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Ogun Government Official Pleads Guilty To Fraud In US Court

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Ogun Government Official Pleads Guilty To Fraud In US Court

An official of the Ogun State government until his arrest, Abidemi Rufai, has pleaded guilty in United States District Court in Tacoma to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Rufai, 45, admitted using stolen identities to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits, U.S. Attorney, Nick Brown, said.

Rufai has been in custody since his arrest at New York’s JFK airport in May 2021. At the time of his arrest, Rufai was the Special Assistant to the Governor of Nigeria’s Ogun State.

READ ALSO: Governor Abiodun Suspends Aide Arrested In US Over Alleged $350,000 Fraud

According to the plea agreement, since 2017, Abidemi Rufai unlawfully obtained the personal identifying information for more than 20,000 Americans to submit more than $2 million in claims for federally funded benefits under a variety of relief programmes. The various agencies involved paid out more than $600,000.

The largest amount of fraud was committed against the Washington State Employment Security Department, which paid out $350,763 in fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims to accounts controlled by Rufai.

He also submitted fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in at least 17 other states.

Mr Rufai also defrauded the Small Business Administration (SBA) by attempting to obtain Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between April 8, 2020, and June 26, 2020, he submitted 19 fraudulent EIDL applications. SBA paid out $10,000 based on the applications.

Between 2017 and 2020, Rufai attempted to obtain more than $1.7 million in IRS tax refunds by submitting 675 false claims. The IRS paid out $90,877 on these claims.

Rufai’s efforts to enrich himself with false disaster claims did not start with COVID-19. In September and October 2017, he submitted 49 disaster relief claims connected to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. He filed $24,500 in false claims and was paid on 13 claims totaling $6,500.

Rufai has agreed to pay full restitution to the defrauded agencies.

Wire fraud in relation to a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Aggravated identity theft is punishable two years in prison to follow any prison term imposed on another charge.

Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than 71 months in prison. The recommendation is not binding on U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle, who will determine the appropriate sentence on August 15, 2022, after considering the sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

READ ALSO: Governor Abiodun’s Aide Arrested In US Over Alleged $350,000 Fraud

Rufai’s case was investigated by the FBI, with assistance from the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, and the United States Small Business Administration Office of the Inspector General.

The Washington Employment Security Department is cooperating in the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth Wilkinson and Cindy Chang of the Western District of Washington.

On May 17, 2021, the U.S. Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud such as the one perpetrated by Abidemi Rufai.

The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programmes to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Justice

 

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Delta CDHR Disowns Giama, Says Edariese Is Authentic Chairman

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Delta CDHR Disowns Giama, Says Edariese Is Authentic Chairman

There is only one CDHR in Delta State headed by Comrade Elder Chief Edariese A. Peter.

The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Delta State chapter, has declared that one Jonathan Giama is not its chairman.

According to a statement by the CDHR, the authentic chairman of the group remains Chief Peter A. Edariese.

The CDHR made known this position in response to Giama who has allegedly been parading himself as the chairman of the group.

The CDHR said that Giama was expelled from the organization in in a letter in January, 2021 .

A statement by CDHR signed by Edariese noted as follows: “The fellow, Mr. Jonathan Giama, was the Secretary, CDHR, Delta State till March, 2020 when his tenure expired after serving the organization for four years.

READ ALSO: CDHR Denies Asking Delta Speaker To Resign

“During his period in office, he involved himself in acts incompatible with the aims and objectives for which CDHR was formed by the founding fathers.

“As a result of the above acts of Mr. Jonathan Giama, he was investigated along with one Mr Kehinde Taiga who served as the state chairman at that time and both of them were found culpable and shown the way out by expulsion from the body as referred to above.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there is only one CDHR in Nigeria which is duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, Abuja with its registered office at No. 43, Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja, Nigeria with branches in almost all the states of the federation including Delta State where I serve as the State Chairman having been elected on 22nd June, 2021 by delegates from all the units in the state.

“CDHR has a well- structured organization with National Executive Committee (NEC) with an erudite lawyer Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, a two-time Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Edo State as National President with great men and women who have made their marks in their chosen careers and callings as members.

