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How Animals ‘Stole’ $300K From Officials in Nigeria – BLAME THE SNAKE

Public officials in Nigeria are blaming snakes and monkeys for disappearing funds, even as the president is working from home after being chased out of his office by rats.


Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

The first animals to make headlines in Nigeria were the rats.

The rodents had reportedly occupied the president’s office while he was in London for 103 days last year, receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment. When a frail-looking President Muhammadu Buhari returned home last August, he discovered the rats had wreaked havoc, causing “a lot of damage to the furniture and the air-conditioning units.”

“Some renovations are ongoing at the office,” a spokesperson to President Buhari said at the time. “He will be back to the main office after the works.”

Seven months later, Buhari has yet to return to his official place of work and still run this country from his private residence.

Then came the snake.

At the start of February, an official of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB)—which conducts entrance exams entry at all tertiary institutions in Nigeria—said that 36 million naira ($100,000), which had been raised from the sale of admission scratch cards, and which had been in her custody, was swallowed by a mystery snake.

“I have been saving the money in the bank, but I found it difficult to account for it. So I started saving it in a vault in the office,” Philomena Chieshe, a sales clerk for JAMB, said in her confessional statement to heads of the parastatal. “But each time I open the vault, I will find nothing.”

Chieshe, who has now been suspended, said she later discovered that “a mysterious snake sneaked into the house and swallowed the money in the vault.”

In a country where around 70 percent of the populace lives on less than $1 a day, a whopping $100,000 is a lot of money to be “swallowed” by a snake.

Not to be outdone, reports soon surfaced of monkeys carting away $194,000 from senators in their well-guarded homes.

“I think this country is becoming a huge joke,” Shehu Sani, one of Nigeria’s most vocal and influential senators, told reporters in Abuja. “First of all, it was the rodents that drove away the president and then we now have snakes consuming about N36 million and now we have monkeys raiding farm house.”

Sani was reacting to what he said were “allegations that some monkeys raided the farm house of executives of the Northern Senators Forum and carted away” 70 million naira (about $194,000) belonging to the group, which led to removal and replacement of the leader of the forum.

“We have removed Sen. Abdullahi Adamu as Chairman of the Northern Senators Forum for financial mismanagement and maladministration,” an official statement signed by Sen. Dino Melaye, spokesperson for the influential Muslim majority caucus, said. “The allegation investigated and found out to be true is that there was financial mismanagement; that monies were spent without the consent of members and the executive members were not being carried along.”

All told, animals have been blamed for stealing nearly $300,000 from public officials in the past few months.

News of monkeys stealing from senators had barely gone round when Transparency International (TI) revealed in its Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that Nigeria now ranked 148 out of 180 surveyed—a significant 12 places below where it was the previous year.

“What [other] countries call scandal that often leads to the [resignations] of their leaders, in Nigeria, such scandal make [leaders] bolder,” tweeted Ahmed Sakilda, a notable Nigerian journalist who was once declared wanted by the military for releasing video messages by Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau.

“It’s a direct opposite of the marks and the applause we give to ourselves,” Sani, who is chairman of the senate committee on local and foreign debt, tweeted. “We have a choice now; to condemn them [the TI report] as anti-government or anti-Nigeria or we reset our drive and make amends.”

Nigeria is also battling a number of crises on the domestic front. Fulani herdsmen have stepped up their attacks in the northcentral part of the country. Long queues have become constant in petrol stations. Corruption levels have increased. Boko Haram is back in the global news—and, yes, animals keep stealing cash from humans in public office.

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Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 21 October

Monday, October 21, 2019 - 11:51am

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Jan Moir in the Daily Mail

on how ITV’s documentary about Harry and Meghan could damage their cause

A sense of duty... but respect has to be earned

“The Sussexes hope to turn the ‘relentless media interest in them into a positive force for good’. If so, they are going a funny way about it. For one wonders at them visiting Angola, one of the most unfortunate countries in the world, and then using it as a backdrop to complain about their own problems. All those wonderful people the Sussexes met across the continent, all those desperate problems they encountered, were condensed into a thin, doomed chorus that no one was listening to, while attention focused on the grandiose oratorio of their unfeigned pain, and the jolt of their first-world grievances.”

2. Clare Foges in The Times

on a second Brexit referendum

Boris Johnson’s Brexit problems are just beginning

“Those of a Leave disposition will be groaning at this point, as so far the idea of a second referendum has been owned exclusively by those who wish to remain in the EU, and who want another vote only to overturn the first. Yet sensible Leavers should look again at the prospect of a second vote, for it is the only route out that offers what the self-help movement calls ‘closure’. Without a referendum the resentment will fester. The wounds will never heal, because those on different sides of the argument will be able to claim that the prime minister’s deal was forced through without public consent. No Dealers would continue to assert that the 2016 result called for a clean, hard Brexit, not the ‘surrender’ of Johnson’s deal. Remainers would continue to claim that demographic changes in the past few years mean that Brexit ignores present public opinion. The arguments and acrimony would go on and on. There is only one way to settle the matter conclusively and that is to take it back to the people.”

3. John Harris in The Guardian

on digital monopolies

Little by little, big tech’s veneer of invincibility is starting to crack

“Something is belatedly happening, on both the right and left, as well as in the heart of national governments: from France’s new tax on the local profits of tech corporations to the US Federal Trade Commission’s robust noises about their reach, the most unbridled kind of corporate power is at last being meaningfully contested. Meanwhile, every week seems to bring signs that the companies’ old veneer of invincibility is cracking, something vividly highlighted by the mounting crises befalling Facebook’s hubristic plans for a new online currency, which Zuckerberg will try to explain to a congressional committee this week. Big tech’s lobbyists are clearly readying themselves for a series of showdowns about the extent of its power.”

For a weekly round-up of the best articles and columns from the UK and abroad, try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6

4. Zoe Strimpel in The Daily Telegraph

on political correctness

The new liberal God complex: people are only allowed opinions if they're the 'right' opinions

“There is altogether too much weight being thrown around by bully-boy progressives convinced they know everything. They must learn, and learn soon, that the rest of us are not only also capable of coming to our own conclusions, but we are also entitled to do so without their threats.”

5. Peter Hitchens on Unherd

on changing your beliefs

The making of a reactionary

“I was not a Tory, or even a conservative: I was by nature and upbringing an actual reactionary — as it happened, the perfect preparation for my long later years as a homicidal Bolshevik. The same almost berserk passions were engaged (Bolshevism is thoroughly Edwardian in so many ways) in pursuit of a distant, supposedly beautiful ideal. Since the end of that, I have never really been able to stomach the insipid potions of supposed ‘mainstream’ politics, which, set beside the deep passions of my reactionary and revolutionary phases, are much as non-alcoholic lager would be after a generous measure of Calvados. Why even bother?”

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