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Just in: Suspected thugs attack Oba of Lagos, Obaseki, others



Just in: Suspected thugs attack Oba of Lagos, Obaseki, others

Suspected thugs on Saturday attacked the convoy of Governor Godwin Obaseki, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu and Chairman, Caverton Offshore Support Group, Mr. Aderemi Makanjuola.

According to reports, the incident happened while Obaseki, others were driving into the Iyamho residence of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole shortly after attending the first convocation ceremony of the Edo University, Iyamho.

Makanjuola was installed Chancellor of the institution at the ceremony. Police sources said they were invited for lunch by Oshiomhole but were attacked by the suspected thugs.

An eyewitness to the fracas said that the Oba of Lagos and the governor had gone to Comrade Oshiomhole’s house to honour the former governor’s invitation for lunch after the ceremony at the university.

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FG files fraud allegations in UK court in bid to overturn $9bn P&ID award



FG files fraud allegations in UK court in bid to overturn $9bn P&ID award

Lawyers for the Nigerian government on Friday filed “new and substantive” allegations of fraud with a British court in its ongoing fight against an arbitration award now worth more than $9 billion, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

The government has been fighting efforts by the firm, Process & Industrial Developments (P&ID), to enforce the award for a failed gas project, and now is also seeking to overturn the underlying award, the spokesman said.

As the window to appeal the arbitration award expired, one of the only ways to overturn the award itself is to prove fraud or corruption in the foundation of the contract, legal experts told Reuters.

“Nigeria’s new filings with the English Court is an act of desperation to try to undo the Court’s sound conclusion that P&ID’s $10 billion award is enforceable,” British Virgin Islands-based P&ID said, adding that the award is now worth $10 billion due to interest accrued.

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Kalu vows to appeal conviction for N7.1bn fraud



Kalu vows to appeal conviction for N7.1bn fraud

A former Abia State Governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has vowed to appeal his conviction by Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos for N7.1 billion fraud.

Kalu’s lawyer, Chief Charles Ewelunta, while speaking with journalists shortly after the judge delivered his verdict, said an appeal will soon be lodged.

“We are trying to get the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement to afford us the opportunity of studying it. Definitely, we will appeal the judgement,” Ewelunta said.

Delivering judgement in the 12-year-old case yesterday, Justice Idris held that the prosecution has proved its case against the defendants beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Idris said: “The case was conclusively investigated, as the prosecution conducted thorough investigations. No gaps were left unfilled; this is the acceptable practice.

“I hold the view that the prosecution has established its case against the defendants. It did not fall short of the standard required by law in money laundering offences.

“It is clear upon the facts before this court that the prosecution had this case conclusively investigated before opting to bring this charge against the defendants. In other words, the prosecution did an in-depth and conclusive investigation.

“In totality, I, sincerely, cannot find my way clear in finding these defendants not guilty of the offences charged.

“Having reviewed all that has been provided by the prosecution in terms of oral and documentary evidence; I am inclined to resolve the singular issue for determination in favour of the prosecution herein.”

The Judge had earlier discountenanced the oral evidence given by the former governor in his quest to prove his innocence of the allegations, saying it was not enough to exonerate him.

“The 1st defendant (Kalu) did not give his evidence from the box, but chose to make statement from the dock. I agreed that the defendant reserves the right to make statement from the dock.

“However, the question is whether any probative value should be attached to the statement? It is the duty of the court to attach probative value to the evidence before it.

“The unsworn statement of the 1st defendant cannot be given any probative value. It is certainly not enough for the 1st defendant to give an oral evidence from the dock to counter the prosecution’s claims.

“The court cannot give the same probative value to oral evidence as the one made in the witness box through which the defendant was cross-examined,” Justice Idris held.

Subsequently, Kalu was convicted by the judge on 28 out of the 39 counts that made up the charge.

On each of counts 1-11 and 39, he was sentenced to five years in prison. On each of counts 23-33, he was sentenced to three years; and on each of counts 34-38, he was sentenced to 12 years. The sentences were, however, to run concurrently.

The second defendant, Udeh Jones Udeogu, was also found guilty on 11 out of the 16 counts in which his name featured.

