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    Zuma denies corruption link with Gupta brothers

    Jacob Zuma has told the Zondo commission today that he is thevictim of a character assassination by foreign intelligence agencies and that his link to the Gupta brothers is not corrupt.

    The former president of South Africa has told a public inquiry panel in Johannesburg that his relationship with a group Indian businessmen was not corrupt.

    Jacob Zuma, 77, argued in front of the Zondo commission, an inquiry set up to investigate a string of corruption allegations against him during his nine years as president, that he was the victim of a character assassination by foreign intelligence agencies and spies

    Zuma has been accused of allegedly aiding Indian businessmen,in winning contracts for their companies with government departments in South Africa, including energy and transport during his time as president.

    It is claimed that the Gupta brothers, who have previously employed numerous members of Zumas family in their different businesses, had a great influence over Zuma when he was head of state.

    The commission has spent the last ten months investigating claims of state capture, a form of corruption where businesses and politicians conspire to influence a countrys decision making.

    Zuma ordered the Zondo commission to begin an inquiry shortly before hisafter public outcry and political pressure about his alleged dealings with the Guptas became too great.

    Witnesses in the inquiry have given a number of testimonies implicating Zumas connection with the Guptas, including a claim that he was in charge of a Gupta owned news outlet designed to spread political propaganda.

    Siyabonga Dlamini, a Political Scientist at Kwazulu Natal University, told RFI that public support for Zuma will grow, the longer the inquiry goes on.

    The man is still very much popular and I think his support will grow the longer that this case continues.

    A number of people are feeling that the man has been victimized and vilified so they then sympathize with him.

    As the case continues, the number of people even people from other political parties grows because they have this feeling that the man has been vilified and therefore needs their support.

    Zuma is currently accused of 16 counts of graft, an offence in which a politician uses their privelleged position for corrupt personal gain, in a separate legal battle.

    He has also been involved in past legal battles, including a rape case in 2005 where he was charged, but later acquitted.

    Source: NAN

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    Atikus video evidence empty says INEC

    By Martins Odeh

    The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday described the48 Compact Discs evidence tendered by the People Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atitku Abubakar as lacking in probative value.

    News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that four of the video clips played at the Presidential Election Tribunal court hall includes Count down of Osun Decides, a production of Channels Television with Seun Akinboloye as host.

    In the above production dated Feb.8, Mr Mike Igini, Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom had talked about the readiness of the electoral body to transmit the Feb.23 general election electronically.

    The second video was a clip of the postponement of the general election by INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmud.

    NAN further reports that the third video was a clip of AFEX Nigeria training of INEC Ad-hoc staff on electronic result transmission.

    Similarly, the briefing by the Nigerian Army authority on the status of President Muhammadu Buharis alleged certificate saga completed the four materials shown in court.

    Chief Chris Uche, SAN, Counsel for the petitioners had led Mr Segun Showunmi, Spokesman for the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation to tender the materials before the five-man panel of justices.

    During his cross-examination by Mr Yunus Usman, SAN, Counsel for INEC, Showunmi agreed that the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom was not a spokesman for the commission.

    Usman also made the witness to confirm that the chairman of the electoral body only expressed the hope of the commission to transmit results of the general election electronically, but that it was actually done.

    Usman was of the view that the video clips front-loaded by the witness had nothing to do with the Feb.23 general election.

    Showunmi, attested to Usmans question by saying that the four clips were events that preceded the election.

    The other clip was on the presidents certificate controversy as the army confirmed that the Buhari had West African Examination Certificate with credits in English Language, History, Geography and a pass in English Literature.

    Meanwhile, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, Counsel for Buhari had tendered a video clip dated Feb.6 where chairman of the commission hinged the possible transmission of the election electronically to the signing of a new Electoral Act.

    NAN reports that drama however ensued as the petitioners legal team refused to allow their system to be used to play the CD.

    In the circumstance, Izinyon filed an oral application for adjournment to allow his team bring their system and screen to continue with the cross examination of the witness.

    Justice Mohammed Garba, went ahead to adjourn the proceedings until July 16 for continuation.

