Ned Nwoko hits back at SaharaReporters, claiming ‘fake, malicious’ publication

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A former member of the House of Representatives that represented Anicoha/Oshimili in the National Assembly, Ned Nwoko, has berated SaharaReporters over what he considered as fake and malicious publication, wherein the publication alleged fraudulent activities against the former federal lawmaker.

The Ned  Nwoko Media Directorate in a statement questioned the authenticity of the report, expressing dismay over what they considered ‘frivolous publication by Saharareporters’ titled: “Ex-House Of Representatives Member, Ned Nwoko, Accused Of Scamming African Leaders With ‘White Elephant Projects”.

The Media Directorate protested that the Online publication engaged in highly speculative reporting, making false claims on the anti-Malaria project in Africa coordinated by Ned Nwoko, Paris Club loan payment refund deal, the Idumuje-Ugboko kingship and land disputes, among others, citing  anonymous source.

The Media Directorate raises alarm that Saharareporters in the publication made allegations of land grabbing against the businessman with phony deals in Malaria project and Paris club loans. The Ned Nwoko media team argued that “the narrative is so old, repetitive and boring!

“The monotony of the propaganda against the lawyer turned philanthropist, must have become mind numbing if not tiresome to his frustrated detractors.”

The media team asserted that the “genuine and germane story clear in the open remained that Nwoko, who represented Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency in the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2003, stands today as the initiator of the Malaria Eradication Campaign in Africa.

“He continues to tirelessly deploy his personal resources, energy and time to serve humanity with salutary patriotism.”

The team recalled that Nwoko went a historic expedition to the frozen climes of Antarctica in January 2020 to draw international attention to Malaria scourge in the continent; noting that he was “the first black African to make such trip, making Nigeria the 13th country in the world to have its flag hoisted in the icy South Pole.” They maintained that he returned to Nigeria to initiate a comprehensive action plan against Malaria, involving high level stakeholders’ meetings across Africa, endowment of research grants, sensitization Programmes and social mobilization of the people, among other activities ALL personally funded under NED NWOKO FOUNDATION.

The media team highlighted that the initiative seeks to achieve the following:

·                     encourage states to build recycling plants as a way of managing wastes and the sanitation of the environment.

·                     Comprehensive and total fumigation as in China and elsewhere.

·                     Investment in research for vaccines.

The team asserted that nobody in the 21st century has done so much in addressing a killer disease that citizens are all victims in Africa.

·                     An Act of the National Assembly for the establishment of an Agency of the Federal Government that will see to the sustainable implementation of the malaria eradication strategies.

The Nwoko Media team argued that Saharareporters relied on infantile angle to fault Ned Nwoko’s anti-malaria vaccine development quest, saying that he is not a scientist. The team argued that Ned Nwoko does not need to be a scientist or a pharmacist to fund malaria research. “Again, this exposes the shallow and mediocre mentality of the writer.

“It is noteworthy that Bill Gates and others who had funded vaccines did not need to be pharmacists to do so.

“Ned like other philanthropists is only interested in making his country and Africa a better place and will continue to work with relevant professionals to achieve that.

“This sacrifice has earned Ned Nwoko widespread commendations from African leaders, the federal government of Nigeria, sub national governments, credible institutions and international organizations, especially, WHO and UNESCO as well as prominent individuals and ordinary citizens,” the team declared.

The media team further argued that it betrays truth for Saharareporters claimed that “Nwoko has been accused of defrauding some African monarchs and leaders through fictitious giant projects he lured them to invest in.

“He has never sought for or received funds from any company, African leader or individual on the Anti Malaria project.”

The team, therefore, declared: “anyone that derides his selfless efforts in dealing with Malaria, a scourge that has killed millions of people in Africa, even more than Covid- 19 pandemic, is just callous and dishonest.”

The media directorate highlighted: “The meetings with African leaders have been to intimate them on the Malaria Project and the need for them to align with the fight.

“Some of these African leaders are funding different malaria interventions…

“Again, the pilot trial of the WHO approved malaria vaccine (with low Efficacy) known as RTS, was conducted and concluded in Ghana, Malawi and Kenya.

“As a visioner, Ned Nwoko saw the need to meet with these African Leaders to harmonise actions and scale up the intervention strategies so that malaria will be a thing of the past in Nigeria.” the team declared that this should be celebrated and not condemned.

The media directorate protested how the quest for a permanent solution to the scourge of malaria be described as white elephant project.

“We are all victims and witnesses of what malaria does to the people. What mischief! All these mushroom writers are paid agents of darkness,” the media directorate stated.

The Nwoko Media Directorate addressed the complicated Idumuje Ugboko land dispute with strong defence of the former lawmaker. The directorate noted that any negative link to Ned Nwoko is both trite and malicious.

The media team emphasized that Idumuje Ugboko has been troubled in the past few years by a false claimant to the throne, Prince Chukwunonso Nwoko, who along with his violent gang unleashed mayhem on the village. It alleged that the siege on Idumuje Ugboko led to destruction of houses, brutalization of prominent indigenes opposed to the apparent heir to the throne, including the death of a motorcycle cycle rider, Cyprian   Kuomulo. The media team stated that most of the perpetrators are facing prosecution; asserting that “all relevant authorities have exonerated Ned Nwoko from wrong-doing over the land issue.”

The media directorate narrated: “on March 16, 2015, Ned Nwoko, as a member of the royal family, applied to the then Obi of Idumuje Ugboko, Albert Nwoko 111, through his firm, Linas International Limited, for allocation of 90 hectares from the land meant for community development projects.

“He further requested for extra parcel of land to build the permanent site of a university as well as an international Golf course.

