Sunday, 21 January 2018
Items filtered by date: August 2017
Friday, 11 August 2017 02:17

FG appoints 21 permanent secretaries

The Acting President, Prof.  Yemi  Osibanjo,  has approved the appointment of 21  permanent secretaries in the Federal Civil Service.

The permanent secretaries will fill vacant positions in 20 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The Director of Press, Office of the Head of Service, Imrana Haruna, said in a statement on Thursday that the appointments were announced in a statement signed by the Head of Service, Mr. Winifred Oyo-Ita.

The 21 permanent secretaries were among the 59 directors who sat for an interview for the appointment of permanent secretaries on July 27, 2017.

The new permanent secretaries are  Ehuria Ekeoma (Abia state), Akpan Sunday (Akwa Ibom), Anagbogu Ifeoma (Anambra State), Walson-Jack Didi (Bayelsa), Gekpe Grace (Cross River), Aliboh Lawrence (Delta), Uwaifo Clement (Edo), Folayan Olaniyi (Ekiti), Osuji Ndubisi (Imo), Mu’azu Abdulkadir (Kaduna), Suleiman Mustapha (Kano), Abdulahi Abdulazeez (Katsina) and Adebiyi Bolaji (Lagos).

Others are Ibrahim Musa (Nasarawa), Odewale Samson (Ogun), Adesola Olusade (Ondo), Adekunle Olusegun (Oyo), Nabasu Bitrus ( Plateau), Okaro Comfort (Rivers), Umar Mohammed (Sokoto) and Aduda Gabriel (FCT).

Published in News & Stories

There is good news for small businesses and farmers.

They can draw from the N26 billion Agriculture and SMEs Fund, it was announced yesterday.

Union Bank Managing Director Mr Emeka Emuwa broke the news in Abuja at the end of the Bankers Committee meeting. He said the board of the Agriculture and SMEs Fund had been inaugurated.

The N26 billion in the kitty is expected to grow. The fund will finance agriculture and small businesses through equities, not loans. The fund is available for equity investment and there is no rate.

According to Emuwa, all “the banks are expected to set aside a portion of their profits, which will be made available for equity investment in agriculture and Small and Medium Enterprises.

“So, the board was inaugurated today as well as the Project Review Committee of the fund. Basically, the fund is going to start functioning and over the course of the next few weeks, there will be more communications as to how to access those funds,” Emuwa said.

For entrepreneurs, small businesses, agriculturalists, the opportunity is there for equity funding for their businesses. “The import of that to the economy at large is that those who are interested in accessing funds by looking for equity to support their agricultural ventures and SMEs should approach their banks now and apply so the banks will do a preliminary review and pass these requests on to the Project Review Committee of this fund.”

Members of the board are: managing directors of GTBank, Zenith Bank, Access Bank First Bank UBA, Director Banking Supervision at the CBN and the Director of Development Finance at the CBN.

There is also a Project Review committee, which looks at the projects. In addition to the board members, other members of the committee are FCMB, Unity Bank and Sterling Bank. The committee will pick the chairman based on the contributions of the members of the board.

Any business that is involved in agriculture or qualifies as small or medium scale enterprise are all encouraged to approach their banks with what their concerns are. It was noted at the end of the meeting that “Nigerians very often mistake the need for equity for bank loan, so you need to have sufficient equity first before you can go and get loan, go to your bank, let them know what the project is, they will do preliminary assessment to guide you to let you know whether it makes sense then send it on to the project review committee of this organization” the committee said.

Mrs Mobola Faloye, Executive Director at Standard Chartered Bank, said that the action of the CBN to set up the investors and exporters windows in May has resulted in a N4 billion volume of trade in the forex window.

According to her, the volume of trading has gone up in the window of that market which is about N4 billion “and that is actually quite a good number and it shows that the banks have really done a lot of rallying, it shows that the banks are resilient, it shows that the banks have contributed largely in bringing in as many investors as possible to come into the market”.