On each of counts 23-25 and 27-32, Udeogu was sentenced to three years in prison; on each of counts 34-38, he was sentenced to 10 years; while on count 39, he was sentenced to four years. The sentences were also to run concurrently.

In respect of the 3rd defendant, Slok Nigeria Limited, Justice Idris ordered its winding up.

“An order is hereby made that the third convict shall, without further assurances but from this order, be wound up and all the assets and property forfeited to the Federal Government,” he said.

It will be recalled that ex-Governor Jolly Nyame of Taraba was convicted by a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to serve a jail term of 14 years for diverting N1.64 billion.

Also, ex-Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau was also convicted to serve a jail term of 14 years for misappropriating N1.16 billion ecological funds while he governed the state from 1999-2007.

A former governor of Adamawa State, James Bala Ngilari, was sentenced to five years’ jail term without an option of fine for defrauding his state of N167 million.

Former Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for laundering N25 billion, but he got a plea bargain that made him to pay fine of N3.5 million.

Ex-Governor James Ibori of Delta was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment by a London court for laundering $250 million.

The late Governor DSP Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa got two years’ jail term based on a plea bargain after he was found guilty of money laundering.

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Senate passes N10.59trn 2020 budget



Senate passes N10.59trn 2020 budget

…returns budget cycle to January-December


The Senate, yesterday, passed N10.594 trillion 2020 budget, which is N264 billion higher than the N10.33 trillion presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on October 8, 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Senate passed the Appropriation Bill following the consideration and adoption of the report of its Committee on Appropriations, laid before the Chamber on Wednesday.

The Senate, by this action, broke the record of passing the country’s annual budget in less than two months of its presentation by the President, being the first of its kind since the nation’s return to civil rule in 1999.

While presenting the report for approval, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Barau Jibrin, explained that the increase of N264 billion was made for interventions in critical areas such as national security, road infrastructure, mines and steel development, and health among others.

Based on the recommendations of the Committee, the Senate approved N10,594,362,364,830 as total budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

The breakdown shows that N560,470,827,235 is for statutory transfers, N2,725,498,930,000 for Debt Service; N4,842,974,600,640 for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure; and N2,465,418,006,955 for Contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on December 31, 2020.

The apex legislative chamber further approved a fiscal deficit of N2.2 trillion and Deficit/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 1.52 per cent for the 2020 financial year.

Senator Jibrin also noted that the daily oil production stood at 2.18 million barrels per day while the oil benchmark was increased from $55 proposed by the Executive to $57 per barrel, and that the exchange rate remained N305 per dollar.

The Red Chamber also approved Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and inflation rate of 2.93 per cent and 10.81 per cent respectively as recommended by the Appropriations Committee.

The expeditious passage of the money bill was the outcome of the resolve of the National Assembly to return the country’s budget cycle to January – December, for effective implementation.

According to the passed Bill, Capital Expenditure for Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) for the 2020 fiscal year are: Ministry of Defence N116,181,290,730; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, N7,608,141,474; Ministry of Information and Culture, N7,555,803,233; Ministry of Interior, N34,035,825,302; Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, N1,722,796,040;Ministry of Police Affairs, N15,959,986,864; Ministry of Communication Technology, N5,919,002,554; and Office of the National Security Adviser, N27,418,469,323.

Others are: Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, N25,188,940,930; Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, N2,158,620,395; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N124,395,096,917; Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, N4,976,199,925; Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, N38,583,331,761; Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, N24,445,756,678; Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, N62,882,531,566; Federal Ministry of Transport, N121,366,932,571; and Federal Ministry of Aviation, N52,061,533,122.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Power has an allocation of N129,082,499,363; Ministry of Petroleum Resources, N3,337,444,887; Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, N10,431,563,177; Ministry of Works and Housing, N315,563,564,269; Ministry of Water Resources, N91,679,927,042; Ministry of Justice, N3,853,600,220; Federal Capital Territory Administration, N62,407,154,360; and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, N23,120,350,399.

Others include: Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, N3,735,486,210; Military of Women Affairs, N6,650,300,966; Federal Ministry of Education, N84,728,529,572; Ministry of Health, N59,909,430,837; Federal Ministry of Environment, N12,350,140,731; and Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, N61,085,146,003.

In his comment on the budget, Senator Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said that the executive arm would have no reason not to implement the 2020 budget in full since the bill was passed expeditiously by the National Assembly.

