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Breaking News and major headlines this morning, Wednesday, 15th July, 2020

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Breaking News and major headlines this morning, Wednesday, 15th July, 202

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC has confirmed 463 new Covid-19 infections in the country. The new infections are reported in 17 states bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 33,616.

1. Complete Sweep: Buhari suspends EFCC secretary Olukoyede, 10 others

President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended no fewer than 11 senior officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as the probe of the shenanigans under the stewardship of disgraced Ibrahim Magu deepened.

Authoritative Presidency sources told P.M.News on Tuesday night that EFCC executive Secretary Olanipekun Olukoyede was among the senior officials suspended.

According to the source, ‘they were suspended for various alleged criminal and corrupt infractions”.

The suspension of the officials was also to allow for unfettered investigation of the commission.

“All the top officials in the agency have been suspended, their offices locked, to prevent any tampering with files at the commission”, the source added.

President Buhari suspended Ibrahim Magu, the former acting chairman of the agency last week and appointed the director of operations, Mohammed Umar Abba, to hold forte.

The source said Umar Abba survived the temporary purge, as he was found not to be a part of the suspected underhand dealings in the agency.

Olukoyede became the Secretary to the EFCC in November 2018 following confirmation by the Senate.

The Ikere-Ekiti born senior lawyer was a former chief of staff to Magu. He replaced Emmanuel Aremo, whose five-year tenure expired in July 2018.

The former acting chairman of the agency is facing for the second week, grilling by the presidential panel headed by Justice Ayo Salami, over financial allegations and improprieties, including money laundering.

2. Anti-Corruption: Buhari won’t fail Nigerians – Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured all Nigerians that he will not be distracted by baseless criticisms by the opposition in his war against corruption in the country.

According to Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the volume and reach of the anti-corruption crusade so far reflects what the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) left behind.

Shehu stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents on issues raised by the opposition party since the beginning of the interrogation of suspended acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

Shehu said corruption became so normalized by the PDP that they had difficulty defining what is “corruption” and “theft”.

The presidential spokesman praised President Buhari who doubles as African Union (AU) Anti-Corruption Champion in Africa for his determination to end corruption in the country as responsible for the number of highly publicized charges and cases.

“The large number of cases, new and old, may appear to be daunting but PDP, which is now heckling the President, has forgotten that the party bequeathed this to the current administration. They had large number of cases they did not investigate and prosecute,” he said.

Shehu also cautioned the PDP to allow the process of investigation and prosecution to work instead of being preemptive about ongoing cases and unduly agitating the public.

He expressed hope that the Judiciary would deal with the cases swiftly and satisfactorily, in a manner that would deter others would-be offenders.

“The current administration is handling many of the cases that the PDP should have dealt with and the new ones as they arise,” he said.

3. Wike warns Akpabio: No harm must come to Nunieh

Governor Nyesom Wike-led Rivers State Government on Tuesday warned that no harm must come to former acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr. Joy Nunieh, in the ongoing probe of the commission.

Nunieh had been engaged in accusations and counter accusations with the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, who supervises the NDDC.

But the government in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, called on forces behind the probe to ensure the security of Nunieh.

According to the government, they would never support any action capable of jeopardizing the laudable intentions of President Muhammadu Buhari to reposition the commission for optimum performance.

The statement said Rivers State Government had viewed with concern, the recent developments at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in which the name of her daughter, Dr. Joy Nunieh, the immediate past Acting Managing Director of the Commission, had been dragged into.

“We hereby call on those involved in the ongoing investigations in the NDDC to ensure that Dr. Joy Nunieh does not suffer any harm in the course of their undertakings.

“We wish to state categorically that the Rivers State Government will never support any action that will prevent or jeopardize the laudable intentions of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to positively reposition the NDDC and fulfill the yearnings and aspirations of the people of the Niger Delta,” it said.

The statement added that “we wish to state that while we are not interested in identifying with the present unfolding drama in the NDDC, we will not however fail to protect our daughter from actual harm or perceived danger.”

