The Federal Government said it has so far secured over N200 billion asset forfeiture from corrupt Nigerians in its war against corruption.
It also disclosed that 890 convictions have been secured from cases prosecuted between January and October 2019.
These were highlights from the town hall meeting on fight against corruption organised yesterday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The meeting was attended by Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu and his Independent Corrupt Practice and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) counterpart, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye.
Malami, who was represented by Special Adviser to the President on Financial Crimes, Abiodun Ayodeji, said that there were other recoveries that were still in the interim.
“The money we have earned for the Federal Government in the process of the anti-corruption war is in the excess of N200 billion.
“Notable among the recoveries is the $325 million Abacha loot and $75 million connected to the Malabu oil transaction,” he said.
He described the recovery as significant considering the effects of corruption on the country.
The minister regretted that the bulk of over $650 billion Nigeria earned from oil in revenue was either stolen or mismanaged, adding that NEITI recently said that in the last 10 years, $40 billion was stolen due to oil theft alone.
“These have left us with infrastructure that is grossly inadequate to support modern economy.
“It is, therefore, so real that if we do not kill corruption, the menace will kill us, hence the administration is focusing on war against corruption,” Malami said.
He attributed the successes recorded to the implementation of the Nigeria Anti-Corruption Strategy, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in July 2017.
According to him, the strategy has given components – Prevention of Corruption, Enforcement of Sanction, Public Enlightenment, Campaign for Ethical Reorientation and Recovery of Stolen Fund.
This, he added, was achieved by deliberate implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, (IPPIS) the BVN policy and Treasury Single Account, adding that government was able to enforce sanctions against politically exposed persons which were, hitherto, untouchable.
The EFCC Chairman said the conviction was the highest by any anti-corruption agency in the world.
He gave previous breakdown to include 103 convictions in 2015, while that of 2016 was 189.
The EFCC, Magu stated, recorded 190 and 202 convictions in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
He attributed the increase in 2019 to the support and activities of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), as well as the opening of nine additional regional offices for wider outreach and collaboration with judges.
“In the last four years, with the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari, we have embarked on enforcement and preventive measures against corruption with a view to tame the monster.
“With the preventive, enforcement and prosecution mandate given to the commission, all that is needed is the combination of courage, integrity and determination.
“Over the last four years, the EFCC has initiated various corruption prevention strategies targeted at the vulnerable segment of the population, children, youths and women with the delivery of anti-corruption messages.
“The focus on corruption prevention is in the commission’s recognition that it is more cost effective to prevent corruption than to prosecute,” he said.
Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, said one of the successes of the war against corruption is that corrupt persons no longer flaunt their proceeds as was the case in the past.
He attributed it to strong political will of President Buhari’s administration.
He stated that under the present administration, corruption has been driven under the table.
“One may say that the war against corruption is still a war in progress. But it is also fair to say that corruption has now been driven under the table, and that the corrupt ones can no longer flaunt the proceeds of their corruption the way they used to do in the past.
“That is a major step forward. After all, every successful battle is a step towards winning a war,” Alhaji Mohammed stated.
He noted that other key programmes of the government which included revamping the economy and tackling insecurity, are intertwined with how well the nation is able to fight corruption.
According to him, “The fight against corruption is pivotal to the success of the other cardinal programmes of the administration.”
He warned that as long as the nation fails to check corruption and tackle insecurity, revamping the economy would remain a mirage.
The minister called on Nigerians to support the anti-corruption war so that it can achieve its objectives.
Enugu airport shutdown: Reps want FG to fix Owerri-Orlu-Ideato-Uga road
Following the renovation work going on at the Akanu Ibiam International airport, Enugu, the House of Representatives has urged the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to urgently undertake remedial work on the Owerri-Orlu-Idoato-Uga road.
The House gave the advice Thursday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Chigozie Pascal Obi (AA, Imo).
Presenting the motion, Hon. Obi noted that with the closure of the Enugu airport, there is a heavy traffic on the road, which links several local governments headquarters in Imo State expressing concern that this could constitute further hazards to communities and villages in Ideato federal constituency.
