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Fraud: EFCC Indicts Ex-Abia Gov. Theodore Orji, Son

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has launched a massive probe into alleged looting of over N150 billion by the immediate past governor of Abia State, Chief Theodore Orji, and members of his family.

His sons – Chinendum Orji Eyinanya (currently Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly) and one Ogonna Orji – are also being investigated for having a hand in the alleged looting.

Orji is currently the senator representing Abia Central in the National Assembly.

The EFCC suspects that Senator Orji collected N48billion as security votes during his eight years in office at N500million per month.

He is said to have also been the authorising officer for the monthly withdrawal of N500million when he was the Chief of Staff to the jailed ex-Governor Orji Uzor Kalu.

Investigators handling the probe rate Chinedum as a key player in laundering money for his father.

As at Thursday, the EFCC had traced 100 slush accounts to Chinedum.

Eighty per cent of the accounts are still active, The Nation gathered.

Chinedum went through a fresh round of grilling on Thursday before he was released on administrative bail.

However, a source told The Nation in Abuja that what has been uncovered so far against ex-Governor Orji and his sons, is a “tip of the iceberg” because more accounts linked to the family have just been uncovered.

“We are investigating the ex-governor and members of his immediate family, especially his two sons. They are Chinendum Orji Eyinanya (who is the present Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly) and one Ogonna Orji,” a reliable source said.

“The former governor has been intermittently coming for interrogation since November 22, 2018. So, for more than 13 months, our detectives have been painstaking in their covert operation including surfing of documents and invitation of some public officers.  But the quizzing of ex-Governor Orji’s two sons has led to the unearthing of dirty deals during his tenure as the governor of Abia State. He is now a serving Senator.

“Preliminary investigation revealed that over 145 accounts have been linked with the family and the amount allegedly looted in eight years by the ex-governor was over N150billion. Chinedum alone has been operating 100 out of the 45 accounts with 80 per cent of them still active.

“Although we are still profiling more accounts, records confirmed that the ex-governor earned about N48billion in eight years as security votes at N500 million per month. He was also the authorising officer of the N500 million per month as security votes when the convicted ex-Governor Orji Uzor Kalu was the governor. He was Kalu’s Chief of Staff.

“The most interesting aspect of the investigation by EFCC is that most of the looted funds were withdrawn in cash and deposited in cash.

“Our detectives recorded a breakthrough on this fraud case through Bank Verification Number (BVN) system. So, it is not a case of witch-hunt, it is a matter of facts and figures in all the accounts.”

A brief on the preliminary investigation obtained from the EFCC gave an insight into the alleged looting of Abia State as follows:

“A petition dated March 17, 2017 was by filed by Fight Corruption: Save Nigeria Group alleging that the former Abia governor, Theodore Orji of receiving and diverting various sums of monies that accrued to Abia State.

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“Such monies were:

*N383 billion revenue from federal accounts

*N55 billion Excess Crude Revenue

*N2.3 billion Sure-P

*N1.8 billion Ecological funds

*N10.5 billion loan from First Bank of Nigeria through the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Local Government Affairs.

*N4 billion loan from Diamond Bank

*N12 billion Paris Club refund

*N2 billion Agricultural loan for farmers

*N55 billion ASOPADEC

“The petitioners alleged that the funds were received by Abia State government and nothing could be shown in commensurate with the received funds. Based on the petition, the EFCC commenced investigations.

“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that the former governor who was Chief of Staff to the convicted ex-governor Orji Kalu was the Authorising Officer drawing N500 million monthly purported to be Security Votes which were being converted.

“As he became the governor in 2007, he continued to draw the N500 million cash monthly from June 2007 to May 2015.

“The N500 million, investigation revealed, is aside of the security funds expended on the Nigeria Police, The Nigerian Army, DSS, Navy anti-Kidnapping Squad, Anti- robbery Squad, purchase of Security equipment and vehicles for the security agencies.

“Investigation was extended to his family members to ascertain the link and culpability of the alleged fraud.

“The ex-governor’s first son, Chinendum Orji Eyinanya, who is currently the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, is now a frequent guest at the EFCC headquarters to throw light on his involvement in the fraud.

“A check on his financial activities revealed that he had about 100 accounts in different banks, with over 80% of the accounts still very active. The accounts which were both corporate and individual received so much deposit in cash without evidence of job or services rendered.

“Fotoworld Industry Limited, with GTB account number 2022025805 is traced to Chinedum. The company received deposit of $20, 849, 044.21

“Same company with another account number 2022025764 in First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) received a cumulative deposit of N362, 573, 056.50.

“Fotoworld has several other accounts with FBN. The accounts and deposits are: 2026144229, $84, 000 cash deposit between 2014 and 2015; between 2012 and 2015, account number 2022025764 housed N342, 573, 056.50; Account number 2022025939between November 2012 and July 2015 received a deposit of £1, 689, 320.89.

“The GTB account 0039060117 of the same company housed N88, 300, 000 between February 2009 and July 2014.

“Exact Construction Limited, traced to Chinedum, is believed to have no record of any construction work in the country; also received humongous deposits in Keystone Bank where account was opened.