Mrs Faloye noted that “there is one particular single ticket that was done on the first of August, the value of the transaction itself was $240 million so we think that things are going to be looking up and we are very hopeful that we are going in the right direction and we’ll eventually get to a stage where the rates will truly converge, which is where we want to get to and things are looking up for us.”

 
Published in Business and Economy

It was drama yesterday when pro and anti-Buhari groups staged protests at the Unity Fountain in Abuja.

It started when Buhari Support Group, under the auspices of Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiatives, arrived at the arena to meet the protesters under the aegis of #OurMumuDonDo#.

The anti-Buhari group, which claimed that a cabal had taken over government, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence for about 96 days for medical reasons, began their own action as early as 9am.

But, the pro-Buhari group, on getting to the arena, put up their tent at the other end of the Unity Fountain.

And unlike “Day One” and “Day Two” when hundreds of protesters led by the popular musician Charles Oputa (Charlie Boy) gathered at the arena, to demand Buhari’s immediate return to the country or his resignation, the “Day Four” of the protest witnessed low turnout.

The number of #OurMumuDonDo# protesters was not up to 20.

But, the pro-Buhari group had about 70 protesters.

Policemen and other security operatives quickly took over the arena to avoid any break down of law and order.

They divided themselves to avoid clash between the two groups though they were not as many as those on ground on previous days.

The policemen monitored the anti-Buhari protesters closely till the end of their activities and the other group backing Buhari was allowed to carry placards chanting the achievements of the President. 

The police team also allowed them to move around town singing from the Unity Fountain through the secretariat road.

The Buhari support group condemned the activities of the #OurMumuDonDo#, saying there was no cause for alarm over the President’s health.

The group said there was no provision in the constitution that stipulates how long the President could stay out of office while on medical vacation.

 According to the group, “what the President needed to do, which is stipulated in the constitution, was to transmit power to the vice president through a letter to the National Assembly, which President Buhari did before leaving for the UK”.

 Addressing the protesters at the fountain, the convener of the protest, Okpokwu Ogenyi, said: “No provision of the Constitution gave time limit when the President is expected to return and resume his duties, if he falls sick. It is not found anywhere in the constitution the timeframe for an Acting President.

“In as much as we all want our President back to his duties, the constitution never stipulated how long a serving President can be away on medical holiday.”

At the other end of the Unity Fountain, the #resume or resign protesters called on the President to demonstrate integrity by resigning from office, saying he was incapacitated.

The coalition members reminded Buhari that he asked the late President Musa Yar’Adua to resign or be impeached when the latter was sick in 2010, stressing that he should toe the path of honour by doing what he preached.

 
Published in Headliners

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Tuesday raided Boko Haram hideouts in Sambisa forest and killed several insurgents.

A statement issued by NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Olatokunbo Adesanya, said few terrorists were seen evacuating the remains of dead Boko Haram fighters after the strikes.

The NAF statement which was supported with a video footage reads: “In furtherance of operations to completely defeat the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) Organization, on August 7, 2017, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Component of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission over Parisu, in the Sambisa general area.

“During the ISR mission, a large group of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) was seen converging under a tree close to a prominent zinc-roofed structure. Part of the structure was concealed by the foliage of a tree, making it a seemingly unobtrusive gathering point for the terrorists.

“A confirmatory ISR mission indicated that the structure was indeed a BHT hideout, housing a large number of terrorists. Accordingly, on August 8, 2017, the Air Component detailed fighter aircraft to strike the target in succession.

“Following the first and second strikes, the building was completely destroyed and the location was strafed during the third attack. The fourth attack was re-directed to a close by building, where BHT activity was also noticed.

“Subsequent Battle Damage Assessment revealed that the BHT hideout was completely reduced to rubble and several BHTs were killed while a few of them were seen evacuating the casualties.”

 
Published in Headliners

This is the $37.5m Banana Island, Lagos property belonging to former petroleum resources minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, which a Federal High Court in Lagos ordered should be temporary forfeited to the Federal Government.

The property has 24 apartments, 18 flats and six penthouses. It is located as Building 3, Block B, Bella Vista Plot 1, Zone N, Federal Government Layout, Banana Island Foreshore Estate.

