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Subsidy removal: 2022 budget has no provision for N5000 transport grant – Senate

 

The Senate has said there is no provision for the proposed N5,000 transport grant to cushion the effect of subsidy removal in the 2022 budget.

 

Senate Committee Chairman on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan stated this after he defended his committee’s report before the Committee on Appropriations chaired by Senator Jibrin Barau on Wednesday in Abuja.

 

Olamilekan was asked to confirm following the earlier promise by the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who said the sum of N5,000 would be provided before the middle of 2022 to Nigerians as a transportation grant.

 

He further posited that the 2022 budget proposal contained fuel subsidy and not a transportation grant which amounts to N2.4 trillion.

 

Senator Olamilekan’s disclosure was contrary to the Minister’s submission weeks ago when she appeared before the Senate on Finance and said every citizen would be paid N5,000 as the Federal Government plans to remove fuel subsidy finally in 2022.

 

The lawmaker said: “I don’t want to go into details for now. I believe that if such a proposal is to come to pass, a document to that effect must be sent to National Assembly for us to see how possible it is and how do we identify the 40 million Nigerians that are going to benefit.

 

“There are still a lot of issues to be deliberated upon and looked into if eventually, this will come to pass. How do we raise this money to pay these 40 million Nigerians because I know that even the federal government revenues are from this so-called oil and other sources.”

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Your decision to increase cost of meters anti-people – Group knocks FG, NERC

A group, Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE), has condemned the Federal Government and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over a planned decision to increase the prices of meters.

It was gathered that NERC has approved the increment of the unit price of the meters from N44,896.17 to N58,661.69 for single-phase meter and N82,855.19 to N109,684.36 for three-phase meter.

CARE in its reaction said that it was wrong to announce such a decision when Nigerians were still experiencing an erratic supply of electricity.

The group, in a statement made available to newsmen  through its spokesman in Oyo State, Comrade Sunday Onakoya, described the decision as dubious.

Onakoya in the statement issued on Thursday explained that such a decision is a conspiracy between the NERC and distribution companies.

He maintained that the decision is aimed to satisfy profit interest at the expense of the poor, who are in the majority.

He further noted that such a decision will increase the economic hardship, which the majority of Nigerians are going through at this present time.

Onakoya said, “This decision is a dubious conspiracy between the NERC and DISCOs to satisfy profit interest at the expense of the Nigerian working people and the poor, and it will definitely increase the economic hardship which mass majority of Nigerians are going through at this present time.

“Given the desperate quest for profit which is the sole driven motive behind the existence of DISCOs and their activities, this new increment in the price of the meter under NMMR for instance will mean that the additional cost incurred by the DISCOs on every meter procured under this arrangement will be transferred to the consumers.

“The situation will definitely be the same if not worse under MAP where the electricity consumers will definitely spend a fortune to be able to procure meter at the newly increased price.

“It is in the light of this the CARE Oyo State rejects the NERC/FG decision to hike the price of meter with a conclusion that it’s an anti-people and unacceptable and therefore demands an immediate reversal. The argument seeking to liken meter to phone is fraudulent and unfounded. CARE rejects this as well as the related argument canvassing that the sale of meters should be liberalized.

“We reiterate our insistence that meter is the property of DISCOs and its free provision for adequate measurement of the accurate amount of energy consumed is the responsibility of DISCOs. Interestingly, this obligation of DISCO was acknowledged in the agreement it signed prior to its acquisition of PHCN in 2013.

“According to this agreement, all Nigerian Electricity consumers were promised to be freely metered by DISCOs within 18moths of the acquisition”.

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Arrest of Kanu, Igboho evidence of effective intelligence by DSS, DIA – CSOs

 

Some civil society groups have reacted to media reports credited to a coalition of NGOs questioning the efficiency of the intelligence gathering architecture in Nigeria.

 

The groups, Citizens Action for Better Nigeria, Arewa Youth Federation and Concerned Citizens of North-East Region, in a statement issued to newsmen in Abuja and signed by their leaders, Smart Edward, Adamu Matazu and Mallam Idris Muhammad, respectively wondered why anybody would cast aspersions on the capacity and professionalism of Nigeria’s intelligence architecture.

