The National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) has warned all officials working in the 774 local government areas (LGAs) not to release any funds whatsoever to state governors or risk prosecution by anti-graft agencies.
The warning was contained in an open letter with reference number NULGE26/Vol/IV/164, signed by President of NULGE, Comrade Ibrahim Khaleel Abdulkadir and addressed to all chairmen of councils in the 774 LGAs for strict compliance.
According to the letter, despite the backings of the 7th and 8th National Assemblies to grant autonomy to the local governments, governors had succeeded in frustrating the process by ensuring the much-needed amendments failed to meet up with the requirement.
The NULGE president, who noted that governors would go to any length to loot funds meant for the running of the local governments, however, expressed optimism that the guidelines put in place by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) should deter local government officials from falling prey to the manipulations of governors.
The letter reads: “You will recall that the leadership of our union and entire members had, over the years, been in the forefront for the autonomy of the local government system to free it to perform its functions in accordance with its philosophy.
“Our relentless campaign for local government autonomy gained national popular support and invariably the backing of the 7th and 8th National Assemblies, which had voted overwhelmingly in support of key clauses seeking to grant autonomy to the third tier of government.
“As you are aware, on each attempt state governors had truncated the exercise as in the end the needed amendments could not get the required two-thirds majority of state Houses of Assembly’s concurrence to scale through.
“While we have not relented in the struggle to achieve autonomy for the system that we operate in through constitutional means and have learnt very valuable lessons from our past campaigns and ready to re-strategise for future struggle: we are however encouraged by the content of the NFIU’s recent guidelines with respect to the operation of States-Local Governments Joint Accounts.
“Given the passion with which the Governors’ Forum had opposed this initiative, it is clear to us in NULGE that they will go to any length to either bend these guidelines or find ways of administratively/bureaucratically undermining them.
“In other words, from their pronouncements and action, our state governors are still as determined as those before them to continue the looting of local government resources with their stranglehold on these joint account.”
The NULGE president urged the council leadership to be cautious in their with LG funds.
“Honourable chairman, sir, it is with respect to the above context that we wish to use this opportunity to caution the leadership of Local Government Councils particularly chairmen of LGCs, treasurers of councils and directors, general services and administration (DGSAs), to exercise a high degree of restraint in carrying out directive(s) of state governors in releasing any fund whatsoever through back channels to organisations or agencies of state governments.
“In the light of the above, it is noteworthy to make reference to “Provision 9’ of the NFIU’s Guidelines which dearly asserts that: ‘It is hereby provided that any public officer anywhere in the country and/or any private citizen found undermining or violating these guidelines will be investigated and prosecuted under the NFIU Act. 2018, the ML(PA), 2011 (as amended), the EFCC Act, 2004 and the ICPC Act, 2000, by the Independent Corrupt and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“From the above it, is clear that any officer of the local government who blindly follows instructions of governors to transfer or divert local government funds to non-local government projects will be in personally liable.”
EU-UN blames child marriage for obstetric fistula
The European Union United Nations (EU-UN) Spotlight Initiative has blamed child marriage in the country for an increased in obstetric fistula as 43% of girls marry before the age of 18 and 17 % of them were married off before age 15.
This, it said had given rise to 20,000 new cases of obstetric fistula which occurred every year as a result of child marriages in the country.
This was disclosed by EU-UN Spotlight Initiative during a two-day media engagement on violence against women and girls for southern journalists in the country.
According to the Initiative, violence and other forms of harmful practices against women and girls were on the rise in the country despite the war against the menace.
UNICEF child protection specialist, Mrs. Olasunbo Odebode described violence against women and girls as a silent killer that had taken the lives of scores of victims which the health outcome had gone beyond direct result of physical, psychological or mental health issues.
She said: “The social context of violence against women and girls is based on the traditional patriarchal structure that defines gender. It is the belief in Nigeria being a patriarchal society that women are subordinate to men and when married, they surrender to their husbands
“Women do not have a say in decision making, issues concerning their lives are decided upon and determined by others usually men and older women in the family, and violence is prevalent in the society.”
Okigwe Constituency deserves better representation, says APC candidate
Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming rerun election in Isiala Mbano/Onuimo/Okigwe Federal Constituency of Imo State, Princess Miriam Onuoha, has urged the people of the constituency to come out en masse and vote for the APC on an election day.
Speaking in a reaction to the Appeal Court’s nullification of the election of Kingsley Onwubuariri, in Owerri, the APC candidate said she dedicated the victory to God, her supporters and the judiciary, which she said remained the last hope of the common man.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri had at the weekend upheld the judgment of the electoral tribunal that sacked Onwubuariri and also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election in the entire federal constituency within 90 days.