In his remarks after the passage of the budget, Senate President Lawan noted that one of the issues resolved in the legislative agenda of the Ninth Senate, was return the budget cycle to January to December.

He expressed satisfaction that the Senate was able to achieve that objective, commending his colleagues for their cooperation in ensuring the accomplishment of the set goal.

He said: “When we came in, all of us approved our legislative agenda, and one of the key pillars of this agenda is to take back our budget cycle from the very undesirable cycle that cannot be defined to something that can be defined and bought into by our country and business partners living in and outside the country.

“Today, we have been able to achieve this. It means where there is will, there is always a way. This is something that we have been able to achieve together with the House of Representatives.

“I must give members of the Ninth National Assembly the credit, because we thought it was going to be impossible.”

Lawan also expressed optimism that, with the recent passage of landmark legislations such as the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) Act, Finance Bills and Public Procurement Bills by the National Assembly, the Executive arm of government had been sufficiently empowered to ensure the successful implementation of the 2020 budget.

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Senators, Reps increase own budget by N3bn



Senators, Reps increase own budget by N3bn

The House of Representatives, yesterday, raised the National Assembly budget by N3 billion, increasing it from N125 billion to N128 billion.

This is the earliest budget to pass by the National Assembly since 1999.

The 2020 budget was presented to the National Assembly on October 8, 2019 and passed on December 5, 2019. It took one month and 27 days to be passed.

In the 2017, 2018 and 2019, the National Assembly budget was kept at N125 billion from the N150 billion, which had existed for years.

Explaining the reasons for the increase in the budget, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on media and public affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu (APC, Abia) said with the increment, “it is now clear that we are not a rubber stamp legislature as many people thought.”

Briefing House correspondents, Kalu said: “You wouldn’t expect the budget to come and go the way it came. I am sure what the president presented had a, b, and c; but what is going out may have d, e and f,” adding that “the addition was to cater for critical areas of the economy.”

He said: “Beginning from now, Nigerians will believe that the 9th Assembly is walking the talk. The 9th Assembly has broken the jinx and it is not for self-glorification, but it is targeted at meeting national goals.”

The lawmaker noted that the “ball is now in the court of the executive to do the needful.

Kalu promised that in line with the amendment of section 56 of the 1999 constitution, which provides that bills passed by the National Assembly should be transmitted not later than seven days from the time of passage, the appropriation bill will be sent to the president in a few days.

The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives after clause by clause consideration of the report of the appropriation committee at the committee of supply chaired by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila.

Chairman of the appropriation committee, Hon. Muktar Betera (APC, Borno), while presenting the report, stated that the National Assembly of Nigeria has authorized the issue and appropriation of N10,594,362,364,830 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for 2020.

He said the 2020 Appropriation Act authorised: “The Accountant-General of the Federation shall, when authorized to do so by warrants signed by the minister charged with responsibility for finance, pay out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation during the year ending on the 31st day of December 2020, the sums specified by the warrants, not exceeding in the aggregate N10,594,362,364,830 only.”

The N10.59 trillion budget has total recurrent expenditure (non-debt) of N4.84 trillion, total capital expenditure of N2.46 trillion and N560.470 billion for statutory transfers as well debt service allocation of N2.72 trillion.

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DSS frees Sowore, pays N100,000 fine as women protest nude



DSS frees Sowore, pays N100,000 fine as women protest nude

The Department of State Services (DSS) has released the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and his co-accused, Olawale Bakare, after spending 124 days in their custody.

Sowore and Bakare were let off the hook of the DSS at 7:15p.m. yesterday.

They were released to their lead counsel, Femi Falana (SAN).

Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, was arrested alongside an activist, Bakare on August 3, for alleged treasonable felony, among other related charges.

Confirming Sowore’s release last night, spokesperson for the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “Yes, Sowore has been released.”

Asked if the sum of N100,000 was paid as fine, he said: “Yes, we paid the N100,000.”

They were released after Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, gave the DSS 24 hours to release the activists.

Justice Ojukwu had expressed displeasure over the act of the security agency.

Sowore and his co-defendant are facing a seven-count charge bordering on conspiracy to commit treasonable felony in breach of Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act, money laundering and cybercrimes, amongst others.

