October 10, 2008

Mehrshad Kamizi- the 20kg baby


EFCC arraigns Amaechi’s aide over N5bn fraud

The Chief of Staff to Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, Mr. Ezebunwo Wike, was on Thursday arraigned before an Abuja High Court for allegedly converting over N5bn belonging to the state into personal use.
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The The Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs Farida Waziri

His arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission coincided with the demand by the state government for the payment of N3bn compensation to Wike by the EFCC.

Two of the charges read, “That you, Wike, sometime between 2007 and 2008, at Abuja in the Abuja Judicial Division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, converted to your own use, N3.5bn, belonging to the Rivers State Government, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 309 of the Penal Code Cap 532 of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

“That you, Wike, sometime between 2007 and 2008 did dishonestly convert to your own use, N129m belonging to the state, and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 309 of the Penal Code Cap 532 of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.”

The Chief of Staff, who pleaded not guilty to a seven-count charge brought against him, was however granted bail in the sum of N50m by Justice Adebukola Banjoko.

He is also to produce two sureties that must be resident in the Federal Capital Territory .

Earlier, one of the lawyers to the accused person, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had told Banjoko that the governor’s aide, who had practised as a lawyer for more than 10 years, would neither tamper with EFCC’s investigations nor jump bail.

Fagbemi, who led two other SANS— Damien Dodo and Sunday Ameh— also informed the justice that the state High Court in Port Harcourt had ordered the release of Wike.

He said, “The accused person walked into the office of the EFCC on Monday and has been in detention since then, I want to present before this court, an order of the Rivers State High Court that declared the arrest, detention and continued detention of the accused person as illegal.

“The court also ordered that he should be released from custody henceforth pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”

The counsel for the EFCC, Mr. James Binang, did not oppose the oral application for bail but he said the condition should be stringent.

Binang said, “We have been served with a copy of the order of the High Court, we want to submit that his (Wike) arrest and detention was lawful as it was based on the reasonable suspicion that he has committed a crime.

“He was also brought to court with reasonable time; we brought him to court within 48 hours, so the EFCC will not obey that order unless this court says so.

“All conditions for his bail now rest with this court. Our investigations disclosed both felony and money laundering, and it is only the Federal High Court that has the jurisdiction to entertain money laundering cases.

“We urge the court to, in considering the bail application, take into cognizance of the amount of money involved and to put conditions that would make him attend his trial.”

After listening to the argument, Banjoko granted the accused bail and ordered him to submit two passport photographs to the court’s registry.

“I have taken cognisance of the fact that the offences for which the accused person is standing trial are bailable, therefore bail is granted in the sum of N50m with two sureties who must be resident in the FCT. They must swear an affidavit showing evidence of payment of their taxes for three years,” he said.

The judge consequently adjourned hearing on the matter till October 24.

But the Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Magnus Abe, described the arraignment of Wike as persecution.

Abe, who was released on Wednesday by the EFCC, said that the government would do everything possible to meet the bail conditions.

The Resident Media Consultant to Amaechi, Mr. David Iyofor, told journalists that Abe was at the commission’s office to submit a letter explaining the whereabouts of other members of the government under investigation when he was detained.

The other officials that were invited by the anti-graft agency in connection with the fraud are the Commissioner of Finance, Mr. Thank God Ideozu; the Accountant-General of the State, Mr. Ngozi Abu; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs. A. E. Dokubo.

Iyofor said, “As a law abiding citizen, the SSG had only gone to appraise the commission of the location of the officers of government, when he was picked up and detained unlawfully for more than 48 hours.

“Now, the commission claimed he was arrogant and uncooperative. Since when did it become a crime to be arrogant? That is what we want the EFCC to explain to us.”

The government also accused the anti-graft agency of infringing on Wike’s rights by detaining him “unconstitutionally.”

In an application it filed at the High Court in Port Harcourt, the government condemned the arrest and detention of Abe for about 48 hours without any cause.

The state, therefore, sought leave of the court to enforce Wike’s rights and the payment N3bn to him by the EFCC.

“The court should compel the commission to, within 14 days or such time as may be ordered, pay to the applicant (Wike) the N3bn or any such sum as may be deemed appropriate as monetary compensation or aggravated damages for the infringement of his fundamental rights, ” it said.