While dedicating her victory to God and the people of the constituents, the APC candidate enjoined all to capitalize on the golden opportunity to vote her again in the rerun election, so as to enjoy the remarkable dividends of democracy like never before in the history of Okigwe North Federal constituency.
Frowning at the state of total neglect and current poor representation of Okigwe North at the Green Chambers, Onuoha pledged to effect sound and productive representation to the people of Okigwe North when elected.
The APC candidate also added that her performance as SURE-P representative which earned her the title “Mama SURE-P” in the last administration is proof of serving the people judiciously.
She urged all registered voters in the zone to come out en masse in the soon to be scheduled rerun election and vote her again.
N1bn debt: AMCON takes over former minister’s assets
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) yesterday said it had taken over two properties belonging to a former Minister of State for Defence, Ademola Seriki, in Lagos and Abuja over an outstanding indebtedness of nearly N1billion.
In a press release made available to journalists, the corporation said its action was in accordance with the order of Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor of the Federal High Court, Lagos.
AMCON stated that while it usually does not, in the first instance, resort to the courts except when an obligor defies all overtures for a peaceful resolution of an obligation, the case between it and Seriki, who was also a former Supervising Minister for Mines and Steel Development, has been lingering for a while and eventually ended up in court because all efforts it made to have the issue resolved peacefully did not yield the desired result.
AMCON disclosed that it yesterday took possession of the properties belonging to the former minister through Oak Partners, one of the firms which works for the corporation as one of its asset management partners.
It said the affected properties included those located at No. 1a & 1b, Jalupon Close, Surulere, Lagos and another at No. 4, Djibouti Crescent, a high-brow area of Wuse 2, Abuja.
Head, Corporate Communications, AMCON, Jude Nwauzor, said: “The Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) of Ademola Seriki was sold to AMCON by the defunct Oceanic Bank and Skye Bank. When all efforts to amicably resolve the loan was frustrated by the former minister and a prominent member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the corporation was left with no other choice than to defer the matter to court. Having looked at the case over time, the court ordered AMCON to take over the assets of the APC chieftain.”
Court restrains NAFDAC from deploying banned chemical for public use
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of a Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) from deploying a banned chemical, methyl bromide, allegedly imported into the country by a firm, Toon Consolidated Company Limited, for public use.
Other defendants affected by the order are: the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Justice.
NAFDAC and the other defendants were dragged to court by a retired judge of the Osun State High Court, Justice Olamide Oloyede and an NGO, Virtues Unlimited Restorative Justice Initiative (VURJI), over alleged illegal importation of the banned chemical.
The restraining order, which was made Monday by the judge, was sequel to a request by the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Olukayode Enitan (SAN).
In his submissions, the silk drew the court’s attention to a motion for interlocutary injunction seeking to stop the defendants from deploying the chemical for public use pending the determination of the suit.
However, his motion could not be moved because all the defendants’ lawyers present in court asked for time to respond to it.
Following the development, Enitan urged Justice Oguntoyinbo to issue an interim order to preserve the ‘res’ of the suit.
Court hears army’s objection to Falana’s suit on OPI
Justice Mohammed Aikawa of a Federal High Court in Lagos will next week Thursday hear the preliminary objection filed by the Nigerian Army against the suit filed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, to challenge the controversial Operation Positive Identification (OPI).
The judge had at the last hearing of the matter on November 5, ordered the army to suspend the operation pending the final determination of the suit.
At Monday’s proceedings, the lawyer representing the Army and the Chief of Army Staff (1st and 2nd respondents), Mrs. Olayemi Badewole, drew the court’s attention to a motion dated November 14, 2019, seeking to regularize her clients’ notice of preliminary objection.
In the absence of any opposition from other parties in the matter, she moved the motion and her request was granted by the court.
The Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata (SAN), who represented the Attorney General of the Federation (3rd respondent) had earlier informed the court that necessary processes in respect of the suit has been filed and served on the plaintiff.
Responding, a lawyer from Falana’s chambers, E. E. Olawale, while acknowledging the receipt of the processes, sought for an adjournment to enable him respond appropriately.
Justice Aikawa subsequently adjourned the matter to November 28 for the hearing of all preliminary objections to the suit.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen.Tukur Buratai, the Army and the Attorney-General of the Federation were joined as co-respondents in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1939/2019.
In the suit, Falana argued that the planned nationwide operation which was scheduled to run from November 1 to December 23, 2019, by which Nigerian citizens would be required to move about with means of identification is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
NDDC’s debt: National Assembly to probe NLNG, Shell, 15 other IOCs
…Finance minister, CBN Gov to testify
A joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives committee on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has concluded arrangements to investigate 17 international oil companies (IOCs) including the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), Shell Petroleum and Conoil for alleged indebtedness to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC).
