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Alleged fraud: FG sells N15 billion superyacht owned by oil moguls

A 65-metre Galactica Star superyacht belonging to Nigerian oil tycoons, Kolawole Aluko and Jide Omokore, has been sold over fraud.

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Kolawole Aluko, Jide Omokore, NNPC, Diezani Alison-Madueke

A 65-metre Galactica Star superyacht belonging to Nigerian oil tycoons, Kolawole Aluko and Jide Omokore, has been sold over alleged fraud.

The Federal Government and its United States counterpart collaboratively sold the yacht valued at N15.2 billion after accusing the business magnates of siphoning huge sum of money in the nation’s oil and gas industry during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

The U.S. Justice Department had in 2017 filed a lawsuit seeking to recover assets that include N18.1 billion Manhattan apartment and the yacht that were allegedly bought with money generated from money laundering.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had also filed a suit seeking permanent forfeiture of some assets purportedly owned by Omokore at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

The EFCC had in the suit described the assets as proceeds of money laundering and fraud.

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Omokore is a close friend of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is also wanted by the EFCC to stand trial for corruption and other unethical conducts during her stint as minister from 2011-2015.

[READ MORE: US-China Trade War: Implications for Nigeria as its Asian romance lingers]

In the U.S. lawsuit filed at the  Federal Court in Houston, the U.S government alleged that Aluko and Omokore conspired with others to pay bribes Mrs Alison-Madueke.

“The ex-minister, in turn, steered lucrative contracts with a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to firms owned by the duo.

Despite being unqualified and in some instances failing entirely to perform services under the contracts, these companies received more than N542.8 million through the sale of crude oil, ” the charge sheet read.

The Justice Department claimed Aluko and Omokore later laundered their illicit revenues through the U.S. and used the money to buy N52.1 billion in assets including the Manhattan condominium and the yacht.

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The yacht, according to Yacht Harbour,  was custom-built by Dutch yard Heesen in 2013. It is the second-largest ever built by Heesen, a Dutch shipbuilding company that specializes in custom-built superyachts.

[READ ALSO: This is why you should be consistent with your investment and retirement account]

The vessel features exterior styling by Omega Architects, engineering by Van Oossanen & Associates, finished by interiors from the boards of Bannenberg & Rowell.

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The yacht, also known as Galactica Star accommodates up to 12 guests overnight in six cabins, comprising a master suite, one VIP stateroom, and four double cabins. It is also capable of carrying up to 13 crew members onboard to ensure a relaxed luxury yacht experience.

 

Famuyiwa Damilare is a trained journalist. He holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication at the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). Damilare is an innovative and transformational leader with broad-based expertise in journalism and media practice at large. He has explored his proven ability in the areas of reporting, curating and generating contents, creatively establishing social media engagements, and mobile editing of videos. It is safe to say he’s a multimedia journalist.

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Coronavirus

FG approves N8.49billion to procure COVID-19 testing Kits, others

The fund is to procure 12 items in various quantities to strengthen the testing for COVID-19.

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President Muhammadu Buhari's full speech at China-Africa Extraordinary Summit on June 17, 2020

The federal government has approved N8.49 billion to procure 12 items in various quantities to strengthen the testing for COVID-19 by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The approval was given during the 11th virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.

The approval was based on a memorandum presented to the council by the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire.

He was joined at the post-FEC press briefing by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and the Minister of Environment, Muhammad Mahmood.

He explained that the approval was made to further equip the NCDC to respond appropriately to the community transmission phase of the pandemic.

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: Russia to start mass inoculation of vaccine this month as it insists on its safety

The vaccine is said to be undergoing Phase 3 trials, which is the final stage.

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COVID-19: J&J starts vaccine trials on humans after success on monkeys

Russia has announced that it was going to start mass vaccination of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine this month before the completion of clinical testing. This is just as it waved off concerns by the international community and some scientists about the safety of the vaccine.

These views were made known by the Russian Health Minister, Mikhail Murashko, on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, during a press briefing.