    Earlier, the petitioners presented three of their witnesses, totaling about 40 of them out of the 400 that were listed to testify so far.

    On their parts, Babagana Kukawa, Hon.Abana Pogu, Suleman Mohammed, Local Government Area Collation Agents for PDP had alleged over voting, vote buying, and violence disruption of the election in their various states.

    When they were crossed examined, the witnesses were unable to back up their allegations with documentary evidence.

    The counsel to INEC had reminded them that their signature on Forms EC8C (Results transmitted to the local government areas) were approval of the exeercise at polling units and wards level across their states. (NAN)

    Source: NAN

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    Analysis: Boosting development in Africa via AfDBs Investment Forum

    By Ikenna Uwadileke

    The African Development Bank (AfDB), put the financial outlay to finance Africas development needs at between 600 to 700 billion US dollars annually.

    Of this amount, about 130-170 billion US dollars, was needed annually to address infrastructural deficit.

    In order to get the needed funds to address the numerous development challenges in Africa, the AfDB launched the African Investment Forum (AIF).

    The AIF is a platform to mobilise private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds and the private sector to facilitate infrastructure projects with the capacity to transform the continent.

    The inaugural edition of the AIF was held in South Africa, while the second edition was also scheduled to hold in Johannesburg, South Africa, from Nov. 11 to NOV.13.

    Ahead of the November meeting, AfDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has appealed to investors to attend the banks 2019 AIF.

    He spoke at Africa 50 General Shareholders meeting, held recently in Kigali, Rwanda.

    Adesina said that Africa was ready for massive investments and offered an attractive investment destination.

    He said that AIF, will bring together members with vested interest in Africas growth and development

    If you are an investor, do not miss Africa Investment Forum 2019, Africa is ready for massive investments and the environment is getting more attractive for investors.

    One such investment is the construction of the bridge that will connect the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, a 550 million dollar transaction being led by Africa 50 in partnership with AfDB,he said.

    Adesinaemphasised that the recently launched African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) had opened possibilities for an integrated single market for Africa.

    He, however, pointed out that the continent needed to be connected through roads, rail, ports, airports, ICT backbones and energy corridors in order to enjoy the full benefits of the agreement.

    Africa 50 is an innovative fund for developing and financing infrastructure in Africa, funded by AfDB, African governments, private and institutional investors.

    Africa 50 is on track to launch a private sector third party fund to leverage one billion dollar from private sector institutional investors.

    I encourage countries that have not yet joined Africa50 to do so.

    Join us as we move towards a future of great promise for Africa. Join us as we lay the foundation for a more prosperous Africa,Adesina said.

    Nigeria Country Department of AfDB, in collaboration with Africa Finance Corporation, recently organised a road show in Abuja, to sensitise stakeholders on gains of the AIF.

    Ekiti governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who spoke at the event, emphasised the role of private capital to deliver the infrastructure required to grow Nigerias economy.
    While expressing hope that Nigeria and other African countries would record significant investments that will boost the economy, Fayemi said that private investments are critical in providing jobs for millions of young Nigerians.
    According to him, with the support of AfDB, African Finance Corporation and the quality of investors that attended the inaugural edition, the second edition would be successful.

