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Sam Sodje opens up on fraud case, jail term, says family being witch-hunted

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The Sodje brothers made headlines a few days ago when it became known that they were found guilty and jailed for fraud in 2017.

The brothers — Efe Sodje, 46, Stephen Sodje, 43, and Bright Sodje, 52 — were said to have siphoned off cash from their charity, Sodje Sports Foundation (SSF).

They were alleged to have pocketed money raised at black-tie dinners, auctions, and charity football matches.

The case was kept under wraps due to a clause preventing it from being publicised until the conclusion of a separate trial involving Sam, who was on Monday cleared of money laundering.

Speaking with TheCable, Sam, a former Super Eagles central defender, described the match fixing and fraud charges brought against him and his brothers as a witch-hunt.

Sam, 39, spoke about the allegations levelled against him and his brothers.

‘Highest witch hunt ever’

All these talks and crime they brought against my brothers are all lies. They are not really the ones they targeted but me – Sam Sodje. This is the highest witch hunt ever. It is all cooked up because the journalist that set me up on the match fixing/money laundering scandal was jailed for fake news. The one we called ‘fake sheikh’. Mazher Mahmoud is a well known journalist always setting up top people. He has been in this business for over 30 years. If it was true, why is it that it was the journalist that went to prison and not me?

On the part played by Bright Sodje

The £60,000 they claimed the Sodjes embezzled, Bright alone is worth 10 times more of that. He has a house in Tunisia, Morocco and Spain. Why will he go and do that kind of fraud? Bright is not like me. He is typical English. A proper English man and he is a magistrate. Can you imagine that? A magistrate. It is because they could not believe that Mahmoud will go to prison for lying and peddling fake news.

Two of our board of trustees/directors are Clive Betts (MP) and Ashley Carson. My brother Bright Sodje is the third person on the board. The three of them are the signatories to the foundation’s account. The three of them are the ones who sign cheques. I have never seen the cheques before. Efe has never seen the cheques too before.

If you say the foundation is a fraud, arrest everybody… but who are the first set of people to be arrested? Is it not the board of trustees/directors? And the accountant?

You know one funny thing? Betts and Carson left the foundation at the same time. When the investigators went to court, they included Bright because he is a Sodje but left both Betts and Carson out. Just think about that. You claimed to be investigating the foundation, why not bring in all the three people that do sign the cheques?

The question to ask is why is it that Betts and Carson that were part of board of directors was not included in the trial of the foundation’s fraud charges? Why just Bright alone? After all, three of them were the signatories to every cheque?

Why Sam was not convicted

They found me not guilty because I didn’t do anything. Where the judge became baffled was when he saw where they said I took £300 out of £80, 000 and also gave out £20,000 to charity in 2012. That made the judge to ask if I could give £20,000 of my personal money to charity, so, its only £300 money laundering he’ll go and get involved in?

I’ll tell you that it’s ‘operation bring the Sodjes down’ that’s going on in England. Let’s say the fraud issue is really correct, everyone is suppose to be in prison by now. It is lies.

The match fixing allegation didn’t go well as they expected that’s why they came up with the fraud thing with my brothers involved. I was also included in the fraud thing concerning the Sodje foundation. When I won that, they now brought money laundering charges against me again. It was not even my case but some other people.

The question my lawyer asked in court was ‘are you telling me that Sam took £80, 000, he gave £79,700 to the people involved and he took just £300 out of it? How stupid does that sound?’

The Sodjes hobnob with the MPs and most of our meetings were held in the parliament. For a black man to be doing that, we’ve gone too far and they don’t like that. You see me and my family, we don’t care about what they are saying in the media. You see, assuming we are not British, they would have told us to go back home. But because they can’t do that, they are left with tarnishing the Sodje name.

‘All Nigerians are fraudsters’

I know how this country works. The only thing they can do is scandalise the Sodje family name. They can’t do us anything. In court, they were telling me to my face that all Nigerians are fraudsters. Majority of the people here in prison for rape are all whites. How can you take a professional footballer to court for £300? As at 2013, I was worth £1.2 million. How can I go and do money laundering for people I don’t even know for £300? Does that make sense? My mobile phone bill then alone was £550. How come they came up with that publication when I won my case on Monday that my brothers were jailed?

Are the Sodje brothers in jail?

How can they be in jail when we just returned from Nigeria? We all just came back from Nigeria from burying our mother. My brothers never went to prison for one day. When the jail terms were read out in court, they appealed it and that’s what’s going on right now. They never were in prison.

