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Reps summon NNPC, CBN, FIRS, EFCC, probe illicit financial flows

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The House of Representatives has resolved to invite various departments and agencies of the Federal Government over illicit financial flows in Nigeria.

At the plenary on Thursday, the House specifically mandated its committees on Finance; Anti-Corruption; Financial Crimes; Banking and Currency; and Insurance and Actuarial Matters to ‘investigate the phenomenon of illicit financial flows and appraise the Federal Governments current policy framework to curb the continuous loss of Nigeria’s’ revenues to illicit financial flows’.

The House also mandate the committees on finance; national planning and economic development; anti-corruption; financial crimes; banking; and currency and insurance and actuarial matters to appraise the Federal Inland Revenue Service’s current framework for identifying, tracing, preventing and sanctioning cross-border tax evasion and other illicit financial outflows.

The committees are to invite the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainad Ahmed; and heads of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Central Bank of Nigeria, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, Nigerian Export-Import Bank, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ‘and any other relevant institutions’.

They are to ‘address the committees on the continuous loss of government revenues to illicit financial flows and present reports on the measures to curb revenue losses, particularly the coordinated implementation of the automatic exchange of information standard, to prevent further revenue leakages, curb tax evasion and money laundering activities’.

These resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Chairman of the House Committee on Local Content, Ochiglegor Idagbo, titled ‘Need to appraise Nigeria’s legal framework against illicit financial flows’.

Idagbo explained that IFF was the cross-border transfer of capital that was illegally earned, transferred or utilised, and often consisted of commercial money laundering, tax evasion and proceeds of corruption and criminal activities.

The lawmaker said that the socioeconomic development of Nigeria had deeply suffered due to the unabated cross-border financial dealings of the nation’s revenues resulting from illicit financial flows.

Idagbo decried that statistics showed that the amount of revenues lost annually was more than what came in as  development aid.

“The net official development aid received by Nigeria in 2017 was $3,358,790,000, and the United States Agency for International Development has donated over $526.7m in humanitarian assistance to Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin since 2017. Yet, none of the aforementioned figures matches the estimated $15 and $18bn Nigeria loses to IFFs annually, hence Nigeria continues to struggle with growing inequality, poor infrastructure and lacking service delivery,” he said.

The lawmaker further decried that despite having at least 12 institutions and agencies responsible for tackling IFF and related crimes, Nigeria continued to be menaced by weak regulatory structures and complicity of other financial secrecy.

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Soyinka: Nigeria on the edge, Buhari must take urgent action

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Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, says Nigeria is on the “edge”, and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to move beyond mere talk, and take urgent action to set the country on the right path.
He said the President should stop exuding false confidence and speak like a leader ready to take action concerning the country’s challenges.
Last week, Buhari spoke, in two recorded interviews and a national broadcast, on challenges facing the country, stating that his administration was committed to ensuring growth and improved security.
Soyinka on Arise Television programme on Monday said the problems of the country could be addressed with the right actions by the leaders.
He said, “First of all, he should start talking to people like a leader — and a leader who is awake to the realities of the situation. Then, let us see actions being taken.
“I’m tired of hearing things like ‘you will see differences in a few weeks’ time’. We are tired of that. He’s got to put his cards on the table and take people into confidence.
“He’s got to stop exuding a false confidence, because that kind of confidence is totally false. It is not based on realities, and we’ve got to see an acceleration of actions to retrieve this nation from the very edge.
“It is no longer a problem of the people,; it is a problem of leadership, because the people have shown themselves ready to act, to save their own community.”
Soyinka also said the national assembly and the 36 state governors were not doing enough, considering their constitutional responsibilities.
He said, “Members of NASS are not doing enough. If you study the constitution very carefully, you will realise that they have certain powers which they haven’t touched
“There are certain areas they can compel this government to act the way it should, and that applies especially to governors — the governors themselves are too timid.”
He warned Nigerians to stop spreading fake news, stressing that it is a way of distorting constructive narratives that could help the people.
Soyinka said, “I appeal to people to stop putting words in my mouth. If you think you can pressure me to speak by stealing my identity and putting words in my mouth on social media, you are wasting your time. Not only that, you are acting in a distorting way.
“At this sensitive time, I must warn Nigerians to stop playing around with such serious issues, otherwise they are going to lose the kind of support they have from people like me.”

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Surrender and seek forgiveness, Army tells B’Haram insurgents

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The Nigerian army has called on Boko Haram insurgents to drop their arms, “seek forgiveness and reconciliation”.

General Officer Commanding (GOC), 7 Division, Nigerian Army, AA Eyitayo, made the call on Sunday at an event organised for journalists by the army in Maiduguri, Borno state capital.

Eyitayo said Boko Haram insurgents are in a state of disarray, following the recent military onslaught against them.

He asked the insurgents to surrender and take advantage of the opportunity to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

The brigadier-general, who is also the commander sector 1, operation Hadin Kai, asked the media to enlighten the insurgents about the call for them to “shun violence”.

“We are not here for bloodletting, nobody is happy that people are dying,” the GOC said.

“Some of them (insurgents) are listening to the media so it is good for us to appeal to them through the media to shun violence, turn up to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.”

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BREAKING: Bennett replaces Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister

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Israel has elected Naftali Bennett its new prime minister after its parliament narrowly voted in favour of a new coalition government, ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic 12-year rule.
Sunday’s vote, passed by a 60-59 margin, ended a two-year cycle of political paralysis in which the country held four elections.
Bennett, a former ally of Netanyahu turned bitter rival, will preside over a diverse and fragile coalition comprising eight parties with deep ideological differences.
Netanyahu remains head of the Likud party and will hold the post of opposition leader, according to a report obtained Sunday evening.

Netanyahu reportedly sat silently during the vote.
And after it was approved, he was said to have stood up to leave the chamber, before turning around and shaking hands with Bennett.
Netanyahu, wearing a black medical mask, then sat down in the opposition leader’s chair.
Minutes later, Bennett was sworn into office, followed by members of the new cabinet.

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