He said the Owerri-Orlu-Ideato-Uga federal road links the capital of IMO state through Uga to Awka, the capital of Anambra state.
Obi expressed worry that the stretches of the road from Orlu-Mgbee-Umuchima-Obioha-Urualla have collapsed, with devastating gullies, on both sides of the road.
He informed that: “The government of Imo State under the leadership of Senator Rocha’s Okorocha had executed projects and made appreciable efforts in this regard but the unintended over-flooding arising from the destructive climate change, destroyed some of the works to unimaginable proportions. “
Insecurity: We must develop capacity of our Force – CAS
…as Air Force decorates 47 senior officers
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has identified human capacity development as a potent tool needed to combat threats to internal security.
According to the CAS, personnel’s skill and commitment to duty, contribute in no small measure to the overall success of a fighting Force against adversaries
The Air Chief made the position Thursday at the NAF headquarters in Abuja during the decoration of 12 newly-promoted Air Vice Marshals (AVMs), and 35 Air Commodores.
In his remarks, Abubakar maintained that, for operational mistakes to be reduced, the heads of the services must be imbued with good leadership qualities.
He said it was on the basis of that, that the senior officers were found worthy of their respective promotions to the next ranks.
“These senior officers have worked hard to qualify for elevation to the enviable air rank hence we are gathered here to celebrate this diligence and to congratulate them on their promotion to higher ranks,” the CAS said.
Ogun APC to APM: Supreme Court judgement not for sale
The Ogun State branch of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a swipe at the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and its candidate at the March 9 governorship election in the state, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, on its plan to approach the Supreme Court, saying, “the judgement of the Supreme Court is not for sale”
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, had on Monday, November 11 dismissed the petition filed by the APC governorship candidate in Ogun State, against the victory of the incumbent Governor Dapo Abiodun, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In a unanimous decision, the Appeal court justices said the appeal “lacks merit and it is therefore struck out.”
However, in reaction to the appellate court ruling, the APM and its candidate told the media last weekend that they would be approaching the Supreme Court as the last port of call in gubernatorial election petition.
But in a swift reaction to the APM decision, the Publicity Secretary of APC in Ogun State, Tunde Oladunjoye in a statement issued on Thursday said the “APM and its candidates are serial losers who are merely”.
Report: US considers pulling up to 4,000 troops from S’Korea
The United States is considering a significant cut to its troop numbers in South Korea if Seoul does not contribute more to the cost of the deployment, South Korean newspaper ‘Chosun Ilbo’ reported on Thursday.
The US broke off talks on defence costs with South Korea this week after demanding Seoul raise its annual contribution to $5bn, more than five times what it pays now, in a rare public display of discord in the alliance.
Neither side has publicly confirmed the numbers, but US President Donald Trump has said the US military presence in and around South Korea was “$5 billion worth of protection”.
“I understand that the US is preparing to withdraw one brigade in case negotiations with South Korea do not go as well as President Trump wants,” a diplomatic source in Washington with knowledge of the negotiations was cited as saying by ‘Chosun Ilbo’.
A typical US military brigade numbers about 3,000 to 4,000 troops. There are about 28,500 American troops currently stationed in South Korea, which remains technically in a state of war with nuclear-armed neighbour North Korea following a 1950-1953 conflict, reports al-Jazeera.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was not aware of any plans to withdraw 4,000 troops from South Korea if cost-sharing talks failed.
“We’re not threatening allies over this. This is a negotiation,” he told reporters during a trip to Vietnam.
South Korea’s defence ministry said the Chosun report was “not the official position of the US government”.
Strains among allies
Under US law, the United States’s troop presence in South Korea must not fall below 22,000 unless the secretary of defence justifies a further reduction to Congress.
‘Chosun Ilbo’ said the potential reduction of a brigade had already been discussed with the top brass of US forces in South Korea.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said on Wednesday he believed the US should continue to station troops in South Korea when asked if he would continue to advocate for the presence of US military personnel in the country if he was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State.
