Tuesday, 21 November 2017

ENTERTAINMENT

The popular ‘Squareville’ mansion in Lagos, home of embattled Psquare brothers, Paul and Peter Okoye, has allegedly hit the market for sale.

Perhaps the Psquare brothers have finally decided to sell their joint properties as part of the separation saga.

According to reports on Friday, visitors to the iconic mansion located on Lola Holloway Street, Omole Estate, Ikeja, were met with `For Sale’ sign-post in front of the property.

At the time when Psquare moved into the mansion in 2010, Peter Okoye was quoted saying, getting a land in Omole Estate (Ikeja, Lagos) alone is N100m.

“When you look at the house, especially the finishing, it is over $2million, and when people speculated that the house was worth N300 million, we had not even finished the interior.

“What do you think is the cost of a mansion that has a swimming pool, six living rooms, and ten master bedrooms, all fully furnished.”

There have been strains in the relationship of popular Nigerian music duo in recent times.

Social media was set on fire recently after Peter posted a Snapchat video revealing that he is in Philadelphia on his own for a solo show – without his twin brother, Paul.

My name is Mr P, Peter said As from today, guess what? Its show time, I’m about to go on stage.”

This post came days after his brother, Paul wrote on instagram saying; “Only a woman can come where there’s peace and destroy it.’’

According to a letter sent to their lawyer recently by Peter, he demanded for a termination of the agreement as a group.

Peter based his decision on some serious allegations against his twin Paul and Jude their older brother and manager.

He accused Paul of no longer willing to co-operate with him, and the cancellation of their scheduled music tour to the United States.

He added that Paul was also slandering his wife and children with lies on social media, and alleged that his family was being threatened with threat messages.

Peter further accused his older brother Jude of once threatening to kill him and shoot his wife Lola.

Peter stressed that he was tired of the drama and all he wanted was opting out of the Psquare group and contract.

NAN

Published in Entertainment
Monday, 06 November 2017 23:31

Former Kogi gov, Idris Wada in EFCC custody

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday traced N500m to the immediate past Governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada.

The money was said to be part of the N23bn allegedly disbursed by a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, through the then Director of Finance of the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman.

It was learnt that Wada arrived the EFCC office around 12pm and was still in custody around 9pm.

Published in Headliners

Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to take action against officials involved in the controversial recall of former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Abdulrasheed Maina.

In a statement issued yesterday titled: “President Buhari should act with dispatch on Mainagate”, the rights activist said “time is certainly not on the side of President Buhari”.

Although the Federal Government has promised not to sweep the Mainagate under the carpet, Falana contended that the handling of the scandal generated by Maina’s recall has eroded the credibility of the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.

He said: “Therefore, the sanctions, which the Federal Government will mete out to all the officials who conspired to expose the administration and the nation to such avoidable shame will make or mar the fight against corruption and impunity, which is the cornerstone of the domestic and foreign policy thrust of the administration.”

Falana’s advice was sequel to a statement credited to Maina’s family, accusing Buhari administration of official betrayal.

He noted that at a news conference in Kaduna two weeks ago, the spokesman for the Abdulrasheed Maina’s family, Mr. Aliyu Maina, had stated that “Abdulrasheed was in fact invited by this administration and he was promised security to come and clean up the mess and generate more revenue to the government by blocking leakages. He has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security. So, one wonders why all the agencies and various individuals responsible for his return are now denying”.

But Falana contended that those who recalled Maina, “deliberately set out to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration”.

He argued that through such demonstration of impunity, the officials involved have exposed the country to ridicule before the comity of nations.

“In view of the revelation of the family, which has not been denied, it is crystal clear that the highly placed officials of the Federal Government, who brought Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina back to the country, gave him a clean bill of health, provided him with “necessary security”, reinstated him, promoted him and paid his arrears of salaries and allowances totalling N22 million deliberately set out to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration,” the senior lawyer said.