It was learnt on Thursday that the governor had returned to the country from his overseas trip and may be meeting with management of the EFCC.punch online

Michelle Obama not offended by 'that one' comment

(CNN) -- The wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told CNN's Larry King on Wednesday that she is not offended by a much-publicized comment made toward her husband in Tuesday night's debate.
Michelle Obama talks about Williams Ayers, Hillary Clinton and her husband's campaign on Larry King Live.

Michelle Obama talks about Williams Ayers, Hillary Clinton and her husband's campaign on Larry King Live.

In the presidential matchup at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, GOP nominee John McCain criticized his Democratic rival for supporting the 2007 Bush-Cheney energy bill.

"It was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate, loaded down with goodies, billions for oil companies, and it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. ... You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one," he said, gesturing toward Obama. "You know who voted against it? Me."

When asked whether McCain's reference to Obama as "that one" was offensive, Michelle Obama simply said "No," adding that the issue has nothing to do with what's affecting average Americans hurting from the economic downturn.

"I think there are two conversations that have been going on throughout this whole election. There's the conversation that's been happening with the pundits ... and then there's the conversation that's been happening on the ground," she said. Video Watch Michelle Obama talk about McCain's comment »

She said Americans "right now are scared" and "nervous about the economy."

"They don't care about the back and forth between the candidates. ... They want real answers about how we're going to fix this economy and get the health care benefits on track so, you know, this is part of politics," she added.

King asked Obama about the McCain camp bringing up her husband's ties to William Ayers. Ayers was a founding member of the Weather Underground, a 1960s radical group known for bombings of police stations, the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. Fact Check: Is Obama 'palling around with terrorists'?

Ayers is a university professor who lives on the South Side of Chicago, where Obama cut his political teeth.

Michelle Obama said her husband served on a Chicago education board with Ayers.

"I don't know anyone in Chicago who is heavily involved in education policy who doesn't know Bill Ayers," she said. "But, you know, again I go back to the point that, you know, the American people aren't asking these questions."

"You don't think it affects the campaign?" King asked.

"You know, I think that we've been in this for 20 months and people have gotten to know Barack. He's written a book, books have been written about him. He, like all of the other candidates have been thoroughly vetted. And I think people know Barack Obama. Video Watch Michelle Obama discuss William Ayers »

"They know his heart, they know his spirit, and the thing that I just encourage people is to judge Barack and judge all of these candidates based on what they do, their actions, their character, what they do in their lives rather than what somebody [else] did when they were 8."

Michelle Obama was referring to the fact that Ayers allegedly committed his most radical acts when Barack Obama was a child.

McCain's running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, has lobbed some intense attacks on Barack Obama over the Ayers issue. "Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country," Palin told a crowd of supporters this week.

King played the clip and asked Michelle Obama if that statement made her "mad."

Obama replied, "I don't watch it."

"What do you make of her running for a vice president and having many kids and being a good parent and bouncing all the balls?" King asked.

"I think she provides an excellent of example of all the different roles that women can and should play," Michelle Obama responded. "I'm a mother with kids and I've had a career and I've had to juggle. She's doing publicly what so many women are doing on their own privately. What we're fighting for is to make sure that all women have the choices that Sarah Palin and I have."

At one point, King asked her if her husband likes McCain. "Do these two candidates, as has been reported, not like each other?" King asked.

"I can only speak for Barack, and I know that Barack has the utmost respect for Sen. McCain. He said so on so many occasions," she said. "I think this has been a long, tough fight. And politics sometimes leads to things said between the candidates. But again, what we found is that people are really focused on who is going to -- who has got the vision that's going to take us to the next level?"

She said campaigning is exhausting but she likes it more than she expected.

"When I'm tired, I get more energy coming out of a rally where I get the -- get hugs and I see people on the rope lines tearing up because they never thought they'd see this moment," she said. "I see kids who are focused and engaged in a way that I've never seen before. That gives us both energy."

Obama also talked about Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"Are you happy with the way she's supporting your husband?" King asked.

