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Ondo State first lady, US Commercial Counsellor, for Lagos Women’s Fitness Fair

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Ondo State first lady, US Commercial Counsellor, for Lagos Women’s Fitness Fair

The Wife of the Ondo State Governor, Chief Mrs. Betty Akeredolu and the Acting Commercial Counsellor of the United States to Nigeria, Mrs. Christine Kelley, have confirmed their participation at the Lagos Women’s Fitness Fair 2019, holding at the BICS Garden and Boat Club, Lekki Waterfront, Lagos on November 2.

The Fair, which is specifically focused on women fitness is part of the highlights of this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).

 

 

Mrs. Akeredolu, who herself, survived breast cancer some 22 years ago, is the Founder of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN).

 

 

The event, which is being coordinated by Curves Ladies-only fitness franchise and BRECAN, will feature new trends in fitness, exercise demos, diet/meal plans, fitness apparels, healthy foods and drinks, and lots more.

 

 

Addressing the media in Lagos, Mr. Emma Esinnah, Country Director of Curves International which is the largest female fitness group in the world, with over 7,000 outlets in 94 countries, observed that the Fair has three specific objectives, “the first of which is to sensitize women to the benefits of fitness in fighting common illnesses including cancers. The second is to encourage women to make necessary lifestyle changes, for their health and happiness; and finally to feature services, products and solutions that support fitness and a healthy lifestyle for women.”

 

 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women worldwide, with about 1.38million new cases and about 458,000 deaths recorded every year.

On the relevance of a fitness programme in addressing the scourge of breast cancer, Mrs. Akeredolu agrees that “unfit and obese people risk many life-threatening illnesses, including: cancers, hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, glaucoma, cataract, depression, heart conditions, respiratory diseases, lymphatic diseases, circulatory problems and neurological problems among others.”

And that most of these illnesses, according to experts, can be controlled through appropriate lifestyle, including physical activity, healthy diet, etc.

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S’African Airways running out of cash as unions seek to expand strike

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S’African Airways running out of cash as unions seek to expand strike

South African Airways (SAA) is running out of cash and could be liquidated if the government doesn’t give it additional guarantees soon, a board member said on Wednesday, as trade unions threatened to escalate a crippling strike.

State-owned SAA has racked up losses of more than 28 billion rand ($1.9 billion) over the past 13 years and wants to cut jobs as part of a turnaround plan, reports Reuters.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) called a strike at SAA last week after wage talks turned acrimonious and the airline said it planned to cut almost 20% of its staff.

On Wednesday the unions threatened to follow through with a plan to shut down South Africa’s entire aviation sector via a secondary strike.

SAA board member Martin Kingston told Reuters the strike was costing the airline around 50 million rand a day and that banks weren’t willing to lend the company more money without the government approving more state guarantees.

“We may not have enough cash to pay salaries at the end of the month, we are still investigating how we can do that,” he said. “This is a real-time discussion we are having with National Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises. We need help imminently.”

The financial crisis at SAA is a key test of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pledge to fix bloated state firms. He needs to balance the need for cost-cutting and job cuts with deep-seated anger at the country’s 29% unemployment rate and the weak state of the economy.

A broad cross-section of society also vocally opposes any moves that could weaken the role of state firms.

SAA’s last permanent Chief Executive Vuyani Jarana resigned in June after less than two years in the job, saying his turnaround strategy was being undermined by a lack of state funding and too much bureaucracy.

The striking unions held talks with the government and SAA on Tuesday, which ended without any agreement.

NUMSA spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said there would be “no surrender”. The union had issued aviation catering firm Air Chefs with a letter of intent for a secondary strike and had secured a strike certificate for a separate issue at British Airways franchise partner Comair, she said.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a statement on Tuesday he was committed to saving SAA but the government was not able to offer more financial help.

Over the last three years, the government has given more than 20 billion rand of bailouts to SAA to keep it afloat.

Ramaphosa needs to halt a steep run-up in government debt if he is to preserve the country’s last investment-grade credit rating from Moody’s, which has a negative outlook.

