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I never faced N25bn corruption charge, Senator Goje

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Senator Danjuma Goje, the senator representing Gombe Central at the National Assembly has said that at no time did he faced corruption charge totaling N25 billion.

Goje disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday in a statement.

The statement signed by Mr. Paul Erokoro, lawyer to the senator said the claim was “inaccurate and untrue.”

Erokoro was reacting to recent reports in the media that corruption charge being faced by the senator were withdrawn following his decision to step down from the Senate president race in June.

He insisted that the actual amount mentioned in the charge was N9 billion.

“The so-called “N25b fraud” that has been bandied about in the media, never featured in the case.

“The sum total of all the monies mentioned in the charge was about N8b.

“Of that total, N5billion was a loan taken from Access Bank for completion of infrastructural projects such as the Gombe airport, waterworks, numerous roads, Gombe Jewel Hotels, schools, hospitals and rural electrification.

“The bank testified in Court that the money was properly utilised for the projects. The EFCC investigators also confirmed to the Court that the projects were all completed.

On the N1 billion agricultural loan, he said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had testified in court that the loan was utilised in full compliance with the bank’s loan conditions.

Other witnesses told the court that the governor never awarded any contract for the supply of food to Government House and Government Guest Houses during his tenure for the N1 billion alleged in the charge or for any other sum.

“On the N1.6 billion for the supply of English Dictionaries for primary and secondary schools, the Court was told that Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) gave its approval and that the contract was advertised in two newspapers and that reputable book publishers and suppliers tendered and that State Universal Basic Education Board awarded the contract to the lowest bidder.”

He said all the 19 counts of the charge around the above monetary issues collapsed during the trial.

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He said because the prosecution witnesses completely exonerated the defendants was why the 19 counts were all dismissed by the court, on the ground of No Case submission.

He added that the star witness of the Prosecution, a senior EFCC operative who headed the investigation, told the court that throughout their investigation, no money belonging to the Gombe State Government was traced to the Governor, his family members or associates.

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He because of their embarrassing nature, the two counts of the charge were withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation and not on political negotiation as being speculated.

NAN

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Palliative: Kano Govt denies destroying FG foodstuff

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The Kano State Government has dismissed as “mischievous” reports insinuating that food items donated to the state under the Federal Government palliative on COVID-19 had been destroyed.

Malam Muhammad Garba, the state’s Commissioner for Commissioner, Information, Youths, and Culture, in a statement on Tuesday in Kano, dismissed the report as “roguish” peddled by disgruntled elements.

The reports alleged that the grains were destroyed due to a lack of storage facilities.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the federal government had supplied over 100 trucks of grains, including millet, maize, rice, and sorghum for distribution to the poor to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown.

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However, speculations alleged that the grains kept in the open at the Kano State Agricultural Supply Company (KASCO), ere damaged by rain in the past few days.

Reacting to the rumor, Garba said that the state government had made proper arrangements to preserve the grain.

He noted that even before the food items were supplied, Kano had recorded its first rainfall, adding that proper arrangements were made to preserve it.

“I, therefore, urge the public to disregard the roguish which is being peddled by some disgruntled elements to discredit the effort of the government at all cost.

“We took into consideration the rainy season which has already set in and adopted measures to protect the grains from being destroyed by the prevailing hot weather occasioned by the scorching sun or rain by keeping them under the waterproof tarpaulin,’’ he said.

Garba explained that the food items were in the custody of the State Fundraising Committee on COVID-19, which was finalizing arrangements to begin distribution to the poor families in the state.

“We completed the first phase of the distribution of palliatives donated by corporate organizations and individuals to the deserving households in the 484 political wards in the 44 local government areas of the state.

“As soon as we are done with the arrangement, the second phase of distribution of food items sent by the federal government will commence,” he added.

The commissioner, however, commended the people of the state for their support and understanding in the prevailing challenges posed by the global pandemic

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Zoho offers guidance on right software for non technology companies

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The technology company, Zoho Corporations, on Tuesday, offered guidance to non-technology companies on how to select software products to support remote and on-site working requirements in the face of COVID-19.

Mr. Andrew Bourne, Zoho’s Country Manager for the African region, said in a statement in Lagos that local businesses should make their operations digital and remote at a much faster pace as a result of the pandemic.

Bourne said that some of the considerations for a non-techie to select suitable software would include the bigger picture, prioritizing privacy, easy integration, and the right pricing.

According to him, working from home has become the de-facto way of operation for many, prompting businesses to take a hard look at whether their software solutions are standing up to their work-from-home needs.

”The sheer number of software solutions available for businesses, combined with rapid technological innovation, can make the choice extremely difficult.

”Although there is something to suit virtually every need, it is important for businesses to take time to ensure they choose solutions that not only fulfill those needs but also work together so that decision-makers have a cohesive and comprehensive picture of the business at all times,” Bourne said.

According to him, in selecting software, there is a need to consider the bigger picture by clearly defining business software needs, as well as prioritizing goals that the tools need to help business owners to achieve.

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He said that the right software solutions would streamline operations and increase efficiency in a logical, easy-to-use way, and allow the user to focus on the work rather than the application.

The country manager said that as technology users were aware of basic online security, they should be demanding more of software solutions to ensure data privacy and security.

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According to him, privacy factors, including data protection, file encryption, and cloud security, should be taken into consideration and discussed with the software providers to ensure a solution that guarantees privacy at the highest level.

Bourne said that software solutions should be integrated in a seamless way to improve productivity by speeding up the flow of information through departments.

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He said that the best solution at the most competitive price would be the most desirable way to go, but said it would be important to ensure value for money, irrespective of the brand.

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ACCI calls for stronger Nigeria-India economic relations

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Mr. Adetokunbo Kayode, President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has called for a refocused and stronger economic ties between Nigeria and India.

Kayode made the call on Tuesday in Abuja while speaking as a panelist at the webinar meeting tagged: “India – Nigeria Business Promotion, Challenges, and Opportunities – Post-COVID-19”.

Kayode, an economic expert, noted that in a rejigged relationship, a win-win situation should be the watchword.

He said that it had been informally estimated that there would be around 10 billion dollars of investment by Indian companies in Nigeria.

“A maybe very substantial part of that amount has been loaned to Indian companies by Nigerian government-owned banks like, Bank of Industry, Nigeria Exim Bank, Development Bank of Nigeria, NIRSAL FUND of the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as commercial banks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted negatively on the relationship between the two countries, especially on medical tourism, which is one of the key areas.

“Some of us attended schools that Indians were teachers. For us to move forward, we need to rejig the already existing obsolete 1973 Trade Agreement between Nigeria and India.

“In doing so, we have to bear in mind that Nigeria has several areas where it can do business with India,” he said.

According to him, if Nigeria is ready to use Indian technology then, India should also help Nigeria to diversify its economy into agriculture, mining, manufacturing, amongst others.

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He recalled that in the Great Gujarat gathering in 2019, it was discovered that several Indian companies were rather using Indian firms in Nigeria to carry out activities in a manner that undermined local legislations, particularly in trading in retail and distribution services.

On the challenges in the trade relations, Kayode pointed out that the absence of Indian manufacturing hubs in Africa and Nigeria, in particular, as well as intrusion into local businesses needed to be addressed to strengthen the ties.

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In a remark, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Abbay Thakur, said Nigeria was one of Indian’s biggest trading partners for several years.

He highlighted some of the activities of Indian companies in Nigeria in several sectors cutting across agriculture, power, technology, automobile, health, and pharmaceuticals, among others.

Other participants at the event unanimously expressed the desire to actively participate in activities and programs that would ensure the sustainability of the already existing cordial relationship.

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