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IMF releases $29bn to Nigeria, 69 others

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it has advanced $29bn under the Rapid Credit Facility and Rapid Financing instrument to Nigeria and 69 other countries.
It stated this in an emailed report on Monday.
This was part of its updated economic funding support totalling $99bn to 70 emerging and developing economies to tackle COVID-19 pandemic.
Nigeria got $3.4bn of the $29bn to enable it to strengthen balance of payment and local currency.
The fund said other countries also benefited from the support fund through other channels, including augmentations under existing programmes, to the tune of over $70bn, thus bringing the total support fund to the $99bn.
Many African countries like Ghana, Gabon and South Africa, among others, have been knocking on the IMF’s door for financial assistance to fight the pandemic.
As the virus plunged Africa into its deepest recession in decades, IMF continued to support many of the member countries to pull out of the financial implications on their economies.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the fund was meant to assist Nigeria’s fight against COVID-19 and resolve urgent balance of payment needs.
The fund said even compared to previous crises such as the Ebola epidemic, the needs triggered by this current pandemic are unprecedented.
“The fund’s rapid response helped many countries to contain and mitigate the impact of this external shock,’’ according to the report.
This financial assistance does not have traditional IMF conditionalities and phasing of disbursements over time. But countries still undertake policy commitments to address their difficulties, and governance commitments about how those resources are to be spent.
The Fund said the human toll and global economic disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic triggered unprecedented demand for financing.
The multilateral institution added that it had provided relief to more than one-third of its membership.
“Since the onset of the pandemic, the IMF has responded rapidly and decisively to meet urgent and exceptional demand for financial assistance from its membership,” it said in the statement.
Since March 2020, 70 members, including many low-income countries, have received financial support under the two instruments created to address urgent financing needs that may arise from natural disasters (including pandemics, earthquakes and hurricanes).
The IMF explained that in April, it approved a broad package of reforms, which built on previous changes to strengthen the reach and flexibility of financial assistance under these facilities.
The IMF disclosed that across Africa, countries are trying to build buffers to strengthen their economies, and for Nigeria, it is through the collection of taxes.
It said Nigeria should use the crisis to transform into a more resilient economy.

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EFCC detains, grills ex-Gov Al-Makura over corruption allegations

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has detained a former Governor of Nasarawa State and serving senator, Tanko Al-Makura, and his wife, Mairo Al-Makura.
Sources ae the EFCC Abuja head office said thecouple honoured the invitation extended to them by the commission.
One of the sources said they were detained when the operatives of the anti-graft agency demanded some explanations from them about the finances of the state but were unable to answer.
They were said to have been detained and grilled over misappropriation of funds.
Al-Makura governed Nasarawa between 2011 and 2019 before he was elected as the Senator representing Nasarawa South Senatorial District.
It was learnt that the duo were still at the headquarters of the commission in Abuja at about 10:30pm.
Spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren, could however not confirm the development, saying he was yet to be briefed.

When contacted, the spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren said he was yet to be briefed on the development.

When contacted for his comment, the ex-governor’s spokesperson, Danjuma Joseph, said he was not aware of the arrest.

“His Excellency left Lafia (Nasarawa State capital) for Abuja this morning. I am not aware of such arrest,” Mr Joseph said.

The former governor, until Wednesday, has never been known to be facing EFCC probe.