“South Korea is among our most important alliance partners. That doesn’t mean anybody gets a free ride. We have a tough burden-sharing negotiation that we’re in the middle of with the South Koreans,” Biegun said.
South Korean political party leaders visited Washington, DC on Wednesday to press for a fair and reasonable outcome of the cost-sharing talks.
“I stressed that a withdrawal of US troops from South Korea should not be brought up, as the South Korea-US alliance also helps the US national interest,” said Na Kyung-won of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, which Seoul decided to terminate after relations soured over historical issues and has become the subject of increasing US pressure to renew, is set to expire on November 23.
South Korea’s presidential office is holding a National Security Council meeting on Thursday, where the agreement is expected to be discussed, South Korean media said.
Trump impeachment: Ukraine officials knew about hold on aid earlier than reported
A senior U.S. Department of Defense official testified on Wednesday that Ukrainian officials knew President Donald Trump’s administration was withholding military assistance in July, undercutting a key Republican defense of the president’s actions in the impeachment inquiry.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Laura Cooper testified at a hearing in the impeachment inquiry into Trump that has largely focused on the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid, reports Reuters.
She said Ukrainian officials had known in July about the holdup in the security aid, which was new information she had not had when she was interviewed behind closed doors on October 23.
Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25 from the State Department saying that Ukraine’s embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security assistance.
“On July 25 a member of my staff got a question from a Ukrainian Embassy contact asking what was going on with U.S. security assistance,” Cooper told the House Intelligence Committee at the impeachment hearing.
July 25 was the day of a telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the Republican U.S. president raised the issues of an investigation of Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the aid.
Cooper also said some of her staff had met with officials from the Ukrainian embassy during the week of August 6 and that they had raised the issue of the aid.
Defending Trump in the inquiry, some Republicans have sought to minimize the impact of the White House decision to withhold the military aid by saying Ukraine was only aware of the hold for two weeks before the hold was lifted on September 11.
In the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, investigators are looking into whether Trump withheld the aid in order to pressure Ukraine to launch the investigations.
Trump – backed up by most congressional Republicans – denies wrongdoing.
Cooper also said she had never discussed a hold on security assistance for Ukraine with Trump and never heard from him directly on the matter.
Trump hosted Zuckerberg for undisclosed dinner at White House
President Donald Trump hosted a previously undisclosed dinner with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook board member Peter Thiel at the White House in October, the company told NBC News on Wednesday.
The meeting took place during Zuckerberg’s most recent visit to Washington, where he testified before Congress about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency Libra. Zuckerberg also gave a speech at Georgetown University detailing his company’s commitment to free speech, and its resistance to calls for the company to crack down on misinformation in political ads.
Facebook confirmed the meeting to NBC News on Wednesday.
“As is normal for a CEO of a major U.S. company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the President and First Lady at the White House,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
It is unclear why the meeting was not made public or what Trump, Zuckerberg and Thiel discussed.
The White House declined to comment.
Reps: ICPC misled Buhari on N1trn constituency projects
- Senators to President: Ask ministers what happened to money
- Lawmakers: Poor releases liable for abandoned projects
- Gbajabiamila: Anti-graft agencies must do diligent probe
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.
President Buhari had, on Tuesday, at an event organised by office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in conjunction with the ICPC, declared that about N1 trillion was wasted in 10 years in constituency projects by the National Assembly members.
The President 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 yesterday’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.
According to Elumelu, “I saw in the newspapers, dated 20th November 2019, and one thing is very consistent and that is the comment credited to our amiable President saying that N1 trillion was made available in the last 10 years to the National Assembly for constituency projects and that there was no value for the money spent. Yes, in the last 10 years, N1 trillion was actually made available by way N100 billion annually for constituency projects.
“Truly, our constituents do not have value for such provisions. But one thing I am worried about is that words have meanings. My constituents called me to ask me to give account of the money that came to my constituency. I had so many calls and it was difficult for me to explain.
“My worry and why I am bringing this up is that, yes I got N100 million budgeted, but actual releases was not up to 50 per cent. In actual sense, even this year, we never got release more than 40 per cent. I can conveniently tell you that only about 30 per cent has been released.”
