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Police coerced me into signing incriminating statements by torturing, killing suspects in my presence – Evans

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Alleged billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, on Wednesday, told an Ikeja Special Offences Court in Lagos that he was coerced into signing incriminating statements by the police.

Evans, as he is popularly known, told Judge Taiwo Solebo that the police killed at least five suspects in his presence in what they called ‘the Saddam Hussein Technique’ and threatened him that a similar fate would befall him if he fails to sign the statements.

He said among the documents he signed were blank papers.

Evans and Victor Aduba are facing a four-count charge bordering on kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearms before Mrs Solebo.

While being led in evidence during a trial-within-trial which the judge ordered to ascertain the admissibility of the confessional statements obtained from the defendants, Evans said he had earlier insisted he would not sign any document presented to him by the police.

“When I refused to sign the document presented to me by Abba Kyari and co at the IGP house in Lagos, I was taken to the backyard where Idowu Haruna (a police officer) demonstrated in front of me by placing handkerchief inside the mouth of a man who had bullet wounds in his leg and was chained and handcuffed like the rest I met there.

“Sellotaped him from his neck to his head, covered him with a nylon bag and sellotaped it again, the man started shaking on the floor and then stopped. Idowu marched the wound on his legs and the man did not move. They did that to like four more persons.

“I was shaking and begging them that I will do anything they want me to do, I was taken back in and then signed documents, over 20, with some of them blank, after I stopped shaking from the experience.”

Evans also alleged that according to the date written on the particular statement being contested, he could not have written it in Lagos as he was still in Abuja.

“On August 12, 2017, I was in Abuja and have not been brought back to Lagos. They took me to Abuja on July 7, 2017 and brought me back around 20 something of August.”

The defendant said he was also blocked from seeing his family and a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana. He said upon discovering his presence at the SARS office in Ikeja, he was locked in the toilet with two police officers.

“After a while, I heard them greet Falana and he was told they took me out for investigations meanwhile I was in the toilet in the office.

“I heard Falana warning them that whatever I did, they should charge me to a court. He said he does not want to hear that I had been shot dead while trying to escape and they said it would not happen.

“They refused to allow my parents see me and that is why my father sued them to the Federal High Court.”

Evans also told the court that in the videos recorded at the IGP house in Lagos, the police had a board behind the cameramen with things written for him to read in case he forgot what had earlier been rehearsed.

He added that there were police officers with guns who kept reminding him he would be killed if he did not read as instructed.

A police sergeant, Julius Ekundayo, while testifying, denied the claim that the police stopped Mr Falana from seeing the first defendant as “Falana never visited their office.”

Mr Ekundayo also said he personally recorded Evans’ confessional statement, which was obtained in an open office in Lagos.

The second defendant, Mr Aduba said he was also forced to sign confessional statements after he was shown a picture of corpses of other suspects who had refused to sign statements.

“I was taken out of my cell with one Ikenna Chukwuemeka and when we got to the counter, I saw other people including police officers like Idowu Haruna and others. I was given some documents, over 20 to sign and I asked that they let me call my lawyer but was replied with a slap from Christian Ugwu.”

Mr Aduba said he and other suspects – whom he identified as Chukwuma Nwosu, Ikenna Chukwuemeka, and Soyan Paul – were taken to “the theatre” where they were beaten with machetes by Mr Haruna.

“I was returned to my cell and in the evening we were marched into a white bus and left there. I and Ikenna were later brought out and I was told if I do not sign the statements, when their boss comes in the evening, I will be killed and this is my last chance.

“I was taken to their office, I begged them to let me inform my office. Haruna brought out his phone and asked me to identify the images on them, to my surprise it was the dead body of Chukwuma and Paul so I had no option than to sign.”

The judge adjourned till January 31, 2019, the adoption of the final written address of the trial-within-trial.

 

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Poor tax collection: Fowler replies Buhari’s query

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The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has responded to a memo from Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to the president, who said there were significant variances between the tax budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

However, Fowler in his response explained that the recession experienced by the Nigerian economy in 2016 as well as lower oil prices affected the revenue collected by the FIRS.

See Fowler’s response: “I refer to your letter dated 8th August, 2019 on the above subject matter and hereby submit a comprehensive variance analysis between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for the period 2012-2018 as requested (see appendix 1).

“Your letter stated that actual collections for a 3-year period were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014. Total actual collection for the said period wasN14,527.85 trillion, while total actual collection between 2016 to 2018 was N12,656.30 trillion.

The highlight of these collection figures was 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% while non-oil accounted for N6,206.22 trillion or 42.72% and during the later period of 2016 to 2018, out of the N12,656.30 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N5,145.87 trillionor 40.65% and non-oil revenue accounted N7,510.42 trillion or 59.35%.

