Kenya’s Finance Minister Henry Rotich and other treasury officials were arrested Monday on corruption and fraud charges over a multi-million dollar project to build two mega-dams, police said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji had ordered the arrest and prosecution of Rotich and 27 other top officials on charges of fraud, abuse of office and financial misconduct in the latest scandal to rock Kenya.
Rotich, his principal secretary and the chief executive of Kenya’s environmental authority then presented themselves to the police.
“They are in custody now awaiting to be taken to court,” police chief George Kinoti told reporters.
“We are looking for (the) others and they will all go to court.”
Haji said the conception, procurement and payment processes for the dam project — part of a bid to improve water supply in the country — was “riddled with irregularities”.
“Investigations established that government officials flouted all procurement rules and abused their oath of office to ensure the scheme went through,” said Haji.
He pointed to the awarding of the contract to Italian firm CMC di Ravenna in a manner that he said flouted proper procurement procedures, and despite financial woes that forced the company into liquidation and had led to it failing complete three other mega-dam projects.
According to the contract, the project was to cost a total of $450 million, but the treasury had increased this amount by $164 million “without regard to performance or works,” said Haji.
Some $180 million has already been paid out, with little construction to show for it.
Another $6 million was paid out for the resettlement of people living in areas that would be affected by the project, but there is no evidence of land being acquired for this, the chief prosecutor said.
“I am satisfied that economic crimes were committed and I have therefore approved their arrests and prosecutions,” said Haji.
‘Well-choreographed scheme’ –
“The persons we are charging today were mandated with safeguarding our public interest and deliberately breached this trust.
“Under the guise of carrying out legitimate commercial transactions, colossal amounts were unjustifiably and illegally paid out through a well-choreographed scheme by government officers in collusion with private individuals and institutions.”
Rotich has previously denied any wrongdoing in the scandal.
The dams scandal is one of several in the country that has seen hundreds of millions of dollars of public money disappear due to fraud.
In 2017, Kenya fell to 143rd out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption index.
In March 2018, a damning report from the auditor general showed the government could not account for $400 million in public funds.
A string of top officials have been charged since last year as President Uhuru Kenyatta vows to combat corruption — a refrain weary Kenyans have heard from multiple presidents.
Buhari nominates new tax chief as dwindling revenues hit Nigeria
Nami’s nomination is subject to the confirmation of the Nigerian Senate which would screen and confirm the nominee
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday shocked many citizens especially the business community with his nomination of Muhammad Nami for the chairmanship of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the country’s second major cash cow.
Buhari nominated Nami as the new Chairman of the FIRS thereby putting an end to the tenure of Babatunde Fowler, a close ally of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and ruling party leader, Bola Tinubu who many in the business community had thought would naturally be rewarded with a second term due to his close affinity to powerful politicians and businessmen.
Fowler was qualified and had been optimistic that with the gradual increase in collection of revenues in the past year, he deserved a reappointment despite an initial presidency query which subtly showed President Buhari was unhappy with the drop in previous yearly revenue collections.
Nami’s nomination is subject to the confirmation of the Nigerian Senate which would screen and confirm the nominee upon receipt of an executive communication from the presidency.
Monday’s presidency statement described the nominated tax chief as “a well-trained tax, accounting and management professional with highly rated qualifications and professional practice and licenses from relevant professional bodies.”
Nami has about three decades of practical work experience in auditing, tax management and advisory services to clients in the banking, manufacturing, services and public sectors as well as non-profit organisations, the statement said.
President Buhari also approved the composition of the board of FIRS which comprise of a member representing each of Nigeria’s six geographical zones and statutory representatives from a select number of ministries and government agencies.
Fowler, whose term of office expired same day of the announcement was asked “to hand over to the most senior director on the board, who will take charge, pending the Senate confirmation of the new board.” Shehu said.
Fowler’s sack and political intrigues –
Fowler had been nominated by President Buhari in 2015 and his confirmation by the Senate elicited favourable reactions within the business community which is largely based in Nigeria’s south with a larger presence in the commercial city of Lagos.
He had previously been in charge of the local tax authority in Lagos state and was a member of one of the most powerful political family in the southern part of Nigeria led by Bola Tinubu, who has been Buhari’s ally since 2013 after entering an alliance of smaller parties that fused to become the All Progressives Congress (APC). The party would then go on to form a North-South alliance that later defeated then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the centre in 2015.
The Tinubu political family had nominated Yemi Osinbajo, a Professor of Law as Buhari’s Vice Presidential candidate and when the APC won, several offices were shared to the bloc including that of Fowler who naturally got nominated because of his closeness to Tinubu and Osinbajo who have governed Lagos for years.
