Former Governor of the Central Bank (CBN), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, has denied reports that he was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday, insisting that rather, he was invited by the agency to make clarifications on some issues on a matter under investigation.
However, a source at the commission said Soludo was granted administrative bail and was allowed to go home, having been grilled for several hours by the commission’s team of investigators.
The source said his international and diplomatic passports were seized after he had produced two sureties at the level of Permanent Secretaries or Directors.
The source added: “But that is not the end because he is also expected back for further interrogation.
“I don’t have much details on the other 12 ex-staff of CBN and the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company who were linked with the scam; it is not as if the suspects are here.
“But a number of them have been questioned over time and they are both from NSPMC and CBN, it is not as if they are in our station at the moment.”
But a close aide of Soludo denied that his passports were seized or that he was granted any administrative bail, or that he provided any sureties.
A statement by his media office Friday said the former CBN Governor voluntarily went to the EFCC office to honour the commission’s invitation.
The statement signed by Bonaventure Melah said Soludo was neither arrested nor escorted to EFCC office by operatives of the commission as was reported.
“We want to put it on record clearly that the media reports that Professor Chukwuma Soludo was arrested by the operatives of the EFCC in Abuja is totally false or to say the least written in error.
“The fact of the matter is that the EFCC wrote a letter to Prof. Soludo inviting him to their Abuja office on the 10th of January 2013. EFCC’s invitation letter to Prof. Soludo was dated 20th December 2012.
“Soludo was abroad attending to several international engagements when the letter was sent to his aides. As a law-abiding citizen of the country, Soludo returned to Nigeria in the New Year and honoured EFCC invitation on January 10th as requested.
“He voluntarily went from his home to EFCC office on Thursday. He was neither arrested nor escorted by any operative of the Commission.
“The EFCC letter of invitation to Soludo states that: ‘This Commission is investigating a case in which the need to obtain certain clarifications from you has become imperative.’
“It was a two-paragraph letter which also indicated date and time for the meeting between Prof. Soludo and officials of the Commission,” the statement added.
The Guardian yesterday learnt that Soludo alongside others were quizzed by the anti-graft agency on the processes adopted in handling the contract and not on any alleged bribery.
A top official of the anti-graft agency, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that the issues of alleged contract bribery did not come up during the interrogations, rather the agency was looking at the processes adopted in awarding the contract.
According to the official, Soludo made some clarifications on the issue on Thursday and was allowed to go home.
On how contract for currency adoption or printing is being awarded, a top official of the apex bank said that the first step is for the President to give approval, after which CBN gives the job to the Nigerian Minting and Printing Company or any other printing company. The minting and printing company will now source for polymer from Securency.
“CBN does not award contract for such job nor has any direct contractual arrangement with Securency. So there should be no link between CBN and the Australian polymer company’, the official said.
The decision to look into the polymer deal was triggered by a petition by Human and Environmental Development Agenda, headed by Olanrewaju Suraju, demanding the investigation and possible prosecution of those involved in the alleged contract scam.
Sources also indicated that other top management staff of the CBN who had worked during Soludo’s tenure were also picked and are currently being held alongside other ex-staff of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company.
However, all efforts to get the identity of other detained suspects proved abortive, as no one was willing to volunteer information. Sources also stated that the commission had been conducting discreet investigations on the contract scam before Soludo’s eventual invitation, adding that as a prelude, several officials of the NSMPC and the CBN had been quizzed.
Ahead of the 2010 Anambra governorship election in which Soludo contested as the governorship candidate of the PDP after a protracted legal battle that terminated at the apex court three day to the election, the issue of the alleged polymer note bribery allegation was levelled against Soludo by some of his political opponents. This followed a report by an Australian newspaper that there was a global investigation on Securency and its agents all over the world which revealed that the agents must have bribed public officials of countries that adopted polymer.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, Soludo said: “CBN under my leadership never awarded any contract to Securency. I was not aware and did not know of anybody who may have been given money for anything. I would be surprised if any such thing happened.”
Soludo emerged the PDP candidate for the election amidst opposition from some aspirants, but the Presidency, under the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, backed his candidature.
Due to his ill-health, Yar’Adua left the country and president Jonathan took over as acting president and supervised the election where Soludo lost to Governor Peter Obi.
The president of Togo’s football federation says he intervened to include Emmanuel Adebayor in the country’s Africa Cup of Nations squad.
