<!– Major news in July, 2020 –>
By Taiwo Okanlawon
From Magu’s arrest, dramas between NDDC top officials and National Assembly, and Hushpuppi’s extradition to the US – here is a catch-up of some of the biggest news stories that took place in July.
- Magu Probe
Operatives of the Department of State Services stormed the old headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday, July 6, 2020 and arrested its chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
Magu was arrested over allegations of owning properties and transfer of funds through a third party abroad. He denied all.
According to EFCC spokesman, Dele Oyewale, the EFCC’s boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation.
- Hushpuppi’s extradition
Nigerian fraudster, Raymond Igbalode Abbas popularly known as Hushpuppi and his cybercriminals were arrested June by Dubai Police in a special operation dubbed “Fox Hunt 2.” But news of his extradition to the United States surfaced online in July.
He extradited alongside his close associate, Olalekan Jacob Ponle also known as Woodberry over high-level fraud, money-laundering, and cyber-crimes.
The official page of Dubai Police confirmed their extradition on its official page after the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI’s Director, Christopher Wray, thanked the Dubai Police for working towards extradition of the suspected cybercriminals.
The operation took down the suspects for committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, cyber fraud, hacking, criminal impersonating, scamming individuals, banking fraud and identity theft.
The suspects were caught in a series of synchronised raids by six SWAT teams from Dubai Police who foiled the gang’s bid to deceive many people from around the world and steal their money.
The director of Dubai CID, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf said the raid resulted in confiscating incriminating documents of a planned fraud on a global scale worth AED 1.6 billion ($ 435 million).
Hushpuppi faces many years in American jail after he was charged in Chicago with conspiracy to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams.
He was also charged with executing schemes targeting a U.S. law firm, a foreign bank and an English Premier League soccer club.
Hushpuppi went on to hire Gal Pissetzky, one of the best criminal defence lawyers in Chicago area to defend him.
Chicago was Hushpuppi’s first court appearance. He was late moved Los Angeles California for similar crimes.
- Tunde Braimoh dies of COVID-19
The former chairman of Kosofe Local Government died two months to his 60th birthday on 30 September.
Hakeem Sokunle, Chairman, House Committee on Health, told NAN that the late Braimoh might have died of COVID-19 and it was possible he had contracted it from late Sen. Bayo Osinowo with whom he was a close confidant.
Braimoh, a lawyer was the Bamofin of Ketuland. He was popularly called ‘Big Daddy’.
- August Alsina vs Jada Pinkett Smith
U.S. singer August Alsina has made a startling claim that he had a relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith, with actor Will Smith’s blessing.
Alsina, 27, addressed the long-standing rumours he was romantically linked with 48 year-old Pinkett Smith during an interview with The Breakfast Club host Angela Yee.
He claimed the ‘I Am Legend’ actor approved the relationship ”due to the transformation from their marriage to life partnership”.
The singer is said to have met Pinkett Smith after being introduced by her son Jaden Smith in 2015.
Pinkett Smith’s representatives told the New York Post that Alsina’s claims are “absolutely not true”, but the celebrity couple later admitted that Jada and August Alsina had a romantic relationship 4 and a half years ago.
Jada and Will claimed they were separated at the time and didn’t think they’ll get back together.
They made this revelation at a special Friday edition of her “Red Table Talk” show on Facebook to share their side of the story. They, however, denied August Alsina’s claim that Will Smith gave him permission to date Jada.
- NDDC N40billion Probe
Following the alleged sharp financial practices, President Muhamadu Buhari had in October last year ordered a forensic audit of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)’s operations from 2001 to 2019.
Weighty allegations of misappropriation of public funds to the tune of N80 billion by the Interim Management Committee of the NDDC were discovered, prompting the upper chamber of the National Assembly to investigate the Commission.
Nunieh while appearing before the Senate ad-hoc committee stated that Akpabio embarked on misuse of office and other fraudulent activities from their first encounter.
Nunieh said the minister engineered her removal for failing to dance to his tunes.
She alleged that Akpabio asked her to change the dollars in the NDDC account; sack the head of the legal team who is from the north; remove all directors who refused to follow his instructions and also to implicate Peter Nwaoboshi, chairman of the Senate committee on NDDC.
She said the minister asked her to take an oath of secrecy to stop her from exposing any of his dealings but she refused.
She also said Akpabio was awarded 30 contracts before she became the commission’s acting MD.
- NDDC Probe: Akpabio vs Reps Committee
At the continuation of the hearing before House of Representatives committee, Akpabio accused Nunieh of siphoning government fund, insubordination and that Joy never served the National Youth Service Corps.
He alleged that the agency does not have the right leadership.
According to him, the agency is corrupt and could not boast of an office. He added that the truth was revealed after Presidental Muhammadu Buhari requested a forensic audit.
Akpabio dropped another bombshell, that 60 percent of contracts by the agency go to ‘you, National Assembly members.
He, however, boasted that he has the records of lawmakers benefiting from NDDC. He also stated that the chairman of the panel is aware of his claims.
Aside from Akpabio, various officials who testified before the House committee also made allegations of reckless, unbudgeted, and unaccounted spendings by past and present officials of the NDDC.