“Between October 2008 and February 2015, the company account number 005374800 had deposits of N1, 188, 924, 190.41(One billion, one hundred and eighty eight thousand nine hundred and twenty four thousand one hundred and ninety naira forty one kobo).

“Another deposit of N636, 372, 642.85 into Exact Construction Limited, Keystone Bank account number 1001538949.

“The GTB account 0039060117 of the same company housed N88, 300, 000 between February 2009 and July 2014.

“FBN account number 2008232908 also received lodgment of N599, 771, 424.25 between January 2011 and June 2016; account number 200823298 had N731, 135, 357.04 between 2007 and 2016.

“Fotofast Industry Limited is another company registered by the first family to siphon the resources of the state.  Several accounts were opened in FBN by the company.

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“The sum of N20, 861, 165.95 entered into the FBN account number 2014629152 between 2011 and 2017. Between 2011 and 2016, another N223, 929, 515.37 was lodged in Fotofast’s account number 2015559102 domiciled in FBN.

“Other lodgments in different Fotofast Industry Limited accounts with FBN were: account number 2014629152, n4, 103, 574, 603.59; account number 2015559102 (N223, 929, 515.37); account number 2005428513 had N1, 719, 939, 006.77 between 2007 and 2015; account number 2015559102 had N273, 941, 436.47. Between 2011 and 2015, FBN account number 2014668964, received the sum of N64, 898, 657.77.

“Several accounts were also opened in GTB by Fotofast Industry Limited. They include: account number 0040777462  which received deposits of N425, 606, 131.71 between 2002 and 2009; account number 0040777479 received N71, 815, 987 between 2002 and 2008; account number 0040777486 had N23, 463, 880 between 2008 and 2010 while N158, 499, 815 was the deposit in the GTB account number 0040777493. Another N50 million was lodged in GTB account number 0039691058.

“Orji Chinendum Eyinaya’s Diamond’s (now Access bank) personal account number 0029937780 in 2011 alone had $47, 726. 64. His personal account number 2014435973 with FBN had N117, 743, 822.01; his account number 0023390147 with Diamond Bank had $124, 284, 624.18; while his FBN account number 2005428506 had N342, 699, 356.36 between 2007 and 2017.

“Other personal account of the Speaker is the FCMB account number 3237996011 with N384, 914, 501.50 between 2016 and 2019; another n205, 508, 500 in FCMB account number 3237996028 between 2016 and 2019.

“Another FBN account number of the son, 2024073408 also received $601, 716.62 between 2013 and 2015. His FBN account number 2014435973 also had N153, 943, 822.01 between 2009 and 2016. Another N153, 000, 000 was deposited in account number 2014435973. His Access bank account number 0023390147 had N178, 389, 547.25 between 2011 and 2019 and another $48, 000 in the same bank account number 0029937780 in 2010.

“Cheetah Press Limited is another concern of the ex governor’s son now Speaker of the State Assembly. The company with FBN account number 2006413367 had deposits of N1, 083, 731, 890.93 between 2007 and 2017. In Union Bank, the same company had a deposit of N430, 980, 632.18 in account number 0034400341 (This account had consistent cash lodgment to the said amount.)

“Cheetah’s Standard Chartered account number 000171072 had N42, 009, 795.36 between 2011 and 2016.

“In GTB account number 0107577738, N241, 059074. 24 was traced to Cheetah Press between 2011 and 2016 and another N966, 041, 454 between 2011 and 2016. In UBA alone, Cheetah’s account number 1015210129 had N143, 851, 800 between 2010 and 2018; while account number 1008016040 had N2, 226, 458, 581.35 between 2016 and 2020. Yet another UBA account number 1011361993 of Cheetah had N782, 694, 255.77 between 2007 and 2019.

“Travel BETA. COM Ltd with 3002133811 had $788, 174.22 between 2016 and 2020; BETA.COM, yet another concern of the Orji’s had $788, 174.22 between 2016 and 2020.

“The analysis of several other accounts are still ongoing. The Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly was with operatives of the Commission on Thursday in continuation of the investigation.”

-Source: The Nation

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THERE’S NO MULTIPLE TAXATION IN LAGOS – SANWO-OLU

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…Gov Urges Citizens To Pay Taxes To Enable Govt Discharge Its Responsibilities

Lagos State Government has reiterated that there is currently no multiple taxation in Lagos State revenue system.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu stated this during a courtesy visit to Lagos House, Ikeja by the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) Mr. Muhammad Nami.

Placing emphasis on startups, the Governor stated that his administration will always improve on the ease of doing business in the State rather than stifle the economy with loaded taxes.

Mr Sanwo-Olu promised to embrace and support the activities of start-ups who are scared of the tax burden associated with businesses.

He also urged Nigerians to pay their taxes regularly in order for the Government to attain a balanced development at all levels, which according to him, include social infrastructure, security among others.

The Governor promised that Lagos State Government would continue with the existing relationship and further collaborate with the Federal Inland revenue Service in sharing information to aid revenue collection and ensure deliverables were met.

Sanwo-Olu lauded the Federal Government for considering the starte up businesses in the exemption threshold on taxation.

