A Magistrate Judge for Eastern District of New York, Ramon Reyes, has ordered suspended Ogun Governor’s Senior Special Assistant on Special Duties, Abidemi Rufai, should be detained until his trial.
The Magistrate gave the order at the detention hearing Wednesday following Rufai’s brother’s refusal to serve as his third-party custodian.
It was gathered he will be transported to the Western District of Washington where his trial will commence.
Rufai, who was arrested on Friday, is to stand trial for allegedly defrauding the Washington State Employment Security Department of over $350,000 under the pseudonym Sandy Tang.
It was also gathered the prosecutors with the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington in court papers filed had urged the Magistrate to keep Rufai in custody until his trial in a Federal Court in Washington “because he presents an extreme risk to flight and could use his strong political ties in Nigeria to flee from the U.S.”
In the court document, prosecutors listed six arguments against the request for the release of Rufai.
The Magistrate Judge had reportedly prepared to release Rufai to the third-party custody of his brother Alaba Rufai, who is a New York attorney.
The Attorney’s office was quoted to have revealed “his brother who had tentatively agreed to serve as third-party custodian backed out in court when asked if he (Alaba) could post a $300,000 surety bond, payable in the event that Abidemi Rufai did not show up in court.
“The government indicated it would appeal that ruling to a federal district judge in Western District of Washington.
“However, before the government needed to take that step, Mr. Rufai’s brother indicated he could not serve as the third-party custodian.”
According to an official at the US Department of Justice, the detention order is considered permanent until such time as a future hearing is held in the Western District of Washington.
“The timing on prisoner transport is up to the U.S. Marshal Service, and we will only know the timing of the next hearing when the defendant arrives in the district. Sometimes that takes as long as two to three weeks,” the spokesperson said.
Among the six reasons highlighted why Rufai should be kept in detention, it was argued that his history and characteristics weigh heavily in favour of detention “particularly his extensive ties to Nigeria as a government appointee and where his wife, two children, 15 siblings and parents all live except one brother who lives in New York.”
The prosecutors also expressed the fear of no known address in the US, indicating “releasing Rufai is a risk because he has no known contacts to the Western District of Washington where he allegedly stole the identities of its residents to rob the state of $350,000.”
The case of Rufai being rich enough to fund his escape from the U.S was also put forward with the explanation that he has “substantial financial resources that will enable his flight if granted bail.”
Rufai had however claimed he had only $16,000 in his account in Nigeria and the US but the Department believes the claim is dubious and untrue considering the amount ($288,825) a single U.S. bank account in Rufai’s name received in deposits during the period of the fraud.
“Rufai made the dubious representation to Pretrial Services that his total assets consist of $6,000 in the United States and $10,000 in a Nigerian bank account.
“At the time of his arrest, the defendant was preparing to board a first-class flight to Nigeria with five debit cards and two credit cards in his wallet, a luxury Cartier watch, seven pieces of luggage, and three smartphones on his person,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also opined that Rufai may likely be gone forever if he succeeds in fleeing the U.S because “it is well known that extradition from Nigeria to the United States is difficult under the best of circumstances.
“That will be exacerbated in this case because of the strong political connections that earned Rufai a governmental appointment.”
Rufai is accused of being a significant participant in what may have been the largest fraud ever against the Washington state government.
Over $650 million had been reported stolen by fraudsters who claimed unemployment benefits.
Prosecutors want Rufai kept in detention till the commencement of his trial because the fraud he is being accused of relates to a presidentially-declared national emergency and a presidentially-declared major disaster for Washington, and “each of the five counts carries a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment, a statutory sentencing enhancement of 10 years.”
Expressing fears that he could flee prosecutors said “the cash bond and surrender of travel documents are wholly inadequate. Rufai could use his resources to purchase a fraudulent passport, or even slip over the border without one.”
We’ll not ban Almajiri qur’anic education, but reform it — Gov. Tambuwal
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has said the state government was targeting the remodelling of the Qur’anic education system and not banning it.
Tambuwal stated this on Saturday at the closing of a two-day workshop for the adaptation of the Indonesian Pondok system into the Almajiri-Islamiyya educational system in the state.
He expressed government’s determination to ensure that the initiative was implemented to the letter, stressing that any recognisable success of the system would upgrade and improve the state’s educational system.
He said: “We are not aiming to ban the Almajiri qur’anic education system as some people have urged the Sokoto State Government to emulate other states.
“We are striving to provide reasonable solutions to the challenges and with the present initiative the time has come.”
Tambuwal assured of full implementation of the suggestions made by resource persons and the design of a programme that would surely be a solution to the educational challenges, especially bridging the gap of out of school children.
In his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, urged the Federal Government and its agencies, including the Universal Basic Education Commission, to consider making financial provisions to the Almajiri qur’anic educational system.
Abubakar noted that when the implementation of the initiative begins, the out of school children figure will drop as well as curtail those roaming the streets.
The Sultan urged others states to emulate Sokoto state on the initiative, in recognition of its importance and suitability to Nigerian’s system of education.
The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Social Investment Programmes, Maryam Uwais, expressed delight at the initiative as it was in line with the President’s efforts at reducing poverty and empowering Nigerians.
Uwais said: “The huge numbers of marginalised youths and children, who have no education, school dropouts who have no skills, have contributed to the dismal outcomes of security challenges.
“The challenges also include females who faced incidence of gender based violence, along with cases of early marriages arising from lack of education, which leads to diminished opportunities.”