Apart from the property, the court also ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sums of $2,740,197.96 and N84,537,840.70, said to be part of the rent collected on the property.

The funds were said to have been found in a Zenith Bank account number 1013612486.

Published in Headliners

*N234m, $5m in bank accounts
*Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt houses listed

SOME OF THE ASSETS:
A block of six units serviced apartments at 135, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos
21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom apartments, two penthouse apartments of three-bedrooms each and six three-bedroom (all en-suite) terrace apartments in Yaba
A twin four-bedroom duplex at Lekki Phase one, Lagos
A large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos
A duplex at 10, Frederick Chiluba Close in Asokoro, Abuja
A six-bedroom en-suite apartment on Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja
16 four-bedroom terrace duplexes at No. Heritage Court Estate, Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu GRA, Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt.

 

A massive investigation has revealed former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke’s love for property.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) has so far traced N47.2 billion and $487.5million to the ex-minister.

The agency also claimed that Mrs. Alison Madueke has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) cash in various banks.

But only the about $37.5million Banana Island property has been forfeited to the Federal Government by the ex-minister.

On Monday , Justice Chuka Obiozor, a vacation judge sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, ordered the final forfeiture of the property.

These revelations were contained in a fact-sheet released by the Public Affairs Directorate of the EFCC.

The fact-sheet is signed by two officers of the directorate, Mr. Tony Orilade and Aishah Gambari.

The document reads: “Apart from the jewellery, the EFCC, Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption agency, has traced N47.2billion and $487.5million in cash and properties to the former Minister of Petroleum Resources in ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

“This followed painstaking investigations by operatives of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).”

In the fact-sheet, the EFCC gave the details of the properties linked with the ex-minister.

It accused Mrs. Alison Madueke of acquiring a block of six units serviced apartments a few metres away from the EFCC zonal operations hub in Ikoyi.

The document added: “Also in Lagos, Alison-Madueke allegedly bought a block of six units serviced apartments at number 135, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, just a few hundred metres away from the EFCC zonal operations hub.

“The apartment has a standby power generating set, sporting facilities, play ground and a water treatment plant. The property was bought at the rate of N800 million (Eight hundred million naira) on January 6, 2012.

“Other properties in Yaba, Lagos, also discovered by the eagle eyes of the Commission’s operatives, are located at number 7, Thurnburn Street and 5, Raymond Street. The Thurnburn Street property consists of 21 mixed housing units of eight four-bedroom apartments, two penthouse apartments of three bedrooms each and six three-bedroom (all en-suite) terrace apartments.

“The Raymond Street property is made up of two en-suite 2-bedroom apartments and one four bedroom apartment.

“The Yaba, Lagos properties, which dug a deep hole of an eye-popping N1billion (One billion naira), were paid for on May 30, 2012. The same day Alison-Madueke splashed N900 million for the Port Harcourt estate.

“In Lekki Phase one, an upscale neighbourhood of Lagos, operatives found a twin four-bedroom duplex. The duplex is located on Plot 33, Block 112, Lekki Peninsula Residential Scheme Phase 1, Lekki, Lagos, with an estimated value of over N200million (Two hundred million naira).

“Also in Lagos, a large expanse of land at Oniru, Victoria Island, Lagos has also been traced to the former Petroleum Resources Minister. The land, which is located in Oniru Chieftaincy Family Private Estate, Lekki peninsular, Lagos and currently being utilised as a dumping site, was bought on February 16, 2012 for N135million (One hundred and thirty- five million naira).

“Plot 8, Gerard Road Ikoyi, Lagos, another property traced to Alison-Madueke, is a penthouse on the 11th floor in the Block B Wing of the building. It was bought for N12million (Twelve million naira) on December 20, 2011.”

Besides the properties in Lagos, the commission claimed that Mrs. Alison Madueke allegedly bought choice mansions in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Yenagoa in Bayelsa State.

It said: “On Plot 10, Frederick Chiluba Close, in the serene, upscale Asokoro District of Abuja, lies a tastefully built and finished duplex. In the compound, there are also a guest chalet, boy’s quarters, an elegant swimming pool, fully equipped sports gym and a host of other amenities.

