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Liechtenstein Refuses to Return Abacha’s N40Bn Loot

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Some N40billion allegedly stolen by General Sani Abacha, former Nigeria’s maximum ruler is trapped in Liechtenstein, a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, which has employed all manner of tactics not to repatriate the loot.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, finance minister, said that Nigeria has been fighting to recover the money for years, but companies linked to the Abacha family keep going to court to prevent the funds being repatriated.

Abacha was a former military dictator, who died 14 years ago,

Okonjo-Iweala was quoted as saying that, “We feel that the Liechtenstein people have been stalling for 14 years. They are just looking for excuses and I think this is where international civil society should mount pressure on these people…The authorities are holding things back.”

However, a Liechtenstein government spokesman said that the country was making efforts to return the money but a complaint in the European Court of Human Rights brought by companies affected was still pending.

According to Transparency International, Abacha looted between $3 billion (about N480billion) and $5 billion (about N800billion) of public funds during his five-year reign from 1993-1998.

A Liechtenstein court ordered the Abacha money confiscated in 2012, but companies linked to his family have mounted a challenge in the European Court of Human Rights and Liechtenstein fears being liable for the money should they win.

“We’re asking: why have they been keeping our money all this time? Fronting companies for Abacha family are trying to delay things and Liechtenstein is hiding behind that,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “Somebody’s making money off it.”

The Liechtenstein spokesman said one of the reasons the cases have dragged on for so long is that Nigeria refused the examination of witnesses in its courts as part of the procedure.

Liechtenstein, like neighbour Switzerland, is seen as an attractive destination for wealth, partly because banking secrecy laws can help keep it away from prying eyes.

Nigeria has so far recovered around $1.3 billion (about N208billion) of Abacha’s money from various European jurisdictions – more than a third of it from Switzerland.

“Switzerland has actually been quite good. They returned $500 million (about N80billion). But there’s still money lying in other parts of Europe,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Other places where Abacha held money include France, Britain and offshore centers in the British Isles like Jersey.

Nigeria has appointed World Bank consultants to oversee the money and ensure it is properly spent, Okonjo-Iweala said.

The Liechtenstein spokesman said that despite the court case, authorities were “looking at the possibility of returning money ahead of schedule whilst still covering liability risks.”

The role of Western banks in aiding African corruption was highlighted during the trial of James Ibori, ex-governor of Nigeria’s oil-producing Delta State last year.

Ibori and his mistress were convicted in a trial that showed they had laundered millions of pounds /dollars through accounts they held at several British banks.


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CSCS Sensitizes Financial Market Stakeholders on Cyber-Security

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Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, Nigeria’s capital market infrastructure, sustains cyber-security advocacy as it sensitizes financial market participants on rising rate of cybercrime.

In a webinar organized by CSCS, financial market stakeholders, including bankers and capital market operators dialogued on innovative measures for preventing cybercrimes, dire need for increased campaign and exigency of collaborative investments to reign the rising rate of cybercrime.

The online event themed “Cyber Security and Information During the Pandemic” was lauded for its timeliness, as COVID-19 pandemic and attendant remote connections may have increased cyber-security risks in many organizations, particularly as the crime rate surges globally, with rising exposure of financial services institutions in Nigeria and the broader African continent.

The event which was widely attended with participants from the banking sector, capital market and public service, had Mr. Tobe Nnadozie (Divisional Head, Technology and Innovations, CSCS Plc), Mr. Bharat Soni (Chief Information Security Officer, GTBank Plc) and Mr. Ikechukwu Ugoji (Chief Information Security Officer, Interswitch Limited) as panelists.

Speaking on the event, Mr. Haruna Jalo-Waziri, the Chief Executive Officer, CSCS Plc, noted that “cybersecurity is a collective effort and everyone must play their role to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the financial market.

The pandemic and its attendant remote connections occasioned by business continuity and work-from-home protocols have increased exposures to cyber-security risks and some businesses may have suffered colossal losses due to cyberattacks since the pandemic.

More than ever, cyberattacks are like a double whammy at this challenging time when businesses are re-strategizing to adapt to the new normal and ensure sustainability.”

Mr. Femi Onifade, the Chief Strategy Officer, CSCS Plc reiterated the CEO’s perspective, noting that “a breach on any market participant’s network may inadvertently expose the entire system, thus reinforcing why we must collaborate to prevent any vulnerabilities in the financial system and why all participants and stakeholders must take active and effective measures in ensuring and sustaining cyber-resilience.”

While speaking at the event, Mr. Bharat Soni said, “new work culture has expanded remote activities and cloud capabilities to an unprecedented level, thereby making businesses more vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as online scams and phishing, disruptive malware, malicious domains amongst others.

Hence, the use of strong authentication for accessing networks would no longer be an option but a necessity.” He concluded that “Awareness of the new realities of safe cyber practices need to be communicated to employees, partners and customers so that they can remain aware of the evolving cyber threat and how to best protect themselves and their organizations”.

In the same vein, Mr. Ikechukwu Ugoji said, “over 90% of cyber breaches are facilitated by phishing email or social engineering attack and that every employee is a first-line of defence against incoming threats and employees must be made to understand their vital roles and responsibility in protecting the organization.”