 

According to the groups, the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Sunday Ighoho, Yoruba agitator, is evidence of effective intelligence by the Department of State Security (DSS) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

 

“We are dismayed to note that certain unscrupulous elements whose stock in trade is peddling falsehood could question the role of the Department of State Security (DSS) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

 

“These are top-performing agencies that are at par with their sister agencies like the FBI, CIA and KGB. To say they’re not performing is treasonable,” the statement added.

 

Recalling the outstanding outings of both DSS and DIA in arresting the duo of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Sunday Ighoho, Yoruba agitator, the group is amazed that any well-meaning Nigerian will underplay these giant strides and seek rather blackmail officers and men who put their lives on the line for the service of their fatherland.

 

It said, “We make bold to say that the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB and Sunday Ighoho of Oduduwa Republic as well as other top arrest and clamp down on errant citizens bent on destabilizing the country is nothing but the pure work of professionals who infiltrate enemy lines to gather information as to its never done elsewhere.

 

“Nigerians haven’t forgotten the fact that the Southeastern part of Nigeria was a flashpoint of criminal activities. The Anambra election almost did not hold until the military and DSS stepped in, flushing the bad eggs and making the southeast safe. This is a job well done and worthy of commendation instead of criticisms.

 

“If intelligence gathering is enough, America would not have experienced the tragedy of 9/11, the IRA would’ve stopped bombing British towns and Israel would have been free from the attacks of Hamas and Hezbollah,” the statement added.

 

The groups urged Nigerians to support the security agencies with credible intelligence as security was everybody’s business.

 

It also called on the DSS and the DIA to discountenance what they described as ranting by enemies of the state whose only desire was to plot evil against Nigeria and her leaders.

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FG, National Assembly lack political will to restructure Nigeria – Jega

 

A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, has said there is a need for the country to embark on short-term restructuring before the general elections in 2023 to address some of the challenges facing it.

 

He, however, accused the National Assembly and the federal government of lacking the political will to restructure the country.

 

Jega stated this at the 2021 Public Lecture he delivered at the Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State, on Tuesday evening titled, “Towards stabilising the Nigeria federation.”

 

He blamed the National Assembly for pursuing constitutional amendment instead of prioritising restructuring and focusing on addressing the key challenges to power-sharing and resources distribution/allocation.

 

“This makes the process time-consuming, overly contentious and controversial, and susceptible to filibuster, and likely derailment of the entire undertaking.

 

He added, “…Leaving the very important business of restructuring until very close to the next general elections has its own challenges, given that Nigerian politicians tend to shy away from taking tough decisions in the national interest, especially on seemingly controversial issues, too close to general elections.”

 

The former INEC chair said it would be difficult to restructure Nigeria if inflamed passion and antagonistic positions are allowed to dominate national discourse.

 

“For all these, better management of ethnoreligious diversity on the basis of rule of law, justice, equity and equality of opportunity, is a necessary precondition. That is what a federal arrangement is meant to ensure, but it is not, if truth is to be told, what the current federal structure and practice of federalism in Nigeria provides,” he said.

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Media urged to contribute to Nigeria’s goal of eliminating malaria

Wubunna Ishaku Gofwen, the Taraba State programme officer of the Civil Society for Malaria, Control, Immunization and Nutrition (ACOMIN), has called on the media to help in contributing to Nigeria’s goal of eliminating malaria.

Making the appeal on Thursday during a media briefing on the Global Fund Malaria community-led monitoring project, in Jalingo, the state capital, he said the media can make this possible by mounting pressures on all government ministries and agencies to scale up community-centered initiatives in their programmes.

He added that the media can also assist in the fight against malaria by treading extra legitimate miles in encouraging donors to increase their support for community-centered initiatives.

Citing the 2020 World Malaria report that says Nigeria has the highest number of global malaria cases and accounted for the highest number of deaths, the media, he believed can help in addressing the situation.

