- - Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NIGERIA

Politician denies fraud charges

ABUJA | A top Nigerian politician has pleaded not guilty to charges that he defrauded the state of more than $1.7 million.

Nigeria’s anti-graft commission accuses former House Speaker Dimeji Bankole of involvement in a scam of more than $14 million.

Mr. Bankole appeared Wednesday in Abuja Federal High Court.

Court documents say Mr. Bankole conspired to buy items for Nigeria’s National Assembly at inflated prices.

The documents say hundreds of supplies were purchased at more than double their price.

Mr. Bankole and others also are accused of not following due process in awarding contracts for cars.

Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission arrested Mr. Bankole on Sunday, just days after the National Assembly was dissolved.

The anti-graft body said it will press more charges.

AFRICAN UNION

AU stance on Libya turns with call for Gadhafi to quit

NAIROBI, KENYA | An African Union call for Col. Moammar Gadhafi to step down exposes cracks in the continent’s public stance toward the Libyan strongman, who has long championed its various causes, analysts said.

The leader of the AU’s heads-of-state mediation team on Libya, Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, said this week that Col. Gadhafi’s departure had become necessary as “he can longer lead Libya.”

It was the first time a head of state on the AU panel, which has made several trips to Libya to try to negotiate a settlement to the conflict, has made such a direct public reference to the departure of the Libyan leader.

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