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Tens of Imams, Islamic scholars, youth leaders visit Osinbajo

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Unity and tolerance are crucial values needed to safeguard peace and stability in a multi-religious society like Nigeria, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Osinbajo spoke when he received on a courtesy call a delegation of Imams, Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders.

The delegation of more than 25 Islamic clerics, intellectuals and leaders of different groups was drawn from higher institutions, National Council of Ulamas, Qadiriyya Movement, Fitiyanul Islam of Nigeria, Dariya Sect, National Council of Muslim Youths, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, Jammat Tajdidul Islamy, Salafiyya Youth Movement, and Imams from the National Mosque and Legislative Quarters in Apo, Abuja among others.

Addressing the delegation led by Prof. Siraj Abdulkarim from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the National Chairman of the Community and Youth Development (CYD is a public affairs group of Ulamas), the VP also noted: “Until you engage with the people, you can’t tell what they and others want.

“Engagement is so important.

“I believe very strongly in engagement.”

He narrated his experience since becoming VP on how people welcome engagement by their leaders even in difficult circumstances.

At the meeting, which turned out to be an exciting interactive session between the Islamic leaders and the Vice President, issues such as how to promote Nigeria’s unity were tabled and discussed.

The delegation members also engaged in good-natured banter on how the interaction was one among men of God and how the VP and his guests all belong to the same constituency of religious leaders in the country.

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While welcoming his guests, Osinbajo noted his delight at the coming of the delegation, saying: “It is not often that one gets the honour of such a visit.”

Earlier, one of the leaders of the delegation and Chief Imam of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Dr. Abdul Hakeem Abdul Lateef, described the VP as a leader who loves all Nigerians, regardless of religious or ethnic differences.

Late added that members of the delegation “are eager to collaborate with Your Excellency.

“We are here in recognition of your love for all Nigerians and your belief in the harmonious existence of our country.

“We understand the kind of love you have for all Nigerians.”

Abdul Lateef, who was formerly Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, also observed that in the VP’S office, no less than 18 Muslims were part of the senior cadre of staff, including the Deputy Chief of Staff, Rahman Ade Ipaye, who is the head of the entire VP’s staff.

Abdulkarim also noted: “We are here because we love this country.”

He added that the unnecessary rivalry between Christians and Muslims has to be doused and called on the VP to initiate a programme to further promote understanding and unity. He also called for a more invigorating fight against corruption in the country.

Also in his remarks, the VP asked members of the delegation to suggest ways for the country to attain more unity and promised that the interaction with members of the delegation and such other groups in the country will not be a one-off.

Having heard from several of the members of the delegation who raised different issues bothering on the unity of the country, good governance, religious harmony among others, the VP stated after about an hour into the meeting.

He said: “I am enriched from what I have heard today and I have noted all the issues.

“I wish we had a bit more time.

“I agree we should engage more.

“The issues you have raised show us clearly that the future of this country lies with the elites, especially religious and political elites.

Prof. Osinbajo urged religious and political elites to show more responsibility in ensuring peace and positive changes in society.

According to him, religious elites, just like the political elites, are responsible for ensuring positive change.

He suggested “the creation of a forum of religious leaders who see themselves more on a rescue mission with the purpose of forging more understanding” among the citizenry.

The VP also observed that Nigeria is a country with both Muslim and Christian population, noting that even in the South West, both religions are practised in many families.

He then said that “as Christians and Muslims we must preach love and tolerance.”

In his own remarks, the Chief Imam of Abuja National Mosque, Prof. Ibrahim Maqari, said that they (as religious leaders) also have “a duty to pray for Nigeria” which they have been doing.

In the same vein, the President of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Ustaz Shehu Usman, commended the Vice President for his “invaluable contribution to nation-building,” while another member of the delegation, Sheikh Dr. Haroun Ajah, the South East Coordinator of the Council of Ulama, praised the Vice President for being “sound, exceptional and intelligent.”

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FG recovers N120bn from crime proceeds —Lai Mohammed

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Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed

The Federal Government has said it had realised at least N120 billion as proceeds from criminal financial operations since the bill on Proceeds of Crime Recovery Management was signed into law earlier this year by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the disclosure at a news briefing where Minister of Environment presented the scorecard of the ministry under the Buhari administration in Abuja, yesterday.

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Mohammed said:  “I have an update on the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Act (POCA), 2022. In line with the new law, all relevant agencies of government have now opened ‘Confiscated and Forfeiture Properties Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

“I can confirm that so far, the Federal Government has realised over N120 billion, among other currencies, from POCA. This money will be used to fund the completion of ongoing critical infrastructure projects in the country such as the Second Niger Bridge as well as Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kano Expressways. We will continue to update you on this,” he added.

