Reactions As Presidency Declares Support For Embattled Pantami - IReporteronline
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Reactions As Presidency Declares Support For Embattled Pantami

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The Presidency’s statement in support of embattled Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Ali Isa Pantami despite calls by Nigerians for his resignation/sack over his past controversial statements in support of terrorist groups has sparked outrage.

The Nation reports President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, in a statement titled ‘Statement by the Presidency on recent campaign against the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy’, explained Pantami’s was young when he made those statements and his position had since changed.

The Presidency had defended the embattled Minister saying he made enemies because he tried to put Nigeria first and had initiated plans and policies that would profit the public.

The Nation reports many Nigerians and groups have been asking Buhari to sack Pantami after videos from the 2000s resurfaced where the Minister was seen supporting Al-Qaeda and the Taliban as well as expressing Islamic extreme views.

Declaring its support for Pantami, the Presidency described his current travail as an orchestrated attempt to ‘cancel’ him.

But many Nigerians insisted on Pantami’s sack or resignation despite the presidential explanation.

Social Commentator Wale Adetona said: “We are aware of all the reports and claims about Pantami, but there’s nothing we would do about it! If Shekau comes pleading tomorrow too, we’d give him a ticket to run for Presidency. That’s the summary of Garba Sheu’s tweet.”

“Am I disappointed at the statement of the presidency on Pantami? NO. It was expected. Leadership of our country has been hijacked by a narrow and sectarian cabal with feudal agenda. Did the presidency expect the reactions witnessed here? No. Una shock am,” Lawyer Abdul Mahmud said.

Malachy Odo noted: “Going by the position of the Nigerian government on Pantami, I am sure that over 90% of Prison inmates in this country regret whatever it is they did that took them there and have also renounced them. Why are they still being detained? Why is Rev. King still in prison?”

Fisayo Soyombo argued: “The Presidency was gifted a landmark opportunity to proclaim its aversion to terror. Instead, it released a statement ‘standing by’ Pantami.

“This is tacit endorsement of terrorism. The govt is emboldening people to go ahead & spew hate, & return years later to a pat on the back.”

Freelance Journalist David Hundeyin said: “Your government has released an official statement saying that Isa Pantami has “apologised” for being a terror apologist and therefore it “stands behind” him. I have no words.”

Editi Effiòng tweeted: “The reason I stood and watched this entire Pantami scandal is because I know the Buhari government is beyond redemption.

“If government that has no qualms killing unarmed protesters, what’s the big deal about a minister who supports terrorism

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NDLEA Seizes Drug-Laced Cakes On Lagos-Ibadan Expressway

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The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Yoyo State has intercepted baked cakes made with cannabis sativa on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

The NDLEA Commander, Mrs Josephine Obi, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Ibadan.

“We also arrested a delivery man who was in possession of a birthday cake infused with 1.2kg of Cannabis Sativa.

”The continuous attempt by illicit drug traffickers to outwit anti-drug agency through evil creativity is increasing at an alarming rate in different states of the country.

“The emergence of clandestine production of drugged cookies or cakes among the youths is at an alarming rate as this was uncovered by some state commands of the NDLEA formations in the country.

“The cookies or cakes were baked with Arizona weed, a highly psychoactive variant of the marijuana family, Rohypnol and alcohol among other ingredients such as yeast, butter, flour, sugar, milk and chocolates.

“The product is already in supermarkets, clubs and schools, making children the most vulnerable.”

The state commander said that illicit drug traffickers were getting more creative to beat NDLEA’s operational dragnet.

Obi identified public disregard and lack of awareness of the awful consequences of drug abuse as reasons for the unrestricted access to illicit drugs and psychotropic substances among the youths.

“The way people have been disregarding the drug problem and epidemic in our society has made youths to embrace it even more.

“It is not surprising that the youths keep on finding new ways and means to use and trafficked hard drugs.

“Everyone should be extra vigilant. There is nothing these young people cannot adulterate with hard drugs, and they offer these to their mates without their knowing, ” she said.

She appealed to the residents of the state to support NDLEA in the war against drug trafficking, abuse and addiction in order to stem the tide of the drug use epidemic in the state.

“As NDLEA battles to get illicit drug dealers, all hands have to be on deck to stop the menace of drug abuse in the state.

“Some years back no one would have thought things would degenerate to this level.

“The command will leave no stone unturned to get to the manufacturer of these illicit drug-infused cookies and cakes.

“We are also going to scale up our drug abuse sensitisation exercises even on the new means of disturbing these illicit and psychotropic drugs,” she said.