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N1trn constituency project: Reps accuse ICPC of misleading Buhari

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N1trn constituency project: Reps accuse ICPC of misleading Buhari

The House of Representatives has accused the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) of providing misleading statistics, upon which President Muhammadu Buhari relied on to say about N1 trillion was expended on National Assembly members’ constituency projects in 10 years.

Recall that President Buhari had on Tuesday, at an event organised by office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in conjunction with the ICPC, declared that about N1 trillion was wasted during that period on National Assembly members in the form of constituency projects.

He said that data collected from Nigerians in rural communities pointed to the fact that they had not felt the impact of the said projects, as there was no commensurate result with the funds spent.

But at Wednesday’s plenary of the House, the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) raised a point of order, in which he argued that the said figures were incorrect, and breached his privileges as a member of the National Assembly.

He submitted that the budgeted figures in annual budgets do not equate to actual release of funds.

“Last year, there was release of about only 40 percent, and we are not sure if releases will be up to 50 percent this year,” he noted.

Supporting the motion, the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) argued that the biggest problem with such projects was poor release of funds for their execution, adding that those who informed the president failed to take such into consideration.

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Social media bill scales second reading in Senate

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Social media bill scales second reading in Senate

A Bill for an Act to Make Provisions for the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and for related matters 2019 passed second reading in the Senate.

This followed the presentation of the lead debate on the bill by the sponsor; Sen. Musa Sani (APC-Niger east) during Tuesday’s plenary.

Leading the debate, Sani said that the bill was a 36-clause legislative proposal to provide for the prevention of broadcast of falsehood and manipulative contents using the internet and its intermediaries for transmission.

“It prescribes sanctions to offenders with a view to deterrence and the penalty for defaulters ranges from fine of up to N300, 000.”

Sani added that the bill also provided for the issuance of regulations dealing with the transmission of false statements of facts in Nigeria upon declaration, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“It also issues guidelines for internet intermediaries and providers of mass media services and sanctions for offenders.”

The lawmaker further said that the internet had its drawbacks one of which was the spread of falsehood and manipulation of unsuspecting users including malicious contents such as confrontational propaganda among others.

“Today, motivated by geopolitical interest and identity politics, state and non-state actors use falsehood to discredit governments and misinform people against each other.

“Individuals and groups influenced by ideologies and deep-seated prejudices in different countries use internet falsehood to promote their course as we have seen in Nigeria with the insurgency of Boko Haram.

“Elections around the world have seen domestic groups use misinformation to support their preferred candidates and disparage the opposition.

“In Nigeria it is particularly disconcerting given our plurality and low literacy level.

“The hoax about the demise of President Muhammadu Buhari in London and his purported replacement by one Jibril of Sudan among others are things that threaten the peace, security and harmony of our people.”

While supporting the bill, Sen. Ibrahim Gobir (APC- Sokoto East) said that there was need to regulate the internet and punish offenders.

“It is an issue we have to support,” he said.

Sen. Abba Moro (PDP-Benue South) said that the bill was one with a good intention and would protect the society.

“One way or the other we have been victims of the spread of falsehood and the manipulation of the internet has caused a lot of havoc to some of us.

“I believe it is intended to protect society against unscrupulous elements within the society.

“In this jet age, if we allow an unbridled manipulation of the internet and the spread of falsehood, society will be at the mercy of these elements.

“If we leave this to continue the way it is spreading, to take root in Nigeria, at a certain point, we may find it difficult to come to terms with the damage that it will do to society, ” he said.

He urged the senators to support the bill to be passed into law, “at least to regulate one aspect of our lives that is negative.”

Sen. Elisha Abbo (PDP- Adamawa North) said that if fake news was not regulated, “it is a cancer waiting to consume all of us.

“Even conventional media that are regulated by government are suffering from falsehood. I am supporting this bill holistically. This bill is good and if we cannot regulate the spread of falsehood, it will consume all of us,” he said.

Opposing the bill, Sen. Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP- Enugu East) said that “In principle, I not only oppose the bill, I condemn it in its entirety.

“Section 39(1) of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of information and speech, there is a cybercrime act that deals with this issue and there are also laws that have to deal with false information; libel, slander.”

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan referred the bill to the Senate Committee in Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative action and report back to the Senate in four weeks.