Gofwen went ahead to enumerate the various initiatives so far deployed to fight malaria in the country, among which, according to him, includes the provision of free long-lasting insecticide-treated nets, deployment of volunteers to carry out interpersonal communication at the grassroots level among others, he noted that ” it is no longer news that Nigeria still has a long way to go to achieve control of this deadly disease. ”

Identifying increased difficulty in accessing hard-to-reach communities due to insecurity affecting many parts of the country, drug resistance by the malaria parasite among others as the challenges confronting malaria intervention, media, as suggested by him, should take the bull by the horns by advocating for more funding for the disease.

Stressing how the state government through the Primary Health Care Development Agency (TSPHCDA) has been supporting ACOMIN in its activities, the need for all hands to be on deck in order to reduce the prevalence of malaria in the state and the country at large, he said has become necessary.

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Nembe spillage: FG considers stricter sanctions for oil firms

 

The Federal Government has disclosed that it is considering stricter sanctions for companies involved in oil spillage in the Niger Delta.

 

The Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, who revealed this on Thursday at the weekly ministerial press briefing organised by the Presidential media team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also explained that her ministry is engaging other relevant government agencies to achieve this.

 

Ikeazor said that ministry of environment is working to amend the law establishing the National Oil Spillage Detection and Response Agency to build its capacity and give it “the needed teeth to bite.”

 

She added, “We need to put strong legal framework to stop the oil spills that is going on. The devastation in Niger Delta is massive — this is something we need to tackle headlong.

 

“We need to review the NOSDRA Act— National Oil Spills Detection And Response Agency. We need to put stiffer penalties in place to be able to have the teeth to bite. The government is working to create alternative livelihood for the communities to be able to move them away from illegal activities.”

 

She further explained that the operating company of the OML29 in Nembe, Bayelsa state, has blamed the most recent oil spillage in the country on sabotage by the locals.

 

The minister announced that the Santa Barbara spillage has been brought under control after weeks the incident occurred; with necessary personnel and equipment deployed to begin recovery and remediation efforts.

 

She, thereafter, stressed the need to put an end to artisanal refineries, which she said had continued to cause pollution in the Niger Delta.

 

The minister also lamented the high rate of deaths from smoke especially among women in the country.

 

According to her, Nigeria ranks the highest in the global list of death cases arising from smoke inhalation.

 

She said something must be done about the ongoing gas flaring, noting that the country cannot be committed to net zero emission and involve in indiscriminate gas flaring at the same time.

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Banking sector fraud mainly perpetrated by insiders –EFCC

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday said most frauds in the banking sector were perpetrated by insider Information, Communication Technology employees.

Head, Cybercrime Section of the EFCC, Abbah Sambo, made the declaration at a national seminar on Banking and Allied Matters for judges in Abuja.

Sambo represented the EFCC chairman, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, at the seminar.

He said that most banking sector fraud handled by the commission showed that bank employees aided the acts.

He also expressed regret at the increasing rate of cybercrime in spite of the best efforts by the commission to tackle it.

Sambo observed that in years past, young people involved in cybercrime were not ICT savvy, but today, it is ICT graduates that are the champions in perpetrating the crime.

He attributed the increase in cybercrime to moral decadence and peer group influence.

“The rate at which young men are perpetrating cybercrime is seriously alarming.

“When we arrest these criminals, one major reason they give for going into the crime is peer influence.

“Their friends are into it and they want to run with guys that drive the best cars and have the best girls in town.

“Most times when we arrest these criminals, we find them with a lot of assets that are registered in the names of their parents.

“Cars in the names of their mothers and houses in the names of their fathers. There is a fundamental issue relating to decay in moral coverage in the society,’’ he said.

Sambo said that the greatest challenge in fighting cybercrime was the knowledge gap, noting that the criminals were getting more sophisticated.

He said the criminals had the ability to talk to one other seamlessly by sharing knowledge, unlike law enforcement agencies.

“A lot of the people trying to combat the crime in the field tend to lack the drive because they do not have the adequate training,’’ he said.

He stressed the need for adequate sensitisation and engagement with youths, especially from secondary school level to let them know the ills of crime.

