersey – frozen in October 2000

Former Senate President David Mark has been associated with running eight offshore companies registered on the British Virgin Island.

His former wife is also listed as owning shell accounts.

Senator Mark (Benue South), who recently won re-election into the upper chamber for the fifth time, is the latest Nigerian to be named in the files belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

The firm, reputed as one of the most secretive companies in the world, helped clients to register offshore entities, some of which are then used to launder money, evade tax and dodge sanctions.

Senate President Bukola Saraki’s wife, former Delta State Governor James Ibori, Saraki’s brother Laolu, his associates Obi Asika and Olufela Ibidapo, have also been named as running shell companies that are listed in what is known as the Panama Papers.

The global scandal claimed Iceland Prime Minister’s job yesterday following pressure from the citizens.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron, whose dad Ian was named, denied having anything to do with the Panama Papers. But the opposition Labour Party called for an independent inquiry.

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The revelations are among the findings of a lengthy investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other global news organisations.

The companies associated with Mark are: Sikera Overseas S.A, Colsan Enterprises Limited, Goldwin Transworld Limited, Hartland Estates Limited, Marlin Holdings Limited, Medley Holdings Limited, Quetta Properties Limited and Centenary Holdings Limited.

In the documents, Mark is repeatedly marked as a politically exposed person. At a point, the former Senate President sent documents, across to Mosseca Fonseca to prove that he was clean.

The businesses Mark is conducting with the companies could not be ascertained.

Online newspaper Premium Times quoted a previous investigation it conducted as showing that Mark’s estranged wife, Vikky Preye Mark, was also exposed as an operator of secret offshore accounts.

Mrs. Mark operated an account with the Swiss branch of HSBC, but with details made largely secret.

Although she was known within the bank as the beneficial owner of the account, she was largely identified with a secret code – 14312MP.

Mrs. Mark opened the account on December 18, 1989 and closed it on July 12, 1991. About that time, her husband, then a top ranking army officer, had served as military administrator of Niger State and minister of Communications.

Court papers during a messy divorce with his wife suggested that some of Mark’s children schooled in Switzerland, but it is not clear whether it was during that period that Mrs. Mark operated the HSBC account.

The court papers also showed that the Marks operated foreign accounts elsewhere.

About six million pounds in four accounts – three at the Northern Bank, Isle of Man, and one at the Allied Irish Bank, Jersey – were frozen in October 2000 as a result of the ancillary relief sought by Victoria Mark in the couple’s divorce case.

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If proven that he ran the accounts, the senator may have run foul of the law.

Part 1, Section 7 of the Code of Conduct law provides that “any public officer specified in the Second Schedule to this Act or any other persons as the President may, from time to time, by order prescribe, shall not maintain or operate a bank account in any country outside Nigeria”.

Section 23 of the Code of Conduct law stipulates punishment for violators as follows:

(1) Where the (Code of Conduct) Tribunal finds a public officer guilty of contravening any of the provisions of this Act, it shall impose upon that officer any of the punishments specified under subsection (2) of this section.

(2) The punishment which the Tribunal may impose shall include any of the following-

(a) vacation of office or any elective or nominated office, as the case may be; and

(b) disqualification from holding any public office (whether elective or not) for a period not exceeding ten years.

The former senate president could not be reached for comments yesterday.

Premium Times quoted his spokesman Paul Mumeh as saying: “I’m not sure about the accuracy of your claims. I need to consult him before commenting.”

Later last night, Mark’s spokesman Paul Mumeh said: “I’m not sure about the accuracy of your claims. We know where that may be coming from. It is political.

-Culled from Premium Times

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HIT THE GROUND RUNNING, SANWO-OLU TELLS NEW POLITICAL APPOINTEES, PERM SECS

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Victims

…Gov: You Are Brought To Add Value To Service

Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has charged newly appointed members of Lagos State Cabinet as well as Commissioners in the State’s civil service commission to kick off action immediately.

The Governor said this on Monday at the Lagos House, Alausa during the swearing in of three new members of the State executive council, members of the Civil Service Commission and five Permanent Secretaries.

In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu urged the new appointees to further add value to the administration toward delivering democratic dividends to Lagosians.

The Governor said the new appointees were called to serve from the pool of numerous competent and highly qualified Lagosians, saying they must work hard to justify the confidence reposed in them with the appointment.

He said: “You have been brought on to add value in our quest to deliver the dividend of democracy to the citizens. We are pushing the emblem of our party and we have started implementing several programmes under our project T.H.E.M.E.S.