They pleaded not guilty to the charge and were granted bail on October 4, in the sum of N100 million and N50 million respectively with two sureties in like sum.

For Sowore, one of the sureties, according to the judge, must deposit the sum of N50 million cash as security for the bail.

However, the court had, two weeks later, varied the bail conditions following a request to that effect.

Justice Ojukwu had signed the release of the bail of the defendants after they met the bail conditions.

But the DSS had refused to release the defendants even after evidence that they have met the conditions attached to the bail.

However, at the resumed hearing yesterday, Justice Ojukwu was infuriated that her order on the release of the defendants was yet to be obeyed.

Counsel to the defendants, Falana, had complained to the court that its order as regards release of documents and the defendants who have been granted bail and have met the attached conditions has not been complied with by the prosecution.

Falana, who told Justice Ojukwu that one month after the court ordered service of documents to be tendered on the defence, the prosecution only served the defence the documents yesterday and hence would be needing time to study the documents as well as watch the attached videos with the defendants.

He also prayed the court to direct the prosecution to serve the full statements of all listed witnesses instead of a summary statement to aid their defence.

The defendants’ counsel further told the court that he was having difficulty gaining access to his client who is still in custody of the prosecution despite meeting his bail conditions.

At this instant, Justice Ojukwu called on the prosecution counsel to explain why Sowore and Bakare were still in their custody.

Responding, prosecution counsel, Hassan Liman (SAN), admitted that the order was served on the prosecution, but the defendants were yet to be released because the DSS had asked their sureties to come for identification.

Interjecting, Justice Ojukwu asked the prosecution counsel whether that request was part of the court’s order.

“Is that part of the order? Is there a parallel court here, who is directing that? Is there another court elsewhere?” the court queried.

Justice Ojukwu expressed pain that the DSS could flout her orders even after she took time to ensure that the bail conditions were met.

In a short ruling, the judge ordered that the defendants be released within the next 24 hours and adjourned to Friday, December 6 for report of compliance.

On the request for adjournment by Sowore’s counsel for time to study the documents and videos tendered as evidence against Sowore, Justice Ojukwu held that because the adjournment was created by the prosecution, she was inclined to award cost against the prosecution.

She recalled that while adjourning the matter in November, she had ordered that the prosecution serves all necessary documents it intends to tender on the defence before the commencement of trial yesterday.

“Since the last time, you did not deem it necessary to serve,” she said while refusing Liman’s claim that the late service was due to administrative bottleneck.

Justice Ojukwu subsequently awarded a cost of N100,000 against the prosecution, adding that trial would only go on upon payment of the N100,000 fine.

Meanwhile, there was a protest by some old women numbering up to about 50.

The women, who protested nude, came with different inscriptions, such as “Free Sowore”, “Enough of injustice”, among others.

There were also chanting different songs in their local dialect. 

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Fowler: Digital space key to revenue generation



Fowler: Digital space key to revenue generation

Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has described digital space as the new gold in revenue generation. Fowler said this yesterday in his opening remarks at the third Annual Nigeria Tax Research Network Conference holding at the FIRS Training School in Durumi, Abuja.

The conference is themed: “Revenue Challenges Online and Offline: Bridging the Digital divide in an Analogue Economy.” According to the FIRS boss, it is important that the service improves its capacity in the taxation of economic activities within the digital space.

Towards this, Fowler said the FIRS had deployed electronic tax services (e-services) to ensure the automation of tax processes for the purpose of improving transparency as well as easing speed of tax administration for both taxpayers and administrators. “The volume of economic activities associated with businesses like Uber, Amazon and our own Jumia and Interswitch is further confirmation of the aptness of the theme. “To put it in clear terms, the digital space is new ‘gold’ in terms of revenue generation, and tax administration must be alive to this fact.

“It is with this in mind that FIRS has designed and deployed electronic tax services (e-services) to ensure the automation of tax processes for the purpose of the improvement of transparency, ease and speed of tax administration for both taxpayers and tax administrators.