Gabriel Ameyi told the BBC he took action once he realised the Tottenham striker had not been selected.
“On the initial list, those guys weren’t there,” Ameyi said of Adebayor and veteran goalkeeper Agassa Kossi.
“I insisted and if I am accused of intervening in selection, yes I did, but only regarding Adebayor and Kossi.”
It is unclear whether coach Didier Six failed to call up the Spurs forward given his recent proclamations that he did not wish to play in the tournament held in South Africa.
“I think everything is sorted out as in his statements on various television channels. Sheyi (as Adebayor is often known in Togo) has clearly said he will be taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations,” Ameyi added.
“So I was a bit surprised this morning after the rumours about his non-participation. I don’t understand – and I don’t believe – these rumours.
“I know Sheyi well, and if he says that he will do things, he does them. So, yes I am surprised, but no need to panic. Let’s wait and see. I am convinced Sheyi will be among us.”
Earlier this week, Adebayor – who is set to fly to South Africa after Tottenham’s game against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday – said he was persuaded to return to the national team after meeting Togo’s head of state .
Adebayor met President Faure Gnassingbe over two days, according to a government spokesman.
“I told him Togo football is sick and must find some medicine,” Adebayor told French radio in an interview on Wednesday.
Adebayor temporarily retired from international football in 2010 after a gun attack on Togo’s team bus at that year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Two members of the Togolese party were killed, and goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale was badly hurt and has been unable to return to football since.
Adebayor was convinced to return but fell out with federation bosses in December over what he called “mismanagement and a lack of transparency” and initially said he would not play for his country at this year’s event.
South Africa will be Togo’s first appearance at the African championship since the deadly attack in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda, which led the country to withdraw from that tournament.
The Hawks have been drawn in a tough Group D, along with tournament favourites Ivory Coast, Tunisia and Algeria – Africa’s second-highest ranked team according to world governing body Fifa.
Mali’s president declares state of emergency on national television amid Islamist advance
Ethiopia ended their pre-2013 Africa Cup of Nations build-up on a high with a win over Tanzania on Friday.
The Walia Antelopes beat Tanzania 2-1 in Addis Ababa.
It was a great day for new boy and ex-USA junior international striker Fuad Ibrahim of American second tier side Minnesota Stars who scored his debut goal on his third Ethiopian cap.
And it was Ibrahim who put Ethiopia on the road to victory with the opener in the 13th minute to see the home side take a 1-0 halftime lead.
Tanzania levelled in the 51st minute through Mtibwa Sugar midfielder Shabani Nditi.
However, Ethiopia made sure of the win in the 69th minute through Saint George’s promising 22-year-old midfielder Shemelese Bekele.
Ethiopia thus ended their build-up with a 100 hundred per cent run with two wins and a draw.
The Walia Antelopes began with a 1-0 win over Niger at the same venue on December 30. They followed it up with a 1-1 away draw in Doha against Tunisia on January 7.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia are expected to land in South Africa on Wednesday.
Ethiopia are in Group C together with Burkina Faso, Nigeria and defending champions Zambia.
They end their 31-year absence from the tournament on January 21 against Zambia at Mbombela Stadium.
Ethiopia’s football (soccer) team hopes to excel when it makes its first appearance in 31 years at the Africa Cup of Nations. The young players hope to relive Ethiopia’s past glories at the tournament that begins next week in South Africa.
Ethiopia participated in the very first Africa Cup of Nations, in 1957, and won the trophy in 1962.
But that was a long time ago, and national team coach Sewnet Bishaw said his young team is under a lot of pressure, as this is a new experience for all the players.
“Most of them were not there when Ethiopia was qualifying for Africa Cup of Nations the last 31 years back. We have psychology class every two days, we teach them. And to erase this pressure we have arranged games to practice,” said Bishaw.
Adane Girma is one of the top players in the Ethiopian football league. He said the psychology classes are very useful.
He said that he thinks the team is feeling less pressured because the psychology and nutrition class is helping them a lot. Adane said they are being taught a lot of things that are helping them concentrate on every game, keep themselves well and have confidence in their abilities.
During team practices in the capital’s stadium, the stands are filled. Football fan Alazar, a young salesman who has high expectations for the national team, said he believes the national team will bring back the trophy as he witnessed good quality football when they were playing friendly matches.