The government said it owed it as a duty to protect her citizens from danger no matter their political affiliation and that it could not fold its hands and watch anyone harm her or indeed any Rivers citizen.

“We advise those involved in the present altercations in the NDDC to thread with caution in their actions and utterances,” it said.

4. N700m fraud: Pastor Ize-Iyamu, others appear in court

Governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, on Tuesday appeared before Justice Umar Garba of the Federal High Court in Benin, over the N700 million money laundering suit filed against him and four others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Other defendants in the suit are former Chairman of Edo State PDP, Chief Dan Orbih; State PDP Chairman, Tony Aziegbemi; former Deputy Governor Lucky Imasuen, and Efe Anthony.

The EFCC, an anti-graft agency in Suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016 had filed an eight-count charge against the accused person on alleged illegal receipt of public funds to the tune of N700 million for the purpose of the 2015 general election.

The EFCC further accused the defendants of conspiring among themselves to commit the offence in March 2015, alleging that they took possession and control of the funds without any contract award.

The trial Judge had during the last adjournment (Monday, 7 July), threatened to invalidate the bail granted to Ize-Iyamu, following the inability to appear in court because of his alleged ill health.

However, the APC standard-bearer appeared in court as early as 9:30am on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, waiting for the presiding judge to take his seat.

The defendant’s Counsel had earlier filed a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.

But on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, the EFCC Prosecution Counsel, Ahmed Imoovba, pleaded with the court by way of motion to seek an extension of time to file their reply to the objection.

Having listened careful to the various counsels, Justice Garb, asked them to file whatever they have to file within seven days as the court would soon embark on vacation.

He, thereafter, adjourned the case to October 15, 2020, for further hearings.

5.EFCC officials present documents to Salami panel as Magu’s probe continues

Four unit heads of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) presented some documents to the panel investigating corruption allegations against Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the of the anti-graft agency, on Tuesday.

He is facing 21 corruption allegation brought against him by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF)

6. Buhari spites National Assembly, backs Keyamo on 774,000 jobs

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has given Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, the go ahead to recruit 774, 000 Nigerians under the Special Public Works Progamme (SPW).

The National Assembly had told Keyamo to halt action on the planned recruitment, as the minister did not consult them before embarking on such move.

They accused the Minister of trying to hijack the scheme from the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the implementing agency of the project.

But Keyamo said on Tuesday that the president had given him unfettered go ahead on the recruitment.

7. Senate okays life imprisonment for kidnappers

Anyone convicted of kidnapping in Nigeria will now face life imprisonment, the Nigerian Senate prescribed on Tuesday.

The lawmakers nullified the 10 year imprisonment slammed on kidnappers and raised it to be life imprisonment to deter belligerent Nigerians from going into the act of kidnapping.

The upper chamber also deleted the statute of limitation on defilement as well removed gender restrictions on the offences of rape.

The resolutions of the Senate followed the third reading and passage of “A bill for an Act to amend the Criminal Code Act CAP. C.38, Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004.”

The Bill was sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central).

The bill sought to delete the statute of limitation on defilement, increase punishment for the offence of kidnapping, and remove gender restrictions in the offence of rape and other related matters

8. COVID-19: Refusal to wear face mask a criminal offence –Iwu

The Chairman of Imo State Task Force on COVID-19, Prof. Maurice Iwu, said on Tuesday it was a criminal offence for anybody not to wear a face mask considering the current surge in the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

9. Buhari administration sold crude oil for $206.06 billion in 4 years

Nigeria as Africa’s top oil producer, generated $206.06 billion in revenue from crude oil exports from 2015 to 2019. This is according to the Annual Statistical Bulletin of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC. The country’s oil export revenue, however, fell to $45.11 billion in 2019 from $54.51 billion in 2018

10. Nigeria loses first female combat helicopter pilot

Nigeria’s first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the country’s Air Force, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, has died as a result of head injuries sustained from a road traffic accident at the NAF Base in Kaduna.

A statement by the NAF Director Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola says until her death on July 14 2020, ‪Flying Officer Arotile, who was commissioned into the NAF in September 2017 as a member of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 64, was the first ever female combat helicopter pilot in the Service.

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