“ Investigators have discovered that the property acquired by the ex-minister in December, 2009, at the cost of N400 million (Four hundred million naira) was never declared in any of the asset declaration forms filed by Alison-Madueke.

“Also linked to the former Minister in Abuja is a mini-estate at Mabushi, Abuja. The estate, located on Plot 1205, Cadastral Zone B06, Mabushi Gardens Estate, houses 13 three-bedroom terrace houses, each with one bedroom en-suite maid’s quarters. It was purchased on April 2, 2012 at the princely sum of N650million (Six Hundred and Fifty Million Naira).

“In Aso Drive, Maitama, Abuja, Alison-Madueke reportedly acquired a six bedroom en-suite apartment made up of three large living rooms, two bedroom guest chalets, two-bedroom boys quarters, two lock up garages and a car park. It was bought on July 20, 2011 for N80million (Eighty million naira).

“Down South in Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt, the former minister’s acquisitive appetite took her to Heritage Court Estate, located on Plot 2C, Omerelu Street, Diobu Government Residential Area, Phase 1 Extension, Port Harcourt.

“The Estate, which is made up of 16 four-bedroom terrace duplexes, is equipped with, among other facilities, a massive standby power generating set. Alison-Madueke did not blink as she shelled out N900million (Nine hundred million naira) for it on May 30, 2012.

“In neighbouring Bayelsa State, an apartment with two blocks of flats, all en-suite, and with a maid’s quarters was also traced to her. The house located on Goodluck Jonathan Road, Yenagoa is sitting on a large expanse of land.

“Realtors spoken to by EFCC investigators have placed estimated values running into hundreds of millions of Naira on the property. The apartments have four living rooms, eight bedrooms and gold-plated furniture.”

Besides jewelry and property, Mrs. Alison-Madueke, EFCC operatives claim, has N23,446,300,000 and $5milion (about N1.5billion) in various Nigerian banks.

Published in Headliners
Tuesday, 08 August 2017 04:21

Buhari won’t resign, says Presidency

President Muhammadu Buhari will not resign from office, The Presidency said yesterday.

It was in response to a call by some civil society organisations that the President should resign or return to work.

President Buhari has been in the United Kingdom since May 7 for a follow-up appointment with his doctors.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu told reporters at the State House that the President had not breached any law.

He said: “They are exercising their rights in line with the constitution of this country. Of what use or value is a democracy in which citizens cannot embark on peaceful protests? So we respect their right to convene or undertake peaceful protest.

“On the second issue, whether the President should resign or disclose or whatever, I think they are stepping outside the laws of this country.

“Anyone conversant with the constitution of this country will have noticed or seen that Mr President has complied 100 per cent with the requirements of the constitution..

“He has handed over power to the Vice President, relying on the constitution and the Vice President is carrying on with the affairs of this country; he is undertaking activities of government in line with the constitution in a way that the President himself has given words of commendation.

“So the President has not breached any law. What he has done is perfectly in line with the constitution of this country and people are looking for things to say. I think they should do their research very well.”

In a statement later, Shehu added: “I wish to respond to media enquiries following demonstration by a few citizens this morning in Abuja. The demonstration is in the exercise of their freedom under the constitution, which guarantees their right to embark on peaceful protests.

“There is nothing like a power vacuum in the country, given the competence and general harmony with which the whole government is running.

“Any such calls as being made by this or any other group represents an irrational assault on the constitution and should be ignored by well-meaning members of the public.

“The need of the hour for this country is to rid it of corruption, reform and reinvigorate the economy and to fight crime and insurgency.

“The government is busy with the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure all over the country. It is creating jobs for the unemployed. It has set its sight on the larger picture of the country’s development; investing in rail and power projects and redeeming the country’s image from the mountains of corruption scandals that have marred it. We will not, therefore, be distracted by this or any other groups.”

It was learnt yesterday that the President’s wife, Hajia Aisha Buhari, left Nigeria for the United Kingdom on Sunday.

Mrs Buhari, who returned from the UK last week, had on several occasions, insisted that her husband was recovering fast and would soon return to the country.