“We must remember that in four months time, we will be celebrating our first anniversary.

“The question that people will be asking is that what have we done in one year? Time will come and time will go but it is what we do with time that prosperity will judge us with. The essence of this reminder is to keep each and everyone of us on the go and to let you know that we need to hit the ground running.

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He added: “We cannot afford to be complacent in our approach to governance because there is so much to be accomplished within the 1,460 days that we are rushing against. We cannot afford not to succeed because our success has indication for the mission’s wellbeing. We owe it a duty to live up to the reputation of centre of excellence through the injection of innovative and visionary ideas into governance.”

The new political appointees are one Commissioner and two Special Advisers, who will be joining the State Executive Council. They are Engineer Paul Bamgbose Martins was sworn in as the new Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Mr. Gbenga Oyerinde is Special Adviser to the Governor on Central Business District and Mr. Ganiu Adele Ayuba is the Special Adviser, Urban Development.

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Also, Mrs. Regina Fabanwo was sworn in as the new Chairman, Lagos Civil Service Commission along with Mr. Adeshina Odeyemi, Honourable Avoseh Suru; Hon Kamal Olorunoje and Barrister Babatunde Seriki who will serve as Commissioners in the Commission.

The five new Permanent Secretaries are Mr. Olujimi Ige, Debt Management Office; Mrs. Kafayat Ajenifuja, Parastatal Monitoring Office; Mr. Hakeem Adeniji Oduyinka, Office of the Civic Engagement; Mr Isaac Olushina Thorpe, Ministry of Information and Strategy while Dr. Aina Ayoola moves up as the PS Primary Healthcare Board.

The Governor reiterated his administration’s determination to ensure that it delivers time bound and people focused programmes that will positively impact Lagosians on a daily basis.

Earlier, the Lagos State Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, described the Governor as a team player, saying it was in this spirit that he appointed more hands to further deliver on the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda of his administration.

The occasion was graced by the Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji; past and present members of the Federal and State House of Assembly and well wishers of the newly appointed members.

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Opinion

Rivers APC Crisis: I Advocate for Peace and Not Attack as Way Out

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Russia

Politics like life is always in a state of constant evolution. The way that things were, back in 1999, changed in 2007. Governor Odili and Omehia found this out the hard way. Since then, things did not stop changing and it’s now a lot clearer to many, that power of incumbency alone, is not enough to guarantee outcomes. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing. Not even second terms. More and more people are beginning to have a say. Odili did not choose his successor, Amaechi suffered a similar fate, let us see what happens to Wike.

I’ve been known to speak my mind in the past. Today is no exception. I’m doing so today, not to offend, but to reveal a foundation and maybe even a possible solution. Today I just want to talk about the opposition in the opposition and by that I mean the current politics of APC in the Treasure base of our nation, my own dear Rivers state. Let me start by saying that my own position on recent events is already on record. Though I stand with Amaechi, on two distinct occasions since Hon Igo Aguma’s open letter to the APC National Chairman, I have stated that even though I do not agree with some of what he said, nor his approach, my default position is still peace, not to attack Igo and defend my leader. There are many others who can do that. That’s easy. The position for peace is the one that is very hard. Wayne Dyer once said, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” Talking Peace with people you don’t agree with is not easy, but that is what peace talks are designed for. They require big doses of patience, temperament, maturity, forgiveness, love and plenty selflessness. Not a long list of qualifications many have time for anymore. But Igo and Emma are my friends, and Amaechi is my brother and our Leader. We have to find a way.

The Bible in Matthew 5:9 said “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” In the Bible, this is the last of the 7 beatitudes Jesus handed down to us that define the character of a Christian. It is also the hardest. I am reminded by something Thomas Watson said. He said “Satan kindles the fire of contention in the hearts of men and stands back and warms himself in the heat.”

My exact words in response to Igo Aguma’s letter were: “Granted not all of what he said will go down well with many of us, but he spoke some hard truths and the minds of many silent others. As leaders we must learn to listen. Roy T Bennet once said that just as you should not let compliments get to your head, don’t let criticism get to your heart.”

I then went on to say that “I don’t want another disagreement to lead into a crisis and so on my part I will work for unity and a new style of conflict resolution. We are where we are today, as a party and as a state because of choices that we made yesterday. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.”