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White House attacks military witness in Trump impeachment probe

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White House attacks military witness in Trump impeachment probe

Inside the hearing room, U.S. Republican lawmakers repeatedly thanked Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman for his military service on Tuesday before challenging his testimony about President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

But outside the ornate chamber in the House of Representatives, it was a different story, with the White House and its backers unleashing on social media a full-throated attack on the uniformed officer’s credibility and loyalty, reports Reuters.

Vindman, a decorated Iraq war veteran serving as the White House National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, testified before lawmakers in an ongoing impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats.

His family left the Soviet Union for the United Stateswhen he was three years old. Vindman testified that Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate a domestic political rival was an improper demand.

“Lt. Col. Vindman was offered the position of Defense Minister for the Ukrainian Government THREE times!” Trump aide Dan Scavino wrote on Twitter.

While factually correct, Vindman told the lawmakers that as a loyal American, he would not consider such an offer. He called it “comical.”

Trump himself was dismissive when asked about Vindman on Tuesday. “I never saw the man, I understand now he wears his uniform when he goes in,” Trump said.

Vindman usually wears a suit, not his uniform, while working at the White House, one Republican lawmaker, Representative Chris Stewart, observed. It is standard practice for military officers to wear their uniforms when testifying on Capitol Hill.

Last month Trump described Vindman as a “Never Trumper,” using a term for Republicans who oppose Trump.

Republican lawmakers at the televised hearing appeared keen not to cross a line that would upset constituents with a background in military service.

“Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, I think all of us would agree that your father made the right move to come here, and we’re glad that he did,” Representative Will Hurd told Vindman in one of the warmer accolades from Intelligence Committee Republicans.

Tensions emerged, however. At one point Vindman instructed the senior committee Republican, Representative Devin Nunes, not to call him Mr. Vindman. “It’s Lieutenant Colonel Vindman please,” Vindman said.

Stewart asked: “Do you always insist on civilians calling you by your rank?”

“I just thought it was appropriate,” Vindman replied.

Representative Mark Meadows, a Republican ally of Trump’s, said critics can question Vindman’s judgment, but should respect his service to the country.

“Every person who serves needs to be applauded for their service. But it doesn’t mean their judgment is 100% above reproach,” Meadows said outside the hearing.

Others saw the attacks on Vindman differently.

“We have never questioned the patriotism of Republicans, but today’s vile attacks on Lt. Col. Vindman, for simply doing his duty as he saw fit, leaves us truly shaken,” Will Goodwin, the Director of Government Relations for VoteVets.org, wrote on Twitter.

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Dasuki’s lawyer counters DSS over custody claim

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Dasuki’s lawyer counters DSS over custody claim

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ounsel to the detained former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), Ahmed Raji (SAN) said that his client has never wished or prayed that he be kept in the detention camp of the Department of State Services (DSS) for whatever reason.

Raji stated this contrary to the position of the DSS that Dasuki and others in its custody preferred to be kept there than in prison custody.

He, however, stressed that Dasuki is bent on pursuing his release from DSS custody.

 

 

Dasuki has been in custody of the DSS since 2015 despite being granted bail by four different courts in the country, including the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He is standing trial on alleged diversion of funds meant for procurement of arms to fight insurgency and illegal possession of firearms.

 

 

Though he pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been granted bail, the Federal Government has refused to release him on bail even after meeting the attached bail conditions.

However, in a statement last week, spokesman of the department, Peter Afunanya told Nigerians that many of those in their custody, including Dasuki, have opted to remain in their custody, adding that they appealed to courts to be left in the custody of the Service and not the prison.

 

The reason, according to the agency, is the quality of the holding facilities provided by the DSS, all of which are purportedly good and within international standards.

 

But in a swift reaction, Raji said: “This statement, as alluring as it sounds, is a contradiction of the events that have taken place since 2015, when charges were first preferred against Col. Dasuki.”

 

Raji, whose position was contained in a statement, queried why an individual will choose to remain in custody, contrary to his constitutional and internationally enshrined fundamental human rights, and still continuously, challenge his unlawful detention at both national and international fora?

“It is, therefore, most incorrect and inaccurate to claim that Col. Dasuki prayed the Court to be kept in DSS facility.

