The presidency yesterday chided the British multinational bank, HSBC, over its confidential business intelligence prediction of President Muhammad Buhari losing the 2019 presidential poll.
Specifically, it asked the management of the bank to heed President Buhari’s continuous imploration that the global financial institution should return Nigerians stolen assets and funds and then see how well the country will fare.
HSBC and the Economist magazine’s intelligence unit had in a report in July predicted that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the 2019 general election.
According to the report, a second term for President Buhari would seriously stunt Nigeria’s economic development.
But hitting back at HSBC, the presidency accused the bank of thriving on what it described as grand corruption and aiding past and present Nigerian leaders in money laundering amounting to billions of naira.
It accused HSBC of laundering more than USD 100,000,000 for the late General Sani Abacha in Jersey, Paris, London and Geneva.
In the statement made available ton LEADERSHIP Sunday last night, Shehu said, “The Presidency wishes to make clear to all Nigerians, and particularly the global banking giant HSBC which said the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari would stunt the economy, that what killed Nigeria’s economy in the past was the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders, the type which was actively supported by HSBC.
“A bank that soiled its hand with ‘‘millions of US dollars yet-to-be-recovered Abacha loot’’, and continued until a few months ago to shield the stolen funds of one of the leaders of the Nigerian Senate has no moral right whatsoever to project that a “second term for Mr. Buhari raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration.”
“Rather, we ask them to heed President Buhari’s constant refrain: return our stolen assets, then see how well we will do. From the facts available to our investigation agencies, HSBC’s put down on President Buhari is no more than an expression of frustration over the administration’s measures put in place which has abolished grand corruption, the type which this bank thrives on in many countries.
“They may also just be out to discredit the President out of the fear of sanctions and fines following the national assets that are stolen”.
The presidential spokesman said with the coming of President Buhari, it was not a secret that corruption, corrupt individuals, banks and other corporate entities that aided corrupt practices are under investigation for various offenses.
He stated: “Our investigation agencies believe that HSBC had laundered more than USD 100,000,000 for the late General Sani Abacha in Jersey, Paris, London and Geneva.
Among these accounts on the records are: AC: S-104460 HSBC Fund Admin Ltd. Jersey ($12,000,000); AC 37060762 HSBC Life (Europe), U.K ($20,000,000) and AC: 38175076 HSBC Bank Plc. U.K ($1,600,000), Shehu said “.Shehu further alleged that the bank is also suspected in the laundering of proceeds of corruption involving more than 50 other Nigerians, including a serving Senator as earlier indicated.
He continued: “In a book, ‘Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation’, published in 2017, Jack Bernstein told the story of global money laundering highlighting the unenviable place of the HSBC.
“This is a bank that states and federal authorities in the U.S. forced to pay $1.92 billion to settle charges of money laundering; fined $1.2 billion in Hong Kong for “systemic deficiencies” in bond sales and was made to pay $100 million in currency rigging settlement as reported by The Telegraph of 18th January, 2018.
Negative Predictions Won’t Stop APC From Winning 2019 Polls – Lai Moh’d
In the same vein, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has expressed optimism that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will win landslide in the 2019 general election irrespective of doomsday predictions by some international financial institutions.
The minister said this in Lagos when he visited the corporate headquarters of Channels Television, in furtherance of the National Campaign Against Fake News, which was launched by the Federal Government in July.
He said the negative predictions against the APC-led federal government by the international financial institution, HSBC, and the Intelligence Unit of the Economist Magazine, were based on fake premises, thus qualifying such predictions as fake news.
Mohammed said, “Talking about fake news, we expect that those who have been deeply affected by our policies will mount a sustained campaign against this Administration in the weeks and months to come. In fact, they have already started. We have all read that the Intelligence Unit of the Economist said the PDP will defeat the ruling APC in 2019. We have also read that the international financial institution, HSBC, said Nigeria’s economic development will be stunted if President Buhari gets a second term
“Let me state clearly that these reports are based on fake premises and, therefore, qualify as fake news. It is a psychological warfare by those who have been badly hit by our policies. For example, out fight against corruption has meant that many financial institutions, especially banks that fed fat on the proceeds of corruption are no longer able to do that.