But trouble started for the former tax chief midway into his four-year tenure when allegations of sharp practices hit the FIRS and reduction in Nigeria’s tax receipts led to an outcry even from the presidency.
A presidency query on August 8th this year signed by Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari had demanded explanations from the FIRS boss over discrepancies in tax revenue remittances between 2015 and 2018 compared to that between 2012 and 2014.
Fowler in his reply attributed the declining performance of the FIRS between 2015 and 2018, to the low earnings from crude oil and the recession, which hit the Nigerian economy in the second quarter of 2016. He also said while the FIRS management has control of non-oil revenue collection figures, oil revenue collection figures were subject to more external forces.
The former FIRS boss had in the August 19 reply disclosed that the total actual collection for the said period under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan was N14.527.85 trillion, while total actual collection between 2016 and 2018 under Buhari’s administration was N12.656.30 trillion.
Highlights of the data presented in the letter showed that during the period 2012 to 2014, out of the N14.527.85 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N8.321.64 trillion or 57.28 per cent, while non-oil accounted for N6.206.22 trillion or 42.72 per cent.
Similarly, during the latter period of 2016 to 2018, out of the N12.656.30 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N5.145.87 trillion or 40.65 per cent and non-oil revenue accounted N7.510.42 trillion or 59.35 per cent.
In his concluding reply, Fowler had told the Presidency that notwithstanding the increase, FIRS had in line with the Nigerian government’s revenue base diversification strategy, grown the non-oil tax collection by over N1.304 trillion (21 per cent) when the total non-oil tax collection for 2016 – 2018 is compared to that of 2012 – 2014.
He remained optimistic that the current strategies and initiatives “adopted by FIRS will improve revenue collections and meet the expectations of government in the coming months,” Fowler said.
But Fowler’s explanation seemed not to have hit the right notes in Aso Rock as President Buhari came out smoking on October 1, where in his Independence day speech he warned of huge consequences for revenue generation agencies that were falling short in their targets and remittances.
“Our revenue-generating and reporting agencies will come under much greater scrutiny, going forward, as the new performance management framework will reward exceptional revenue performance, while severe consequences will attend failures to achieve agreed revenue targets,” Buhari had said.
With such a warning coming six weeks after Fowler had replied the Presidency query, it was all too clear that he was the target of Buhari’s independence day broadcast.
But Fowler did not go to sleep as he unleashed his political machinery and friends within business circles close to the presidency to assuage Kyari and other known powerbrokers in Aso Rock. But as he was doing this, his traducers also stepped up their accusations by sponsoring protests against him including a lawsuit by a legal practitioner, Stanley Okwara which accused the FIRS boss of “overstaying his tenure.” The courts later threw the case out for lack of a locus standi.
Nigerians react to non-renewal of Fowler’s term –
Many Nigerians in their reactions to the non-renewal of Fowler’s tenure at the FIRS said it was not surprising as Buhari had once more shown his tendency to promote sectional interests in his government.
They wondered why Buhari had refused to renew the tenure of a southerner and replaced him with a northerner if the decision was not politically motivated and meant to quash the 2023 presidential ambition of people like Tinubu.
Others who supported Buhari’s action see it as the right step “to prevent an abuse of the FIRS by Tinubu’s boys ahead of 2023 presidential election,” one analyst said.
A known critic of the Buhari administration, Olushola Olufolabi wrote on Twitter that “A FINANCIAL AND TAX ‘TODDLER’ WHOSE EXPOSURE IS JUST KADUNA AXIS, HAS BEEN NAMED TO REPLACE THIS PROVEN AND SEASONED FOWLER. WE KEEP BRINGING THE WORST OF US TO LEAD THE BEST OF US”……
But one of President Buhari’s supporters, Theresa Tekenah said: “Fowler’s tenure expired and Mr Nami was appointed. Is he competent? Yes! Why are youth here wailing and bringing ethnicity to this? Focus on the issues! Just stop!”
One critic blamed Fowler for his fall. Usman Okai Austin said the former FIRS boss did not tackle the allegations against him properly. He also rejected reports that Fowler was sacked. “Not true, his tenure expire and the president refused to denies it. Fowler is a bad accountant who don’t deserves second term in FIRS. Everything in FIRS under Fowler are being handle by consultants from Lagos and Lagos, while the real staffs trained are left idle.”
Former Minister and ardent Buhari critic, Femi Fani-Kayode also said Fowler’s sack was not surprising. “Finally Fowler of FIRS is out and, just as I predicted, he has been replaced by a northern Muslim. When will Tinubu and Osinbajo finally accept that they were outflanked, outmanoeuvred, fooled and scammed into betraying their own people by the Fulani cabal. More to come!”