“These e-services have in no small way contributed to the successes recorded in the last two years amidst an economy characterised by the effect and aftermath of recession,” Fowler said. According to him, the e-services, are e-Registration for registration of new taxpayers; e-Stamp duty for payment of stamp duties on qualifying documents; e-TaxPayment for payment of all taxes of the Federal Government using Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), Remita or Interswitch; e-Receipt for receiving and verifying e-receipts generated for taxes paid through the new e-TaxPayment. Others are e-Filing, which enables taxpayers file their tax returns through Integrated Tax Administration System (ITAS); and e-TCC platform, which enables taxpayers apply for, receive and verify authenticity of their electronic tax clearance certificates (e-TCC).

Fowler stated that the conference was an opportunity for tax administrators to brainstorm on new ideas to broaden the tax net as well as strategise on optimal service delivery. The conference, according to him, is also for the discussion of current ideas, new trends and future prospects of revenue collection. “This conference, like others before it, presents us with an opportunity to brainstorm and articulate initiatives for the broadening of the tax net and strategies geared towards ensuring optimised service delivery.

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Buhari, APC govs meet in Aso Rock, keep mum



Buhari, APC govs meet in Aso Rock, keep mum

Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting it was gathered was not unconnected with the crisis in the party over the protest against the current national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

The meeting was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Although no official reason was given for the meeting, there have been speculations that some governors elected on the APC platform are no longer comfortable with the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and are seeking to remove him.

The meeting in Aso Rock started at about 3p.m. and lasted over two hours.

The governors who attended the meeting were: Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Babagana Zulum (Borno), Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe), Badaru Abubakar (Jigawa), Abubakar Sani Bello (Niger), Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Abdullahi Sule (Nasarawa), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) Nasiru El-Rufai (Kaduna), Gbenga Oyetola (Osun), and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun).

They, however, declined to speak to newsmen at the end of the meeting as one by one, they filed out of the Council Chambers accompanied by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.

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Mixed reactions trail senator’s sentence



Mixed reactions trail senator’s sentence

Mixed reactions from two political party chieftains in Abia State greeted yesterday’s judgement of a Lagos High Court, which sentenced the Senate Chief Whip and former Abia governor, Orji Kalu, to 12 years in prison over alleged fraud.

The chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Chief Donatus Nwankpa, said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was disappointed and angry with the judgement.

Nwankpa, who was a member of the Abia House of Assembly when Kalu was governor, said that the judgement was not fair.

“The party will meet to take a position on the judgement. But as an individual, I am very saddened by the judgement.

“I am not convinced that judgement was given,” he said, adding that the court’s verdict sustained his doubts about the integrity and objectivity of the nation’s judiciary.

Nwankpa said that he never had the confidence that Kalu would get judgement, “considering the utterances of the judge.”

“I’m highly convinced that something went wrong. The judgement is not fair,” he said.

Conversely, the Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council in Abia, Mr. Ceekay Igara, described the judgement as “good precedence.”

According to him, “If Kalu was found wanting as governor of the state, he should face judgement.

“It is a normal thing and goes to prove that nobody is above the law.”

Igara, who is the state Chairman of the Labour Party, said that the judgement was supposed to teach two lessons.

He said: “The first lesson for those who are in government and second for others who intend to take over is that whatever they do, there is always a judgement day.”

Mr. Maduka Okoro, the South-East Media Aide to Kalu, told NAN that the former governor would appeal the judgement “to allow other judges and a higher court take another look at the case.”

Okoro said that Kalu was not bothered by the judgement but considered it as one of the travails that every leader must experience “before becoming what God wants him to be.”

He expressed optimism that the judgement would be reversed by a higher court, adding that Kalu would be acquitted at last.

He said that as governor, Kalu administered Abia transparently and never defrauded the state.

Kalu was Abia governor from 1999 to 2007 and won election to the Senate in the 2019 election, after three attempts.

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Erectile dysfunction increases risk of heart health



Erectile dysfunction increases risk of heart health

Scientists in the United States (U.S.) have said that men with erectile dysfunction (ED) are more likely to be diagnosed with irregular heartbeat, which is also called atrial fibrillation or a-fib.

They presented the preliminary findings of their new study at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Session in Dallas, Texas, last week.

Atrial fibrillation, or a-fib, is an irregular or quivering heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

A Cardiologist and Postdoctoral Researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago, Dr. Yoshihiro Tanaka said: “It is well known that ED symptoms appear two to three years before we see cardiovascular disease; so, if we can use ED symptoms as a marker for predicting future AFib, we may be able to treat the patient early and hopefully stop the disease’s progression.