She noted that the Pandok system focuses on character development and addressing socioeconomic challenges that children faced, as well as improving educational levels which were all aligned with Sustainable Development Goals.
Uwais added that her office was working towards empowering between 30 to 50 youths in all the local government councils, to supervise and monitor others on valuable skills to be acquired, through various initiatives.
Earlier, the Executive Director, Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Board, Alhaji Umar Altine, said based on the study conducted, the Pandok system of education in Indonesia were owned and managed by individuals or communities, regulated and assisted by the federal ministry of religious affairs.
Altine said the major sources of sustainability were Endowments (Waqf) and Alumni, noting that based on advocacy and sensitisation by the board, six Qur’anic schools had adopted the model.
In her presentation, UNICEF Education Specialist, Sokoto Field Office, Dr. Safiyya Tahir, said that no fewer than 1.2 million children were out of school in Sokoto State, noting that early children development centres were mostly owned by private schools, with only a small percentage owned by public schools.
Tahir said the Pandok system would be relevant to the culture of Sokoto people because they shared similarities with the Indonesians as many families prepared their children for enrolment in religious schools in early life.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that several resource persons made presentations at the occasion, including Dr. Bala Muhammad of the Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano, and Prof. Abdullahi Sule-Kano of the Political Science Department, BUK.
Others were: Prof. Maryam Koko of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto; Prof. Suleiman Khalil, Sociology Department in UDUS; Prof. Bashir Galadanci; and Prof. Muhammad Junaid.
The Eagle Online
Resident Doctors Vote to Continue Indefinite Strike
Striking resident doctors in the country have resolved to sustain their ongoing industrial action until their demands are met by the federal government.
The strike by members of the National Association Resident Doctors (NARD) has entered its seventh week, with their parent body, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), also threatening to embark on solidarity strike if the dispute is not resolved by next weekend.
The resident doctors are demanding payment of arrears of salaries of their members on GIFMIS platform as well as approval of new hazard allowance for the health sector, among other demands.
Rising from its Annual General Meeting (AGM) that ended yesterday at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi State, NARD said that it had unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action.
A new national leadership also emerged at the meeting with Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya as the new president of NARD.
NARD said that: “After critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that led to the ongoing strike as stated above, the AGM unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action until our minimum demands are met”.
In a communiqué jointly signed by NARD President, Dr. Dare Godiya Ishaya; Secretary General, Dr. Suleiman Abiodun Ismai; and National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alfa Yusuf, the doctors said that federal government should ensure that their demands are urgently met before normalcy would return to the health sector
The resident doctors said they are demanding the payment of the Medical Residency Training allowance within 72 hours since the money meant for it is available and verification of the list for payment has been completed.
They also demanded payment of the arrears of salaries of their members on GIFMIS platform within 72 hours while the migration process continues.
Other demands of the Resident doctors include: “Withdrawal of the case against us in court in the interest of peace; and payment of our withheld August and September salaries”.
NARD said that federal government should prevail on various state governments to urgently “pay arrears of salaries and allowances owed our members in the state tertiary health institutions as stated above”.
In the communiqué, NARD said they were committed to the smooth running of the health sector, but can only do so when their welfare is given the desired attention.
“We, therefore, call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to set aside all technicalities as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari and resolve the aforementioned demands in the interest of the masses and our members who are currently suffering because of the ongoing strike action,” it said.
Earlier during the AGM, the doctors bemoaned the delay in payment of death-in-service insurance benefit to the next-of-kin of the fallen heroes despite their sacrifices to the country.
They expressed concerns over the conditions of their members under different state governments’ employs, especially Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo states, where their members are being owed 20 months, six months, four months and four months’ salary arrears, respectively.
They meeting also observed with serious concerns the poor response of most state governments in domesticating the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 while commending states like Delta and Benue for adopting the law.
In particular, NARD expressed appreciation to the governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who has paid its members the 2021 MRTF during the ongoing strike.
The meeting lamented the acute manpower shortage in most tertiary health institutions and the attendant burnout effects on its members.
The communiqué said that NARD observed with serious concerns that despite several meetings with the presidential committee on salaries and other top government stakeholders on the review of hazard allowance for health workers, the hazard allowance still remains a paltry N5,000.
It also noted the non-payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance to some of the members in federal and most of its members in state tertiary institutions.
Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Thisday News
BREAKING: IPOB orders sit-at-home on October 1, removal of all Nigerian flags from southeast
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has declared a sit-at-home across the Southeast on October 1.
IPOB said the October 1 sit-at-home is to show its rejection of Nigeria and all the country stands for.
In a statement by its spokesman on Saturday, Emma Powerful, the group also declared the commencement of “operation no Nigerian flag begins in Biafra land from October 1st.”
Powerful said the sit-at-home order was declared to celebrate Ambazonia Independence Anniversary.
The statement reads partly: “IPOB has declared 1st of October 2021 total shutdown in Biafra land as a sign of our rejection of the evil construct called Nigeria and there shall be no movement in Biafra land on this day.
“Also, IPOB has declared from today 25th September 2021 that all Nigerian flag mounted anywhere in Biafra land must be brought down, Banks exceptional, IPOB leadership will communicate to Banks directly and give them reason they must peacefully bring down Nigeria flag in their banking premises before we do it ourselves in our own way.
“Every body must strictly adhere to this directives from IPOB leadership, we want to let the world know you that Biafraland is not Nigeria and shall not be. Don’t say I don’t know, a word is enough for the wise.”
Seun Opejobi, Daily Post
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