    I am confident that if we put our best foot forward, we will receive significant funding commitment for investments across Nigeria and Africa, the governor said.
    Mr Ebrima Faal, Senior Bank Director, Nigeria Country Office, of AfDB, highlighted Nigerias prominence during the 2018 forum.
    He pointed out that Nigeria was very visible and urged industry players and policy makers to maximise opportunities that the 2019 forum would provide.
    Faal urged them to connect, engage and close high-impact deals.
    He further recounted that last years edition of AIF held in South Africa recorded attendance of 2000 participants, representing 87 countries, including eight heads of governments.
    Deals worth 46.9 billion dollars were discussed with 49 deals valued at 38.7 billion dollars secured.
    These figures are not just impressive for an attempt at something that has never been done on the continent, but phenomenal.
    The AfDB and its partners are excited to present you with the only platform that allows you to instantly pitch and close monumental deals on the spot.
    We encourage you to engage early and wholesomely to be part of re-writing Africas economic history, Faal said.
    According to Africa Finance Corporation Senior Director, Mr Taiwo Adeniji, building on the success recorded in 2018, it is expected that Nigeria will be a major participant at the 2019 forum.
    The Africa Finance Corporation is keen to support Nigerian businesses across sectors to ensure effective project implementation to boost economic development.
    We are now seeing positive momentum in building transparent and durable institutions to anchor the political economy, promote and support development of the private sector.
    This is in order to increase the pace, depth and spread of economic growth in Africa, Adeniji said.
    On his part, a former Minister of Information and Communications, Mr Frank Nweke, identified early preparations as crucial in positioning Nigeria to meet international business and social impact investors eager to invest in Africa.
    Early preparation is also key, not only to prepare for the deals but being able to present them to a wide range of global investors.
    These investors are coming from different classes.
    We are talking about pension funds, sovereign wealth funds globally and in the continent, asset managers, commercial investment bankers so it is a wide array of investors that we are looking at.
    So we need to showcase very high transactions; we need to prepare projects and this is essential, Nweke said.

    Similarly, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, former Minister of Finance, urged the Federal Government to support the preparation.

    Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must sit down to discuss what we expect.

    This preparation has to be done every time we are going to a forum.

    So when they go, they come into contact with investors and they will be interested in what is being presented.

    The potential investor wants to see where you are coming from, from the beginning to the end they want to see their way through, she said.

    Mr Odiogo Ezekiel, the Head, Private Sector Investment Operations, AIF/AfDB, stressed that getting the projects bankable is also critical.

    With the awareness raised through the road show, stakeholders say Nigeria will record more investment opportunities after the 2019 AIF. (NANFeatures)

    Source: NAN

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    Nigeria will no longer condone xenophobic attacks on its citizens  Lawan
    By Julius Toba-Jegede

    The President of the Senate Dr. Ahmad Lawan on Monday condemned the continuous killings of Nigerians in South Africa, warning that further attacks on Nigerians would no longer be condoned.

    Lawan expressed concern that about 118 Nigerians had so far lost their lives in different attacks over the years, out of which 13 were by the South African Police.

    A statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammed Isa said Lawan made this known when he hosted the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Bobby Moroe.

    Moroe and his delegation paid the visit to brief the Senate leadership on his governments investigations to unravel the causes of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and steps being taken to stop such.

    The meeting, according to Lawan became pertinent considering the incessant attacks on Nigerians residing across cities in South Africa.

    He said We in the parliament must speak and prevent any further killings. These killings must stop.

    This is the era of social media where corpse of a victim may spark violence that may go beyond the control of government.

    The South African government must as a matter of urgency do whatever it takes to protect the lives and property of Nigerians living there, just as Nigerian government remain committed to the safety of South Africans residing here and their investments.

    I believe we have faced enough, we will no longer take it anymore. We want to write the names of Nigerians killed, and the South African parliament must act fast to put a stop to this menace.

    Over the years, 118 Nigerians have been killed, while 13 out of these were killed by South African Police.

    He also recalled the enormous contributions of Nigeria to South Africa during the apartheid rule.

    We must establish events leading into these killings, including the recent one of Mrs.Elizabeth Chukwu, who was killed in her hotel room, he said.

    While commending the High Commissioner for the updates, Lawan noted that, the update on the cause of late Mrs. Chukwus death is heartwarming. It is a sign that something has been done in this regards.

    Earlier, Mr Moroe expressed regret over the killings of Nigerians in his country.

    He extended the countrys condolences to the families of the victims.

    He said that an inquest had been instituted to investigate all cases of xenophobic attacks in the country.

    The inquest, he said would reveal the cause of the menace and find solutions across board.

    He reiterated the commitment of South African government and its law enforcement agencies to get to the root of the matter while bringing to book perpetrators of the attacks.

    Our government will continue to be committed to the good relationship with Nigeria.