Falana described the payment of N22 million to Maina as “the height of insensitivity to pay arrears of salaries to a fugitive at a time when hundreds of thousands of workers and pensioners are owed arrears of their legitimate emoluments”.

The senior advocate queried: “Having found Maina and exonerated him, why was Interpol not informed that he was no longer wanted to stand trial for his role in the unprecedented pension fraud?

“Since Mr. Maina’s ‘necessary security’ provided by the State Security Service has not been withdrawn, why is the Federal Government requesting the Interpol to declare him wanted again? Will Interpol believe that a man, who was provided with ‘necessary security’ cannot be found by the Federal Government? Why is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission asking Nigerians to assist in searching for the fugitive?”

 
Published in Headliners

The apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market, Securities and Exchange Commission, said there were misstatements in Oando Plc’s audited financial statements for the 2013 and 2014 financial year arising from Oando Exploration and Production Limited transaction.

This revelation was contained in a letter addressed to the Group Chief Executive Officer of Oando, Adewale Tinubu, by SEC.

 In the letter obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday, the commission alleged outright disregard to laid-down rules and regulations

 SEC said, “Following the structuring of the OEPL transaction in contravention of the ISA 2007, Oando Plc recorded a profit of about N6bn from the sale of the OEPL that erased the operating loss of N4.68bn, leading to a profit of N1.4bn for the year 2013.

 “The company subsequently declared dividends from the profit. Having admitted that the action was in breach of the ISA 2007, Oando Plc restated its 2013 and 2014 audited financial statements, which contained material false and misleading information contrary to Section 60(2) of the ISA 2007.

 “The commission finds from the corporate governance returns submitted by the company for the period ended December 31, 2016 that the remuneration of the group chief executive officer and the deputy GCEO was approved by the board while the GCEO was responsible for fixing the remuneration of other executive directors, which is in violation of part 3, 14,3 of the SEC Code of Corporate Governance.”

The letter, dated October 17, 2017, was titled, ‘Re: Serious Concern to Corporate Governance Existence, Gross Abuse of Corporate Governance and Financial Mismanagement in Oando Plc’, and was signed by the Head, Legal Department, SEC, Mrs. Braimoh Anastsia.

SEC explained that the last board evaluation of Oando was done by the KPMG in 2012, stressing, “This is a violation of Part B, 15.1 of the SEC Code of Corporate Governance.”

It also alleged that there was a breach of the ISA 2007 on the disposal of OEPL by Oando in 2013.

The regulator explained that the disposal of the OEPL to Green Park Management Limited was done without the prior approval of the commission.

But Oando said in a statement on Tuesday that it had obtained an ex parte order to lift the suspension of trading in its shares as well as halt a forensic audit planned by SEC.

Oando’s share price was frozen at N5.99 on Monday until further notice, the Nigerian Stock Exchange said after SEC ordered an audit of the company’s activities.

SEC, on Monday, said the shares of Oando were now on technical suspension. With the development, the shares of the company will be available for trading on the floor of the NSE, but there will be no price movement while the technical suspension subsists.

Oando, in a statement said, “We are of the view that the SEC’s directives are illegal, invalid and calculated to prejudice the business of the company. The company being dissatisfied with the most recent actions taken by SEC and to safeguard the interests of the company and its shareholders immediately took steps to file an action with the Federal High Court against SEC and the NSE.

“Oando obtained an ex-parte order from the FHC granting an interim injunction, via an order restraining the NSE from effecting the directive of the SEC to implement a technical suspension of the shares of the company, and an order restraining the SEC from conducting any forensic audit of the company’s affairs pending the hearing and determination of the matter.

“The NSE and SEC were served with the court order on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 and the NSE and SEC are legally obliged to comply with the interim order pending the substantive determination of the suit.”

Published in Business and Economy
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 22:55

BY CHIDIRIM NDECHE: How To Make Banga Rice

Banga rice is a traditional Nigerian rice cuisine prepared with palm fruit extract.