Although there was no official statement on Mrs Buhari’s trip, some officials in the Presidency confirmed it.

In Abuja, the coalition of civil society groups demanded the return of President Buhari from his medical leave or resign.

It also urged the National Assembly to invoke Section 144 sub Section 4 of the Constitution and set up a medical panel to determine the President’s health status.

Convener of the protest Deji Adeyanju, expressed regret on whay he called “the failure of the National Assembly to launch an investigation or set up a panel to look into the true status of the President Buhari’s health”.

Adeyanju said: “The leadership of the National Assembly must choose between the Nigerian people and the cabal. 90 days is too long for a president to be away from his country without any explanation to the people that voted him into office.

“If Buhari had become incapacitated, he should do the honourable thing and resign because he cannot continue to hold the country to ransom; his absence in the country is being exploited by a cabal to loot the treasury.”

He added: “We hereby demand that the National Assembly invoke Section 144 sub Section 4 of the Nigerian Constitution and direct the setting up of a medical panel in conjunction with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to ascertain whether the President is incapacitated.”

A leader of the group and member, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said the Federal Executive Council should disclose to Nigerians the nature of Buhari’s illness.

Protesters led by artiste Charles Oputa (Charlie Boy), defied the early morning showers and walked from the Unity Fountain, Maitama, Abuja to the Presidential Villa junction to demand the return of the President.

The protest was spearheaded by the National Coordinator, Foundation For True Freedom and Good Leadership, Deji Adeyanju; Publicity Secretary, #OurMumuDonDo Movement, Adebayo Raphael; Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, Ariyo-Dare Atoye; and Secretary of Concerned Nigerians, John Danfulani.

The movement said it would continue with daily protests in Abuja and London to press for the return of the President.

Published in Business and Economy

Osinbajo, Obiano vow of justice

Police hold suspects

Survivors relive day of horror

Anambra State Governor Willy Obiano yesterday described  Sunday’s  killings at  St. Philips Catholic Church, Amakwa, Ozubulu during Mass as a gang war that spilled to the state from an African country. 

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and Obiano vowed yesterday that the perpetrators of the crime would not go unpunished.

Obiano upgraded the death toll to 12 from the 11 announced by the police on Sunday.

The governor gave an insight into the killings in a broadcast to the people.

Also yesterday, some survivors relived their ordeal in interviews with our correspondent.

Obiano said: “What happened in Ozubulu yesterday was a tragic dimension of a long battle between two business partners who are from the same town. I have been fully informed that this dangerous conflict has been going on for a while in the country where they both live outside Nigeria before they decided to bring the conflict home.

“This explanation, I believe, has erased the fears that the incident may have been caused by either some terrorist organisations or some members of some groups of agitators in the country.

“Wat happened in Ozubulu was neither a terror attack as we know it, nor a violent action by some agitators. We are dealing with a dangerous gang war that has spilled over to Anambra State from another African country. But this is the last time it will happen under my watch”

He added that “The people directly and remotely involved in this crime are known to the law enforcement agencies. But no suspect, no matter how highly placed, is above the law. So, we have taken bold steps to bring them to book and restore the peace and tranquility that Anambra State has enjoyed since the past three years.”

Some survivors relived their experiences at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), where doctors are battling to save their lives.

The wife of a man who was believed to be the target of the gunman, Mrs. Caroline Ikegwuonwu, 40, is one of the injured at the hospital. Her husband, Mr. Chief Akunwafor Ikegwuonwu, was shot dead by the gunman who then turned his gun on other parishioners.

Okoye Patricia, 46, and her 20-year-old son, Odinaka Okoye, are also hospitalised as a result of bullet wounds.

But one of those who missed being hit by the bullet, 24 year old Mary Cynthia Ndulue’s brother, Samuel Ndulue, has his legs riddled with bullets.

Cynthia’s escape was “miraculous”, she said, thanking God for His mercy. She regretted that her brother was affected in the shootings.

Anambra State Police Commissioner Mr. Garba Baba Umar announced yesterday in Awka that the command had arrested some suspects over the killings.