The team, nicknamed the Walya Antelopes, for an antelope found only in Ethiopia, qualified for the African Cup of Nations after beating Sudan, 2-0, in October. The last time Ethiopia participated was in 1982.
The long-awaited appearance of the national team in the tournament comes after many changes within the Ethiopian football league. President of the Ethiopian Football Federation Sahilu Gebremariam said there were many problems to be fixed.
“We used to interfere in all operational matters. Now we have a clear cut role and responsibilities,” Gebremariam said. “All the technical matters, we left it to the professionals, we don’t interfere. The last three years we have been doing vigorously and a lot so based on that you can see the cumulative effect now.”
The success of the Walyas has also generated much needed funds. The Ethiopian government granted almost half a million dollars, many local businessmen have donated sizeable amounts and international beer brewer Heineken just signed a $1.3 million contract with the team.
One week before the start of the Africa Cup of Nations, coach Bishaw keeps training light so the players will be in perfect shape for their first match – against defending champion Zambia.
Saladin Said is the only national team player who plays professionally in another country. The Egyptian Premier League forward says he feels the Walyas are ready to compete.
Ethiopia will play their match against Zambia on January 21. They will also face Nigeria and Burkina Faso in the first round.VOA
France’s air force carried out an air strike in Mali on Friday as it supported government forces trying to halt a push south by Islamist rebels who control the north, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
Asked at a news conference whether there had been an air strike since France began its military intervention a few hours earlier, Fabius replied, “Yes.”
He said as far as he knew France was the only country that was assisting the Malian government militarily for now.
Twenty-four hours after former President Olusegun Obasanjo advised the Federal Government to adopt “carrot and stick” approach in tackling Boko Haram, presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, has told the Nigerian leader to pocket his counsel. In fact, Abati said Obasanjo is confused. Obasanjo told Zain Verjee on CNN International interview on Tuesday that President Goodluck Jonathan should use the stick to check the menace of the Islamist sect whose campaign has killed over 2,500 people during attacks on churches and mosques.
Reacting to Obasanjo’s interview for the second time yesterday, Abati, in four tweets, said Obasanjo is apparently confused over the Boko Haram menace with his recent suggestion that the “carrot and stick” approach should be employed to address the insurgency. Obasanjo had, in the CNN interview, accused President Jonathan of only using the stick approach to address the problem rather than ‘a double track’ approach.
“To deal with such group, you need ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ approach. ‘Carrot’ is finding out what, how to reach out to them and ‘stick’ is when you are trying to reach out to them, those that are amenable to be reached out to, you have to use the stick approach”. But Obasanjo’s new posture, however, drew the ire of the Presidency, as Abati picked holes in the suggestions of the former president, saying it smacked of contradiction and confusion.
He said Obasanjo had earlier accused President Jonathan of being too soft on Boko Haram at a function in Warri, Delta State where he suggested an Odi solution (genocide) to the Boko Haram insurgence “Jonathan administration has shown creativity and purposefulness in handling the Boko Haram challenge. Hence, the progress we witness. “One report says Obasanjo is recommending a multifaceted approach to Boko Haram. This government certainly doesn’t need a lecture on that,” Abati tweeted.
Obasanjo and the Presidency had engaged in a veiled war of words since last year over perceived plan by Jonathan to contest a second term in 2015. Although, the President was yet to declare his intention, Obasanjo had never concealed his posture that the next president must come from another zone of the country and not from the South-South where Jonathan hailed from.
Abuja: Nigeria’s anti-graft agency has arrested the country’s former central bank governor Chukwuma Soludo over his alleged role in the banknotes bribery scandal.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, the country’s apex financial institution, had printed new currency notes of 20 naira between 2006 and 2008 with polymer.
An NGO, in a petition to the anti-graft body, had sought for a probe after Australian media reported that Securency International, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia, bribed some Nigerian officials to the tune of about USD 4.7 million to secure the note printing contract.
The contract in question was given during Soludo’s tenure as the bank governor. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) interrogated Soludo at its headquarters alongside 15 other senior officers of the bank.
“Prominent amongst the names featured in the secret memo were that of the then CBN governor, Charles Chukwuma Soludo, senior officials of the finance ministry and a former president,” the petition read.
“We have Soludo in our custody, among several other suspects, and it is part of an ongoing investigation over his involvement in the award of contract and printing of polymer banknotes when he was the governor of the CBN,” the EFCC spokesperson Wilson Uwujaren was quoted by local Thisday newspaper as saying.