Just picture it as a local jollof rice. It is an easy, refreshing change to your palette that your taste buds will surely thank you for.

Ingredients

  • 700g (1 De Rica or 4 cups) long grain parboiled rice.
  • 400g palm fruit extract, canned or made from scratch
  • Beef Stock
  • 2 medium smoked fish – deboned and broken into small pieces
  • Orunbebe stick (optional)
  • 1 red onion – chopped
  • 1 tsp banga spices
  • 1 tbsp crayfish (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 seasoning cubes
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Dry or fresh habanero pepper (atarodo) (to taste) – diced
  • Scent leaves (to taste) – rinsed

How to prepare

  1. Wash out the starch in your rice with hot water. Drain, pour cold water over it. Drain again and set aside.
  2. Mix the banga concentrate in a pot of hot water so that all the sand and particles can sink to the bottom. Decant slowly into another pot for cooking your rice. Make sure no sand transfers to the new pot.
  3. Add beef stock if you have, onion, banga spices, orunbebe stick, smoked fish, crayfish, crushed seasoning cubes, salt and pepper to your taste. Make sure the liquid is enough to cook the rice you need. Reduce the heat, cover and leave to boil.
  4. Add the washed rice and cook on low heat until it softens. Then turn up the heat and let it boil.
  5. When the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid, stir with a wooden spoon and lower the heat. Add your shredded scent leaves.
  6. If the rice is still too hard, seal the rice in with foil paper or a plastic bag and cover the pot for a few minutes until the rice is properly cooked and has absorbed all the water. Stir properly and take off the heat.
  7. Serve hot or sprinkle a little banga soup on top if you have any.
Published in Parliament
Sunday, 22 October 2017 18:39

Tottenham Hotspur 4 -1 Liverpool

A Harry Kane double inspired Tottenham as they punished a poor defensive performance by Liverpool at Wembley to move level on points with second-placed Manchester United in the Premier League.

Kane scored the opener after four minutes as Kieran Trippier's chipped pass went over Dejan Lovren's head and the England striker took the ball around Simon Mignolet, who had rushed from his goal, to score from 12 yards.

Eight minutes later Spurs doubled their lead as Hugo Lloris' long throw was not dealt with by Lovren, who missed a header on the halfway line and Kane was able to square to Son Heung-min to slot home.

Liverpool got a goal back as Jordan Henderson's wonderful cross-field pass found Mohamed Salah, who outpaced the Tottenham defence and finished off the inside of the post with a scuffed shot.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp responded by taking off Lovren for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after 31 minutes, but Dele Alli added a third for Spurs just before half-time as he lashed in a volley from 18 yards.

Kane got his second in the 56th minute as he followed up a rebound from Jan Vertonghen's shot after Mignolet failed to clear a free-kick.

Liverpool's best chance in the second half fell to Philippe Coutinho but his shot from the edge of the area was pushed on to the crossbar by Lloris with a one-handed save.

They dropped to ninth in the table - 12 points behind leaders Manchester City - while Spurs prepare for a meeting with United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The game also saw a Premier League record attendance of 80,827.

Kane breaks Wembley duck

Despite Kane's 15 goals for club and country this season, one question mark over the 24-year-old had been his lack of league goals at Spurs' temporary home.

Those demons can now be put to bed as Kane finally scored under the Wembley arch, with his 29th shot at the stadium.

Ballon d'Or nominee Kane worked tirelessly in attack and caused the Liverpool defence nightmares with his movement, hold-up play and composure in front of goal.

It was his fourth double in the league this season and he has now scored 45 goals in 2017 for Spurs and England.

One slight worry for Tottenham was when manager Mauricio Pochettino brought the striker off in the 88th minute with what looked like a hamstring problem.

Liverpool defensive woes continue

This fixture was Klopp's first Premier League game as a manager on 17 October, 2015.

Liverpool have conceded 16 goals in the league this season, their worst defensive record after nine top-flight games since 1964-65.

