Mr Anthony Mark, an Investigating Officer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Wednesday alleged that a Lebanese, Abboud Micheal, used as genuine a forged Nigerian International passport to get work permit.
The EFCC charged Micheal with three counts bordering on forgery and using as genuine forged document.
Testifying in an FCT High Court in Kubwa while being led in evidence by Mr Steve Odiase, EFCC counsel, Mark said he recorded the defendant’s statement in February 2016 because he could not write in English.
”I took the defendant’s statements in company of three other investigators. The statement was tendered as evidence in court and marked as Exhibit six,” he said.
When asked by the defence counsel, Zakari Garba, if the EFCC investigations revealed that the defendant worked with Ministry of Interior or Immigration.
Garba further asked if the witness had a document to show that the defendant’s Nigerian international passport was forged.
He also asked if the EFCC were aware that one Antonio Menessie applied for the defendant’s Nigerian passport.
The witness in response said that the defendant does not work with Nigerian Immigration adding that he brought a letter of confirmation as a citizen of Nigeria issued to him by the Ministry of Interior.
He further revealed that investigations was extended to the ministry of interior and they replied saying the said letter was not issued by them.
Mark said the defendant mentioned in his statement that Menessie applied for his passport and Menessie had died at the time of investigation.
After the testimony, Justice Kezziah Ogbonnaya, adjourned the matter until May 4 for continuation of hearing.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the EFCC alleged that the defendant obtained a Nigerian International passport through fraudulent means.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
NiDCOM, Lebanese embassy collaborate to return stranded Nigerians
Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, NIDCOM Chairman, made the disclosure on Thursday during a visit to the Ambassador of Lebanon in Nigeria, Mr Houssam Diab, in Abuja.
“First is that the evacuation of the Nigerians stranded in Lebanon was paid for by the Lebanese embassy and also the quarantine was paid by them so we thank them for that.
“Also 10 Nigerians were left behind and the ambassador had explained that nine had cases of theft and one had case of murder and they are undergoing judicial process.
“But he had assured us that whatever the allegation against them they will speed up the process to finish the judicial intervention and they will return,’’ she said.
“I am so glad with the major decision taken by Lebanese government which is to stop visas for workers until we have proper agencies that will be documented with the Ministry of Labour.
“So that if you are going to work you will work with proper terms and conditions. So we are now talking about how to manage migration which will be done legally.
“Interested persons can work in Lebanon legally without the fear of being maltreated,’’ she said.
He also added that the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Embassy in Lebanon also made the process smooth for the returnees.
“We were able to bring back 69 Nigerians citizens stranded in Lebanon two weeks ago. I have to stress that the Lebanese community has always gone out of its way to give back to their second country Nigeria and to the Nigerians that have adopted them as their own, and this is one of many palliative measures we have taken lately,’’ he said.
He explained that the government of Lebanon had stopped all domestic staffs work visas to discourage maltreatment of Nigerians by agencies and employers.
“Our government has stopped all domestic visas to help discourage helpers being abused and maltreated by their agencies and employers.
“So we want to work closely to get an agreement with the Ministry of Labour for a legal and systematic way to make domestic staff to come into Lebanon legally without the fear of inhuman treatment.
Lebanese president urges no change to UN peacekeepers’ mandate
In May, Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon said Israel wants UN peacekeepers to have access to all sites, adding the UN Security Council must be immediately informed of any block of their freedom of movement.
“Maintaining stability in the south remains the responsibility of the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army, and the army is committed to providing all necessary facilities for the UNIFIL as required to carry out its tasks,” Aoun said during the meeting.
The UNIFIL‘s mandate will expire in August.
France donates protective equipment to Lebanese civil defense for fight against COVID-19
The French Embassy in Lebanon donated on Tuesday protective equipment to the Lebanese civil defense to help its members to properly carry out their tasks in emergency situations related to COVID-19 spread in the country, LBCI local TV channel reported.
The donation took place under an agreement signed between the Internal Security Department at the French embassy and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Commission at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Feature: Lebanese retail shops suffer low activity in wake of COVID-19 outbreak
Emptiness is what characterizes a large number of retail shops along the downtown streets of Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Monday, the first day that the retail shops in the country are supposed to resume their full operations in a deteriorating financial environment.
Dory Slim, owner of Petals and Pearls, a well-known clothing shop in Beirut, has decided to shut her business down after 15 years of work in the industry.
She said her business bore the brunt of nationwide protests that broke out last year when people started having difficulties in withdrawing their money at banks, before the COVID-19 outbreak early this year exacerbated the situation.
“I have to pay a big amount for rent and I do not have fresh money to import products,” Slim told Xinhua.
Lebanon has witnessed in the past few months a shortage in the United States dollar because of an economic slowdown and the drop in cash injections from the Lebanese abroad.
Hence, banks decided to restrict withdrawals of depositors and their money transfers abroad, creating a huge crisis for local businesses who largely rely on import.
The dollar shortage has also created a parallel market, in which a greenback is exchanged for 4,000 Lebanese pounds and more, as opposed to the official price of about 1,514 pounds.
“If I secure dollars at the current market rate of over 4,000 pounds, I will have to increase my prices and no one will be able to afford my items,” Slim explained.