 

 

“This is far from the truth. Perhaps, there is no synergy between the counsel appearing for the government in Dasuki matters and the DSS hierarchy.

“Consequently, we appeal to all authorities and principally – DSS, to comply with the various extant orders of the court, by immediately releasing Col. Dasuki (rtd).

 

 

Raji gave account of how Dasuki was arraigned before the various courts and consequently granted bail on all occasions.

“On 3rd November 2015, the Federal High Court – Abuja, after admitting Col. Dasuki (rtd.) to bail on self-recognizance, granted him leave to travel abroad for a three-week medical consultation, on account of failing health.

“As expected of an individual seeking to enjoy the bail terms granted by the court and the constitutionally protected presumption of innocence in his favour, Col. Dasuki (rtd.) attempted to seek the necessary medical attention, but DSS officers laid siege to his house in Asokoro, in brazen defiance of the order of court; and thereby deliberately disallowed him from accomplishing the terms of the order.

 

 

“The Federal Government, while confirming the continued detention of Col. Dasuki, explained that such actions were due to the severity of the alleged offences…

“Bail was subsequently granted on the charges on December 21, 2015 and December 18, 2015, terms of which were duly complied with.

 

 

“Consequently, he was released by the Kuje Prison authorities where he was remanded, but on stepping out of the gate of the prison, he was seized by the men of DSS and he has been kept by them since.”

Raji stressed that since the re-arrest of Col. Dasuki in December 2015, no further investigation was carried out and no new charges were preferred against him.

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Convicted fraudster pulls $1m scam from Kirikiri Prison

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Convicted fraudster pulls $1m scam from Kirikiri Prison

EFCC probes how prisoner sleeps in hotels, attends social functions

 

 

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he Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused a convict of masterminding a mega scam to the tune of over $1 million from the Kirikiri Maximum Prison in Lagos.

 

According to the commission, the convict, one  Hope Olusegun Aroke, who is serving a 24-year jail term, was one of two Malaysia-based Nigerian undergraduate internet fraud suspects arrested in 2012 at the 1004 Housing Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos following a tip- off.

 

The EFCC, in a statement by its  spokesperson, Mr. Wilson Uwujarem, said Aroke, who is an indigene of Okene, Kogi State had claimed to be a student of  Computer Science at the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University, Malaysia.

 

 

The EFCC expressed worries that the convict was able to use a network of accomplices, some of whom it insisted, were targets of fraud and money laundering investigation.

 

 

“A convicted internet fraudster, Hope Olusegun Aroke, who is serving a 24-year jail term at the Kirikiri Maximum Prison in Lagos, is again the subject of investigation by the commission for being the alleged mastermind of a mega scam to the tune of over $1 million.

“He allegedly pulled the heist right from prison using a network of accomplices, some of them targets of fraud and money laundering investigation.

 

 

“The lid on his latest fraud exploits from the bowels of the Maximum Correctional Centre was blown following intelligence received by the EFCC.

 

 

“The immediate riddle that confronted the EFCC was how it was possible for the convict to continue to ply his ignoble trade of Internet fraud from prison,” Uwujarem said.

 

 

According to the anti-graft agency, “Preliminary investigation revealed that the convict, against established standard practice, had access to Internet and mobile phone in the Correctional Centre where he is supposed to be serving his jail term.

 

 

“Even more puzzling was the finding that Aroke got himself admitted to the Nigeria Police Hospital, Falomo, Lagos for an undisclosed ailment. And from the hospital, he would move out to lodge in hotels, meet with his wife and two children and attend other social functions.

 

 

“The circumstance of his admission into the hospital and those who aided his movement from the hospital to hotels and other social engagements is already being investigated by the EFCC.”

 

 

The commission further stated that the suspect, while serving a jail term, used a fictitious name, Akinwunmi Sorinmade, to open two accounts with two banks. He also bought a property at Fountain Spring Estate, Lekki Lagos in 2018 for N22 million and a Lexus RX 350 2018 model registered in his wife’s name, Maria Jennifer Aroke.

 

 

“The convict was also in possession of his wife’s bank account token in prison, which he used to freely transfer funds.

