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The Pope is definitely coming

Unknown to the rest of the world, the Vatican is in crisis.  That is not entirely correct.  It is the world itself that is in crisis but unlike most of his predecessors, Pope Francis I is insistent that the Catholic Church and the Vatican cannot be isolated or insulated from the reality of the gruesome crisis that has engulfed most of the world.  Therein lies a profoundly disturbing crisis – should the Vatican remain serenely aloof or does the Pope have a moral obligation to get directly involved?  That is precisely why the Holy Father is coming to Nigeria where to put matters bluntly, the Catholic Church (and indeed Christianity) is confronted with the burning of churches, the slaughtering of human beings and wantom savagery without precedent in the entire history of Christianity stretching back over 2000 years.  Here is a sample of the frontpage newspaper headlines:

(i) “The Punch” newspaper (February 28 2014)Soldiers flee as Boko Haram (Islamic Fundamentalists) kills 37 in Adamawa.

“When the soldiers at the military checkpoints saw the number of the attackers, they retreated into the nearby bushes as the gunmen operated without challenge” – Eyewitness.

(ii) “The Punch” newspaper (February 18 2014) “Boko Haram better armed than soldiers” – Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima

o  Izghe massacre: Death toll now 146

(iii) “The Punch” newspaper (February 26 2014)

o Boko Haram kills 43 school children

o Sect members threw bombs into hostels – Teacher

o President says killings heinous, brutal, and mindless.

(iv) “The Punch” newspaper (February 23 2014)

o Lagos banker dies in police custody

o Gunmen kill 29 in fresh Plateau State attack

o Man spends nine years in prison for brother’s offence

(v) “ThisDay” newspaper (February 23 2014)

*Boko Haram: Army Places Officers On High Alert In Lagos”

(vi) “The Guardian” newspaper (February 23 2014)

“Death Lurks On The Rails”

Wednesday 26th February 2014 was a red letter day at the Vatican.  Pope Francis I had his breakfast thoroughly ruined by the following frontpage headlines:

“Nigerian Tribune” newspaper

“AGAIN, GUNMEN KILL 43 STUDENTS IN YOBE”

“ThisDay” newspaper

o NEITI: Nigeria Loses US $8Billion Through Oil Swap

o Boko Haram In Gruesome Murder of 43 FGC Students

o President Jonathan Condemns Killings; Former Vice President Atiku Weeps.

“The Guardian” newspaper “Gunmen invade School; kill 29 students, others in Yobe “The Nation” newspaper “Fire and fury as Boko Haram kills 43 pupils “Daily Sun” newspaper

“YOBE HELL”

o  Boko Haram burns 29 students alive “SHOCKING – Boy hacks father to death while praying” “Independent Newspaper”

“Boko Haram slaughters massacres 29 students in Yobe”

“Daily Champion” newspaper

“Boko Haram massacres 43 students in their sleep” “Vanguard” newspaper “Boko Haram slaughters 43 in Yobe”

o  Abducts female students; gunmen fire at male students

o  Burns all hostels, classrooms, 40 houses

o  Soldiers at checkpoint redeployed 24 hours before attack

o  43 bodies brought to morgue so far – Hospital source

o  We know their tactic, we’ll go after them — Army

“Daily Trust” newspaper

“Yobe College Death Toll Hits 59”

o  Army withdrawn a day to attack – Resident

“President Jonathan’s foster father kidnapped over land dispute”

“Business Day” newspaper

“Naira pressure worsens as reserves fall to N40.46 Billion”

o Bank of America downgrades naira instruments.

Again on Friday March 7 2014 the Holy Father’s lunch was ruined by the following revelation by Julian Assange of Wikileaks and Edward Snowden ex-United States of America NSA Consultant.  It merely served to confirm the report by RW Ahmad:

“The United States of America has vowed to confiscate ill-gotten riches of corrupt leaders who drain the resources of their countries.