He submitted that: “Section four of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, says we should make budgets and if we pass budget in this House, the onus is now on the executive to implement and award contract. We don’t award contracts.
“I don’t know of any member who is a member of the tender’s board. In effect, the National Assembly has nothing to do with the execution of any contract. It is painful that the agency that generated that information failed to state that while it is true that N1 trillion was budgeted in the last 10 years, this money has not been released.
“I am not happy because the information is capable of giving me a bad name before my community. The ICPC that wrote this report failed to tell the truth of how much was actually released. When you say N1 trillion is budgeted like the President said, if that money was released completely, there will be value commensurate to the money.
“I wonder why the ICPC man failed to look at what was released. Why should ours be a subject of debate that they will tell Nigerians we received N1 trillion when it was budgeted, but not released. My message is that we should let them know that while N1 trillion was budgeted for constituency projects, by way of releases, we did not receive that because what was released was less that 40 per cent.”
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.
He said: “The issue is very important because words have meanings. In all the papers, they said N1 trillion wasted on constituency projects in 10 years. Of course, Mr. President would have been responding to information given to him. I am a student of public policy analysis. I understand that projects and policies of government go through interrogation.
“When you say N1 trillion is released, it presupposes that the equivalent value of that money should be on ground. There is also a presupposition that this money is given to members. Our responsibility is to make laws and pass budget and once that is done, it goes to the Executive and the execution is the responsibility of the executive.”
Okechukwu argued that “on the average, we have about 50 per cent of that money that has been released in the last 10 years. The reason why we have so many abandoned projects in our communities is because of lack of releases.
“You award contract and you pay 50 per cent. What happens to the remaining 50 per cent? How can you complete them? I know that in the last 10 years, this House has appropriated an average of N7 trillion and that presupposes that you spent N70 trillion.
“In the 2019 budget, about N220 billion was budgeted for roads and what was released was N45 billion. If you are expecting the value of N220 billion when you give N45 billion, I don’t know what you will see.”
In his response, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the matter affected the collective privileges of members of the whole House, and may yield a bad consequence.
According to the speaker, “I think it is a breach of our collective privilege as a House and not one person. My concern is the unintended consequences of words spoken. These are words emanating from a report by ICPC. There could be unintended consequences that could come out of it.
“You put people’s wellbeing at risk. I feel it is okay to use the National Assembly as the weeping boys. The fact is that there is the FOI bill. The ICPC could easily invoke their power of investigation and look at releases as compared to what was budgeted.
“The ICPC that made the report, I don’t think they will appreciate if the House, in discharge of its constitutional responsibilities, did an oversight on ICPC based on what was budgeted as opposed to what was released to them. When you break an egg, it is going to be difficult to put it together.
“I will use this medium to send this message across to ICPC and other agencies to do their work of investigation well. There is a difference between money budgeted and money released. It is as simple as ABC.”
The motion was consequently sustained and adopted.
FAAC: FG, states, LGs share N702.058bn as October revenue
The three tiers of government – federal, states and 774 local government councils – yesterday shared N702.058 billion as October revenue from the federation account.
The amount was confirmed last night by the Accountant General of Federation, Mallam Idris Ahmed who presided over Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) that held in Abuja.
The N702.058 billion comprised revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT), Exchange Gain and Gross Statutory Revenue.
The gross statutory revenue for the month of October 2019 was N596.041 billion. It was lower than the N599.701 billion received in the previous month by N3.660 billion. Revenue from VAT was N104.910 billion as against N92.874 billion distributed in the preceding month, resulting in an increase of N12.036 billion. Exchange Gain yielded a total revenue of N1.107 billion.
Of N702.058 billion shared, the Federal Government received N295.737 billion, the states received N192.697 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N144.987 billion.
The oil producing states received N49.164 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the revenue generating agencies received N19.472 billion as cost of revenue collection.