“If patients have ED, physicians should investigate other cardiovascular risk factors and initiate treatment as soon as possible,” Tanaka told participants at the AHA conference.

ED is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough to have sexual intercourse. It is also sometimes referred to as impotence. Occasional ED is not uncommon. Many men experience it during times of stress. However, frequent ED can be a sign of health problems that need treatment.

Previous studies had shown a link between cardiovascular disease and ED.

Subsequently, the new study wanted to find out how AFib fits into the picture, said Dr. Yoshihiro Tanaka.

The new study included 1,760 older men without a history of AFib. After four years, 9.6 per cent of men who reported having erectile dysfunction were diagnosed with AFib compared with 2.9 per cent of men without the condition.

“Even after adjusting for various risk factors, including smoking, weight, diabetes and blood pressure, men with erectile dysfunction were 66 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with AFib,”the NewsmaxHealth’reported.

Based on the outcome, Tanaka said: “That’s a reasonably strong association.”

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MDAs commit N26.6bn expenditure, payment infractions – AGF



Ministries, Department and Agencies of government (MDAs) committed 140 infractions in expenditure and payment transactions totalling N26.6 billion in 2017, according to the audit report of the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF).

The infractions were spotted by team of auditors that reviewed payments and expenditure in MDAs. The payments contravened standing regulations and policies of the Federal Government.

The report revealed that the sum of N8,608,588,928.68 was expended in 25 infractions without presenting payment vouchers to justify the payments made in the transactions, an action that contravenes provisions of FR 601, which states “all payment entries in the cash book/accounts shall be vouched for on one of the prescribed treasury forms.”

Similarly, 10 MDAs embarked on international travels and trainings without requisite approval from the appropriate authorities as specified in Extant Circulars, thereby expending the sum of N2,660,420,450.05 on international travels despite strict restriction placed on it.

The report added that the sum of N2,789,475,927.84 was expended without providing supporting documents to the Payment Vouchers in 22 infractions in the MDAs.

It observed that the gross violation of extant regulations may lead to misappropriation and misappropriation of funds.

To curb the trend, it recommended that Minister of Finance should ensure that all MDAs are fully on the GIFMIS platform and that no payment is made without passing through the platform.

It advocated cancellation of use of manual payment vouchers and recommended appropriate sanctions be applied to all involved in instances of payments being made without the expected supporting documents and/or approvals.

The report also uncovered irregularities in contract award, execution and payment in 51 transactions, across several MDAs to a tune of N28.5 billion in 2017.

“We assessed the compliance of MDAs with Section 19 (a-j) of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2007 and other extant rules and regulations in relation to public procurement. We discovered 51 transactions, across several MDAs, that did not comply with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” it added.

In the course of reviewing MDAs Accountant, AGF said there was significant weaknesses in controls over financial reporting and consolidation, and limitations on the responsibilities of the Accountant General of the Federation.

The report said: “We reviewed the accounts consolidation process and the statement of responsibilities, the accounting policies and notes to the financial statements, and the following were observed:

“The Accountant-General, as an entity, does not take responsibility for the integrity and objectivity of the financial transactions reported within the financial statements.

“The position of the Accountant-General is that the responsibility for the integrity of the transactions reported within the financial records and trial balance extracted from GIFMIS rests with the relevant MDA.

“However, the MDAs submitted un-audited trial balances for consolidation. Majority of the MDAs failed to prepare stand-alone financial statements for audit.

“The Accountant-General is also not able to assert that all transactions are accurate, that all the stated assets and liabilities exist, and that beneficial ownership of the assets belongs to the MDAs.”

The report identified at least 35 MDAs with balances disclosed within the notes to the accounts in respect of overhead expenditure for the year ended 31st December, 2016 which it said were not captured in the same note for 2017.

The risk involved includes material misstatement in the financial statement.

To rectify the flaws, it recommended to Accountant-General to clarify in writing to all MDAs that the financial records presented by the MDAs for consolidation must be audited by the statutory external auditors before submission, as each Accounting Officer is responsible for the integrity and validity of the transactions of their respective entities.

“All audited financial statements and trial balances are to be submitted before the cut-off date,” it added.

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