The two-day seminar was organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in collaboration with the National Judicial Institute.

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‘Assets were verified by CCB’ — court bars EFCC from prosecuting Dickson

 

A federal high court in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, has given an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from prosecuting Seriake Dickson, former Bayelsa governor.

In August, the EFCC quizzed the senator representing Bayelsa west for hours over alleged corruption and abuse of office.

 

Dickson is alleged to have mismanaged about N1 trillion while he was governor of the state — an allegation he denied. He said the petition submitted at the anti-graft agency’s office against him is “frivolous”.

 

“For the avoidance of doubts, let me state that my family investments, Seriake Dickson Trust Incorporated, were made between 1996 and 2012 before I became governor,” the lawmaker had said.

 

 “These investments were funded by loans and advances and repaid from salaries, allowances, savings and others. One of them is still on mortgage and I have made these documents available to the EFCC.”

 

In a judgment, Isah Dashien, the judge, held the assets acquired with loans, had been declared at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB).

 

“Therefore it was contrary to the stipulation of the law for the EFCC to open investigation into assets that were declared over the years before the relevant body, the CCB, and for which the CCB issued verification certificates,” Dashien said.

 

One of the orders seen in the certified true copy of the judgment reads: “That an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, its officers, men, agents or privies from inviting or further inviting the 2nd Plaintiff (Dickson), officers, managers or Trustees of the 1st plaintiff (trust) for investigation and from investigating or prosecuting the 2nd plaintiff, any officer, manager or trustee of the 1st plaintiff over any matter dealing with or relating to any investment made by the 1st plaintiff, as covered or affected by the said Judgment of the Federal High Court in suit number FHC/YNG/CS/40/ 2020.”

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BREAKING: EFCC places Obiano on watchlist

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has placed Willie Obiano, governor of Anambra, on its watchlist.

 

The development comes months before Obiano is expected to leave office as governor — he is expected to hand over in March 2022.

 

According to a letter dated November 15 and addressed to the comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the anti-graft agency asked to be informed whenever Obiano is seen attempting to travel out of the country.

 

It is not clear why the EFCC placed Obiano on its watchlist.

 

However, according to sources, the Anambra governor is being investigated by the commission.

 

In September, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Anambra had asked the anti-graft agency to probe the finances of the state in order to unearth “monumental deception”.

 

According to NAN, Basil Ejidike, Anambra APC chairman, in a statement, had alleged that Obiano has been “fraudulently” using the state’s security vote.

 

 “Anambra as a state has not recorded significant growth and development since the inception of Gov. Willy Obiano’s leadership,” the statement reads.

 

“To maintain existing developmental structures in the state remains unattainable.”

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Tinubu afraid to speak on restructuring because of his 2023 ambition, says Edwin Clark

 

Edwin Clark, an Ijaw national leader, says Bola Tinubu, national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is afraid to speak on the clamour for restructuring of the country.

 

Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, on Wednesday, Clark accused the APC leader of keeping quiet on the issue owing to his 2023 ambition.

 

Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state, has not officially declared intentions to vie for the 2023 presidency, but his associates have begun campaigns for him.

 

“What several Nigerians want is actually the restructuring of the country in order to douse the tensions and agitations which is almost tearing the country apart today, and is the main cause of the high insecurity being experienced,” Clark said.

 “Nigerians are ready to accept the implementation of the 2014 National Conference, or the APC’s El-Rufai Committee Report, any of which will no doubt satisfy the generality of the Nigerian people.

 

“The Tinubus who brought restructuring to the manifesto of APC have not spoken because they fear that if they do, they will not be allowed to contest for the presidency of the country, come 2023.

 

“We want to reiterate that we are more patriotic than those who do not believe in restructuring of Nigeria, even though we are very well pleased to shame them, because majority of other Nigerians also believe in the restructuring of the country. We, however, wish to advise those minority to follow us, the majority, as we mean well for the country.”

 

Clark also challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a meeting of representatives of Nigeria to deliberate on the report submitted by the Nasir el-Rufai committee on restructuring.