Umar did not give the number of suspects in police net, but he assured residents not to panic.

Hospital authorities described survivors’ condition as  stable.

All was calm yesterday at Ozubulu. Residents were going about their normal businesses.

But the chairman of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Ikenna Ofodeme, said they were not ruling out political influence in the tragedy as it is a governorship election year.

But he ruled out any terror link to the attack in which 12 persons died and 27 others were hospitalised.

He said the Obunadike family lost three persons. A member of the family, Mr. Joel Obunadike, told The Nation that he lost his uncle, his brother’s wife and her niece during the attack.

He was in tears. Ofodeme called on security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities. He praised the police commissioner and Assistant Inspector General of Police (Zone 9), Umuahia for their prompt response to the problem.

One of the community leaders in Ozubulu, Chief Timothy Nwadike, said what happened at the community was a national calamity.

He is the President General of Egbenma Ozubulu. He said the community would not allow anybody or group of people to destroy the peaceful community.

Another community leader, Chief John Ejimkonye, 70, told The Nation that what happened in Ozubulu was the handiwork of bad people.

He said everybody in the community, nay Anambra, had been in shock since Sunday. They are praying to God not to allow such a thing to happen again.

However, they refused to talk on the alleged feud between two suspected drug barons in their community, adding that only God could intervene in the calamity that had befallen the area.

At the hospital, Patricia Okoye, 46, and her son, Odinaka, said they were still in shock .

She said she saw the gunman who came into the church and started shooting, adding that it was later that she saw that a vehicle was stationed outside with other members of the gang in it.

Mrs. Ikegwuonwu, whose stepson is alleged to be one of the drug barons in the community, said she was short of words to describe the incident.

As she was struggling to talk, an elderly man bent down and whispered something to her. She stopped.

Chinasa Chukwueloka (25), another survivor of the attack, said the incident was too fast for anybody to give account of it.

One of the senior nurses at NAUTH, who preferred not to be named, said about six of the injured had been transferred to another place because of the extent of their fracture, adding that 12 of the victims were retained at the hospital.

They were transferred to the Accident and Emergency Complex.

Former Governor Dame Virgy Etiaba, who flew in from Lagos, was seen commiserating with the victims.

She described the shooting as “barbaric, satanic and inhuman”, adding that those behind it would not escape God’s punishment.

A former Commissioner for Health and pro-life activist, Prof. Linus Amobi Ilika, noted that though there had been shootings of Ozubulu indigenes living in South Africa and their bodies brought home, but the shooting of worshippers at St. Philip Catholic Church was an abomination against the land.

Ilika also said there was no evidence that High Chief Nnamdi Ikegwuonwu, who built the church where the lone gun man shot worshipers, was involved in drugs. He described him as a philanthropist.

Ilika, who was one time secretary general of Ozubulu Development Union, said the stories making the rounds that Chief Ikegwuonwu was in drugs business and may have offended his business partners, was untrue.

Ilika said the community does not know the young man’s trade, adding: “He has not been charged or arrested for such offences”

“There is a spate of shooting in South Africa and they brought down the corpses of our people living in South Africa.

“The person who built the church resides in South Africa. There is likely to be dispute and struggle among them but I cannot say exactly what the issues are.

“But for whatever it is there is no justification for assassinations and invasion of a place of worship to commit such mass killing of innocent worshippers,” the former commissioner said.

Perpetrators won’t go unpunished, says Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has assured that the perpetrators of the heinous crime at the St. Philip’s Catholic Church Ozubulu in Anambra State on Sunday would be brought to justice.

A statement by Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity Laolu Akande said Osinbajo had been receiving regular updates on the status of investigations regarding the atrocious and mindless acts of violence, which resulted in the death and injuries to some Nigerians..

The statement also said that the Acting President had been in touch with Anambra State Governor Willy Obiano, the police authorities and other security agencies on the matter.

Prof. Osinbajo also condemned the despicable acts of violence, and commiserated with families, relatives, friends of the victims, the entire people and the government of Anambra State.