So there you have it. My objective is a different result from 2015 & 2019. Not a peace built on any terms. That would be way too easy, unrealistic and completely unsustainable. The peace I am referring to is a lot more sustainable. I want to see if we can co-exist. Make no mistake, I see no short term reconciliation here. The mistrust is deep seated and well founded. On all sides. Hence I must say it upfront, such a peace will be very hard to achieve. Many of the leading actors are pretty stubborn.  They either don’t mind seeing APC lose in Rivers state again for a third time or they believe 2015 and 2019 cannot be repeated in 2023. I for one am not familiar with what it is that they are drinking. In the case of those who are the optimists, I also want some. A close look at Psalm 55 reveals a deep insight into what we are all going through. I implore us all to read it.

Many well meaning people frown at peace as an option. That is because to some, they are tired of betrayal. A war is now their way forward. While for some, peace means giving up something impossible. There are many benefits in war. There are many reasons why good people make wrong choices. It’s important not to generalize or to be too quick to be judgmental. On all sides. Let me start by explaining why these options are not necessarily the way forward and why we absolutely need peace. This advisory is for all of us.

There are 3 main reasons:

1. We have powerful enemies outside of the state and inside the state. Not everyone can love you, but why make it automatic? Stretch out your hand for friendship whenever you can, at least on your own terms. One, you lose nothing. Two, any image of you as the unfriendly type, unwilling to embrace peace, evaporates. This is politics. Perception matters. I learnt that from Atiku.

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2. Your powerful enemies inside the state will join forces with your powerful enemies outside the state. Such a collaboration is not what you want to encourage. I admit it has already started, but you should be reducing their numbers and the impact, not underestimating it or even adding to it. Peace plans include such strategies. Never take any thing or any one for granted. I learnt that from Tinubu.

3. Today’s politics is edging towards consensus building and less of the carry go. The vocal minority are more protected in this government than ever before. If the electoral act is amended, expect many more exhibitions of democracy and more examples of unbelievable compromise. In other words do not underestimate anybody. In 2015 and 2019, APC in Rivers state did. Two different powers at the centre yet, same result. We not only underestimated our opponents in other parties, we underestimated our opponents inside our party. Especially at the National level. I learnt that from INEC.

The price of war is higher for us. We pay more in so many ways on many different fronts relative to our political opponents. Even if you compare us with Wike. We don’t need to. Even before 2007 it’s been one war or the other, all at the national level. With local players doing their bidding. Conscious or not.

Their aim is to show we’re disunited and we have been helping  them out by proving it. On the TV, with our back and forth abuses, on the radio, in newspapers, on social media and in beer parlors. Not just here in Rivers state, but across the region, nation and everywhere. The state of Rivers is now synonymous with conflict. Who is this truly helping? Who is it empowering? Certainly not us. Our supporters are in penury. If 10% of the money we spend on war was invested in our supporters, we would all be in a better place today. That I learnt that from the media. In all its forms.

Let me address a few myths:

1. They are sponsored. Don’t have the facts, so I cannot speak to it with authority either way. But if they are, prove it and discredit them with a neutral audience, if necessary. Otherwise consider that they may have their own agenda and are looking for a sponsor. By making them an issue, you increase their value. Many a good thing is achieved without noise while children are sleeping. In the end, we can agree to disagree. Liverpool and Everton football teams can’t stand each other but they live in the same city and conduct themselves in public as professionals on the field. Politics too is a game. Of interests. It is possible to have opposition in your space and still co-exist. If you beat them fair and square at a congress or an election, life will not need to come to an end. Why can’t we focus on that? Especially if you are a Liverpool.

2. They are irrelevant. Really? Is that not what put us where we are today? I have no doubt in my mind that Amaechi is the most popular politician in Rivers state as I speak. Anyone with a different opinion is welcome to visit a psychiatrist if he or she pleases. So why has his personal choice not won the elections in 2015 and 2019? Is it because he himself did not run? No. After all we made it about him. Less so in 2019 yes, but still. The answer my friends was it’s because we underestimated the opposition, especially within us and the key relevance of our institutions. Everybody knows someone and indirectly, information is power. I learnt very early on in my political life that it’s not always about numbers. It’s about relationships. Ask Hilary Clinton. She had 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. But who ended up as President? She underestimated him. Never make that mistake. That I learnt from my father. He told me not to believe in my breakfast until I’ve eaten it.