“The body also has a Board of Trustees duly Registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission with a legal juganaut, Femi Falana (SAN) as Chairman surrounded by other eminent lawyers academics and business moguls as members.

READ ALSO: CDHR Members In Delta Celebrate As DELSU Appoints Ibagere As Provost

“As a test of genuineness, Mr. Jonathan Giama is hereby challenged to direct the general public to the address of the National Secretariat of the CDHR of his imagination and who in Nigeria are members of his National Executive Committee (CEC) and members of the Board of Trustees of the same which I know, he cannot and for that reason, he should shut up henceforth and look for something to do to make a living instead of parading himself as a member of CDHR and even its state chairman forthwith.

“I, Comrade Elder (Chief) Edariese A. Peter is and remains the only person who can fly the CDHR flag in Delta State as its chairman for now till the end of my tenure.

“I call on the general public to beware of impersonation as represented by Mr. Jonathan Giama.

“I am equally calling on all the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria particularly in Delta State to arrest Mr. Jonathan Giama to investigate his claims as CDHR Chairman Delta State and prosecute him if he is found culpable for impersonation to save the uninformed and unsuspecting members of the public from falling victim to Mr. Jonathan Giama who is bent on using the name of CDHR to extort money from his victims to oil his dubious and expensive lifestyle.”

 

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Gunmen Write Nine Councils In Anambra, Threaten Attacks

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Gunmen Write Nine Councils In Anambra, Threaten Attacks

Daredevil gunmen have written letters to nine local government areas in Anambra State, threatening to attack them soon.

The local government areas listed to be attacked are Ihiala, Aguata, Nnewi South, Awka North, Awka South, Idemili North, Idemili South, Orumba South, Orumba North and Anambra East.

In a message to the LGAs, the anonymous group warned security operatives to get ready for action in ‘Biafra Land’.

READ ALSO: Council Secretariat, Court Burnt Down In Anambra

“These local government areas should wait for us soon. We are warning our dear professor that it is time for action and not time to speak big grammar and talking. All the security men occupying should get ready for action.

“Go and tell the President to release our oga (boss), Onyendu, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, or face continuous war – FINAL WARNING,” the group wrote.

Meanwhile, the Anambra State police operatives, on Tuesday, neutralised hoodlums operating and enforcing the sit-at-home in the state.

The suspects were said to be operating around the Ogidi area on the second day of the sit-at-home when they confronted the security operatives.

It was confirmed by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Tochukwu Ikenga, who said the command and other sister agencies had been on patrol to maintain law and order in the state.

Ikenga assured the people to go about their normal businesses without any form of intimidation, harassment or worry assuring them of adequate security.

 

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PDP To Settle For Consensus Presidential Candidate – BOT Chairman

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PDP To Settle For Consensus Presidential Candidate - BOT Chairman

The Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is set to settle for a consensus presidential candidate, the Board of Trustees chairman, Walid Jubril has disclosed .

Jubril made this known to journalists while responding to questions at the PDP secretariat in Lafia on Tuesday.

Jubril said he was in the state to assess presidential aspirants who visit the state to enable them to come up with a suitable candidate for the party in the consensus agreement.

“The NEC has made it known earlier that there will be no zoning and no consensus. But right now there is a loophole, therefore we need to review that earlier decision and come up with a consensus candidature.

“We have agreed to sit together to review that very seriously and come up with a suitable candidate to lead our party in the contest.

“We are not stopping any aspirant from contesting but we have to resort to consensus. All the aspirants from the south east, south west and the north are working together to produce a consensus.

READ ALSO: PDP In North Is Working On Consensus Candidate – Saraki

Meanwhile, Senator Bukola Saraki while addressing delegates in the state vowed to end insecurity and to block all economic leakages that have thrown the country into a serious mess.

Saraki acknowledged that Nigeria is in need of a forthright and dogged leader that will move the country from where it is. He said he has such capacity.

” We are facing the problem of insecurity and bad economy. The level of leakages in our economy is responsible for all we are going through. When I become the president I will block all the leakages and deploy technology to fight insecurity.”

 

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