On Akpo Sodje being on the run

Akpo is on social media, he phones them everyday. And he has a very good job in Delta state. His address is on his social media pages. How can someone on the run do that?

‘We are fighting the system’

And guess who we are fighting again? It’s the British media. And all these is because of the journalist that is jailed for giving fake news in the case. Just because I won the case on Monday and they were ordered to pay my expenses for the duration of the court case, the next thing, the media went crazy.

There’s so much to this case that the world out there doesn’t know. Can you imagine how many copies of papers Sun UK sold that morning that the scandal broke with my pictures on their front page? I’ll tell you, they sold 1.7 million copies just within two hours.

Look at what they did to Sam Allardyce? They always set up people while claiming to investigate a none existing allegation. They could not even bring any indicting document to support their case against me in court. I have never even bet in my life before. How can a judge say every Nigerian is a fraudster? He has no right to say that.

The bone of contention against the Sodjes is that we are fighting the system back. As the case was going on, I went ahead to buy a 350 Benz SUV hero and that got them infuriated the more. Saying I was not suppose to buy the car as the case was ongoing in court. That my account should be frozen.

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Umar Mohammed Bago, Man With Passion For Service

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-Why He Wants To Be Reps Speaker 

Umar Mohammed Bago is not just another member of the Federal House of Representatives, he is a man that has the wherewithal and the qualities of a leader of the 21st Century, whose antecedents show that he could turn a stone to bread and bring water out of the rock. 

The people of Chanchanga  Federal Constituency in Niger State knew better,  when they voted for Bago to be their representative in the House of Reps in 2011  and repeated the same in 2015 and 2019. 

Bago has since proven the be the best man for the job with the way he has influenced development to the area and touched the lives of the people in the constituency. 

The 45-year-old politician is an alumnus of the Federal Government College, Jos and he graduated with a degree in Political Science from Uthman Dan Fodio University,  Sokoto and holds a Post Graduate Diploma. 

His educational career continued as he went ahead to obtain Masters Degrees in Management, Business Administration and Finance and he is an alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. 

Bago cut his teeth in banking at the Central Bank of Nigeria, United Bank of Africa, Standard Trust Bank (STB), FCMB,  and Afribank. 

As a member of the Federal House of Representatives, his experiences are for the records. 

He was a member of the House Committee on Banking and Currency,  Appropriation and Communication Technology,  Defense, as well as Loans and Debts. 

He has also served in other committees such as National Planning and Economic Development,  Media and Publicity,  and he is a member of several civil societies and donor agencies. 

In 2015, Bago was made the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime,  Safety,  Education and Administration. 

While some of his colleagues could not boast of making differences in the green chamber,  Bago has so far moved 20 motions on the floor of the House, sponsored 15 bills and co-sponsored several others. 

The people of Bago’s constituency are living testimonies of his people-oriented empowerment programmes and constituency projects. 

The cerebral nationalist is well travelled, exposed,  urbane and speaks Nupe,  Hausa and Yoruba fluently.

Bago is one of the politicians that have no baggage and people believe that the House of Representatives deserves such a politician to be it’s leader. 

Some of his thoughts have become reference points for those, who believe in quality leadership and progressive minded politicians. 

Bago once stated that “I observed with continued amazement and curiousity that the issue of equity in geopolitical balancing  as enshrined in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, has not been seen and taken seriously rather the issue of capacity and competence is being touted.

“The question is capacity and competence in what? To move motions and bills? Chair committee sessions? Educational background? Party loyalty? humbly speaking; if these are the indices to define capacity and competence, I am very qualified.”

Bago  believes that if its the job of Speaker that “we are talking about, the Speaker will not be moving motions or Bills. Only Speaker Yakubu Dogara had moved a bill on the floor of the house of representatives in recent history of the house over the last twenty years.”

He stressed that a great speaker could  not emerge from disdain for the constitution with which he will be sworn in, adding that the capacity and competence must be situated within constitutional prescriptions. 

“Lastly the Speaker must enjoy earned confidence of members out of his relatability capacity and quotient 

“An effective Speaker must be able to ride on provable ability that every member  and stakeholders will find comfort  and accommodation in him, by reputation. 

“I am called Mr.Relatable because this is what my life embodies and it did not start with the aspiration to be Speaker,” he said. 

Bago was quoted to have said that the demand for equity is at the “nucleus of my aspiration before my nature as a very relatable personality or my capacity and competence,  and so demanding  for equitable treatment is not about indulging or being gratuitous to the North Central, rather its fact based and well earned, not frivolous; from the facts that the North Central zone gave our party the third highest votes at the 2019 Presidential election, to the zone never had a speaker of house of Representatives in 20years since 1999! 