‘’Also, international publications that used to feed fat on questionable supplements paid for by the Federal Government have seen a drastic reduction in such patronage, as the Administration cuts down on frivolous spending that was the order of the day in the past.
Therefore, it is natural that these institutions and publications would not wish to see another term for this Administration,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
According to the minister, the fake news phenomenon is bound to get worse as the nation approaches the 2019 general election, because it seems to be the only weapon left for naysayers who could not fault the government on infrastructure, economy, fight against corruption, agricultural development among others.
The Minister said only Nigerians will determine who presides over the affairs of the country, not any bank or media establishment, irrespective of their influence or self-importance.
‘’The parents and wards of the 8.5 million school children, who are being fed every school day under our home-grown school feeding system, are feeling the impact of this Administration. The more than six million farmers, who have joined rice production since this Administration came on board, know what this government has done. Nigerians, who are enjoying more stable electricity after power production has more than doubled, know better. The 500,000 unemployed graduates who have benefitted from our N-Power programme know that these naysayers are only thinking about themselves. So we are not bothered,’’ he said
On the campaign against fake news, Alhaji Mohammed sought the support of the media in driving the campaign, saying the media will become the first and the biggest victim if fake news is allowed to erode the credibility of the news business
He said the campaign has recorded a great achievement so far, even when it has not stopped the spread of fake news.
‘’Since launching the campaign, we have recorded a huge success. Yes, we have not stopped the spread of fake news, and we are not under any illusion that we can stop it so fast. But we have succeeded in bringing the issue of fake news to the front burner. It is now a subject of national discourse, workshops and conferences. That, to us, is a major step forward, and we thank all our partners, and indeed all Nigerians, for this achievement,’’ the Minister said
In his remarks, the Chairman of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh, who expressed delight at the visit, said Channels remains apolitical and professional in its role as a watchdog for the society.
63 Parties To Field Presidential Candidates In 2019
There are indications that 63 political parties may field candidates for the forthcoming presidential election.
An impeccable source close to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disclosed yesterday that, so far, 63 political parties had written to INEC to come and observe their presidential primaries.
This is notwithstanding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed among some political parties that has now become the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) towards the election.
“So far, 80 of the 91 political parties have indicated intention to conduct primaries. Only 10 parties have issued notices for FCT elections for the six Area Council chairmen and 62 councillorship seats.
“Sixty three parties have given notices for presidential primaries,” he said.
The INEC source also disclosed that the Smart Card Reader would be deployed for the 2019 elections whether the new electoral bill which legalises its use is signed into law or not.
According to him, the Card Reader does two critical assignments, including identification of the holder and authentication of the card to ascertain it was not cloned, adding that the Card Reader would not be discarded despite the delay in legalising it through the presidential assent to the new electoral bill.
The source stated that, as a result of improvements in the electoral process in recent years, the Commission had witnessed less incidents of ballot box and results sheets snatching, less incidents of INEC staff hijacking and no cases of results being declared while election was ongoing.
On the Osun election, the source stated that 1.6 million voters had registered for the governorship election, adding that 73 percent of the voters had collected their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs), which he noted, was the highest PVCs collection in recent times.
He added that 48 political parties are fielding governorship candidates for the election, even as he stated that 16,000 personnel made up of 15,000 ad hoc staff and 1,000 INEC staff would take part in the election.
According to the source, INEC would be conducting the governorship election in 30 local governments, 332 wards and 3,765 polling units.
The source said that INEC would track sensitive election materials and its personnel during the election to ensure transparency.
“Every vehicle would be tracked to ensure they are not diverted from their routes. We also have a device that can eavesdrop on the conversations of drivers and other INEC personnel conveying the materials to designated spots,” he said.
On vote buying, the source said : “It is not a new thing but it is assuming a new dimension as a result of improvements in our electoral process.”
He also explained that INEC was considering barring voters from taking their phones to voting cubicles.
According to him, INEC cannot completely bar voters from using phones at polling units because the phones also help the citizens to gather lots of information which can be sent to INEC for further action.
The source also revealed that vote buyers had recently moved beyond physical cash by engaging in electronic transfer but that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices (ICPC) had started monitoring the spate of electronic transfer around elections.
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