 

 

“Further investigation revealed that, while his trial was ongoing in 2015, Aroke bought a four bedroom duplex at Plot 12, Deji Fadoju Street, Megamounds Estate Lekki County Homes, Lekki for N48 million.”

 

 

EFCC further disclosed that the commission’s investigation revealed that he was the leader of an intricate web of Internet fraud scheme that traversed two continents.

 

 

“When Aroke was arrested, a search conducted by EFCC operatives on his apartment led to the recovery of several items such as laptops, iPad, travelling documents, cheque books, flash drives, Internet modem, and three exotic cars – a Mercedes Benz Jeep, One 4Matic Mercedes Benz Car and a Range Rover Sport SUV.

 

 

“He was eventually convicted by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos State High Court on two counts of obtaining money by false pretence, cheque cloning, wire transfer and forgery. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on each of the two counts,” Uwujarem said.

 

 

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PDP NWC splits over extension of Reps’ suspension

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PDP NWC splits over extension of Reps’ suspension

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embers of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have disagreed over the extension of the one-month suspension of seven of its members in the House of Representatives over the minority leadership of the parliament.

 

 

PDP had, in July this year, suspended Reps Ndudi Elumelu, Wole Oke, Lynda Ikpeazu, Anayo Edwin, Gideon Gwadi, Toby Okechukwu and Adekoya Abdul-Majid, for going against the decisions of the party by presenting themselves to the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as minority leaders.

 

 

The party had earlier chosen Kingsley Chinda as Minority Leader; Chukwuka Onyema, Deputy Minority Leader; Yakubu Barde, Minority Whip and Muraina Ajibola, Deputy Minority Whip.

 

 

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said the action of Elumelu and other suspended members bordered on “indiscipline, insubordination and disobedience of party directives contrary to Section 58 (1)(b)(c)(f)(h) of the PDP Constitution (as amended in 2017).”

 

 

He said the provision of the constitution gives the NWC the power “to discipline any member who says or does anything likely to bring the party into disrepute, hatred or contempt; disobeys or neglects to carry out lawful directives of the party or any organ or officer of the party; engages in anti-party activities; or engages in any conduct likely to cause disaffection among members of the party or is likely to disrupt the peaceful, lawful and efficient conduct of the business of the party.”

 

 

Ologbondiyan further disclosed that the suspended members had been referred to the party’s disciplinary committee headed by Chief Tom Ikimi.

The committee is yet to submit its report.

 

 

The Board of Trustees (BoT) also set up the Iyorchia Ayu Committee to intervene in the matter.

The committee submitted its report, which was deliberated upon by the board two months ago and forwarded to the NWC.

 

 

But in a recent advertorial, Ologbondiyan said the NWC has extended the suspension of Elumelu and others.

 

 

A party source, however, said this action has not gone down well with some members of NWC who argued that there is no such provision in the PDP constitution.

 

 

The source, who pleaded anonymity, said their argument was that before such extension could be effected, it must be based on the report of the disciplinary committee.

 

 

According to him, two members of NWC, in separate interviews, dissociated themselves and the NWC from the extension.

One of the members from South-West said he was not aware of the extension. “I do not remember any occasion where it was elongated.

“I am only aware that they were suspended only one month. After that, I am not aware of any further action.

 

 

“I am an integral part of NWC, but I am telling you that to the best of my knowledge, I am aware that they were suspended for one month and that was about six months ago,” he was quoted to have said, adding that the suspension ought to have elapsed after the first one month.

Another NWC member from South-East said the party’s constitution says recommendation of the disciplinary committee would be the basis for the next line of action.

 

 

“If you recommend that they will be expelled, they will be expelled. If they say suspend, you suspend them. If they say fine, you fine them. You do not just elongate, the constitution did not say elongate after the one month.

“And anybody who is saying that we elongated, you can ask the person where lies the report of the committee set up,” he advised.

 

 

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N1trn wasted on constituency projects in 10 years –Buhari

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N1trn wasted on constituency projects in 10 years –Buhari

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resident Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, disclosed that the Federal Government, in the last 10 years, spent a total of N1 trillion on constituency projects across the country without any impact on the lives and welfare of ordinary citizens.

This was as the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) gave insight into how politicians use empowerment and capacity building projects to steal public funds.