 

Published in Headliners

•Traces origin of Senate/Customs boss’ recent face off
•Asks Saraki to rein in members
•’Nigerians must rise to save Customs CG, Magu, Hadiza’

A former military governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar yesterday gave a new perspective on the recent face-off between the Senate and Customs Comptroller General Hamid Ali.

He said it was all about the Customs seizure of a huge consignment of rice imported by a company owned by an influential member of the Senate, but which the company declared as yeast in a bid to avoid paying the appropriate import duty on the rice.

Umar said the same senator is the brain behind a company involved in the controversial $34million Calabar port dredging contract.

The outspoken former governor, in a statement in Kaduna, said the conduct of the Senate on these and similar matters seem to  suggest that Senators  “might be on a mission to crash the federal governments’ war against corruption using the power of ‘oversight’ as cover.”

He, therefore, wants Senate President Bukola Saraki to rein in Senators who are stepping out of line especially those in the Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs.

He cited the Committee’s handling of matters concerning the Nigeria Ports Authority and the Customs which, in his view, leaves room for suspicion.

Umar asked Nigerians to actively support the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hamid Ali, the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman, and a former BPP DG, Emeka Nzeh.

“Incidents such as these are the reason the Nigerian public feels let down by our Parliament. They are the reason why a whole lot of Nigerians take a dim view of members of the National Assembly,” Umar said.

“Some even believe the conduct of our legislators is a major factor holding Nigeria down; why it is a laughing stock among the nations of the world.

“It is the duty of all Nigerians to demand correct conduct from all public officials, including from members of the National Assembly; especially the Senate.

“Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, must enforce discipline among his colleagues. No member of a committee, much less a chairman, should remain in his duty post once credible information about possible crime is received on the person.

“We need not remind our political leaders, most of all our legislators, that punishment always follow excess.”

He asked Nigerians to take interest in the activities of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs, especially its relationship with the Nigeria Ports Authority.

His words: “There are good reasons why Nigerians should take more than a passing interest in the controversy generated by the actions of members of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs and that of the Nigeria Ports Authority.

“If the reports in the media are true, the matter goes beyond the victimization of one organ of government by another.”

On the recent humiliation of Col. Hamid Ali (rtd) by the Senate he said it all started with the October/November, 2016, importation of 1,200 metric tons of rice in thirty, 40-foot containers by a rice trading company owned by an influential senator.

According to Umar, the company in its attempt to evade paying the correct custom duties declared the ‘rice’ consignment as ‘yeast’.

“The goods were later intercepted and seized on the orders of the Comptroller-General of Customs. Unfortunately, this seemingly patriotic action by a public officer was seen as an affront to one senior member of the National Assembly.

“A Senator, the leader of the Senate Committee on Customs, Excise & Tariff, wrote the CGC demanding that the consignment be released forthwith, on the dubious claim that he had investigated the matter and had found the importer blameless. His findings? That it was the clearing Agent not the importer that called the goods ‘yeast’ instead of ‘rice’!

“The CGC brushed aside this incredible story; as any right thinking person would do. But to the shock of all Nigerians, all hell broke loose. The Senate Committee then summoned him to appear before them in uniform- seeing that as a retired army colonel, the CGC had refrained from wearing the Customs uniform.

“He was also directed to answer a long list of queries by this same angry panel. In the end, he was dragged before the Senate at plenary, put through a cruel inquisition, publicly humiliated and dismissed as ‘not fit to hold public office’.

“Fast-forward to last week.

“This time, a dubious scheme was uncovered in which a subsidiary company of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), went into a joint venture with a private company to manage the Calabar Port.

“Both the NPA subsidiary, called Calabar Channel Management (CCM) and the private company, Niger Global Engineering & Technical Co. Ltd, were incorporated together in 2014, just for this deal. The purported JV partner was then awarded a contract to dredge the Calabar Channel; a contract the Bureau of Public Procurement was to condemn as violating all due processes.

“This did not discourage them from demanding and getting a whopping $12.5million upfront payment from the NPA or asking for a purported balance of $22million.

“In the meantime, a rash of petitions and reports had inundated the NPA against this contract, with many alleging it to be a bogus scam to siphon public funds.