Nicolas Chammas, head of Beirut Traders’ Association, warned that many of the shops operating in malls will also not reopen.
“Many brands operating in Lebanon have numerous branches. Some must shut a few ones … while others have shut down all their branches,” he said.
In addition, the sharp loss in the value of the Lebanese pound against the United States dollar has caused a dive in the purchasing power of the Lebanese, Chammas noted.
After defaulting on its debt earlier this year, Lebanon has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund the possibility of acquiring funds to save the country from further deterioration.
Lebanese parliament approves 800 mln USD in social aid
The Lebanese parliament passed on Thursday a bill that allocates 1.2 trillion Lebanese pounds (800 million U.S. dollars) for social support in the country amid deteriorating living conditions caused by over two months of COVID-19 lockdown, the National News Agency reported.
The law aims at providing aid to low income families and daily workers in the public sector in addition to supporting farmers and giving subsidized loans to small enterprises.
Lebanon’s COVID-19 infections increased on Thursday by seven cases to 1,168 while death toll remained unchanged at 26.
China’s PLA donates medical supplies to Lebanese army to help fight COVID-19
Speaking at the handover ceremony held here at Lebanon’s Defense Ministry, Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian said that when China was in the middle of its anti-epidemic fight, the Lebanese leader and people from all walks of life expressed their support for China.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the two countries have maintained close cooperation on exchanging expertise and information on epidemic prevention and control as well as the treatment of patients, said Wang, adding that China has actively coordinated resources and offered several batches of medical supplies to Lebanon.
“The PLA is offering today equipment to the defense ministry in Lebanon, which reflects the great friendship between the two countries, armies and peoples,” Wang said.
China is willing to tide over the difficulties together with the Lebanese people and army, Wang added.
Expressing appreciation for the donation, Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, who also attended the ceremony, said that it is not the first time that China supports Lebanon during difficult circumstances.
This donation, which marks a milestone in the friendly cooperation between the two countries, “will have a great impact on the efforts exerted by the (Lebanese) army to protect its members from COVID-19,” Aoun said.
“We are keen to continue cooperating with China in a way that serves the interests of both countries,” he added.
Lebanon reported its first COVID-19 case in Feb. 21. As of Wednesday, the country had registered a total of 1,161 cases, with 26 deaths.
Lebanese PM emphasizes “need for UNIFIL amid security threats by Israel”
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab emphasized on Wednesday the urgent need for the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in south Lebanon, the National News Agency reported.
“Lebanon is in dire need for the presence of the UNIFIL in south Lebanon amid continuous violations by Israel for Lebanon’s sovereignty,” Diab said during his visit to the UNIFIL’s headquarters in Naqoura.
“We are keen on maintaining high cooperation between the UNIFIL and the Lebanese army to create a secure atmosphere for people in south Lebanon,” he added.
The prime minister said Lebanon won’t accept any modifications to the mandate of the UNIFIL in the country.
“The United Nations must force Israel to withdraw from Lebanese occupied territories,” he said, adding that “Israel continues to violate Lebanon’s sovereignty by air, land and sea.”
Meanwhile, UNIFIL Chief Stefano Del Col said the UNIFIL’s cooperation with the Lebanese army helped in guaranteeing stability in south of Lebanon for the past 14 years.
Lebanon’s House Speaker warns against confiscating depositors’ money in Lebanese banks
Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri warned on Friday against any attempts to confiscate people’s savings in Lebanese banks, the National News Agency reported.
“People’s deposits are sacred and a legitimate right for their owners. We will fight without hesitation any attempts to confiscate this money,” Berri said in a speech delivered on the occasion of Liberation Day.
Berri assured that citizens should not fall victim to the corrupted political system in Lebanon.
This has created fear among depositors about the future of savings.
Feature: Lebanese designers produce fashionable masks for fight against COVID-19
Lebanese designers contribute to fighting against the COVID-19 by producing fashionable masks.
Huda Baroudi, co-owner at Bokja, a Lebanese brand of fashion design, uses recycled materials to make fashionable masks. The profits from the selling are offered to nurses at Rafic Hariri University Hospital.
“Nurses have been at the forefront of this fight against COVID-19 and we all know they have not been receiving their full salaries given the country’s financial difficulties so we decided to sell these masks and give the proceeds to nurses at the hospital,” Baroudi told Xinhua.
Some of Baroudi’s designs are inspired by historic characters such as Zenobia, queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria. Each of Baroudi’s designs tells a story that is related to travels, cities or even family traditions.
“We wanted to make some colorful masks to create a positive atmosphere instead of the regular masks used at hospitals,” Baroudi said.
Maria Hibri, Baroudi’s partner, told Xinhua that Bokja has so far sold a total of 1,500 masks including those distributed to nurses at Rafic Hariri University Hospital.
Hibri explained that Bokja covers the cost of producing masks by selling furniture and other products designed and made by the store.
Another Lebanese furniture designer Hala Habib, an owner of Barjis design, told Xinhua she is focusing on producing and selling fashionable masks to meet increasing demand for masks in the local market.
“My idea came up when news circulated over the media about the lack of masks in the local market and the great need by nurses and medical staff, who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients, for protective material,” Habib explained.
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