    Your sentiment has gone deep into our heart, and you will be happy that the same sentiment has been our concern in South Africa.

    On behalf of the government of South Africa, we express our sincere condolences to Nigerian government for this unfortunate incident, he said. (NAN)

    Source: NAN

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    SDGs unachievable without gender equality  UN

    By Harrison Arubu

    Source: NAN

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    A medical research organization is in urgent need of 2 Intermediate Laravel Software Developers in it's Abuja Office @ Gwarinpa 1st Avenue, Abuja for immediate employment.

    Interested applicants should send their CVs to [email protected] with the title of this topic as the subject of the mail.

    Applicants should be

    • Quick to pick up projects written in Laravel.

    • Familiar with Git

    • Fully motivated to work in an Agile environment

    • Below the age of 30

    • Fairly knowledgeable of another language, preferably Python

    • Immediately available.

    • No Telecommute

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    The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone “A “of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has intercepted 140 bundles of textile materials worth N11.2 million and other contraband in one month.

    The Customs Area Controller, of the command, Comptroller Mohammed Aliyu, made the disclosure at a news briefing on Thursday in Lagos.

    The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Smuggling of textile materials through the nation’s land borders had increased since the Federal Government placed ban on access to foreign exchange to importers of textile materials in the country.

    Also, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, had in March said that Nigeria currently spends over 4 billion dollars annually on importation of textiles and ready-made clothing.

    Emefiele had said that the potential market size of the domestic textile industry is over 10 billion dollars.

    Aliyu said that a total of 25,153 bags of foreign parboiled rice smuggled into the country were also intercepted.

    According to him, the textile materials, which worth over N11.2 million, were intercepted after being smuggled from neighboring country.

    He said that others intercepted goods were 49 cartons of reboiled paracetamol injection worth N39.2 million; 86 sacks of used shoes valued at N10.3 million and 820 sacks of donkey skins worth N78 million.

    Aliyu further explained that 347 cartons of codeine syrup valued at N174 million; 1,000 sachets of tramadol also valued at N250,000, and Indian hemp worth N11 million were intercepted.

    He also disclosed that the smuggled rice worth over N331 million intercepted would be given to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs’) following the directive from the Customs headquarters in Abuja.

    Aliyu said that the unit intercepted a truck loaded with Cement and smuggled rice thereby contaminating the rice.

    “The rice was loaded in the middle of the cement and this is what they sell to the innocent public.”

    The Controller explained that the rice sent to IDP’s were always taken to the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to verify if they were fit for consumption before distributing to the IDPs.

    “We take this rice to NAFDAC for testing before we give it to orphanage homes. If they say it is not good for human consumption, we won’t give out but destroy. So, we don’t give expired rice to IDPs.

    “We sort out the most poisonous one while we give the good ones to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).”

    The NCS said that 16 vehicles worth over N470 million were also intercepted in the months under review.

    NAN reports that the seized vehicles also include a Toyota Land Cruiser worth N189 million and 347 cartons of codeine syrup worth N174 million.

    Other vehicles seized were Mitsubishi Pajero, Land Cruiser, Toyota Venza, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen and Toyota Yaris, among others.

    The 16 vehicles worth over N347 million, with one bullet proof vehicle, were abandoned after heavy chase by our operatives along Oyo and Ogun border.

    Aliyu said that the Federal Government ban on importation of used vehicles and foreign parboiled rice at the land borders still remain.

    He also advised importers of these smuggled items to use the nation’s seaports so as to avoid their business from being ruined and pay duties accruable to the Federal Government. (NAN)

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    The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Belema oil petroleum company in collaboration with Jack-Rich Tein Foundation has commissioned 400,000 litres capacity solar powered water treatment plants in Daura and Musawa local government areas of Katsina state.

    Mr. Jack Rick-Tein, President and founder of Jack-Rich Foundation who stated this during the commissioning ceremony of the projects in Musawa and Daura, said the initiative was based on the fact that water is a fundamental human need.

    He maintained that each citizen required no less than 20 to 50 litres of clean, safe water daily for drinking, cooking and other domestic activities, hence the decision to construct the water treatment plants in Musawa and Daura towns.