3. The other one is “Your people are with you.” Maybe. But this constant war war war is simply designed to shake foundations. China avoids wars while they build strength. Not because they are scared, but because they are smart. If one can avoid a war, let’s do so. Wars will come eventually. At least in politics it’s a minimum of once every four years. That’s more than enough. If you end up spending more and more on wars and yet more wars, how do you lift your people out of poverty at the same time? You can’t. Therefore you will struggle and by that, you will struggle to keep them. The APC in Rivers state has no elected official in a position to cater for the grassroots. Appointees are underwhelming. Yet the vast majority of our supporters stick with us. Let’s not take this for granted. Perhaps they know that a Minister is not like a Governor. Perhaps they have learnt to fend for themselves or perhaps they just have faith. Maybe all of the above. For us to take Rivers politics to the next level, we have to measure our progress by how many more we can add to our fold and not how many we can keep from leaving. I learnt that from Amaechi.

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My sense of observation is even more keen now that I’m recovering and seeing things from a distance. I’m convinced that the biggest challenge we have is internal. There’s an old African proverb that says, if there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm. Many of us appreciate this, but few of us take the time to really think about what it actually means. If we did, we will not be surprised to know that you are the greatest enemy of you. Once we begin to see sense in that, we start to open our mind to other people’s varied contributions because we recognize that new ideas contain new solutions. This is what we need to do more of. God did not give us two ears and one mouth for nothing. He expected us to listen more than we speak. I still remember Obama in 08, in his first election victory speech to Americans, saying he will “listen more, especially when we  disagree”. I was there on that cold night in Chicago to hear him say the words. Are we here, not also sophisticated enough? Obama taught us a lot of things. Politics is one of them.

I see brothers and sisters on the same side of a divide even now, attacking each other because of different views on how a similar problem should be approached, only to forget about the problem and commence to labelling each other as to who is more loyal. To what end? It doesn’t make any sense!! Unless you give different views an opportunity to be heard, you will only hear the view of yes men and women. How does that help us? Healthy debate is the birth place of good ideology. That I learnt from both Amaechi and Alaibe. Igo and Emma spoke the minds of even people who are abusing them today. I know this because I speak to all. They won’t go public, because they see how Igo and Emma are treated. While the treatment is expected by virtue of the way Igo and Emma chose to go public, we miss an opportunity to learn very valuable lessons if we simplify that event.

Conclusion: Somebody in Abuja, preferably the Senate President, should call a meeting of the key players, to iron out a way forward, devoid of legal hindrances and anti party activities. The work before a meeting is called, should be just as thorough, as the work required after it. This is politics, so conflict is second nature, as is suspicion. No need to surprise anyone. Consult before making the first calls please. Rivers state APC has only one Leader. Nobody here denies it. Let’s accord him that respect as he has earned it, while respecting others too. In my opening statement I said take no one for granted.

While we wait for Abuja to do the needful, let us all in our own way, apply ourselves to a new approach where finally the true enemy of our progress is tackled. I joined APC to help them win because I believe in the men at the top that run their affairs and I believe that compared to the PDP, they are the only other option out there, there is no choice. While we succeeded nationally, here in Rivers state, we did not. We must all learn from history or else we again will be doomed to repeat it. Our opponents have sympathizers. Why? Let us do a self assessment and make changes were possible. Engage new leaders, engineer more grassroots activity, invest more in young people, position new field generals, reward hard workers and recruit new members. This might save us a lot in war funding, media expenditure and legal bills. If we’ve considered the above and still can’t make progress, then we can go to war. In such circumstances, I will be one of the ones in the front. Some of the people making the most noise now could not deliver their LGAs in the last election and have little or no electoral value in the next one. Let’s be careful in choosing not only our fights but also our fighters.

Thank you and let us pray that this is indeed a Happy New Year.

To be continued ….

Prince Tonye T.J.T Princewill

APC, Rivers state

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Politics

Kayode Akiolu’s Heart Of Gold

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Kayode Akiolu

 

That the true nature of a man is yet unknown until he becomes rich is a popular Yoruba saying.

However, there are people who never change the course even when they become rich.

Kayode Akiolu, a member of the Federal House of Representatives has stayed the course he has maintained for a long while.

A man with a heart of Gold, the younger Akiolu has always been known for his philosophic gestures towards the less privileged even as a lawyer. It was this spirit that saw him grow to where he is today, as members of his constituency maintained a man who could help with his personal resources would do more given the opportunity.

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Since becoming a politician, Akiolu has not changed his ways, as he continues to help the needy also orchestrating the life of the younger ones.

His was like the proverbial knight in shining armour when he recently visited the duo of Araromi Baptist School and Ereko Methodist School as part of the Snack For Thought initiative of the Lagos State Government, promising the students books, stationeries, computers, toilets and many more.

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On the day, the lawmaker, as usual, won the heart of the students of the schools he visited.

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