“The Bureau of Public Procurement was the first to cry out, saying both the award of the dredging contract and the initial payment of over N4billion to Messrs Niger Global Engineering & Technical Co. Ltd, were done in violation of the law. “Even worse, all efforts of the new management of the NPA under Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, to find evidence of the dredging work purported to have been done in the Calabar Channel at the time the company claimed to have done so, was unsuccessful.

“That is not all. There was also the report by a consultant that advised against a joint venture partnership for the purpose of managing the Calabar port. Their reason was simply that maritime activities in the Calabar port was too low, that a joint venture scheme as obtained in Lagos and Bony was unsustainable.

“Faced with these negative outcomes, the NPA management under Ms. Bala Usman decided that national interest would be better served if the JV scheme as well as the so-called dredging project are terminated.

“On their part, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, have moved in, with a mission to “recover public funds collected for job not done”.

“Now, the name of the person driving this scheme is quite instructive going by the very loud and sustained counter attacks being mounted against the public officers; officers that insist that right things are done.”

Umar said the person is an influential Senator who owns the rice company that brought in the confiscated consignment, and   also Niger Global & Engineering Co. Technical Ltd.

Umar added: “Nigerians must not leave the likes of Hamid Ali, Ibrahim Magu, Hadiza Bala Usman,(former BPP DG) Emeka Nzeh et al at the mercy of these strange lawmakers; politicians that have demonstrated time and again that they are in politics to serve themselves and themselves alone.

“The experience of Hadiza Bala Usman, the new M.D of the NPA, is particularly sad. The more she tries to fight, to reduce graft and perfidy, the more determined they seem to mobilise against her, to neutralise her and see her back.

“They want her out because, they now claim, she is ‘too young’ to manage a complex organisation such as NPA – even though she is past 40 years of age. Unashamed, they question the wisdom of appointing a woman to such a post – her training and experience counting for nothing; apparently.”

Published in News & Stories
The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), on Sunday announced that it would hold its Policy Committee meeting next week Monday and Tuesday to determine the cut-off point for the 2017 admission.
 
The agency made the announcement in a statement on Sunday issued by its Head of Information, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, in Abuja.
 
‎Dr. Benjamin said the meeting approved by the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu  would kick start the 2017 admission exercise.
 
According to him, the policy committee would announced the cut off point for  the 2017 admission exercise.
 
“‎The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), has obtained the approval of the Hon Minister of Education to hold the Policy Committee meeting on 2017 admission.
 
“The meeting is scheduled to hold on Monday 21st to Tuesday 22nd August, 2017. This meeting will kick start the 2017 admission exercise. The policy committee would announced the cut off point for  the 2017 admission exercise.
 
“All stakeholders including  Vice Chancellors of Universities, Rectors of Polytechnics and  Monotechnics  and  Provosts of Colleges of Education would be in attendance.”
 
Benjami said the board has sent a soft copy of  printout of candidates to all institutions chosen by candidates.
 
“This year the Board has sent candidates who scored 100 and above in their JAMB to the institutions in its flexible admission policy for institutions to determine the suitability of the candidates in compliance with all laid down rules and regulations as determined by the propriators of the institutions and approved by Senate of the various schools.
 
“The Board will ensure that criterion set by Senate  are strictly adhere to by the institutions admission officers and no shifting of goal post in the middle of the admission exercise. This is to guarantee fairness and equity to all candidates,” the statement added.
 
He also said the Registrar of JAMB, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, at the foundation laying ceremony for a 500 capacity twin CBT centre in Osogbo, Osun State advised all computer based test (CBT) centre owners to ensure that their centres are up to date as the board would not compromise on the 2018 accreditation exercise.
 
He said having suitable centres was the bedrock of conducting a smooth examination.
 
“The 500 capacity twin CBTcentre built by NCC in compliance with presidential directive for NCC to build such centre in each senatorial district is to bring the centres closer to the candidates and also ensure standard.
 
“The Registrar urge the consultant to ensure that the centre is built according to specification,” the statement added.

 

 
Published in Business and Economy
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