“These are facts! Of course in the mix is the need for a youth inclusion at that level of our political administration; these are claims that are real making my aspiration legitimate, fair and just…”

He said further that “I just watched the Seun Okinbaloye’s Politics Today and saw how the North Central geopolitical zone asking for equity was dismissively and condescendingly referred to by my colleague Hon. Abdulmumini, when he said there are other positions “within” the house leadership that the North Central can be “given”, affirming that south west zone(lagos) that gave our party 2million votes and has Vice President of Nigeria by entitlement should also get the Speaker House of Representatives while Northcentral geopolitical zone that gave APC/President Buhari 2.4million votes should settle for Chief whip?Or Deputy Whip..etc! My heart bleeds…”

He maintained that a zone that in 20 years had never produced Speaker or Deputy inspite of huge support for APC…where is equity, justice, fairness that the Nigerian constitution  and that of APC prescribed. 

“A case of a father of six openly showing favouritism to a child out of  the six, in a six bedroom  house is giving two rooms to the favourite child and asking four others to take the remaining four rooms and sending one child to go and stay in the boy’s quarters, even when he has been a good child… hmmm…May God bless Nigeria…” he said. 

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FG: We’ve not found a formula to end fuel subsidy

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The federal government says it is yet to devise a workable formula for the removal of fuel subsidy.

Speaking at the federal executive council meeting, Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, said removal of subsidy would have negative effect on vulnerable Nigerians.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had advised Nigeria and other countries to remove fuel subsidy, saying the money spent on subsidy can be redirected to health and education.

Four days after making the suggestion, Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, said the landing cost of petrol is now N180 per litre, with the federal government spending N1.86bn on subsidy daily.

Ahmed explained that while the country appreciates the advice of the IMF, what works for others may not be operable within Nigeria’s context, describing the country as unique.

She said the government is still considering various options and until a decision is reached, no action will be taken.

“In some countries, they provided buses to transport people, in some countries they provide subsidies in a manner that the people that are directly requiring the subsidies,” Ahmed said.

“We have not found a way to do it. What we are doing now, the subsidy, it is everybody that it benefiting, whereas it is the people who are really vulnerable that need subsidy.

“So, in the executive with the support of the legislature, we have to find a formula that will work for Nigeria. And until we do that, we should not be contemplating removing the subsidy because, indeed when we do, there will be people that will suffer. So, we are not yet there.

“We discussed this periodically under the Economic Management Team but we still haven’t found a formula that works for Nigeria. And you know that Nigeria is unique. What works for Ghana might not work here.

“So, it’s still work in progress for and there is no intention to remove fuel subsidy at this time.”

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Gov. Yahya Bello Declares For Second Term, Gives Reasons

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Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi, on Wednesday, officially declared his intention to seek reelection for a second term on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Bello made the declaration while inaugurating the board of the State House of Assembly Service Commission at Banquet hall Government House, Lokoja.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slated the governorship election in the state for Nov. 2.

The governor said his declaration came after consultations with the leadership of his party both at the national and state levels and pressure from the people of the state on him to seek re-election.

He added that his decision is premised on the official release of the State’s Election time table by INEC.

“I would like to inform the good people of the state, the APC family and supporters from the state, the Local Government Areas (LGAs) down to the wards and polling units, as well as various stakeholders, opinion molders, families and friends of my interest to run for a second term in office as the Executive Governor of the state.

”I have sought the blessing of the Almighty God and our good people; I will have to contest for the second term so that we can build on our modest achievements so far in the state by taking it to the next level,” Bello said.

He urged members of the board to always let the interest of the state be paramount in their mind, and shun any form of tribal or religious sentiment.

He further enjoined them to serve well with all their capacity and ensure they cooperate with the members of the state House of Assembly.

Mr Matthew Kolawole, the Speaker, commended the governor for his magnanimity to have signed the bill and for inaugurating the board.

”All of us in the House of Assembly are happy with the inauguration of the board of the commission, because it marks the beginning of our financial autonomy,” Matthew said.

He expressed happiness over the governor’s declaration for second term bid, saying they had been expecting it.

“Our prime objective right now is to see him returning on Nov. 2, as the 5th executive governor of the state, and it shall come to past,” he said.

Mr Andas Momoh-Jimoh, the Chairman of the Commission, commended the governor for the opportunity given to them to serve.

”I believed in oneness and unity of the state and I am going to carry out this assignment without any bias, fear, favor or any religious or tribal sentiment,” he said.

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