Some supporters of the presidency said the change at the tax authority was necessary as Buhari’s commitment to rebuild Nigeria through massive infrastructure development in his second term can only happen if the country has more access to funds, especially from increased tax revenues to reduce constant foreign borrowing.
With the recent dismantling of many political positions previously held by politicians loyal to Tinubu and stripping of Vice President Osinbajo’s office of many powers he had previously exercised including the recent refusal of President Buhari to transmit powers to his deputy while on about three week’s vacation, as previously done, it remains to be seen how the presidency will tackle allegations of a proxy war with previously known allies and accusations of sectionalism through “pro-north” policies in a country known for its deep North-South political divide.
Jumia shuts down travel department in Nigeria
Managing Director of Jumia Travel Nigeria, Omalara Adagunodo has announced the shutdown of Jumia’s travel operations in Nigeria. This follows reports of Jumia shutting down its operations in Cameroon and Tanzania.
A Twitter user with the handle @njinjoya tweeted: “So Jumia Travel just closed down operation in Nigeria?”
Another Twitter user claiming to be a staff of Jumia Travel lamented: ” Woke up this morning to hear the franchise I worked for in Jumia, Jumia Travel, is no more…so sad, buh still grateful to God…
New chapter, digital marketing n SEO “
Travelstart is expected to take over Jumia Travel’s operations in Nigeria according to a Jumia Travel staff who spoke under condition of anonymity.
South African airways to go into business rescue
South Africa’s minister of Public enterprise, Pravin Ghordan, has declared the government’s resolve to “rescue” national carrier, South African Airways.
The move comes after a week of speculation on the airline’s future, which is loss-making and has been unable to raise funding to continue operations.
It is proposed that the government will give the airline an extra $137 million with a second tranche of the same amount to come from existing lenders.
The failing airline which has not made a profit since 2011, has lost more than $2 billion over the past 13 years and experience some internal turbulence last month, when staff went on strike over plans to cut a fifth of its workforce.
“It must be clear that this is not a bailout. This is the provision of financial assistance in order to facilitate a radical restructure of the airline,” Pravin Gordhan says.
SAA, which has not made a profit since 2011 and has depended on government bailouts, suffered an employee strike last month, forcing it to cancel hundreds of flights and pushing it to the brink of collapse.
Outlining what is expected from the process – described as the “optimal mechanism” to restore confidence in SAA as it seeks a future equity investor, Gordhan says the 2 billion rand provided by existing lenders will be guaranteed by the government and repayable in future budgets.
The government, via the national treasury, will provide another 2 billion rand in a “fiscally neutral manner” with the full recovery of capital and interest on existing debt not impacted by the rescue proceedings.
In a business rescue process, a specialist administrator takes control of a company with the aim of rehabilitating it to improve its chance of survival, or securing a better return for creditors than they would receive from liquidation.
“This initiative demonstrates that the government will undertake the necessary bold steps in order to reposition its assets in such a way that they do not continue to depend on the fiscus and thereby burden taxpayers” , Gordhan adds.
Two Algerian ex-Prime Ministers get heavy jail terms for corruption
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed receives Nobel Peace Prize
Suspected killers of the wife of the MD of Maersk Nigeria arrested
Algeria’s presidential election to hold on Thursday amidst nationwide protest
Algeria international Youcef Atal faces lengthy spell out with knee injury
Outrage as women confess how they use ‘Juju’ to bewitch men
Nigeria’s electoral body declares David Lyon winner of 2019 Bayelsa Guber polls
Nigeria launches first national sex offenders register
Court adjourns trial of suspected Port Harcourt ‘serial killer’
Task force recovers lion owned by Indian in Lagos
#NCExclusive with Rotimi Akinoso of “Power”
2019 Southern Sun Ikoyi Golf Tournament Press Briefing
#NCExclusive: Dorothy Njemanze Shares Her Story of Sexual Assualt pt 1
A walk along the slave routes in Badagry
The #AfricaFirst Pledge with Adebola Afolabi (RezThaPoet)
Business6 days ago
South African airways to go into business rescue
News1 week ago
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari marks 30th wedding anniversary with wife, Aisha
Business1 week ago
South Africa’s competition watchdog orders data rate cuts
News1 week ago
Ex-Chadian Prime Minister arrested for fraud
News1 week ago
Relief International says gunmen attacked office in north of South Sudan
Feature News1 week ago
Fossil fuel: The human cost of powering Africa’s future
News6 days ago
Court in Nigeria orders DSS to release Omoyele Sowore within 24 hours
Politics1 week ago
What next for Zambia Bill 10?