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Interpol traces €500,000 COVID-19 fraud in Germany to Nigeria

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The International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has traced a €500,000 COVID-19 fraud to Nigeria.

The organisation made this known in a statement on its website titled, ‘Unmasked: International COVID-19 fraud exposed’.

The scheme was reportedly coordinated using compromised emails, advance-payment fraud, and money laundering.

INTERPOL said the fraud was uncovered by financial institutions and authorities across Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

The statement read in part, “In mid-March, as a number of countries were going into lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, German health authorities contracted two sales companies in Zurich and Hamburg to procure EUR 15 million worth of face masks. With a global shortage on medical supplies complicating usual business channels, the buyers followed new leads in the hopes of securing the masks.

“It all started with an email address and website which appeared to be linked to a legitimate company in Spain selling face masks. Unknown to the buyers, the site was a fake and their legitimate email addresses had been compromised.

“Through email correspondence, the company initially claimed to have 10 million masks, only for the delivery to fall through. As consolation, they then referred the buyers to a ‘trusted’ dealer in Ireland. The Irish middleman promised to put them in touch with a different supplier, this time in the Netherlands.

“Claiming to have a strong commercial relationship with the company, the man provided assurances that the alleged Dutch company would be able to supply the 10 million face masks. An agreement for an initial delivery of 1.5 million masks was made, in exchange for an upfront payment of EUR 1.5 million.

“The buyers initiated a bank transfer to Ireland and prepared for delivery, which involved 52 lorries and a police escort to transport the masks from a warehouse in the Netherlands to the final destination in Germany.

“Just before the delivery date, the buyers were informed that the funds had not been received and that an emergency transfer of EUR 880,000 straight to the Dutch supplier was required to secure the merchandise.

“The buyers sent the wire transfer and the masks never arrived. It turns out the Dutch company existed, but their website had also been cloned. There was no official record of the order.

“When the buyers realized they had been duped, they immediately contacted their bank in Germany, which in turn contacted INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes unit, setting off a race to intercept the funds and follow the money trail.

“The Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service quickly tracked down the EUR 880,000 which had been transferred from the German company. Nearly EUR 500,000 of those funds had already been sent to the United Kingdom, all of which was destined for an account in Nigeria.”

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2022 National Honours list in circulation doctored, says FG

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The Federal Government has disowned the list of nominees for the 2022 National Honours that has been trending on some social and traditional media platforms.

Spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs, Julie Osagie-Jacobs, on Monday, said the list had been doctored by mischievous persons to cause national disharmony.

She said that the authentic list had been compiled by the ministry for the National Honours but yet to be made public.

Controversy and wide condemnation by opinion leaders and public analysts had greeted the inclusion of certain names and omission of some found to have excelled in their callings over the years.

Osagie-Jacobs said, “The attention of the Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs has been drawn to a purported list of nominees for National Honours being circulated by some online media organisations.

“While it is true that President Muhammadu Buhari will be conferring National Honours on deserving Nigerians and friends of Nigeria on October 11, 2022, the authentic list of nominees is yet to be released to the public. The Federal Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs will publish the list at the appropriate time and medium.

“Members of the public are hereby enjoined to discountenance the list in circulation as it is an attempt by overzealous reporters whose aim is to break news even when such news is fake.”

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ASUU strike: Adamu doesn’t deserve national honour – NANS

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Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu

The National Association of Nigerian Students has kicked against the move by President Muhammadu Buhari to confer National Honours Award on the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu.

Adamu’s name is among notable individuals Buhari listed to be honoured on October 11.

Reacting in a statement by its National Public Relations Officer, Giwa Temitope, on Monday, NANS said it was an insult to the collective intelligence of Nigerian students who had been locked out of schools for close to eight months due to the ongoing strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities which Adamu had failed to resolve.

“It constitutes an insult to the collective intelligence of Nigerian students both home and in the diaspora that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, under whose nose university students have been home for close to eight months is to be awarded the National Honours of Commander of the Order of Niger.

“This act of the Buhari’s administration is a clear pointer to the fact that Nigerian students have been taken for a ride. And, we see this as the final straw that breaks the back of the camel of Buhari’s much touted integrity.

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“Over the years, successive administrations in the country have shown to the Nigerian people that the National Honours is more of recognition of patronage than recognition of excellence. But Buhari has taken a step further to show the mass of Nigerian students that we are not on the priority list of the administration.

“It is so unfortunate that a country which offered so much in hope and possibilities at independence has today become a land of suffering, insecurity and near hopelessness signposted by youth unemployment and underfunded educational sector,” the statement partly read.

NANS said that, in a functioning country, both the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who “shamefully walked out” of a meeting with the national leadership of ASUU at the instance of the House of Representatives, and his Education counterpart would have been fired before now. “But, the reverse is the case as Adamu under whose watch the educational sector of the country has totally collapsed is to be recognised with a National Honour for a job ‘well-done’, it added.

“As an association, we reiterate that we pass a vote of no confidence in both Adamu and Ngige. And, we maintain that we shall be back to the streets in protest against the recklessness of this administration until the Federal Government settles every issue with ASUU for Nigerian students to return to classes,” it concluded.

ASUU has been on strike since February 14, 2022.  ASUU, which is the umbrella for university lecturers in Nigeria, is asking for improved welfare conditions for its members, adequate funding for universities, and the replacement of the government-introduced payment platform- Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution. UTAS was designed by ASUU following complaints against the IPPIS over alleged poor standardisation and incompatibility with the university system.

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I Criticise Buhari For Failing To End Killings In Benue — Ortom

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Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that he only criticises President Muhammadu Buhari for not being able to end killings in the country.

 The governor’s explanation was in reaction to a statement credited to the president by the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education, Aminu Suleiman Goro, during the inauguration of some projects at the renamed Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.

He had during the occasion asked Ortom to endeavour to acknowledge his administration’s capital projects in Benue State rather than cast aspersions on the president.

 But, the governor in his speech at the Independence Day Interdenominational Church Service held at Faith Cathedral of All Nations Evangelism Ministry, Old GRA, Makurdi said he held no personal grudges against the president.

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 The event was organised by the state government in conjunction with the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Ortom said, “I will not stop until the killings stop. If the federal government had taken to my counsel which was divine, we wouldn’t be where we are today. In 2016, I started voicing out about insecurity. The essence of a dog barking in a house is to inform the owner of the danger coming. 

 “Instead of taking my counsel, I have been intimidated. Now, insecurity has escalated in many states and here people cannot go to farm. I will never be happy with this development,” he said.

 The governor wondered why the government had not disarmed nomads carrying sophisticated weapons and killing innocent people but had continued to deny lawful state security outfits the right to acquire arms to protect lives and property.

Earlier, Archbishop Yiman Orkwar, who preached on the topic, “The Tripod of Justice,’’ said that for Nigeria to move forward there must be justice, equity and fairness.

 In his remarks, the state CAN Chairman, Reverend Akpen Leva, urged Nigerians not to lose hope in the country.

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