On his part, Mr. Tobe Nnadozie, posited that “the pattern of spend on cybersecurity shows clearly that organizations are making relevant investments to protect their systems and broader market, albeit sadly, lack of vigilance is the leading cause of breaches”.


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Muoghalu, Kukah Headline ARCAN Lectures

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Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria (ARCAN) has lined up a two-week long, five-lecture series to commemorate the 60th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria.

Muoghalu, Kukah Headline ARCAN Lectures

Ambassador Joe Keshi

The lecture series scheduled to commence from Tuesday September, 22 through to Tuesday, October 6 2020 is themed Nigeria @ 60- The Journey So Far.

Dr. Kingsley Muoghalu, former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and a presidential candidate during the 2019 presidential election is expected to kick off the lecture series on Tuesday. He speaks on the topic: Nationhood, Development and Democracy in Nigeria.

Other speakers include the highly revered Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah who would be speaking on Thursday, September 24 on the topic: 60 years of Nigeria’s Journey to Democracy: Hopes and Impediments.

Dr Vanessa Iwowo, an award-winning management scholar takes the stage on Monday 28 September, 2020 and she would dwell on the topic: [email protected]: Leadership, Democracy and the Politics of Identity.

Tuesday, 29th September, 2020  would be the turn of political activist and scholar Dr. Usman Bugaje to explore the topic: 60 years of Nation-Building: The Management of Our Diversity, Resources and Nation-Building.

Erudite scholar and specialist in International Relations, Prof W. Alade Fawole, is billed to speak on Tuesday 6th October, 2020 on the topic: Nigeria in International Affairs: Prognosis for the next Sixty Years.

The host, Ambassador Joe Keshi, said remarks would be made by an array of eminent Nigerians including ARCAN President, Amb J.K Shinkaiye, ARCAN’s Doyen , Amb Ignatius C. Olisemeka and other eminent Nigerians and diplomats.

According to Keshi, “the series will review the state of our nation in the last 60 years and how the lofty dreams of our founding fathers of building a just and equitable nation where no man is oppressed can be truly attained.

“Additionally, it will review the impact of domestic policies on our foreign policy pursuits and engagement, and above all, offer a futuristic vision of what our foreign policy priorities in the next 60 years should be like,” he said.


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Ene-Obong, CEO of 54gene Selected as Endeavor Entrepreneur

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Endeavor has welcomed a new entrepreneur into its global network; Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong of 54gene, was selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur on September 17, 2020.

54gene is a health technology company whose mission is to advance precision medicine capabilities in Africa through research, advanced molecular diagnostics and clinical programs. 54gene joins 10 other Endeavor Entrepreneur-led companies in Nigeria, and over 1,300 in Endeavor’s 37 markets across Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America.

Endeavor is a mission-driven organisation that is leading the global movement for high-impact entrepreneurs and their companies. Endeavor Nigeria selects, mentors and accelerates the best high-impact entrepreneurs in the region, supporting them to scale their companies and drive economic growth.

As well as 54gene, this year, Endeavor has welcomed the founders of Daystar Power, Migo and Kobo360 into its local and global network.

Africa is home to the most genetically diverse population in the world. However, less than 3% of the continent’s genomic data is available for research purposes making it a potentially rich source of new genetic information used for medical discoveries.

54gene is solving this challenge and equalising the access to precision medicine through the advancement of the state of healthcare in Nigeria and on the continent. This is being achieved through local clinical research programs and advanced molecular diagnostics.

“54gene is a critical part of the continent’s push to equalize access to precision medicine for millions of Africans. The rapid pace at which the company has scaled over the past year is testament to Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong’s leadership, his drive and talented team.

He is an inspiration to other high-impact entrepreneurs in Nigeria and we are thrilled to welcome him into the Endeavor network.” Says Eloho Omame, Managing Director & CEO of Endeavor in Nigeria.

Since launching in 2019, 54gene has scaled its operations in generating novel insights in human genetics research that will lead to high impact health discoveries. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, 54gene raised funds to increase the country’s testing capacity and launched mobile laboratories across 5 Nigerian states.

The company has raised $21 million in investment and also launched the African Centre for Translational Genomics (ACTG) to fund the study of Non-Communicable Diseases in 100,000 Nigerians.

In September of this year, the company announced a partnership with Illumina to establish a world class genomics facility in Lagos, Nigeria, which will help expand its sequencing-based research and molecular diagnostics offering.

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong, CEO and Founder of 54gene, says, “It is an absolute honour to be selected as an Endeavor entrepreneur. We started 54gene to significantly improve the inclusion of African populations in global genomics research and I am glad to see our work is being recognised.

“Our mission is to continue driving innovation and change in research and I look forward to the opportunities that arise as a result of being supported by the global Endeavor network in expanding 54gene’s impact globally.”

Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong was successfully selected as part of a cohort of 9 entrepreneurs from 6 markets. With the recent addition of 54gene, Endeavor Nigeria now supports 17 entrepreneurs who lead 11 scale-up stage companies in Nigeria, spanning lifesciences, fintech, renewable energy, entertainment, logistics and retail.


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