They have struggled most on the road, conceding 15 goals, the most in the league this season.

Defensive performances like Sunday will make the failed pursuit of Southampton and Netherlands Virgil van Dijk in the summer hurt even more.

Lovren will be singled out for his errors, but even after his substitution and Joe Gomez moved to centre-back alongside Joel Matip, Liverpool still looked a shambles.

Mignolet is another who will have nightmares about the game, at fault for both of Kane's goals.

The Belgium international has made 13 errors leading to goals in the league since making his Liverpool debut in 2013, three more than anyone else.

Published in Sports

• Lawmakers to begin investigation
• 15,000 jobs at risk as dispute lingers
• Maritime workers seek early resolution

The House of Representatives yesterday ordered an immediate reversal of the termination of the contract between Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS) Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

Adopting a motion sponsored by Diri Duoye under matters of public importance during the plenary session presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the House resolved to raise an ad-hoc committee to ascertain if due process was followed before the termination of the contract.

The House thereby directed the authorities to maintain the status quo ante pending when the committee would turn in its report in two weeks. While leading the debate on the issue, Douye (PDP: Yenagoa: Bayelsa), remarked that there was the need to ascertain whether the termination of the contract was not in breach of the law.

Claiming that INTELS had already invested $900 million in facilities in the Apapa, Warri, and Port Harcourt terminals, he stated that no fewer than 7,000 Nigerians and their dependents could be affected if the termination of the contract was allowed to stand.

INTELS, believed to be mainly owned by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is responsible for the provision of logistics and facilities in the maritime sector of the country based on the boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement whereby the company collects revenue on behalf of the NPA.

Other lawmakers spoke on the issue. Hassan Saleh (Benue, PDP) said it was saddening that an indigenous firm was being treated in such a disdainful manner. He wondered why the authorities refused to renegotiate the contract with the company before terminating it.

Samuel Arabo (PDP, Kaduna) said it beat his imagination for the authorities to revoke a contract of over 17 years, alleging that there was more to the decision than met the eye.

However, Olurotimi Agunsoye (APC, Lagos) and Ali Madaki (APC, Kano) spoke in support of the decision by NPA to terminate the contract.

Madaki, who cited constitutional provisions, argued that the government had the power to terminate any contractual relationship between any of its agencies and any firm over issues relating to the payment of money into the consolidated revenue fund.

Before Dogara called for a voice vote which favoured the motion, he urged the lower chamber to ensure that the law was not breached by either the government or INTELS on the issue at stake.

And worried about the jobs that would be lost, the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN) appealed to the Federal Government and INTELS to amicably resolve the misunderstanding that led to the cancellation of the contract.

The President-General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, in a statement yesterday said the cancellation of the contract would send wrong signals to the international community and scare away investors.

“The Federal Government should avoid anything that will send wrong signals to investors that Nigeria’s environment is not safe and conducive for business.

“Most of these employees are Nigerians with families and responsibilities. We are therefore, worried that if this issue is not resolved amicably, their jobs could be on the line. The socio-economic implications of most of them losing their jobs in a volatile area like Rivers State can be better imagined than experienced,” he said.

“As organised labour, our utmost concern is the job security and welfare of our members in INTELS Nigeria Limited,” he said.

About 15,000 workers that are directly in the service of the INTELS have expressed the fear of losing their jobs to the disagreement. There are about 35,000 others who are indirectly engaged by contractors, agents and vendors that provide support services for the company.

Some of the employees who spoke to The Guardian, expressed disappointment that the government was cancelling a contract it willingly signed years back when the contract duration had not elapsed.

Another employee, who identified herself simply as Chichi, said the assurance given by the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, was not enough guarantee for the security of jobs.

“Who knows the new contractor and what policies he or she would bring to bear? We have had similar experiences in the past. It does not work that way. You will begin to hear different stories by the time we get to that point and that is why the labour union has always resisted this transition thing. It doesn’t work here in Nigeria. It’s a deceit, “ she said.

