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Matawalle allegedly embezzled billions via failed airport project – Zamfara Govt shows receipts



The Zamfara State Government has released some documents indicting the administration of the immediate past Governor of the State, Bello Matawalle, in relation to the Gusau International Airport project.


Matawalle who is now the Minister of State for Defence under the Bola Tinubu administration, recently denied the allegations of embezzling billions from the Zamfara cargo airport project.


In a statement issued in Gusau on Sunday, October 21, 2023, the Spokesperson to Zamfara Governor, Sulaiman Bala Idris, said that the response by Matawalle exposed a “blatant violation of trust, opening a pandora’s box.”


According to him, the bad financial situation the current administration met in Zamfara State was caused by Matawalle.


Idris alleged that Matawalle directed the Ministry of Local Government to withdraw ₦1 billion from the Local Government Joint Account on October 25, 2021, and pay ₦825 million to the contractors without any valuation. He said this was in complete disregard of due process.


The statement read in parts, “The Zamfara State Government would ordinarily not respond to an accused, but as a responsible government, we feel compelled to provide the facts following his denial of the alleged embezzlement.


“To avoid doubt, the embezzlement of resources from the people of Zamfara through the airport was just a tiny part of many other acts of theft and financial banditry committed against the people in various incomplete projects.


“It is doubtful that the project’s cost was reduced from ₦28 billion to N11 billion in round figures. No reputable bidder would agree to a drastic reduction of 61% in cost without a corresponding reduction in the scope of work. This raises questions about the integrity of the bidding process. Matawalle is seemingly trying to cast doubt on the credibility of their contractor.”


The State Government said the former governor embarrassed himself by claiming that the airport project was financed through ‘contract financing.’


“It is known as the ‘Contract Financing Facility (CFF)’, which happens between the bank and the contractor. The government isn’t involved at all. All available documents indicate that the contractors were paid using funds from the state government and not through the Contract Financing Facility (CFF).


“We must emphasise that the claim that payments were made to the contractor solely based on certificates issued by the supervising ministry or agency is FALSE. Our records clearly show that the three payments made to the contractor were not based on an accurate assessment of the work done and certified by the supervising ministry,” the state government maintained.


The statement reads further, “For the record, an initial advance payment was made to the contractors representing 30% of the total contract in the sum of ₦3,465,569,736.90 without the approval of the designs and bills of quantities of the project by relevant government departments on the 19th of June 2020 almost 11 months after the award. Throughout the period, nothing was done to certify the drawings, and bills and secure the necessary approvals of relevant airport regulatory authorities.


“Only a few days after the initial payment, the government came up with new terminology in the contract and approved what it called ‘loan’ to the contractors in the sum of ₦2,310,379,824.60. This payment was referred to as a loan to the contractors when very little work had been done on-site. The relevant government institutions did not certify the payment, weren’t correctly vouched and were therefore irregular in the government’s finance management.”


Highlighting some of the aspects of the projects that remain uncompleted, the Zamfara State Government said a visit to the site of the airport would reveal that the former Governor was lying in his recent claims about the project.


“Furthermore, a dual carriageway from the roundabout to the airport, drainage and gate have not been completed, contrary to the claim by Matawalle’s response. Also, the link road from the main road to the airport roundabout was an additional work the contractor was verbally and arbitrarily directed to execute. The Matawalle administration did not regularise this.


“The claim that the runway, taxi, Apron, terminal building, ‘water pool’ water reservoir, boreholes, cargo hall and fire service buildings are between 50–100% completion is laughable. Matawalle should know that percentage progress is computed based on work done and subsisting contract drawings and bills of quantities and no other. A cursory look at the subsisting contract documents and site visits would reveal the lies and deception in the claims.


“Available records show that Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) were only involved in the project after it had already begun, which goes against the standard practice in the aviation industry. Usually, they must be involved in all project stages, including planning, design, and implementation,” the state government said.


The Zamfara State Government further raised questions on the claim that the project was almost completed and the amount the Matawalle-led administration paid to the contractor.


“Matawalle’s claim that the project was 50–100% completed, while in another paragraph, it was reported as 30 per cent completed, equivalent to ₦3.47 billion, raises the question of why the contractor was paid the sum of ₦6.78 billion if the project was only 30% completed.


“It is essential to remind the former governor that the contractor and the supervising ministry measured all on-site works together during his administration. The measurements were taken during the execution of the project, and the records are available. Therefore, the total value of the work done to date, ₦2.25 billion (19.47%), was based on these measurements.


The State Government maintained that its decision to release the documents was not aimed at making false claims against Matawalle.


It added that the public would soon learn about the mass looting under the past administration, vowing that those involved in the “inhumane actions” would be held accountable, regardless of their societal status.

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Network8tv Special

Father’s unyielding pursuit: 2 years on, justice still eludes late Dowen College student



Father's unyielding pursuit: 2 years on, justice still eludes late Dowen College student

In a poignant continuation of an unresolved tragedy, Sylvester Oromoni Snr, the father of the late Dowen College student who tragically passed away on November 30, 2021, remains resolute in his quest for justice. Two years after the 12-year-old’s demise, allegedly a result of severe health complications exacerbated by traumatic incidents at the Lagos-based school, the grieving father addressed reporters in Warri on Wednesday, November 29, 2023.


The ongoing legal battle surrounding the circumstances of Sylvester Oromoni Jr.’s death has left his body lingering in the morgue, awaiting justice’s delayed arrival. The father, undeterred by the passage of time, expressed his unwavering determination to see the pursuit of justice through to its logical conclusion.