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US lawmakers halt $875m military equipment sale to Nigeria

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United States lawmakers have stalled a proposed sale of attack helicopters to Nigeria based on President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s perceived human rights abuse, the Endsars protests of 2020 that ended in crisis and banditry.
According to Saharareporters, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have delayed clearing a proposed sale of 12 AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters and accompanying defence systems to the Nigerian military, pausing a deal worth some $875 million, according to US officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter.
Former US President, Donald Trump’s administration had agreed to sell the Nigerian government 12 A-29 Super Tucano warplanes, resurrecting a proposed sale the Obama administration froze after the Nigerian Air Force bombed a refugee camp that January. The first batch of those planes arrived in Nigeria earlier this month.
The report notes that the behind-the-scenes controversy over the proposed arms sale illustrates a broader debate among Washington policymakers over how to balance national security with human rights objectives.
This is also an indication that the US lawmakers want to push the Biden administration to rethink US relations with Nigeria amid overarching concerns that President Muhammadu Buhari is drifting toward dictatorship as his government is besieged by multiple security challenges, including jihadist insurgency.
Nigeria is on the front lines in the battle against Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups, and plays a role in the US and international efforts to roll back extremist groups in the Sahel region of West Africa.
But Western governments and international human rights organizations have ramped up their criticisms of the Nigerian government, particularly in the wake of its ban on Twitter, systemic corruption issues, and the Nigerian military’s role in deadly crackdowns on protesters after widespread demonstrations against police brutality last year.
Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for a “fundamental rethink of the framework of our overall engagement” with Nigeria during a Senate hearing with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June.
Both Menendez and Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have placed a hold on the proposed arms sale, according to multiple U.S. officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter, who spoke to Foreign Policy on condition of anonymity.
The details on the proposed sale were first sent by the U.S. State Department to Congress in January before then-former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, according to officials familiar with the matter.
In addition to the helicopters, the proposed sale included 28 helicopter engines produced by GE Aviation, 14 military-grade aircraft navigation systems made by Honeywell, and 2,000 advanced precision kill weapon systems—laser-guided rocket munitions, according to information sent by the State Department to Congress and reviewed by Foreign Policy.
Nigeria has relied on U.S. arms sales in the past to help address multiple security challenges: the 12-year insurgency by Boko Haram militants in the country’s northeast, a spate of high-profile kidnapping-for-ransom campaigns targeting schoolchildren in the country’s northwest, and deadly clashes between the country’s semi-nomadic herders and farmers fueled by climate change and environmental degradation of the country’s arable land.
The State Department describes the U.S.-Nigeria relationship as “among the most important in sub-Saharan Africa” and has provided limited funding for various military training and education programs.
Some experts said the United States should hit the pause button on major defense sales until it makes a broader assessment of the extent to which corruption and mismanagement hobble the Nigerian military and whether the military is doing enough to minimize civilian casualties in its campaign against Boko Haram and other violent insurrectionists.
“There doesn’t have to be a reason why we don’t provide weapons or equipment to the Nigerian military,” said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.
“But it has to be done with an assessment of how it will, one, change the direction of conflict in Nigeria, and, two, that they will use it consistent with our laws. In both cases, it’s either a question mark or a fail.”
“There is a culture of impunity that exists around abuses by the military,” said Anietie Ewang, the Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Ewang cited the Nigerian military’s killing of unarmed protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos during the country’s massive #EndSARS demonstrations against police corruption and brutality last year as well as cases documented by human rights organizations of abuses in the military’s campaign against Boko Haram.
“I’m sure it’s a difficult situation. There are so many conflicts springing up across the country now,” Ewang said.
“The authorities, I presume, are trying to do the best they can to save lives and property. But this must be done in accordance with human rights standards. You can’t throw one out just to be able to achieve the other.”

 

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Court frees El-Zakzaky, wife of culpable homicide, other charges

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Justice Gideon Kurada of Kaduna High Court has discharged and acquitted leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria otherwise known as Shi’ites, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenat.
The IMN leader and his wife had been standing trial over allegations of culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, among other criminal charges since December 2015, following a clash between his followers and convoy of the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Buratai, in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The court had fixed July 28 for ruling in the no-case submission filed by Zakzaky.

Justice Kurada fixed the date after the prosecution and counsel to the defendants addressed the court on the no-case submission prayer
Briefing journalists after the secret trial, counsel to Zakzaky, Marshal Abubakar, said the court upheld their no-case submission and agreed that the case lacked merit.

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