NPA had relied on legal advice from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami, to terminate the contract.

To ensure the safety of ships’ passage within Nigeria’s seaports, the NPA, through INTELS as its agent, provides pilotage services to guide ships into and out of the ports.

Bala-Usman had alleged that INTELS refused to comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government, insisting on deducting its money from source.

She also said that the workers who were likely to lose their jobs as a result of the termination of the contract would be absorbed by the new company that would emerge.

But INTELS’ Spokesperson, Bolaji Akinola, alleged that the management of NPA deliberately frustrated attempts to address the issues raised by the introduction of the TSA in the execution of its pilotage agency agreement.

Akinola said: “The issues arose because the pilotage agency agreement, signed in 2010, did not envisage the TSA, and as such did not factor it into its implementation.”

The company said it borrowed $1.4 billion (N428.4 billion) from banks to execute the agreement with the understanding that the debt would be offset from money realised from the pilotage services paid directly to the banks.

Akinola said meetings, letters and proposals on how to resolve the TSA imbroglio were rebuffed by the NPA managing director. “Deliberate stumbling blocks were placed on the path of resolving the issues and this is indicative of a sinister motive,” he said.

Published in Headliners

Hundreds of demonstrators in Burkina Faso marked the 30th anniversary of Thomas Sankara’s assassination by demanding truth and justice on Sunday for the assassinated revolutionary leader.

The young army captain, nicknamed “Africa’s Che Guevara,”, was cut down in a hail of bullets on October 15, 1987 on his way to a special cabinet meeting.

Demonstrators wearing T-shirts bearing the likeness of the anti-imperialist crusader chanted “Truth and justice for Thomas Sankara,” with some waving signs that read “Shame on rotten prosecutors and corrupt judges.” 

Sankara was assassinated along with 12 comrades in a putsch that brought his close friend Blaise Compaore to power. Compaore ruled Burkina Faso until October 2014, when he was ousted by a popular uprising.

Compaore, who is in exile in Ivory Coast, is the subject of an international arrest warrant in connection with Sankara’s killing.

About a dozen people have been charged in connection over the assassination including soldiers from the presidential security unit.

“No one… Burkinabe or not, who was involved in these killings should be able to escape punishment,” said Bernard Sanou, president of the Thomas Sankara International Memorial Committee.

Published in Business and Economy

Watford’s Isaac Success downed two bottles of Baileys and repeatedly failed to score with the hookers

A PREMIER League ace and Nigerian international Isaac Success paid four hookers £2,000 for a hotel romp — but failed to score with any of them after drinking two bottles of Baileys. Watford’s Isaac Success, 21, was arrested after angrily demanding his money back.

He was arrested by the UK police for allegedly assaulting four sex workers in a Hertfordshire hotel.

Watford’s Isaac Success, 21, was arrested after angrily demanding his money back.

 Alexis Domerge was one of the escorts paid by footballer Isaac Success
Alexis Domerge was one of the escorts paid by footballer Isaac Success

Escort Alexis Domerge said the Watford star boasted of his prowess in the bedroom after paying the women £2,000 for a hotel romp.

But the 21-year-old, who has found the net only once in 19 Watford appearances, drank two bottle of Baileys — and then repeatedly failed to score with the hookers.

When the women decided to blow the whistle on Success’s lacklustre performance after 90 minutes, he angrily demanded his money back.

He was arrested in the hotel lobby after cops were called.

 Michaela Carter says the 21-year-old Success came across as shy and awkward
Michaela Carter says the 21-year-old Success came across as shy and awkward
 The Watford star became angry and demanded his money back after the girls called time on the romp
The Watford star became angry and demanded his money back after the girls called time on the romp

Alexis, 24, said: “He accused us of ripping him off and asked for his money to be returned.

“It was terrifying. He had paid four of us £500 each to party with him and we all got naked as soon as the money came through on our phone bank accounts.

“He was drinking Baileys straight from the bottle.

