World News

STATE HOUSE FRAUD: Zenith Bank Allegedly Stole N111.5bn From Imo Govt Treasury

A report by the Financial Advisory Committee constituted by Imo State Government has indicted Zenith Bank Plc and its senior officers over N111.5 billion fraud from the state revenue.

The audit body revealed how Zenith Bank, was used to milk N111.5 billion through charges unknown to financial regulations, creamed off from the state.

Submitting their report to the State House of Assembly, seeking the Imo legislative body to intervene with a view not only to recover the humongous amount from the bank, the committee recommends the dismissal of the State Commissioner for Finance, Dr Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, a former senior staff of Zenith Bank.

The reports indicates that she is planted in government to continue superintending over the siphoning of government money into pockets of the governor, Sen Hope Uzodinma, and other vested interests.

According to the petition, the sleaze did not start from Uzodinma, the incumbent governor, but it started during the reign of former governor, Rochas Okorocha

While in office, Okorocha gave over 90 per cent control of Imo State banking transactions to Zenith bank while other banks struggled for the remaining 10 per cent.

Okorocha was alleged to have appointed a senior staff of Zenith bank, Chike Okafor to handle his government’s finance portfolio as Commissioner for Finance.

Things however got to the head when Emeka Ihedioha assumed office as governor on May 29, 2019.

It would seem that Ihedioha got wind of the unholy alliance between Okorocha and Zenith bank, and in less than a week in office.

Specifically on June 6, 2019, he constituted the Financial Advisory Committee comprising 10 forensic accountants, all indigenes of Imo to look into the books of the state government with all her bankers

The Committee was chaired by Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, foremost Economist, World Bank Consultant and former Director General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), and Nick Opara-Ndudu, a former Bank Deputy Managing Director who also served as a commissioner under the Okorocha administration as secretary.

Other members were: Nze Charles Onwunali a former senior banker who later became Chairman of Imo Internal Revenue Service; Mr. Kelechi Omeni-Nzewuihe, a former Senior Banker; Sir Chime Aliliele, a former Senior Banker; Mr. Charles Nwogu; Mrs. Udeze Ibezim; and Mrs. Ify Maureen Okafor.

After four months of work, the committee presented its report to Ihedioha on December 1, 2019, who directed the state Accountant General to start the process of recovery of the funds from Zenith Bank.

On December 3, 2019, the Accountant General issued a 30 day ultimatum to Zenith bank and other banks involved to start refunding the funds illegally taken from the purse of the state.

Unfortunately, the move had to be aborted as Ihedioha was removed as Governor via a Supreme Court judgment on January 14, 2020.

LASG To Develop Infectious Disease Research Centre For Future Health Emergencies

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has disclosed that the State Government is currently working on developing an Infectious Disease Research Centre to enable Nigerian researchers develop vaccines in response to future epidemic as well as making medical provisions readily available for the citizens.

The Governor disclosed this at the commemoration of this year’s World Day for Safety tagged: “Anticipate, Prepare and Respond to Crisis- Invest Now in Resilient”

He said that the State is currently investing significantly in the health sector in order to be able to respond to any case of future health emergencies.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Relations, Engr. Tayo Bamgbose-Martins, stated that the leading role of the State towards developing capacity within its health infrastructure against the Ebola-virus set the foundation for the structures to deal responsively with the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, “The experience we had in curtailing the Ebola virus in Lagos provided us with the knowledge to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic”.

“We were able to quickly activate the system that was in place and build upon it to match the various dimensions that the pandemic presented,” he added.

While assuring that the government will continue to work tirelessly to make the State safe and secure for the residents, Sanwo-Olu said that his government is now more resolute and committed to developing a more efficient and responsive health system capable of dealing with any future pandemic.

“In Lagos, we have put in place strategies and initiatives to ensure the delivery of safety measures ahead of whatever crisis we might be confronted with in any sector of the economy,” he noted.

The Governor applauded the Lagos State Safety Commission for ensuring strict adherence to all COVID-19 safety protocols.

In his keynote address, the Director General/CEO, Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr. Lanre Mojola, said that the hazards of work related accidents and illness, which are caused by unsafe conditions acts and practices, necessitate the need for countries to deliberately put health and safety systems in place to change the narrative.

He assured that the Commission will keep spreading the message of safety, adding that “it is only a safer Lagos that can guarantee the attainment of a Greater Lagos.”

Bloody Saturday: Seven Youths Die On Lagos Lekki-Epe Expressway

No fewer than seven youths were reported to have died during a ghastly motor accident that occurred around Shapati end of the Lekki-Epe Expressway in Lagos State.

Authoritative source revealed that the driver of the vehicle conveying the seven victims, whose bodies have been deposited at the morgue, was reported to have been drunk before embarking on the journey that claimed their lives.

As gathered, the seven victims including two males and five females, died at about 1am on Saturday within Shapati end of the road in Ibeju-Lekki Local Government.

Confirming the tragedy, Lagos Sector Command Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Olusegun Ogungbemide, hinted that the victims were in a Lexus Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) with number plate AGL953GQ before their death.

Ogungbemide added that the SUV, which was overspending, ran into a moving Howo truck with number plate ICT-15E-025 and the seven occupants including the driver died.

“The crash involved “A Lexus SUV with registration number AGL953GQ which ran into a moving Howo truck with registration number ICT-15E-025 killing all occupants in the Lexus SUV. A total number of seven (7) adults comprising 2 Male, 5 Female lost their lives in the crash”. All the corpse were deposited at the morgue,” Ogungbemide added.

He however appealed to parents to always monitor their wards, and should always advise them to avoid reckless driving, over speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Through a statement signed by FRSC Public Education Officer, Olabisi Sonusi, the road safety boss stressed that they should ensure that whoever would drive their children abstain from alcohol.

“We will not rest on our oars in sensitizing and enlightening the road users on the need to drive with common sense speed and obey road traffic rules and regulations to reduce crashes on our roads.

“While we commiserate with the families of the deceased, we enjoin all road users to be careful whenever they are behind the wheels. This kind of accident and losses are preventable”, he added.