Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Itsekiri nation disowns calls for creation of Biafra Republic

THE Itsekiri ethnic nationality of Warri, Delta State, has dissociated itself from the calls for creation of a Biafra Republic out of Nigeria as being drummed by some Igbo interest groups in the South-East.
The Itsekiri Leaders of Thought, ILT, expressed the group’s concern over the Igbo agitation yesterday in a statement by its Chairman, Pa Johnson Ayomike and Secretary, Edward Ekpoko.
The body is disturbed that the proposed Biafra Republic as widely reported in the social media includes the whole of Delta State.
The statement stressed: “We recall with pains the day the defunct Biafran Army invaded Warri and Benin in the then Midwest Region on August 9, 1967. Never again will the Itsekiri tolerate such invasion. The Itsekiri nation is committed to the unity of Nigeria and will do all it can to promote and protect it as one indivisible country. As Major General Philip Effiong said on January 14 1970, the Republic of Biafra ceased to exist. We, the Itsekiri, wish it to be eternally so for the peace and development of our great nation.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

At half time, Amaechi 3 Wike 0

Exactly eight years ago, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, former governor of Rivers state, and Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, now governor of the state, were best of friends. By “exactly eight years ago”, I truly mean October 26, 2007. Just one day earlier, the supreme court had declared Amaechi governor of the state, saying he was the rightful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) having won the party’s primary, rather than Celestine Omehia, whom the party fielded. 

At the time, Wike, as chairman of Obio-Akpor local government and national presi­dent of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), greatly supported Amaechi’s campaign. They were buddies. So happy were they that after Omehia was booted out of office, Amaechi appointed Wike his chief of staff – a position that governors traditionally allot to their most trusted ally. 

Fast-forward eight years later and both men would not just see eye-to-eye. It was Amaechi who nominated Wike for ministerial appointment under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan. But after Amaechi fell out with Jonathan and left PDP, Wike chose to side with not his old boss but his new one. Although both men have been at daggers drawn ever since, it is only in 2015 that the real battles have been fought; and so far, it is Amaechi who is having the upper hand. 


As a minister in Jonathan’s cabinet and as a Rivers state governorship aspirant under the PDP ticket, Wike staunchly opposed the candidature of APC’s Muhammadu Buhari, whose campaign was spearheaded by Amaechi. With Buhari polling a total of 15,424,921 votes ahead of Jonathan’s 12,853,162, not only did Nigeria have a new, Amaechi secured his first victory over his former ally-turned-enemy. 


Life is full of ironies. Or how does one explain that the chief antagonist of a ministerial nominee is the same one who once became a minister on the recommendation of the current nominee? Amaechi nominated Wike to be minister when he was governor, but Wike has been the most vociferous opponent of Amaechi’s ministerial nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

To Wike, Amaechi is too corrupt to be minister. Once, he branded his predecessor the most corrupt public office holder. “If Buhari is sincere in his fight against corruption, let him probe the Amaechi’s government and he will discover that there cannot be a government official that is more corrupt than Amaechi,” he said through Opunabo Inko-Tariah, his special adviser on media and publicity, shortly before the president released the first list of nominees. 

Of course, Amaechi had unkind words of his own, once describing Wike as a man who would betray his mother for money. “Nyesom Wike loves and worships money; he can betray his mother for money – nothing more, nothing less,” he had said two days before the election that Wike ‘won’. 

At some point, it did seem Amaechi would not even be screened by the senate, much less emerge a minister. Time after time, his screening was postponed following allegations of corruption to the tune of N70bn by Rivers state senators. Finally, on Thursday October 22, Amaechi was screened. 

Although George Sekibo, a PDP senator from Rivers, has warned that it is a thing to be screened and another to be confirmed minister, Amaechi, based on the reception he enjoyed at the screening, can count on his confirmation later this week. In any case, to have been screened alone is itself one more victory over his tormentor-in-chief. Two nil. 

RIVERS GOVERNORSHIP TUSSLE, 3-0 This is not closed yet, but it is quite some drama. Wike must have thought he had pulled one victory over Amaechi, whose candidate, Dakuku Peterside, he outwit by 1,029,102 votes to 124,896. In Nigerian politics, victory at the polls is hardly the real victory; almost every election loser goes to court, and the winner never really emerges until the legal options have been exhausted. Now, after the first legal option, the election petition tribunal, it does seem Wike has a massive battle in his hands. The tribunal has nullified his victory at the polls, and ordered fresh elections within 90 days. Jubilant Amaechi knows he has secured his third straight victory over Wike. But then, like it does happen in a game of football, even a three-nil deficit advantage can quickly be overturned. In doubt? Ask the Saudi ’89 Flying Eagles, who were losing four nil to the Soviet Union as at the 61st minute, only to score four goals in 23 minutes before going on to win 5-3 on penalties. Perhaps Wike will recover in due course to show Amaechi that the servant can, at times, outshine the master. But, for now, it’s Amaechi 3 – 0 Wike.