FIRS management has control of non-oil revenue collection figures while oil revenue collection figures are subject to more external forces.” He wrote: “The non-oil revenue collection grew by N1,304.20 trillion or 21% within the period 2016 to 2018.

“Kindly note that the total budget collection figure during 2012 to 2014 stood at N12,190.52 trillion compared to N16,771.78 trillion for the period 2016 to 2018, which represent an increase of 37.58%.

“Please note that the variance in the budgeted and actual revenue collection performance of the Service for the period 2016 to 2018 was main attributed to the following reasons:

“1. The low inflow of oil revenues for the period especially Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) was due to fall in price of crude oil and reduction of crude oil production. Notwithstanding government efforts to diversify the economy, oil revenues remains (remain) an important component of total revenues accruable to the Federation. The price of crude oil fell from an average of $113.72, $110.98 and $100.40 per barrel in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to $ 52.65, $43.80 and $54.08 per barrel in 2015, 2016 and 2017. There was also a reduction in crude oil production from 2.31mbpd, 2.18mbpd and 2.20mbpd in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to 2.12mbpd, 1.81mbpd and 1.88mbpd in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

“2. The Nigerian economy also went into recession in the second quarter of 2016 which slowed down general economic activities. Tax revenue collection (CIT and VAT) being a function of economic activities were negatively affected but actual collection of the above two taxes were still higher in 2016 to 2018 than in 2012 to 2014. During the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, GDP grew by 4.3%, 5.4% and 6.3% while in 2015, 2016 and 2017 there was a decline in growth to 2.7%, -1.6% and 1.9% respectively. The tax revenue grew as the economy recovered in the second quarter of 2017.

“3. It is worthy of note that strategies and initiatives adopted in collection of VAT during the period 2015-2017 led to approximately 40% increase over 2012-2014 collections. In 2014 the VAT collected was N802billion, compared to N1.1 trillion in 2018. This increase is attributable to various initiatives such as ICT innovations, continuous taxpayer education, taxpayer enlightenment, etc embarked upon by the Service.

“4. Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that when this administration came on board in August 2015, the target the target for the two major non-oil taxes were increased by 52% for VAT and 45% for CIT. Notwithstanding the increase, FIRS has in line with the Federal government’s revenue base diversification strategy has grown the non-oil tax collection by over N1.304 trillion (21%) when the total non-oil tax collection for 2016-2018 is compared to that of 2012-2014.

“I am confident that our current strategies and initiatives will improve revenue collection and meet the expectations of government.

“Please accept the assurance of my highest regards.”

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We’re not aware of Oyo-Ita’s purported retirement – Presidency

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The Presidency on Monday declared that it was not aware of the purported move of the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, to retire from service.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had last week Tuesday grilled Oyo-Ita over alleged N3bn scam. The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a text message said that the Presidency was not in possession of any letter of intent from Oyo-Ita to retire from service. “Thanks.

We have no such letter here, in the event that such a letter exists. This is our position,” he stated

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Alleged N3bn Contract Scam: Winifred Oyo-Ita sends retirement letter to Buhari

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Winifred Oyo-Ita, the head of service of the federation, has offered to immediately proceed on retirement in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The widow had been under pressure from her immediate family to retire after news reports emerged that she was being probed over an alleged N3 billion contract scam.

Although she has vehemently denied involvement in any scam, she bowed to family pressures and sent in a letter on Sunday offering to proceed on retirement, we can report.

Buhari is yet to take a final decision on it but reports say he is favourably disposed to the option.

“Mrs Oyo-Ita has sent in her letter of retirement,” a family member, who asked not to be named, said on Monday morning.

She was absent at the presidential retreat for ministers-designate, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries held at the state house conference centre in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently questioned Oyo-Ita over allegations that she used front companies to get contracts when she was a permanent secretary before her appointment as head of service by Buhari in 2015.

There were insinuations that she was being “punished” for “falling out” with Abba Kyari but it was learnt that the president’s chief of staff was unaware of the EFCC probe until it was leaked to the media.

Oyo-Ita has also told her associates not to drag Kyari into the matter because “it is not true”, according to a family member.

The EFCC said the petition against her was written in 2014 when President Goodluck Jonathan was still in office. It was however, learnt that Oyo-Ita was not the subject of the probe.

It was also reported that N600 million was traced to the account of one of her aides who has been quizzed by the anti-graft agency and released.

However, Oyo-Ita also denied the allegation, saying the money was meant for the death benefits of staff and was meant to be kept in a designated account for that purpose by the project accountant.

“She denied knowing anything about where the money was kept and said there was no fraud involved, at least not from her end,” the family member said.

The Cable

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