But the former bank governor, after the interrogation, described the process as a phantom allegation.
According to him, he was asked to say what he knew about the deal and then released on bail.
The EFCC was set up by the government of Nigeria to investigate and prosecute officials and members of the public involved in corrupt practices.
Martha van der Wolf, VOA
ADDIS ABABA — A new study says the fastest-growing sectors of Ethiopia’s economy, such as telecommunications, land management and construction, are prone to corruption. A study conducted by the World Bank and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission was made public on Friday.
At the same time, the study praises Ethiopia for its generally low levels of corruption compared to other low-income countries.
Rupert Bladon of the World Bank says fast growing sectors are more vulnerable to corruption but that steps can be taken to reduce the practice.
“I think it needs a combination of efforts. I think you need strong regulatory frameworks, and also strong institutions and people working in those institutions helping to oversee the regulation of those,” he said. “In terms of areas where you have large procurement, it’s very important that there are transparent regulations that are being followed across the public sector.”
Fast growing sectors in developing countries such as Ethiopia are instrumental to economic growth. The study focused on eight different sectors.
The telecommunications sector is at high risk, according to the study, because of weak accountability and the monopoly position of the telecom service provider.
Abdurahim Ahmed of Ethiotelecom is not impressed with the findings of the research:
“The research states that this country has a strong policy framework. This means the policy of this company emanates from the government’s policy, which the research puts as a strong policy framework. So the monopolistic framework emanates from the country’s policy,” he said. “There is nothing that had been presented that correlates these two, the monopolistic nature and the reason that it will become prone to corruption.”
Ethiotelecom does not see corruption as a top priority at the moment, but they did say they would look into the report’s recommendation to improve accountability within the company.
The Ethiopian government has already started to change its land policy to reduce corruption. The chairman of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Ali Suleiman says much more is administrated and registered than before:
“The government had no data which part of the land was occupied or owned by somebody. Because of this lack of registration it was easy for people, for engineers, for land managers, to corrupt with this plot of land,” he said. “But now a database has been started to be implemented and the procedures, how to get title deeds, how to prove ownership – all this starting from policy registrations and directives started to be implemented.”
Examples of other efforts to reduce corruption can be found in the construction sector. Any transaction over $162,000 (3 million Ethiopian birr) has to be published on a website. This is also an effort to change public perception. The study reports that the public perception does not correspond with the actual level of corruption.
Chairman Ali says the level of corruption is much lower than other low-income and developing countries, but that there is a perception that corruption is rampant in the East African country:
“In all sectors it proves there is a disparity between perception and reality. Our assignment is to see the reason why people perceive in such a way,” Ali added. “I think one reason because we lack transparence in our public services and maybe people they don’t differentiate between inefficiency and corruption – maybe any delay, any inefficiency, maybe translated to corruption.”
Ethiopia scored 113 out of 176 countries in the 2012 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, the anti-corruption watchdog.
By Robele Ababya
Repugnant plot of assassination
This hideous foiled plot to conduct the savage act of assassination in the 21st century on the icon human rights activist and renowned journalist Abebe Gelaw, must be roundly condemned by all freedom loving humanity on our globe. The foiled plot is an act of terrorism designed to take place in the United States – in the land of the brave and free and bastion of democracy where the supremacy of law reigns supreme. There is no doubt that the TPLF thugs will pay for their lawlessness.
Abebe Gelaw uttered on 18 May 2012 the immortal words with his thunderous voice repeatedly saying “Meles Zenawi is a dictator” and demanding “freedom before food”. He was right, for it is written in the Holy Bible, in Matthew 4:4 that, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
The unexpected heroic act of courage by the renowned human rights activist and journalist Abebe no doubt sent a cringing shiver of fear down the spine of tyrant Zenawi in full view of world leaders and prominent personalities at the Food Security Forum chaired by President Obama at the Regan Building in Washington. There is no doubt therefore that the top goons in the TPLF hierarchy are fully behind the assassination plot for revenge.
The bad example set by the TPLF boss to the rest of Africa
The late TPLF boss unconstitutionally announced his party the winner in the election of 2005 swiftly declaring a state of emergency to cover up his humiliating convincing defeat by the opposition. He sent the illustrious victors to jail. In the immediate aftermath of the election 193 innocent protestors of the daylight robbery of votes were gunned down in cold blood; tens of thousands were incarcerated. In the election of 2010 the votes were so heavily rigged; the TPLF party using entirely government resources in the contest and declared itself ‘victory’ by 99.6% out of 547 parliamentary seats.