“He must have chugged at least two. I pulled off his shorts and got down to it with three other girls doing everything you could imagine.

 Michaela says she massaged the footballer for ninety minutes
Michaela says she massaged the footballer for ninety minutes
 Alexis says Success downed two bottles of Baileys
Alexis says Success downed two bottles of Baileys

“But he was getting frustrated. What do you expect if you drink two bottles of Baileys liqueur straight from the bottle?”

Fellow escort Michaela Carter, 30, said: “He had a nice body and all four of us massaged him for a full hour and a half — as long as a football match.

“He had been boasting to us all night about how much he earned and how much fun we were going to have.

“But it’s fair to say that Mr Success did not live up to his name during our night together.

“He seemed really keen on Baileys — swigging the stuff out of the bottle. It made me cringe because it’s so sickly sweet.

“He seemed a bit shy and awkward, probably because he’s only 21. After a bit of chat Alexis took charge and said it was time to get down to business.

 Success was arrested in the hotel lobby after cops were called
Success was arrested in the hotel lobby after cops were called
 Alexis says the Prem star became frustrated but blamed his performance on the booze
Alexis says the Prem star became frustrated but blamed his performance on the booze
 Alexis says the four escorts all got naked as soon as the money came through on their bank accounts
Alexis says the four escorts all got naked as soon as the money came through on their bank accounts

“She laughed and told him, ‘We want your money before the honey’.

“So he transferred £2,000 straight to one of the girls which was divided between the four of us.

“The partying started as soon as the money came into our accounts and we all stripped off.

“All five of us were squirming around on the bed but after a while we realised the Baileys had taken its toll.

“Eventually, I told him I couldn’t stay any longer and we couldn’t give him extra time. That’s when things started to get nasty.

“There was a lot of screaming which must have woken the entire hotel.

“At that point the police were called. We were all making a terrible racket.

“I ended up with a slight cut on my face and a bruise on my arm during the chaos.

“I don’t know how it happened. During the row I also stumbled backwards and broke the heels of my £600 Louboutin shoes. It meant I was already £100 down.”

 Michaela claims the footballer boasted about his high earnings
Michaela claims the footballer boasted about his high earnings
 Things turned nasty when the girs told Success they couldnt give him extra time
Things turned nasty when the girs told Success they couldnt give him extra time

Nigerian international Success, who earns £30,000 a week, booked the four girls after spending the night at a lap-dancing club in London’s West End.

In the early hours they were texted the details of the luxury Sopwell House hotel, Herts, where Success had hired a first-floor suite.

Michaela said: “We met him and a couple of his mates in reception but they left, leaving just Isaac and the four of us.

“We went up to his room. It was a nice room and I could tell he had lots of money because there were designer clothes in there and Christian Louboutin trainers which can cost £800 a pair.

“He offered us drinks then started boasting about how rich he was.

“He said, ‘You won’t believe how much I earn in 90 minutes’.”

Alexis, from Brooklyn, New York, said: “I was actually quite turned on by his body. He’s beautifully toned.

“Eventually, Michaela and one of the other girls broke it to him that they couldn’t stay any longer.

“But he then accused us of ripping him off and demanded his money back.

“Several police cars arrived really quickly and about five officers came in and cuffed his hands behind his back and took him outside.

“Success admitted that he had paid us for sex.

“But he also claimed we’d cheated him out of the cash, without mentioning the reason why he didn’t have sex.

“All this commotion was more than the hotel management could take and they ordered us out of the hotel — including him.

 The footballer paid the girls £500 each for sex in his suite at Sopwell House hotel
 
The footballer paid the girls £500 each for sex in his suite at Sopwell House hotel
 Isaac booked the four escort girls after spending the night at a lap-dancing club in West London
Isaac booked the four escort girls after spending the night at a lap-dancing club in West London

“It’s a really nice place and I guess this isn’t the sort of behaviour they tolerate.”

The hookers said Success later called his bank and had the payments to them stopped.