Other oil firms, which are to be quizzed by the joint committee, are Shebah Express Petroleum, Atlas Petroleum, Allied Energy, Frontier Oil, Seven Energy Limited, Belma Oil Producing Limited, AITECO Exploration and Production, Dubrin Oil and Continental Oil and Gas.
Also to be investigated is Enageed Resources Limited, New Cross exploration and Production, Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria Limited, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company and Prime Exploration and Production Company.
Co-chairman of the joint committee and House of Representatives committee chairman on NDDC, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo (APC, Ondo), who disclosed this Monday in a chat with the media in Abuja, explained that as part of the investigation, the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Accountant General of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Idris and Auditor General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine will also testify before the joint committee.
According to Tunji-Ojo, records have shown that the affected oil companies jointly owning the NDDC N72 billion and $73 million respectively adding that the federal government is also owning the agency a whopping N1.2 trillion.
Senate disowns Hate Speech Bill, says it’s Abdullahi’s idea
Worried by the spate of criticisms that have greeted the Hate Speech Bill which passed first reading last week, the Senate has distanced itself from the proposed legislation
The acting spokesperson for the red chamber, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, told journalists in Abuja on Monday that contrary to widespread impression, the bill was not the idea of the ninth Senate
He said it was solely being sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, based on his conviction.
Akwashiki described as unfortunate, the statement credited to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which insinuated that the bill was a Senate bill, skewed to make the alleged third term ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari possible.
He maintained that the fate of the bill would be determined on the floor of the Senate after a robust debate by senators.
Meanwhile, the ex-spokesperson for the Senate, who sponsored the bill, insisted at a news briefing on Monday that his proposed legislation is aimed at achieving peace in the country.
Buhari congratulates Lyon, condemns violence in Bayelsa
President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, David Lyon, on his “impressive victory”.
He felicitated with the governor-elect in a statement on Monday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
The President also commended APC supporters in particular and Nigerians in general in Bayelsa who exercised their civic rights in a peaceful manner, despite the pockets of unrest recorded in some parts of the state.
He, however, condemned the loss of lives in the state, particularly prior to the election and, commiserated with the families of the victims.
“Violence during elections vitiates our commitment to demonstrate to the world and upcoming generation that we are a people capable of electing leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner,” President Buhari was quoted as saying in the statement.
He noted that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies did their best within the ambit of the law to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
According to the President, it is unfortunate that pockets of unrest, mostly sponsored by desperate politicians were recorded during the poll.
He promised to work with the incoming government to improve the lives of the people in Bayelsa while ensuring the security of lives and property of all citizens.
Buhari also urged the governor-elect to carry other divergent interests along in the next phase of governance.
He appealed to those aggrieved by the outcome of the election to seek redress through the constitutionally established channels.
INEC declares Kogi West Senatorial election inconclusive
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Sunday declared as inconclusive the election of the November 16 Kogi West Senatorial District because the margin of win was less than the total cancelled votes.
It said that it will announce later a date for the supplementary election.
It stated that the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Smart Adeyemi scored a total of 80,118 votes while the Kogi West Senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Dino Melaye, scored 59,548 votes.
Smart Adeyemi had slightly more than 20,000 votes than Dino Melaye.
APC’s Lyon wins Bayelsa guber election
Mr David Lyon of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been declared the winner of the Bayelsa State governorship election which took place on Saturday.
Announcing Lyon as the winner, the Returning Officer, Prof Faraday Orumwense, stated that the total votes cast stood at 505, 884 while the total valid votes were 499, 551.
He added that 6333 votes were rejected in the election in which the PDP scored 143,173 leaving the APC’s to take the bigger chunk of the votes, totalling 352,552.
Lyon defeated Douye Diri, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in six out of eight locals government areas in the state.
“I , prof Faraday Orumwense hereby certifies that I am the Returning Officer for the Bayelsa State governorship election held on 16th day of November 2019.
“That the candidates recorded the following votes… Lyon David of the APC got 352,552 votes…while the PDP candidate, Diri Douye got 143,172 votes.
“That Lyon David having satisfied the requirements of the law is hereby returned elected,” he said at the State Collation Centre in the capital, Yenagoa.
Lyon’s victory makes it the first time an opposition party is winning the state since the return of democracy in 1999.
The state, which was created in 1996, has always been governed by the PDP.
Below are the scores from each local government area as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
APC – 7, 831
PDP- 60, 339
APC – 23, 831
PDP- 10, 410
APC – 83, 041
APC – 21, 489
PDP- 18, 344
APC – 8, 934
PDP- 15, 360
APC – 58, 016
PDP- 13, 763
APC – 124, 803
PDP- 4, 898
APC – 24, 607
PDP- 19, 184
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