The Health Minister in his statement said, ‘’Western colleagues, who can sense the competitive advantage of the Russian drug, are trying to express some opinions that are completely unjustified in our view. This vaccine is a platform that is already well-known and studied,” he said, adding that other countries have developed antidotes under accelerated testing programs.’’

READ MORE: COVID-19: WHO warns there may never be an immediate solution to the virus

Murashko also said that the authorities plan to start inoculating medical workers and other risk groups within 2 weeks on a voluntary basis while pointing out that the vaccine will be made available to the general public from October.

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Nairametrics had reported yesterday that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in a televised meeting, announced that Russia has registered the first COVID-19 vaccine in what they see as a propaganda coup amid the global race for the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease.

This announcement has raised a lot of international concerns with the German Health Minister, Jens Spahn, saying on Wednesday, that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine has not been sufficiently tested, adding that the aim was to have a safe product rather than just being first to start vaccinating people.

He said in a radio chat that it’s not about being first but rather about having an effective, tested and safe vaccine.

Experts have expressed their concerns over Russia’s decision to grant approval before the final trials of the vaccine have been completed.

READ MORE: WHO gives condition for approving Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine as the vaccine gets a name

He said that as much as he will be pleased to have a good vaccine for the virus, he pointed out that the Russians are not disclosing much about this vaccine.

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This vaccine which is developed by Gamaleya Institute in collaboration with the Defence Ministry and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), is said to be undergoing Phase 3 trials, which is the final stage.

However, a World Health Organization (WHO) database still lists the vaccine as still only in Phase 1 trial, which is the earliest stage.

The RDIF said that it can produce over 500 million doses of the new vaccine in a year in 5 countries, just as it disclosed that a minimum of 20 countries are currently interested in having access to these vaccines.

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The WHO had earlier revealed that it is currently discussing with Russia and pointed out that in granting prequalification of the vaccine, a detailed review of data from clinical trials will be required.

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Economy & Politics

FG completes 11 projects to drive Digital Economy

The government has been pushing the Digital Economy in a bid to diversify economic productivity.

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FG completes 11 projects to drive Digital Economy, FG orders NIPOST to stop cash transactions , Pantami moves to ban automatic voicemail service by telcos  , Why Nigeria’s Data woes may not end soon , Pantami reacts to CBN’s ATM fee cut, keeps mute on directive to cut data cost , Pantami condemns FIRS move to collect stamp duty, MTN, Airtel, others disregarding Pantami’s voicemail, data directives on all front , FG warns State governments against RoW charge increase, FG reiterates commitment towards implementing broadband strategy ,FG reiterates commitment to 75% broadband penetration in 5 years 

The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy announced that it has completed 11 projects to drive its Digital Economy programme.

This was announced by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, during the phase 2 commissioning of Nigeria’s Digital Economy drive.

The Nigerian Government has been pushing the Digital Economy in a bid to create growth and diversify economic productivity in the nation, starting with the Digital Economy drive which was added to the portfolio of the Ministry of Communications.

READ MORE: Nigeria’s broadband penetration rises, yet internet remains slowest in the world

Nairametrics reported last month that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) also approved the creation of a Digital Economy Department, which will be responsible for promoting the digital economic agenda of the federal government. The department will renew the commission’s strategy for delivering its programmes and policies, and give the necessary push to promote the national digital economy.

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The projects were launched with the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and would be operated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST ) and The Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) and would be located nationwide.

READ ALSO: NCC issues 10 new VAS licences in 2019, projects market to hit $500 million 

The 11 projects are:

  1. Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) llorin, Kwara State.
  2. Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) Calabar, Cross River State.
  3. School Knowledge Centre (SKC), Gombe State.
  4. Information Technology Innovation Centre, Kogi State.
  5. Tertiary Institution Knowledge Centre (TIKC), Delta State.
  6. New Neighborhood Post Office, Delta State.
  7. Remodelled National Mail Exchange Centre, Bayelsa State.
  8. e-Health/Data Sharing Centre, Bauchi State.
  9. Virtual Examination Centre, Borno State.
  10. Information Technology Capacity Building Centre, Jigawa State.
  11. Information Technology Capacity Building Centre, Imo State.

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