“In response to the application, through a letter addressed to Ned Nwoko, dated April 10, 2015, the king conveyed his approval of the application, after rigorous consultations with the palace chiefs, town union and general assembly of Idumuje Ugbo kingdom.

“On July 20, 2016, Aniocha North Local Government issued the customary Rights of occupancy for the land through a letter to Ned Nwoko, signed by chairman of the council, Chucks Oseme.

“All necessary procedures pertaining to the acquisition of the land had been rigidly followed, contrary to the accusations of Prince Chukwunonso.”

The media directorate further highlighted: “also in its report, dated November 23, 2020, the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Unit said its investigation into the Idumuje Ugboko crisis showed that the allegations of land grabbing and harassment of indigenes against Ned Nwoko were false and that the disputed parcels of land were legitimately acquired by the businessman.

“The Delta State Command of the State Security Service also investigated the matter and came to the same conclusion.”

The team also disclosed that Delta State government conducted an inquiry into the matter. It noted that the government team led by Chief Edwin Uzor, Special Adviser to the Governor on Peace Building and Conflict Resolution met with all parties to the Idumuje Ugboko land dispute and came up with report dated February 18, 2021, that the community approval of the land was obtained diligently by Ned Nwoko.

“Today, the STARS university, proposed as first sports university in sub-Saharan Africa is being developed with giant structures springing up at its Idumuje Ugboko location, contrary to false claims of abandonment. “Contractors are in fact putting finishing touches on the world class project. “The multi-billion-naira project is also intended catalyze development of the host community and its environs which had wallowed under underdevelopment and neglect for centuries.

“The university project is fully on steam and currently at 70 per cent completion stage.

“Saharareporters are invited to Idumuje-Ugboko for direct on-the-spot inspection of progress of work at the university project.

“Credible media reports have highlighted the authenticity of the land acquisition by Ned Nwoko armed with incontrovertible evidence. “A case in point is an independent report by one of Nigeria’s leading online newspaper, Premium Times. The facts are the public domain for scrutiny and enlightenment,” the directorate stated.

The team maintained that an Obi, HRM Solomon Eziokwubundu Nwabuokei, has been duly recognized by Aniocha North traditional rulers committee and Aniocha North Local Government as the legitimate king of Idumuje Ugboko.

It maintained that the kingship matter is before courts of competent jurisdiction and need no further discussion for risk of contempt.

The media directorate emphasized that the narrative of Saharareporters on the $418 Million Paris Club judgement debts is ill informed. The directorate insisted that the entitlement of Ned Nwoko is legitimate and irreversible.

It emphasized that Ned Nwoko, as a frontline consultant, provided legal services for years to the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), including local governments to help them recover funds over-deducted by the federal government from their monthly allocations on the Paris Club loan and make the London Club loan exit payments.

“The states and local governments never had confidence in the chances of success of the consultancies.

“They never staked their money to fund the inherent costs and hence agreed to the percentages now being enforced.

“By the terms of engagement, Ned Nwoko spent his hard-earned personal funds to execute the assignment on the clear condition that where no money was recovered, there was no liability to the local and state governments.

“He bore the entire risk and loss while he engaged other professionals and, in some cases, borrowed through private arrangements to achieve the objective.

“Virtually all the 36 states of the federation had at times received the Paris Club refunds paid in tranches, coming as a lifeline to end Nigeria’s recession.

“States and local governments received $13 billion from the efforts of Ned Nwoko. States which were groaning under financial quagmire had a breather offsetting backlog of salaries of civil servants and fixing social infrastructure, in deference to their electoral mandates, thanks to the Paris Club refunds made possible by the struggles of Nwoko and fellow consultants,” the Nwoko Media Directorate highlighted.

The directorate stated that EFCC has thoroughly investigated and issued three different reports on the involvement of Ned Nwoko in the Paris Club refunds and all the investigations exonerated him.

According to the media team, “following the first investigation, two subsequent investigations were carried out by the EFCC and all affirmed the pivotal roles of Ned Nwoko and his firm, Linas International Ltd, in the consultancy for the Paris Club refunds.

“Again, the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts had urged the federal government to make the payment in favour of Ned Nwoko.

“This was through a letter to the Minister of Finance/Coordinating Minister of the Economy, dated May 21, 2015, and signed by distinguished Senator Ehigie Uzamere, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts.”

It also stated that the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) engaged George Uboh in 2015 to audit this same payment.

The team celebrated that “well-meaning Nigerians have hailed the laudable policy of the federal government to liquidate the judgment debts, as boldly demonstrated by the fair disposition and approval of President Buhari for payment and issuance of promissory notes to the consultants.” It noted that the series of correspondence and engagements with the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), as well as the Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, have since validated the judgement debts, making all opposition against the payment feeble and unrealistic.

“Ned Nwoko as a large-hearted philanthropist and sincere patriot represents light, hope and inspiration to both young and old in Nigeria and the world in general. No level of cheap propaganda by mischief makers can distract him in his commitment to service and integrity, through the Malaria Eradication Project, development of the premier sports university and victory over the Paris club loans refunds,” the directorate declared.

National Daily investigation revealed that Saharareporters may not be totally wrong on the land and kingship disputes in Idumuje Ugboko.

Documents found in the library of a human rights organization in Lagos tend to show that the defence of the Nwoko Media Directorate appears superficial and protectionist.  The documents which contain courts proceedings, revealed purported proxy battles by the former lawmaker, and alleged plots to subvert the ascension to the throne by the legitimate heir, including purported sponsorship of a personally appointed successor, the lawmaker’s influential relationship with security operatives, using the police to harass and intimidate family members, as well as other allegations on the land grabbing issues.

However, Ned Nwoko may have played noble roles in the roll back malaria project Africa and the Paris Club refunds to states.