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Appeal court nullifies sale of Intercontinental Hotel to 11Plc

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The sale of Intercontinental Hotel in Lagos to 11Plc by Polaris Bank and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON) has been nullified by the Court of Appeal.

The appeal court sitting in Lagos also ordered a return of the facility to the original owner, the Milan Industries Ltd.

The decision was taken in a unanimous judgment delivered by three Justices of the Appeal Court: Jimi Olukayode Bada, who read the lead judgment; Muhammad Ibrahim Sirajo and Peter Oyinkenimiemi Affen.
The appellate court ruled that Milan Industries Ltd had fully paid the bank the N2 billion mortgage facility it secured from Polaris Bank before the hotel was taken over and sold by AMCON and the bank.
The bank, which was then known as Skye Bank, had put the management of the five-star hotel under the receivership of Mr Kunle Ogunba, an arrangement that was nullified by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Despite this, the bank went ahead and sold the hotel to another company, 11 PLC, a move that was challenged at the Appeal Court by the lawyers to Milan Industries Ltd, Messrs Ahmed Raji SAN and Tunde Kasunmu of Prof A.B Kasunmu SAN chambers.
Milan Industries Ltd had taken a facility from Skye Bank to part finance the five-star hotel located in Victoria Island, Lagos and managed by IHG.
The Milan Group had up till 2021 to pay back the facility. But in a curious move, the bank obtained an interim order to take over the management of the hotel, an order that was vacated when the suit was struck out by the court on March 20, 2018.
According to the Certified True Copy of the judgment signed and released on Wednesday by the Senior Registrar of the court, A. G. Balogun, the appellate court held that the two issues Milan Industries as Appellant/Cross Respondent was contesting were resolved in its favour.
According to the lead judgment by Justice Jimi Bada, “With the resolution of Issues No. 1 and 2 in favour of the Cross Respondent and against the Cross Appellants (Polaris Bank, AMCON and 11 Plc), it is my view that this cross appeal lacks merit and it is hereby dismissed.”
While agreeing with the lead judgment, another member of the appeal court panel, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, stated, “The appellant insisted that it had paid over two billion Naira in liquidating the facility and that as at the time the 1st respondent (Polaris Bank) entered into agreement to sell the appellant’s secured asset to the 2nd respondent (AMCON), there was no collateral and secured asset to sell to the 2nd respondent.
It was also the case of the appellant that at the time the 2nd respondent sold the appellant’s Intercontinental Hotel to the 3rd respondent, the appellant had discharged its obligation under the legal mortgage by paying the amount secured by the property.”
Justice Sirajo ruled, “I adopt his lordship’s reasoning and conclusion in the leading judgment as mine in also allowing the appeal.

“I abide by all the orders made in the lead judgment including that of the costs.”
While also concurring with the lead judgment by Justice Bada, the third member of the appeal panel, Justice Peter Affen said, “The judicial reasoning and conclusions reached on the issues raised accord with mine, and I hereby affirm my agreement with the leading judgment which allowed the main appeal and dismissed the cross appeal. I equally abide by the orders on the costs.”

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Auditor General report: 100 govt establishments risk zero allocation

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About 100 government establishments, comprising ministries, departments and agencies face the risk of getting zero allocation in the 2023 budget should they fail to respond to the queries raised against them in a report by the Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation.

The affected groups, according to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, have one week to respond.

He said this after Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Matthew Urhoghide (PDP, Edo), raised a point of order during plenary that agencies indicted in the audit report had refused to appear before his panel.

Urhoghide said his committee had invited heads of the affected agencies on several occasions to respond to queries raised in the Auditor-General’s report.

The lawmaker said sections 88 and 89 of the constitution empowered the parliament to summon federal government agencies to account for public funds they had spent.

He lamented that the agencies had refused to appear before his committee, saying the amounts involved were staggering.

He urged the Senate President to issue warrant of arrest to compel the agencies to appear before the Public Accounts Committee.

Responding, the Senate President said, “Reading this list at plenary, it gives the agencies the opportunity to now know, if they were not aware before for those that may claim ignorance.

“I am taking the opportunity to advise that, in the next one week, the agencies mentioned here should appear before the committee. If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reasons are given, we will slash the budget of the agencies.”

Some of the agencies are Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministries of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Transportation, Health, Works and Housing, Information and Culture, Mines and Steal Development, Police Affairs, Defence, Youths and Sports, Petroleum and Aviation.

Others are State House, Budget Office, Presidential Fleet, Nigerian Army, Navy, Nigerian Air Force, NAFDAC, Civil Defence, Presidential Amnesty Programme, FERMA, NEMA, National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Debt Management Office, INEC, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dept Management Office, National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA), National Examination Council (NECO).

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