This is coming after the US Department of Justice froze over $458 million in corrupt proceeds hidden in bank accounts around the world by former Hear of State General Sani Abacha and conspirators.

The acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Valerie Parlave of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement, according to information from the US Embassy in Nigeria.

“General Abacha was one of the most notorious kleptocrats in memory, who embezzled billions from the people of Nigeria while millions lived in poverty,” Raman said.

“This is the largest civil forfeiture action to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption ever brought by the department.  Throughout Kleptocracy Initiative, we are seizing the assets of foreign leaders who steal funds that properly belong to the citizens they serve.  Today’s action sends a clear message we are determined and equipped to confiscate the ill-gotten riches of corrupt leaders who drain the resources of their countries.”

The Assistant Director also said “We will not let the US banking system be a tool for dictators to hide their criminal proceeds.  This action demonstrates the FBI’s ability to combat international corruption and money laundering by seizing the assets of those involved.”

The information read that as alleged in the complaint, General Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others systematically embezzled billions of dollars in public funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria on the pretense that the funds were necessary for national security.

She explained that the conspirators withdrew the funds in cash and then moved the money overseas through US financial institutions.

Bagudu represents Kebbi Central Senatorial District of Kebbi State in the Senate under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

The statement also said Abacha and his associates allegedly extorted more than $11 million from a French company and its Nigerian affiliate in connection with payments on government contracts.The complainant seeks to forfeit bank accounts and investment portfolios with funds located in Bailiwick of Jersey, France and the United Kingdom.  The investigation was conducted by the FBI.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Elizabeth Aloi and Assistant Deputy Chief Daniel Claman of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, with substantial support from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.”

What left Pope Francis I utterly baffled is why the Nigerian government has not empowered the “Seventy Elder Citizens” (Chartered Accountants) to thoroughly investigate how much money late General Sani Abacha actually stole from Nigeria; and how he was able to do it.  Indeed, the question that is even more intriguing is whether the financial system and controls are still so lax and porous that the same thing could still happen through institutionalized leakages.

When Tony Blair was Prime Minister of Britain, he lamented on his visit to Nigeria:

“If the kind of money stolen from Nigeria had been stolen from Great Britain, there would be no Britain left.”!!

Last night, the Pontiff’s dinner was thoroughly messed up by the following extracts from the report of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria on the accounts of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the year ended 31st December 2012.

(i) “The joint external auditors DID NOT certify that the accounts give a true and fair view of the financial position of the Bank as at 31st December 2012.  Their opinion is a technical qualification that the accounts should not be relied upon for decision making.  Their opinion was carefully crafted, capable of deceiving the uninformed and not in accordance with the International Standards on Auditing and the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria Act No.6 2011.  A thorough investigation shall reveal whatever led them to compromise their professionalism.”

(ii) “The financial statements are highly abridged with poor disclosures of transactions and events that are of a financial nature.  The breakdown provided to some items seems to be allocation of figures to arrive at predetermined numbers.”

(iii) “A number of transactions and events of a financial nature were carried out without Board approval (as no Board approvals were provided as requested).  This shows very weak corporate governance at the CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) and clear evidence that statutorily allowing the CBN Governor to be both the Chief Executive Officer of the Bank as well as the Chairman of the Board is the greatest error made in the conception of the CBN Act 2007.”

(iv) “The external audit revealed debit/credit balances of sundry foreign currencies without physical stock of foreign currencies in CBN Head Office account.  Sundry currencies represent physical stock of foreign currencies.  At no point should one expect to have fictitious Naira balances without the foreign currencies to back them up.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHO IS OR WAS WITH THE FOREIGN CURRENCIES AT THE TIME.”

(v) “The CBN, outside the agreed audit fee of N300 million paid to their External Auditors and which was reviewed upward in 2012 from N200 million in 2011, the CBN showed within “Administrative Expenses” that they paid the External Auditors another N140 million.”

J.K Randle

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