Alexis said: “We couldn’t believe it when he accused us of cheating him and got the bank to get him his money back.

“We made a deal and it wasn’t our fault he didn’t have a good time. His behaviour was off the scale.”

Success signed for Watford from Spanish side Granada for £12.5million last July — then a record fee for the Hertfordshire club. He has struggled to make the starting line-up since.

He sat out Watford’s 2-0 away win at Southampton on September 9 but went out on the town in London the following day before hooking up with the girls.

Alexis and Michaela and another 34-year-old escort were recruited by a fourth hooker, a friend of Success’s.

A Hertfordshire Police spokesman said: “Police are investigating an allegation of assault reported to have occurred at 6.30am at Sopwell House in St Albans on Monday September 11.

“A 21-year-old man was arrested and de-arrested and inquiries are ongoing.”

A representative for the player said: “We strongly refute all allegations against Isaac and will vigorously fight to clear his name.”

Published in Business and Economy
Tuesday, 10 October 2017 04:24

Presidency backs Baru

  • NNPC on oil deals: no process breached

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Ibe Kachikwu’s future was hanging in the balance yesterday.

President Muhammadu Buhari is said to be weighing options on Dr Kachikwu’s fate, following his allegations against Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru.

Specifically, Kachikwu alleged that Baru

  • awarded $25b contracts unilaterally;
  • ran a bravado management; and
  • made appointments without consultations.

It was learnt that having found Baru not guilty of corrupt practices, the Presidency gave the GMD the clearance to release a fact-sheet in the matter to the public.

Kachikwu is said to be consulting his associates, stakeholders and colleagues on his next move. He has been cautioned against any act capable of being seen as confrontational, according to a source, who pleaded not to be named because of “the sensitivity of the matter”.

Kachikwu’s associates, it was learnt, cited the travails of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources Prof. Tam David-West’s rough deals with the military administration of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida.

One of the alternatives being suggested by his friends is the possibility of voluntary exit from the cabinet “to preserve his integrity”. It was not clear last night the step Kachikwu would take after it was clear that the Presidency might have backed Baru.

The GMD of NNPC described the $25billion contract figure raised by Kachikwu as “humongous” because “no money was lost and no process has been breached.”

The President, The Nation learnt, felt scandalised by “unfounded allegations of corruption bordering on phantom $25billion contracts”.

The allegations allegedly attracted concerns from other nations and some oil producing countries.

President Buhari, who is said to have felt hurt, by the development, “refused to act on the spur of the moment because his image and the reputation of his administration were involved”.

A top government source said: “The Presidency directed the GMD of NNPC to provide facts and figures, which it got from Baru.

“Thereafter, the NNPC Act, the NNPC Handbook and Public Procurement Act were consulted on the responses of Baru to find out if infractions were committed by the corporation.

“Having been convinced that there were no infractions, the Presidency then directed NNPC to lay the cards on the table for Nigerians to see and judge.

“What was uppermost in the responses of the GMD was the fact that ‘there was no evidence of sharp practices, bribery, looting of funds and diversion of transaction cash’.

“The allegations of Kachikwu were rated as ‘wild, intentional and political in nature’ against the administration he is serving.”

It was learnt that the President met with Kachikwu last Friday to “be fair to the Minister and for record purposes”.

A Presidency source, who  spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The President has not spoken on the next action. No one knows his mindset.”

Yesterday’s statement by the NNPC, which  was described as  an “assault” on Kachikwu by some of his associates, fuelled minister’s thoughts on his Option B which he did not state.

Some of Kachikwu’s confidants have, however, cautioned against any “hasty” decision, given the travails of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof. Tam David-West, during the military regime of ex-President Ibrahim Babangida.

A highly-placed stakeholder said: “I am aware that the minister has been holding consultations and telling some vital players in the oil sector what transpired.

“Of importance to him is the allegation of alleged plot to sabotage the government of President Buhari with the leakage of the August 20 memo. He has maintained his innocence that he did not leak the letter.