He said: “we will make sure that there is ease of doing businesses, especially start-ups, that are always scared that they have multiple taxation. There is nothing like multiple taxation in Lagos.

“It is clear that they are exempted but that doesn’t stop them from doing proper filing and ensure transparent reporting at whichever level of their business.

“We will also use this opportunity to encourage our citizens that it is only when they play their own part as responsible citizens both at the corporate and individual level that the government can come up and discharge its responsibilities.

“Development is by tax and it is only when we collect reasonably amount of tax that we can introduce development both at infrastructure level and more importantly on security so we cannot but ensure that we collaborate and corporate with you,” he said.

Responding to the Chairman on the N8.5 trillion target set by the President, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the country has the capacity to generate such amount but warned that it must be done cautiously.

Also speaking on the ongoing Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) 2020 meeting holding for the first time in Lagos, Sanwo-Olu said it was an opportunity to deliberate on the proceeds that State gets from the Federal Government was used judiciously.

He said: “I am sure they know clearly that you can live up to those bills and 8.5 trillion sounds a lot but they know you have the capacity.

The Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, said the aim of the visit was to ensure effective performance of the service in meeting its target and in its request to share information, collaborate in building capacity as well as engage private sector on the Value Added Tax collection.

“We feel without this collaboration, we cannot generate this 8.5 trillion that we have been mandated by the President to generate,” he said.

 

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SANWO-OLU CALLS FOR NEW REVENUE SOURCES, SHARING FORMULA

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Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has called for the creation and boosting of new sources of export in Nigeria’s bid to meet the yearning and aspiration of Nigerians just as he demanded a fair and just revenue sharing formula.

Speaking through his Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat at the opening ceremony of the Federations Accounts Allocation Committee’s Retreat being hosted by Lagos State, he declared: “We must do everything within our power to create and boost new sources of export, especially along the lines of value-added agriculture and manufacturing’’.

He urged State Governments to “explore ways of reducing dependency on what comes from the federation account on monthly basis by adopting creative and innovative strategies to boost IGR’’.

While calling for innovative strategies by State Governments in the area of internally generated revenue, the Governor called for “a new fair and just revenue-sharing formula for federation revenues’’.

He added “there is actually a correlation between an appropriate revenue formula and the ability of federating units to achieve a meaningful diversification and sustainable growth in IGR’’.

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Declaring further that Lagos deserves a special status funding, Sanwo-Olu said “Lagos shoulders a heavy burden, which if not properly discharged poses great danger to the attainment of our national economic growth aspirations’’.

He stated that Lagos needs help if it is to be able to meet the challenges of half a million people migrating into Lagos daily.

According to the Governor, the new revenue formula should take cognisance of population density in addition to nominal population while also increasing Lagos’s Share of VAT. He decried Lagos getting 10% of VAT while contributing 55% as equitable.

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Hajia Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed while praising the synergy between the federal and all other tiers of government urge States to consider IGR as a critical instrument of funding by blocking leakages and ensure effective and efficient collection of revenue.

She further stated that the introduction of State’s Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFIAS) in partnership with World Bank was to strengthen fiscal discipline and financial stability. She added that a regime of peer learning will help States in revenue drive.

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While acknowledging States’ interest and efforts to meet the eligibility criteria and conditions for Disbursement Linked Indicators, the Minister said States will soon benefit from the grants.

She further explained that the Federal Government is committed to achieving a revenue to GDP rate 15% in the medium term adding that there will be efforts to improve investment in agriculture and industry as well as curtail imports.

In his welcome address, Benue State Commissioner of Finance who is also the Chairman, Forum of Commissioners of Finance, Hon David Olofu described the retreat as a training for all new members.

He noted that the retreats theme, Efficient Federation Revenue Allocation as a Nexus for Economic Diversification is a pointer to the “need for a synchronised consistent and sustained effort at all levels to diversify the economy and provide opportunities for our people’’.

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Tinubu 2023 Presidency Would Be Illogical, Most Disruptive-Bode George

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The former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bode George has described a 2023 Tinubu presidency as illogical and most disruptive.

George said this during an interview with Punchng.com published on Sunday, February 16.

Bola Tinubu

“It would be the most illogical and most disruptive issue to have him (Tinubu) elected as President,” he said.

The PDP stalwart, who intends to contest the 2023 presidential election attacked Tinubu, adding he was throwing an open challenge to him.

George, who acknowledged the fact that PDP required remodelling and confirmed that the party would be beaten stupid at elections if it continues as it is, stated that if the PDP’s zoning formula for the presidency points to the South, it should be given to the Southeast because they have never had it, adding that if the name Tinubu pops up in the APC, he would go all out to contest with him.

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He also said that he would dump Nigeria for Togo if the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, wins the presidential election in 2023.

“If this happens, I will disown Nigeria to take the citizenship of Togo or any other country. Look, what this fellow did in my state, all the lies and the most painful thing was that on the day of the election (2019 election) two bullion vans drove in the daylight to his house and what did Professor Itse Sagay say, that he (Tinubu) had been a very wealthy man before. Where was he wealthy?”

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Meanwhile, Tinubu has not declared interest in contesting for the position.

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