A breakdown of the distribution showed that from the gross statutory revenue of N596.041 billion, the Federal Government received N280.110 billion, the states received N142.076 billion, the local government councils received N109.534 billion, the oil producing states received N49.044 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the revenue collecting agencies received N15.276 billion as cost of collection.
From the VAT, the Federal Government received N15.107 billion, the states received N50.357 billion, the local government councils received N35.250 billion and the revenue generating agencies received N4.196 billion.
The balance in Excess Crude Account (ECA) stood at $324 million as of 20th November 2019.
FEC approves $500m UK loan for industrialisation
The Federal Government is set to receive a fresh loan of N500 million (about N200 billion) from the London Branch of the Credit Suisse AG.
A syndicate of international lenders will serve as collateral.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday approved the issuance of a Sovereign Guarantee for the loan facility to be utilized by the Bank of Industry (BOI) for industrialization projects and support Micro-Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) value chains in Nigeria.
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents after the FEC meeting.
The minister explained further that the main objective of the loan is to support industry; revitalize agro-industrial processing zones and to facilitate the creation of new jobs.
He said: “The loan is basically to finance major industrialization projects and micro-small and medium enterprises value chains in Nigeria for up to five years tenure at affordable rates; these rates are single digit rates. The guarantor of the loan shall be the Federal Republic of Nigeria and this is going to be executed through the Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning.
“The main objective of the loan is to support industry, revitalise agro-industrial processing zones, and to facilitate the creation of new jobs.
“We do believe that about 1.2 million jobs will be created through this facility; increase the income of farming communities and promote the inclusion of SMEs and small holder producers in the industrial value chain and the deployment of transportation infrastructure that connects farming communities to processors and market.”
According to the Budget Minister, “The loan will be swapped to naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to mitigate the foreign exchange risk and the fund will, therefore, be available to Nigerian enterprises at a more affordable rate and in local currency.”
FEC also, yesterday, approved what it described as a Justice Sector Policy for Nigeria.
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN) said the measure is part of efforts to improve reforms in the country’s judicial sector.
While explaining the council’s decision, the AGF said that the policy would ensure speedy administration of justice, quality administration and access to justice.
Malami said FEC also approved a memo seeking to amend the Geneva Convention and re-enact it to grant access to justice by prisoners of war (POW).
He said Nigeria was not at par with the rest of the world, particularly in the area of granting POWs certain rights and privileges.
In his remarks, the Minister of Power, Salleh Mamman, said council also approved a memo seeking for the ratification of President Buhari to release $2 million which is part of Nigeria’s contribution to the West African Power Pool.
Corruption: Senate reads riot act to CBN, FIRS, AMCON, 22 others
The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, yesterday, read the riot act to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and 22 other agencies of the Federal Government over their apparent refusal to give account regarding their income and expenditure operations from 2017 to 2019.
The committee expressed disappointment that every year, these agencies received huge sums of money as budgetary allocations, grants and donations, but have consistently evaded submitting their audited accounts for scrutiny at the end of each year.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Matthew Urhogide, who briefed newsmen on the situation, stated that the practice of expending public resources without accounting for them was at the root of the widespread corruption in the public sector and vowed that the committee was poised to put a stop to it.
Urhogide said that the extant laws require Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the government to submit their audited accounts to the Public Accounts Committee of the Senate at the end of every fiscal year, but this rule has been observed more in the breach.
He listed the other defaulting MDAs to include: Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCDA), Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Nigerian Investments Promotion Council (NIPC), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), National Space Research & Development Agency and Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute.
Others are Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Petroleum Equalization Fund (Management) Board, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigeria Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Industrial Training Fund, Nigerian Railway Corporation and National Primary Healthcare Development Agency.
Urhogide said that in order to ensure accountability and transparency in the management of public funds as well as guarantee economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources, the Senate Public Accounts Committee had earlier issued correspondences to these institutions of government seeking their responses to enable the committee carry out special oversight functions in line with Sections 85, 88 & 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Order 97(5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 as amended.
He disclosed that in the light of the fact that these agencies have refused to comply with the laws, they have been given the next seven days as the last opportunity to submit the audited accounts ahead of a public hearing on the matter.
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