 

 

The President, who spoke at a National Summit on “Diminishing Corruption in the Public Service” in Abuja, lamented that corruption remains the major cause of many problems being faced by the country.

“It is a catalyst for poverty, insecurity, weak educational system, poor health facilities and services and many other ills of our society,” he stressed.

 

 

The event was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) in collaboration with the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF).

Buhari urged the National Assembly to fast-track the passage of the Special Crimes Court Bill and the judiciary to embrace and support the creation of Special Crimes Court.

 

 

He noted that the passage of the Bill was a specific priority of his administration’s Economic Recovery & Growth Plan 2017-2020.

“It is on record that in the past 10 years, N1 trillion has been appropriated for constituency projects, yet the impact of such huge spending on the lives and welfare of ordinary Nigerians can hardly be seen.

“The first phase report of tracking these projects by ICPC confirms our worst fears that people at the grassroots have not benefited in terms of commensurate huge sums appropriated for constituency projects since inception,” the President added.

Buhari commended the ICPC for successfully blocking over N9 billion from being diverted in 2019 personnel budget.

 

 

The commission had recently conducted System Studies and Review of many MDAs to evaluate systems and processes relating to transparency and accountability in personnel and capital spending during which the diversion of the amount was blocked.

According to the President, the fight against corruption is not only for government and anti-corruption agencies alone since there is need for all arms and tiers of government to develop and implement the anti-corruption measures.

 

 

He said: “I invite the legislative and judicial arms of government to embrace and support the creation of Special Crimes Court that Nigerians have been agitating for to handle corruption cases.”

While recalling his recent directive to all agencies of government to enroll into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the President directed ICPC to beam its searchlight on public institutions that are yet to comply.

He noted that the new directive on IPPIS was intended to halt the padding of personnel budgets and the diversion or misappropriation of capital budgets.

 

 

“I am aware that the commission recently conducted System Studies and Review of many MDAs to evaluate systems and processes relating to transparency and accountability in personnel and capital spending through which you successfully blocked over N9 billion from being diverted from 2019 personnel budget.

 

 

“That was a proactive prevention measure. I have directed that all agencies of government must get on the IPPIS in order to eliminate the padding of personnel budgets,” he said.

The President also used the occasion, which marked the launch of the Constituency Projects Transparency Group (CPTG) Report Phase One, to reiterate his appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to join in the fight against corruption.

Buhari further expressed delight that through the effort of ICPC, some contractors are returning to site to execute projects hitherto abandoned and that project sponsors are being held to account.

On asset recovery, the President reaffirmed that his administration will continue to support anti-corruption agencies to recover all ill-gotten wealth and prosecute offenders, adding that all fully recovered physical assets will be sold and the proceeds remitted to the treasury.

 

 

In his remarks, Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said empowerment and capacity building projects were very popular among the people, yet vulnerable to abuse and very difficult to track.

“We find that almost 50 per cent of budgetary allocations to zonal intervention projects go to these opaque activities. Empowerment items are sometimes stashed away by sponsors and not distributed till following budget cycle.

 

 

“In some cases, same items are re-budgeted and duplicated. The subsequent budget release is then diverted.

“These anomalies are why the effort of government in creating jobs is not showing because the money for empowerment and capacity building simply disappears,” he said.

 

 

According to him, the findings emerged from the ICPC’s constituency projects tracking exercise covering the period from 2015 to 2018.

The ICPC boss said it was also discovered that some lawmakers or project sponsors hid project sites from contractors in cases where the contracts were not awarded to their preferred companies.

“In other cases, constituency projects were sited on private property of sponsors without transferring title to the community,” he stated.

Owasanoye added that in yet other cases, some project sponsors directly converted procured items to private use.

 

 

“Community awareness is very low, thus communities distance themselves from projects designed for their benefit through public funds.

 

 

“Many community members believe that sponsors pay for projects from their personal funds   rather than from public treasury. Thus, they are beholden to the sponsor rather than claim their rights,” he said.

The ICPC chairman said based on the findings, the commission observed that N3.9 billion was provided for zonal intervention projects in 2019, but not tied to particular projects or sectors.

Also, the ICPC identified two agencies it alleged are mostly used to pad the budget.