International observers, except the AU or its predecessor the OAU, ruled that the elections of 2005 and 2010 were neither fair nor free. The bad example set by the terrorist TPLF regime in Ethiopia spread like pandemic through the African continent starting in neighboring Kenya, Ivory Coast et al causing death, injuries, exile, human sufferings and colossal destruction of property. Robbing of votes became the norm on the African continent.
Interference with religious affairs
The rampant breach of its own constitution by the TPLF party and its government is known to the international community. Freedom of expression is denied. The brutal regime does not allow freedoms of conscience and religion as stipulated in Article 27 of its constitution. The present heavy crackdown on the Ethiopian Muslim community and gross interference to determine the outcome of the forthcoming election of a Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church are two examples in point. The followers of the two ancient faiths constitute 77% of the Ethiopian population and the repressive TPLF regime is scared of the ongoing unrest throughout Ethiopia scaling to full blown civil disobedience.
Plea to President Obama
The bad example set by the TPLF boss to the rest of Africa and Interference with religious affairsalluded to in the above two sections must be stopped as a matter of urgency. The unbridled globalized act of terror against peaceful protestors and genuine political opposition forces by the TPLF party perpetrated for the last 21 years and continuing in the present must come to an end immediately to avert catastrophic civil strife in Ethiopia.
The TPLF deceitful terrorists have been biting the hands that fed them for the last 21 years on the watch of the US State Department officials including Condoleezza Rice, Aurelia Brazil, Vicki Huddleston, Susan Rice and Jundiai Frazer. I hope that the Obama Administration will not spare cutting those hands caught red-handed this time on its own soil – and review its relationship with the top pathological liars of the EPRDF government, which is still adamantly refusing to allow democratic dispensation and vowing that the legacy of the late dictator zenawi will remain intact.
All law abiding citizens of our global community and freedom loving peoples of our planet Earth expect the United States in its role as leader of the free world to condemn the abuse of power of the TPLF regime and bring to justice all those criminals involved in the recent plot on its soil to assassinate Abebe Gellaw as part of its (regime’s) global design to silence dissent by providing political, financial and operational support.
Immediate action required
Meles Zenawi lived like a sole tall giant tree among his Stalinist close confidants and greedy followers. He is now dead and his body will naturally decompose like an uprooted fallen tree. But his evil thoughts and his legacy are left behind like minefields replete with explosives; his venomous legacy is thorn in the flesh of Ethiopians, who must therefore remain alert and vigilant to foil any demonic action his extremist followers plan to take.
The Amaras and the Oromos are also principal high value targets for the extremists because the Italian Fascist’s grand plan to eliminate these two ethnic groups has been adopted and systematically implemented by the TPLF ruling elite for the last 21 years. And the do-as-told Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has declared outright to the Ethiopian people and the entire world that the policy of his predecessor will remain intact, thus inviting civil strike as well as all-inclusive struggle against the EPRDF government. The two ethnic groups should therefore build trust and act in unison in a coordinated self-defense until the inevitable eventual demise of the repressive regime in power is realized. Time is of the essence to that end!
Ethiopia during the Zenawi era had become the breeding ground of government-sponsored terrorists such as Guesh Abera masquerading as immigrants but in actual fact on the loose like rabid dogs to disable genuine opposition refugees in host countries worldwide. These dogs have to be treated as accomplices to Al Shabab, which is linked to Al Qaeda, for that is what they actually are. It is therefore incumbent upon all genuine opposition activists and civic organizations in the Diaspora to identify these rabid dogs and report them to law enforcement, immigration and security officials including the FBI.
Finally in closing, I wish to:
- reiterate that we Ethiopians in the Diaspora are duty bound to render all round support to opposition forces and civic organizations of our choice at home noting that only their combined action will expedite the peaceful surrender or otherwise forced fall of the brutal regime in power.
- extend my profound gratitude to the FBI for foiling the assassination attempt, which has triggered massive fury and vehement condemnation of the savage plot by Ethiopians at home and in the Diaspora.
Release all political prisoners including Andualem Aragie, Eskinder Nega, Bekele Gerba, Reeyot Alemu, all Muslim Leaders, et al!
LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA!!!