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Nigerian, Ghanaian Arrested For Duping COVID-19 Patients On The Pretext Of Supplying Oxygen Cylinders

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Two African nationals have been arrested for allegedly cheating people on the pretext of providing them oxygen cylinders, police said on Sunday.

 

The accused have been identified as Cheema Benneth (42), a native of Nigeria and Jonathan Kojo (44), a resident of Ghana.

On May 5, a man told the police that he needed an oxygen cylinder for his relative suffering from Covid-19.

 

After finding a phone number on social media, he contacted the accused, who told him to pay Rs 16,000 for an oxygen cylinder and Rs 4,000 as a transportation charge. The complainant transferred Rs 20,000 to their account, officials said.

 

The accused assured him that the cylinder would reach his address. However, the victim did not receive any cylinder and when he tried to contact the accused, they blocked his number, a senior police officer said.

 

“During the investigation, it was found that foreign nationals were involved in the cheating racket spread across India. On Thursday, police apprehended Benneth from Green Park in south Delhi. Based on his disclosure, his associate Kojo was also nabbed on Saturday,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Shibesh Singh said.

 

Police recovered 163 SIM cards, 19 mobile phones, five laptops, four debit cards and other articles from their possession.

 

During interrogation, Benneth told the police that he and his associates in India and abroad were cheating people via different modes.

 

After seeing the rising demand for oxygen cylinders in Delhi, they planned to cheat people via this mode. They flashed their mobile numbers on different social media platforms, promising to provide oxygen cylinders to needy people, police said.

 

The accused disclosed that he collected phone numbers of the needy people from social media and, along with his associates and started sending messages to them regarding the availability of oxygen cylinders, they said.

 

One of his associates in Bangalore provided the bank accounts to receive the money. After withdrawing the money, their share was deposited in their respective bank accounts. Their other associates in Africa also assisted in this fraud, Indian Telegraph reports.

 

Police found that they were using more than 20 bank accounts for cheating and they have duped more than 1,000 people across India of over Rs 2 crore.

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Nigerian Governor’s Aide Arrested In U.S. Over $350,000 Fraud

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An aide to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is currently enmeshed in over $350,000 (about N140 million) COVID-19 unemployment fraud in the United States.

Abidemi Rufai, who works as Senior Special Assistant to Mr Abiodun, was arrested last Friday, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York before boarding a flight to Amsterdam.

He is scheduled for a detention hearing Wednesday.

The money wired is said to be unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Wire fraud according to the United States Department of Justice is punishable by up to 30 years in prison when it relates to benefits paid in connection with a presidentially-declared disaster or emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Statement

The Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman said in a statement that his team “worked diligently with a federal law enforcement team to track down the criminals who stole funds designated for pandemic relief since the first fraud reports to their office in April 2020″.

“This is the first, but will not be the last, significant arrest in our ongoing investigation of ESD fraud,” Ms Gorman said.

Mr Rufai reportedly used the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with ESD for pandemic-related unemployment benefits, the statement added.

He is also accused of filing fraudulent unemployment claims with Hawaii, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania.

“Rufai used variations of a single e-mail address in a manner intended to evade automatic detection by fraud systems,” Ms Gorman continued.

“By using this practice, Rufai made it appear that each claim was connected with a different email account.

“Rufai caused the fraud proceeds to be paid out to online payment accounts such as ‘Green Dot’ accounts, or wired to bank accounts controlled by ‘money mules’.

“Some of the proceeds were then mailed to the Jamaica, New York address of Rufai’s relative. Law enforcement determined more than $288,000 was deposited into an American bank account controlled by Rufai between March and August 2020.”

Also, the Special Agent in Charge FBI Seattle, Donald Voiret, said “the FBI and our partners will not stand idly by while individuals attempt to defraud programs meant to assist American workers and families suffering the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

PREMIUM TIMES understands the case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG).

“The fraud on ESD is being investigated cooperatively by the FBI, DOL-OIG, Social Security Office of Inspector General, U.S. Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations.

“The Washington Employment Security Department is cooperating in the investigation,” the report on the United States Department of Justice website read.

“The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth Wilkinson, Cindy Chang, and Benjamin Diggs of the Western District of Washington, and Trial Attorney Jane Lee of DOJ’s Cyber Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).”

PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Rufai’s principal, Governor Abiodun, on the matter but his spokesperson, Kunle Somorin, asked our reporter to call him back.

Hours later, he is yet to respond to calls and text messages.

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