"She has been phenomenal. ...She has always been just cordial and open. I've called her, I've talked to her. She's given me advice about the kids," Obama said. Video Watch Michelle Obama call Hillary Clinton 'phenomenal' »

Obama holds advertising advantage over McCain

Barack Obama spent $3.3 million in TV advertising on Monday. At that rate, the Democrat will spend more than $90 million on ads through Election Day - more than all the money Republican rival, John McCain, has to spend on his entire fall campaign, The Associated Press reported on Thursday.
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Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama

McCain’s ad spending Monday, totaled about $900,000 and the Republican National Committee weighed in with about $700,000 worth.

All whopping numbers, but the disparity between Obama and the Republicans is so wide that it has allowed Obama to spend in more states than McCain, to appear more frequently in key markets, and to diversify his message by both attacking McCain and promoting his own personal story.

With national and state polls showing him building a broader lead over McCain, Obama has switched to a more positive pitch. Last week, only 34 percent of his ads attacked McCain directly while virtually all of McCain‘s ads attacked Obama, according to a study by the Wisconsin Advertising Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

One of Obama’s most recent ads came as Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate, made an issue of Obama’s connections to 1960s radical, Bill Ayers, and argued that Obama “is not a man who sees America like you and I see America.”

The ad bespeaks Americana. In it, Obama recalls being a child, sitting on his grandfather’s shoulders and waving an American flag as they watched astronauts return from a splashdown. “And my grandfather would say, ‘Boy, Americans, we can do anything when we put our minds to it.”

The ad offers a direct response to Palin. But it also illustrates Obama‘s continuing need as an African-American to reassure voters about his candidacy.

Boosted by an economy in crisis and a saturation of advertising, Obama has built up his margins over McCain in Democratic-leaning battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania and Michigan. He has tilted Republican-leaning states such as Colorado and New Mexico toward his side. And he has created contests in such reliably Republican states as Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina.

At the same time, outside groups have weighed in on both sides. VoteVets.org, a group critical of Bush war policies, on Wednesday began spending $350,000 on ads in Virginia criticising McCain for opposing full college scholarships for those who serve three years in the military.

The AP reported that Health Care for America Now, a coalition that includes unions and patient advocates, is airing an ad in Ohio and on national cable criticising McCain‘s health care plan, echoing a similar message in an Obama ad.

By now, McCain’s allies had hoped the Arizona senator would have established his dominance in states won by President Bush in 2000 and 2004 and would have focused on winning two of the three key Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.punch

Recuperating Janet Ready to Rock Witchu Again

Janet Jackson is ready for more onstage escapades.

A rep for the veteran pop star said Wednesday that Jackson is ready to continue the North American leg of her Rock Witchu tour after sitting out a handful of dates to recover from an unspecified ailment.

Due to all the reshuffling, she has decided against playing NYC's Madison Square Garden on Oct. 16 but will be back on the road Oct. 11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

"Janet, who has been under her doctor's care and recuperating over the last week, is excited about getting back on the road and again being able to share with her fans what she feels is one of her best stage shows ever," a rep for tour promoter Live Nation said in a statement to Access Hollywood.

The Grammy winner was forced to postpone shows in Montreal, Philadelphia, Boston, Greensboro, N.C., Atlanta and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., after falling ill Sept. 29 in Montreal. She was rushed from rehearsal to Royal Victoria Hospital, where she spent several hours before being discharged.

All fans were asked to hang on to their tickets, which will be honored at future makeup dates. So far, the Atlanta and New York shows have been rescheduled for Oct. 19 and Nov. 1, respectively.

Hefner's Shannon Twins Packing Legal Baggage

Hugh Hefner's new gal-pals aren't quite as innocent as they look. Um, anyway?

Florida police records show that 19-year-old twins Karissa and Kristina Shannon, who appear to be seeking permanent quarters in the Playboy Mansion, are currently on probation for a battery bust in St. Petersberg.

The sisters were arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 10 and booked on suspicion of felony aggravated battery, per arrest reports obtained by E! News. They were released from custody after posting $10,000 bonds and were later given probation and ordered to pay restitution for the incident, the details of which have not been determined just yet.

Prior to that run-in with the law, Karissa Shannon was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor battery last November.

No further information about their dual arrests was available, but their records do indicate that the blonde, blue-eyed twins aren't exactly identical.eonline