 

 

They are the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

“We discovered that some agencies of government are favourites for embedding of constituency projects irrespective of their core mandate and capacity to deliver or supervise projects.

“The attraction appears to be either corrupt tendencies within such agencies or the inherent weaknesses within them.

“Most notorious in this regard are BCDA and SMEDAN,” he said.

 

 

According to him, it was discovered that MDAs duplicate contracts for projects using the same description, narrative, amount and location of award.

He said the aim was to ensure that either the amounts allocated for the projects remained within the approval threshold of the executing agency or allocations were diverted to sponsors of the projects.

Owasanoye said the Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIPS) from 2015-2018 enjoyed annual captive budgetary vote of N100 billion.

 

 

He said the CPTG initiative comprised representatives of the Budget Office, Accountant General, BPP, Auditor-General, members of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, representatives of the civil society and the media.

 

 

Owasanoye said: “By this initiative, we have tracked and seen to completion in the pilot phase 255 projects out of 424 projects in 12 states spread across the six geo-political zones.

 

 

“The total appropriation for the selected projects was N24.32 billion, out of which N22.27 billion was awarded in contracts. By monitoring the projects and enforcing completion, we saved government about N2 billion in recovery of diverted assets, such as equipment for schools, hospitals, farms, water or energy projects, marginal improvement from use or supply of substandard materials, recovery of money from over valuation, identification of vulnerabilities and preventive measure for future projects.

“We forced 34 contractors back to site in the selected states and a cumulative number of 200 contractors back to site across the country in states where we have not commenced enforcement activities.”

 

A highpoint of the event was President Buhari’s presentation of Integrity Award to Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Abubakar and Mrs. Josephine Ugwu of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Abubakar rejected $412,000 (N150 million) per container bribe offered to him by drug traffickers to import 40 containers laden with Tramadol.

 

Ugwu, a former cleaner at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos had, on different occasions, returned millions of naira found in the course of her duty, including the sum of $12 million forgotten in the toilet by an airport user.

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DSS: Sowore plotting violence from detention

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DSS: Sowore plotting violence from detention

…alleges threats to operatives

 

…insists on releasing activist to sureties

 

 

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he Department of State Services (DSS) has accused the convener of #RevolutionNow campaign, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, of allegedly inciting violence from detention.

 

This was as the DSS further alerted of threats to its operatives and personnel, in the face of the ongoing case of treasonable felony against Sowore.

 

Addressing journalists at the “Yellow House” yesterday in Abuja, the Service’s Public Relations Officer, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said Sowore was accorded the best courtesies in custody, including access to his phone, which it noted, he was using to incite violence.

“There is nothing that Sowore needs that we do not provide him. He has been using his phone and making contacts and even using it to mobilise people and call for violence and call for action against the Nigerian state, and call for destruction of the Nigerian entity.

 

“When you throw a stone in the market place, you sure would not know on whose head it would land. Sowore has family members in Nigeria who go to local markets, he has relatives. He has uncles and sisters. If you set a fire, of course, you may not know who will get the burns,” Afunanya said.

 

The DSS has, however, lamented that in the course of insisting on the right and proper procedures to be followed, its personnel had come under constant threats and harassment from unnamed persons.

According to Afunanya, “The DSS is a very responsible organisation and discharges its duties with utmost responsibility and accountability.

“We have standard operating procedures on the use of arms. So our staff couldn’t have used guns on any person.

 

“These people were not the kinds of persons that should have come forward. We have continued to receive various threats on our officers and personnel on how they would be mauled down on their streets, how they would be physically attacked.

“Sowore people, people who believed that they can harass security officer, intimidate them, sending messages to their phones and threatening that they would kill them and give them treatment they would live to regret.”

 

Meanwhile, the secret service has offered clarification on the continued detention of the publisher ofSahara Reporters, saying those that stood as sureties for his bail, had yet to come forward, for purposes of documentation.

The DSS insisted that, as a responsible security organisation, it will not release the activist to a “mob”, as it will be difficult to account for him, in the event that he got knocked down by a vehicle, shortly after release.

 

“It’s not out of place that we are insisting that administrative procedures are followed and adhered to in totality, in the discharge or execution of the court order.