- NDDC Probe: Pondei collapses before Reps committee
Acting Managing Director of the NNDC, Prof Kemebradikumo Pondei on Monday, July 2020 collapsed during a probe by the House Representatives Committee over allegations of massive fraud in the commission.
Pondei reportedly collapsed when he was responding to questions about the N1.5 billion allegedly disbursed by the management of the as COVID-19 palliative to employees.
He was said to have failed to respond to questions from the chairman of the probe panel on the commission’s scholarship of Nigerians students abroad.
The acting MD was said to have been grilled for 45 minutes before he collapsed and was rushed out of the Conference Room 231, venue of the investigative hearing on illegal spending and mismanagement of funds in the commission.
- Tolulope Arotile’s death
Nigeria was thrown into mourning on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, after her first female combat helicopter pilot, Tolulope Arotile, died at the age of 23.
She passed away after sustaining head injuries from a road traffic accident at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base in Kaduna.
She died less than a year after she was decorated as the first female combatant helicopter pilot.
Her death was greeted with condolences from President and other high ranking government officials as well as reactions from Nigerians.
- Gokada CEO Fahim Saleh brutally murdered
On the same July 15, 2020, Fahim Saleh, the CEO of Lagos-based Gokada, was found dead in New York, his body dismembered with an electric saw by his killer.
According to Police, his body was cut up and sorted into different plastic bags.
The incident happened in his luxury Manhattan Lower East Side apartment which he bought for $2.2 million in 2019.
According to Daily News, police moved to his apartment after his sister called the emergency line.
She was reported to have visited the apartment after not hearing from Saleh in a day and became worried.
Fahim, was last seen on surveillance footage on Monday afternoon around 1:40 pm, when he entered his building’s elevator, which opens right out to his seventh-floor apartment.
According to several reports, police believe they have surveillance footage of the suspect entering the building and then using the elevator.
The footage is said to show the suspect in a glove and a mask covering his face sharing the elevator with Saleh up to the seventh floor.
As the door of the elevator opened directly into Saleh’s apartment, he was seen to fall to the floor immediately as he walked into his home from a possible gunshot.
Haspil was charged with second-degree murder, the New York Police Department said.
According to New York Post, Haspil, 21, was busted at 8:45 a.m. in the lobby of 172 Crosby St. in Manhattan, Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said during a brief news conference at 1 Police Plaza.
Haspil handled Saleh’s “finances and personal matters,” Harrison said.
“It is also believed that he owed the victim a significant amount of money,” he said.
One of the video evidence was one that showed Haspil buying electric saw and cleaning supplies at a Home Depot.
- 5 aid workers executed by Boko Haram
The executed aid workers were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists on 29 June.
The President’s confirmation followed the release of a video by the terrorists showing the killing of five humanitarian workers, the ISIS way.
The workers, who represented the State Emergency Management Agency, Action Against Hunger, Rich International, and International Rescue Committee, were all executed, the video showed.
The insurgents had earlier demanded about 500,000 U.S. dollars ransom before the abducted workers could be released.
Buhari condemned the murder, assuring the government would continue to do all it could to ensure that every remaining vestige of Boko Haram would be wiped out.
- Actress Lizzy Anjorin’s secret wedding
Photos from the Nollywood actress Lizzy Anjorin’s wedding surfaced online on Thursday, July 16, 2020. The actress took to her Instagram page the following day and shared a photo of wedding rings and captioned it with a subliminal message which kind of gives everyone a clue about the wedding rumours.
However, it was also discovered that the actress’s hubby, Lateef Adegboyega Lawal, was already married to five women, before tying the nuptial knots on Thursday.
As a muslim, he has not offended any moral code by so doing, as his religion permits him to marry many women, if he could love them equally.
But blogger KemiFilaniNews revealing his marital status, said the man was busted by two Facebook users.
They shared photos of Lawal’s wives and kids, with claims he was dumping them for Alhaja Lizzy Anjorin, who will be wife number six.
- Dr. Stella Immanuel and Hydroxychloroquine claims
A Nigerian-born and trained physician, Dr Stella Immanuel, went viral on social media after delivering an impassioned COVID-19 speech in the U.S on Tuesday, July 28, 2020.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, Immanuel claimed that antimalarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and antibacterial drug, Zithromax, were effective cures for the virus.
Immanuel, who is also owner of Fire Power Deliverance Ministry dismissed experts’ warning that hydroxychloroquine could cause serious heart problems for coronavirus patients, citing her experience with the use of the drug.
She said she had successfully treated no fewer than 350 patients with hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax. Hydroxychloroquine, long touted by President Donald Trump as the cure for the virus, according to her.
Immanuel’s video testimony was later blocked by YouTube. It is still on Twitter and has been shared widely on Facebook.
Reports said it was blocked because it does not represent the truth. Dr Immanuel is reported to be just a primary health care doctor, who probably comes across patients with mild symptoms.
Dr Stella Immanuel was later exposed as a fraud after claiming that the discredited hydroxychloroquine drug is a tested cure for COVID-19.
Her position is therefore deemed not to be scientific, but political, as she is working for a Trump campaign group Breitblat.
Her video was also shared by Freedom Rights and retweeted by Conservative Trump campaigners.
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