    “We also constructed 100,000 litres water treatment plants at Daura airstrip, water treatment plant at Musawa and potable water facility with 100,000 litres capacity tanks at Central Mosque, Daura,’’ he said.

    He said that the company was ready to collaborate with other relevant stakeholders to execute more developmental projects in Nigeria.

    NAN reports that Mr. Rich-Tein used the occasion to preach oneness among Nigerians irrespective of tribal, religious and political affiliation.

    In his remarks, Gov. Aminu Masari, urged stakeholders in the areas and people of the community to setup community-ownership committee to safeguard the facilities from beingm vandalised.

    Masari warned that anyone found vandalising the facilities would face the wrath of the law, adding that protecting the facilities remained the core responsibility of the community members.

    “Gone are the days when government property will be destroyed by citizens. Water is life, so you most do everything humanly possible to protect these facilities.

    “I thanked Mr. Jack Rich-Tein and NNPC for bringing these important projects in Katsina state,’’ Masari said.

    Earlier, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, represented by Mrs. Tolu Adefuwa, admonished the benefiting communities to use the facilities judiciously.

    She added, however, that the Corporation has embarked on numerable empowerment programmes aimed at ameliorating the plight of rural dwellers in the country.

    As part of the highlight of the commissioning ceremony of the projects, the Emir of Daura, Dr. Umar Farouq Umar, bestowed a chieftaincy tittle of Sarkin Ruwan-Hausa on Mr. Jack Rich-Tein and urged him do more for the country. (NAN)

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    First Bank of Nigeria Limited says it will scale up its empowerment of widows to 500 before the end of the year

    The bank, which provided funding to the widows to grow their micro-medium scale businesses, has empowered 125 widows as identified by the International Women Society (IWS).

    Mrs Bashirat Odunewu, the Group Executive, International Banking Group (ITBG), said this at the 125 widows’ endowment empowerment programme in commemoration of FirstBank 125th Anniversary in Lagos,

    She said the bank’s partnership with IWS was designed to further the empowerment of women, especially widows, as part of activities marking 2019 Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week (CR&S).

    She stated that the CR&S week with the theme: ‘Ripples of Kindness; You First’ reflects the brand promise to always put its stakeholders first and is designed to offer employees and other stakeholder, opportunities to give their time and resources to defined causes.

    Odunewu, who was represented at the event by the bank’s Business Development Manager (ITBG), Mr Kunle Olorunfemi, explained that as part of the bank’s employee giving and volunteering programme, the week focuses on wide range of activities under the SPARK (Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness) initiative.

    According to her, it includes partnership with IWS for the empowerment of widows, as well as visit and donations to orphanage/less privileged homes, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and deepening the values of SPARK amongst school children.

    “A world without active collaboration amongst people, organisations, nations and regions is inconceivable.

    “We are here because of our collective desire to pursue synergies that would generate progress for us and future generations. That is the focal piece of sustainability. I am, therefore, optimistic that this partnership will help drive sustainable development.

    “At First Bank the partnership amongst people and stakeholders have sustained us for over 125 years. As you might be aware our impact traverses virtually every sector of the economy. This indeed resonates our 125 anniversary theme – ‘Woven into the Fabric of Society’

    “Such partnerships have also provided the opportunity for us to help create an enabling platform for Small and Medium Enterprises to thrive and develop the national economy.

    “The partnership with International Women Society is designed to advance social and economic impact by providing capital and capacity building for women running small businesses including widows.

    “We believe that a committed, well-funded and well implemented partnership with International Women Society will enhance our goals as a responsible corporate citizen, which include focusing on empowering women and nation building.

    “The partnership with IWS is also in line with the bank’s financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment policy which promotes accessible and affordable financial products and services to disadvantaged groups with the goal of bringing these marginalised populations into the mainstream economy, improving their chances for resilient livelihoods and financial stability.

    “In partnering with International Women Society, by providing opportunities for widows in areas of capacity building and access to start-up capital, the Bank advances social and economic impact,” he said. (NAN)

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