“There are processes that have to be followed, and we have even expressed it to the court.

 

“And, internationally, this is not out of place. We are a security organisation operating in Nigeria… We have to insist on global best practices in execution of our mandate. And, in doing this, the administrative procedures, and every other nature or process we need to undertake, we need to do that, and we are doing it.

We will not fail to discharge our responsibilities at all times.

 

“The stand of the Director-General (Yusuf Bichi) and the stand of the Service is not ambiguous about respect for justice, for rule of law and for human rights.

 

“…If someone has stood in for Sowore, why wouldn’t the person also come and take him and document properly. Documentation is imperative in the discharge of security duty. We saw what happened in the case of Nnamdi Kanu. He was granted a bail of this nature. He went under and the social media and the public went accusing security agencies of undermining him. Some even said he was killed by the state. But it was not true that he was killed,” Afunanya noted.

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Fake policemen, soldiers snatched ballot boxes – IGP

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Fake policemen, soldiers snatched ballot boxes – IGP

I

nspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, confirmed that fake policemen and soldiers allegedly carried out the snatching of ballot boxes during the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

The IGP said the police authorities were aware of the plan by politicians to sew police uniforms for their supporters during the two polls.

 

 

Briefing State House Correspondents after a security meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Adamu said that all security personnel who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags” since those without the tags were on illegal duty.

 

 

Adamu said: “Before the elections, there were threats assessment of the two states and we realized that there was going to be violence in Kogi and Bayelsa states. This is so because during the campaigns, we saw how the opponents were fighting themselves.

“So, we prepared so much for that. During one of the stakeholders’ meeting, I went to Kogi with the chairman of INEC and I also went to Bayelsa. Even at the point of signing the peace accord in Kogi, there was problem by the parties. So we knew that it was not going to be easy and so we had to prepare heavily for the elections.

 

Responding to a question on allegation that police personnel aided the snatching of ballot boxes during the elections, Adamu said that the ‘policemen’ alleged to have disrupted the elections in some parts of the two states were “fake” and not the personnel officially deployed for election duties.

 

 

He said that all security personnel who worked during the elections were given “special identification tags”, adding that anyone without the tags was on illegal duty.

 

 

The IGP said: “During the elections, anybody you saw either in police uniform or military uniform that does not carry the tag that has been given for the election, that person is not genuine police officer or military officer or that he was not on official duty.

 

 

“We were told that some politicians were going to sow police and military uniforms, so we devised some other means of identifying those that were on election duty. We gave them tags.

 

 

“There was police helicopter that was hovering, it was on patrol and in the course of patrol you will see some incidence of maybe people fighting, people trying to snatch ballot boxes. Now, you need to intervene and in the course of intervention, of course, you can never use firearms because during elections, we don’t carry firearms.

 

 

“So that helicopter you saw was to patrol and scare those that will want to snatch ballot boxes. Of course, if you see helicopter hovering over your head you want to snatch ballot box or you have carried, definitely you will know you are being monitored and you will stop. So prevention was our focus with the helicopter.”

 

 

Reacting to questions on why the police allowed violence during the elections even with security reports, Adamu explained that: “You see, it depends on the way you choose to interpret. We did our assessment, we knew these things will happen, but what we needed to do was plan to prevent it, or if it happens, to arrest. That explains why the number of police we sent to those states was so massive.

“Now, when you get the information and you did your assessment and you did your plan, the bad guys are also planning, and the people we are dealing with here are politicians. So for us to be able to distinguish the bad from the good, one of the strategies was to create a situation that will enable us identify the good ones, genuine personnel.

 

 

“Then anyone without identification tag is a bad guy and then we pick him. They came out as they planned, but then, we made some arrests on the spot where we saw them, those that escaped through information and intelligence we also picked them.”

Adamu added that the Bayelsa governorship election was more peaceful than that of Kogi State.

According to him, nine persons were arrested in Bayelsa alone.

 

 

He said: “Well, if you look at the two elections, I think Bayelsa was more peaceful. From the beginning, when we were deploying our officers, we had issues in Nembe where some of our policemen were attacked by some hoodlums, two people were arrested and then in Kogi, nine people were arrested.”

 

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