“But it is tragic that no one believes Kachikwu’s story anymore in the Presidency.”

The GMD yesterday dismissed the allegations of award of contracts without regard to due process as “unfounded” and “unfortunate”.

He described the $25billion contract figure raised by Kachikwu as “humongous” because “no money was lost and no process has been breached”.

He explained that as a former chairman of the NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee, he would be the last person to breach the procurement process by disregarding extant laws and rules.

The GMD said the NNPC Act and the Public Procurement Act vested procurement powers in the NNPC Tenders Board, the President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC), depending on the cost threshold.

He said the NNPC Board had no role whatsoever in the process.

He said: “I know for those of you who are following what we are doing here, you know that there’s no money lost and no process has been breached.”

Baru made his views known while receiving the National President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Francis Johnson, PENGASSAN members and members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).

The leaders of the unions were on a solidarity visit to Baru.

The unions’ visit came on the heels of the controversy sparked by Kachikwu’s letter to the President alleging non-adherence to due process by the Management of NNPC in some contract administration.

Baru said: “Our contracting process is perfect and we will continue to follow the process. The NNPC Board has no role, I repeat, has no role as far as the contracting process is concerned.

Baru said the NNPC Tenders Board was made up of the GMD as Chairman and the Group Executive Directors as members.

On the crude term contract and the DSDP agreements, he said: “These are not contract as such; they are essentially pre-qualification of off-takers of crude oil and in the case of DSDP, of those that will take crude and give us products in return. So there is no value to them.

“But humongous figures have been put forward mainly to incite the public, it is most unfortunate”.

On the allegation of lop-sided promotions, the GMD asked the union leaders if their members felt disenchanted to which the unionists chorused a resounding “no”.

He urged the union leaders to enlighten their members on the facts and encourage them to go about their duties without distraction.

Comrade Johnson said the unions’ support for the GMD was based on his ability to walk his talk since assuming office last year.

“The National body of PENGASSAN and all the NNPC in-house unions are here today to show our support for you. You have brought stability to the NNPC and we are happy today that staff morale is high. You were Chairman of NNPC Anti-Corruption Committee for over five years and that was what informed your appointment as GMD of NNPC. Today, all the bullets you are taking are on behalf of members of staff. We will continue to pray for you, God will continue to guide and shield you,” Comrade Johnson assured.

The PENGASSAN President called on Nigerians to be cautious of their comments on the controversy, adding that any wrong information was capable of discouraging investors from the oil and gas industry which is the highest foreign exchange earner.

The NNPC Group Chairman of PENGASSAN, Comrade Sale Abdullahi, who also spoke during the visit to the GMD, stated that their concern had to do with the need to protect not only the GMD but the NNPC as an institution.

He noted that Dr. Baru had streamlined the processes and procedures in the Corporation leading to the full restructuring which was beginning to yield positive results.

“Today, the GMD and NNPC Management receive input from staff and this gesture by Dr. Baru has given members of staff a sense of belonging. Today, our input are being implemented and we are highly motivated,” Comrade Abdullahi stated.

Supporting these positions, the Group Chairman of NNPC NUPENG, Comrade Udofia Odudu Benjamin, said the unions would continue to pray for divine guidance for Dr. Baru and the entire NNPC management

Earlier, the Chairman of NNPC Corporate Headquarters Chapter of PENGASSAN, Comrade Mathew Duru, reiterated the continued support of the unions for the Dr. Baru-led management.

“We just want to tell the GMD from the bottom of our hearts that we are with him and the Top Management; that we are behind the GMD who has done very well in turning the fortunes of the Corporation around”, the union leader said.

He said since Baru assumed office, he had succeeded in clearing the air of uncertainty that prevailed in the corporation because of visionless reforms that left NNPC on the brink of collapse.

He also said the GMD succeeded in resolving the NNPC Pension challenge that had led to disenchantment among staff.

He added: “We are with you. We want to let you know that you are not an orphan.”

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