Speaking from the heart, Sylvester Oromoni Snr conveyed the somber news of his son’s extended stay in the morgue during a press briefing in Warri. The 12-year-old’s untimely demise has been shrouded in allegations of physical abuse, including claims that he was forcibly given a concussion to drink by five senior students at Dowen College.


“As the father of the deceased, I cannot be tired or discouraged from pursuing justice. I have promised my son to get him justice even if it will take thirty years to achieve it,” Oromoni asserted, highlighting the enduring commitment to ensuring accountability for his son’s tragic fate.


November 30, 2023, marks the second anniversary of Sylvester Oromoni Jr.’s passing, yet the legal proceedings continue to unfold, leaving the grieving father in a prolonged state of uncertainty and sorrow.


Concluding his address with a heartfelt prayer, Oromoni extended his wishes for peace to all departed souls, including his late son. “May the soul of Sylvester Oromoni Jr. and all departed souls rest in perfect peace. Amen.”


The unresolved tragedy surrounding Dowen College underscores the pressing need for justice in cases of alleged abuse within educational institutions, sparking broader conversations about the safety and well-being of students in schools. As Sylvester Oromoni Snr persists in his pursuit, his resilience stands as a testament to the enduring fight for justice and accountability in the face of heartbreaking loss.

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Tinubu and King Charles III forge alliance against climate change at COP28



Tinubu and King Charles III forge alliance against climate change at COP28

In a landmark encounter on the sidelines of the COP28 Climate Summit in Dubai, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria engaged in a high-level meeting with His Majesty, King Charles III of England. The rendezvous, marked by shared commitment to environmental advocacy, signifies a significant stride in global collaboration to combat climate change.


His Majesty, known for his fervent advocacy on environmental issues, has consistently championed the cause, making this meeting a pivotal moment in fostering united efforts against the climate crisis.


President Tinubu took to Twitter to share his satisfaction with the outcomes of the meeting, characterizing it as a productive engagement with the 75-year-old monarch. In his tweet, he stated, “I had a productive meeting with His Majesty, King Charles III of England, who is also the Head of the Commonwealth and a passionate climate advocate.”


The discussions, held against the backdrop of the COP28 Climate Summit, centered on fortifying the partnership between Nigeria and the United Kingdom in addressing the pressing challenges posed by climate change. President Tinubu expressed optimism regarding the potential positive impact that collaborative efforts between the two nations could have on the future of the planet.


Acknowledging the need for a global standard in environmental stewardship, President Tinubu highlighted the significance of COP28 as a platform for nations to actively contribute to the ongoing global discourse on climate action. He emphasized the importance of setting an equitable standard for environmental responsibility.


“The meeting was a significant step in strengthening the partnership between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, and I am optimistic about the positive impact our joint efforts will have on our planet’s future as we look forward to setting an equitable global standard for environmental stewardship at COP28,” President Tinubu affirmed.


As the COP28 Summit progresses, the collaborative spirit exhibited by President Tinubu and King Charles III serves as a beacon of hope in the collective fight against climate change. Their joint commitment underscores the importance of global partnerships in addressing the urgent environmental challenges that impact nations worldwide.

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Funke Akindele, Chidi Mokeme, Chioma Chukwuka headline inkblot’s crime thriller “No Way Through” premiering on Amazon Prime Video



Funke Akindele, Chidi Mokeme, Chioma Chukwuka headline inkblot's crime thriller "No Way Through" premiering on Amazon Prime Video

Inkblot Productions, a trailblazer in the Nigerian film industry, has unveiled the much-anticipated crime thriller, “No Way Through,” set to exclusively premiere globally on Amazon Prime Video this December. The star-studded cast includes Nollywood luminaries Funke Akindele, Chidi Mokeme, Chioma Chukwuka, Ikechukwu, Nengi Adoki, Seun Ajayi, Jnr Pope, Eso Dike, Roberta Oroma, and Sheggz Olusemo.


Directed by Inkblot CEO Chinaza Onuzo, the film explores the intricate balance between family, survival, and the risks taken in the pursuit of freedom. The storyline revolves around Jolade Okeniyi, a single mother employed as a driver for a local drug cartel. When confronted by the authorities, she faces a dilemma—become an informant against the cartel to secure her freedom and protect her daughter, risking deadly consequences.


Onuzo, who also penned the screenplay, expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “I loved making No Way Through because it was an opportunity to explore the lengths people will go to for the people they love. In the film, we see this through the lens of a mother’s love for her daughter.”


The director commended the cast for delivering exceptional performances, especially highlighting the trio of Funke Akindele, Chidi Mokeme, and Chioma Chukwuka. Onuzo extended appreciation to collaborative partner Film One Studios and acknowledged Amazon Prime Video for providing a global platform for the film’s premiere.


Inkblot Productions, known for its commitment to storytelling excellence, has enjoyed recent success with critically acclaimed titles like the romantic comedy “Big Love” and the gripping thriller “A Weekend to Forget,” which recently concluded its successful cinematic run.


As “No Way Through” gears up for its Amazon Prime Video debut, audiences can anticipate a compelling narrative that delves into the complexities of love, sacrifice, and the unyielding spirit of those facing the challenges of life in the bustling cityscape of Lagos. Inkblot’s legacy of producing captivating stories continues to captivate audiences globally, cementing their reputation as a cinematic powerhouse in Nigerian cinema.

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