Juju scare in LASU

•Admin, Senate buildings laced with charms
•No-go-area for VC, staff for past 7 months

DON’T step into the Admin Block 1 of the Lagos State University (LASU) or the Senate Building if you don’t want to die! That is the message that those who laced the place with charms sought to deliver with their frightening deed. Since then fear has pervaded the 32-year-old institution in the past six months. The Admin Block 1, which houses the office of the Vice Chancellor, Prof John Obafunwa, other principal officers and registry staff has been deserted for over six months over alleged juju scare. This is the second time under his administration that juju was reportedly placed on the Admin Block and Senate Building.
On a good day, the Admin Block 1 was the busiest office on the campus and has the highest human traffic, mainly staff, students and visitors entering and coming out. It is a one storey building located near the Badagry Expressway gate of the university.
The Senate Building, which faces both the Admin Block 1 and 2, has also been abandoned in the past six months for the same reason forcing meetings of the Senate to be held at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM).
In the last six months, the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building have been made to look like a ghost town because of desertion by the Vice Chancellor, Prof John Obafunwa, principal officers and other staff over fear of being harmed by fetishes left in the area. The trouble started on Monday, March 16, 2015, when the staff unions chased out the VC, his two deputies, the Registrar and other senior management staff out of the campus.
Less than 24 hours after the protest, the university workers asked the former Governor, Babatunde Fashola, to appoint an acting VC, adding that they have ‘sacked’ the vice chancellor. The staff unions also demanded for a Visitation Panel.
The next day after the protest, congress of the three staff unions at their different meetings banned Prof. Obafunwa from entering the campus, accusing him of maladministration and several other offences.  Loyalists of the VC fought back and condemned the action of their colleagues, insisting that Obafunwa should be allowed into the university to carry out his duties.
After the ugly incident, the Admin Block 1 and the Senate were locked and since then no staff including the principal officers and even the campus security personnel had gone near the building.
The 32-year-old institution may have made history as the first tertiary institution whose VC has not set foot on campus for over six months because of the prolonged face-off with the workers who have vowed not to allow him into the university.
Fear of what happened to other workers, who some years back tried to force open the Admin and Senate blocks, also made security personnel and those loyal to the embattled VC not to open the two iron gates. Rumours about staff who were struck by strange illness when they tried to enter the buildings previously has made the place a no-go area.
For days, some staff were placed on ‘special duty’ by the unions to monitor the locked Admin and Senate blocks even as the workers gathered under a tree to continue with their celebration over the banishment of the VC and other top management from the campus.
Investigation reveals that several attempts were made by the immediate past governor to smuggle the embattled VC into the campus but the main problem was that nobody wanted to go near the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building because of fear of the juju.
Even the NANS and LASU students union that demanded for the VC’s return to the main campus were not bold enough to go near the dreaded spots. They restricted their protest around the two gates.
When our correspondent visited the campus, it was evident that the Admin Block and Senate Building has not been used for several months, as the surroundings were overgrown with weeds. It was gathered that members of staff of the university also avoid the place for fear of bad omen.
Further enquires revealed that registry staffs, whose offices were located in the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building have been temporary relocated to other offices. The VC, Prof Obafunwa, has been using his personal office at LASUCOM, while Senate meetings were held at one of the halls in LASUCOM.
Efforts by our correspondent to find out who laced the Admin Block and Senate Building with juju proved abortive as the Director, Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations (CIPPR), Mrs. Ronke Osho was said to have started her retirement leave from the services of the Lagos State government.
The chairmen of ASUU, SSANU and NASU claimed ignorance of the juju. But some union members dared the students, state government and Obafunwa’s loyalists to open the gates.
“The unions will not stop them from going to open the Admin Block 1 and the Senate Building, but they know the consequences,” a staff who wishes to remain anonymous, explained. “Those who tried it some years ago know what happened. Even the VC and his loyalists know the implications of going to open the gates by force.’
It was gathered that before the gates of the Admin Block 1 and Senate Building would be opened for use, certain rituals would need to be performed in the night.
The new Pro Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Prof. Adebayo Ninalowo told Education Review that he and his members are working hard to restore peace on campus. He said they met the staff unions and students unions recently.
Obafunwa’s tenure would end on October 31 and staff unions have already started   a countdown for him with two big banners placed at the two gates of the university. announcing how many days are left of his administration.


Supreme court dismisses Wike’s suit against tribunal

The supreme court has dismissed the suit of Nyesom Wike, Rivers state governor, who challenged the jurisdiction of the Rivers governorship election petition tribunal to hear a petition by Dakuku Peterside of All Progressives Congress (APC). 

Wike had argued that the tribunal sitting in Abuja had no jurisdiction over matters that transpired in the state. His contention is that the tribunal should have sat in Rivers state and not in Abuja. The tribunal was moved to Abuja over for security concerns, as those of  Akwa I‎bom, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. The appeal court had earlier ruled that the tribunal could sit in Abuja to handle Rivers election petitions. 

The Rivers tribunal had last Saturday sacked Wike as governor of the state, and ordered that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) hold a fresh election within 90 days. The apex court held that the tribunal was properly constituted and had jurisdiction to hear the petition of Peterside. It ruled that the shift in location of the tribunal from Rivers to Abuja was out of necessity, and added that the president of the appeal court did not err in law by ordering the‎ relocation of the tribunal. The court therefore dismissed Wike’s suit for lack of merit. ‎

The seven judges of the court, who were all in agreement with the ruling, stated that the relocation of the tribunal was to protect members of the panel and as such complied with the “doctrine of necessity”.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

NNPC to publish financial transactions from September – Kachikwu

The financial transactions of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation will be published periodically to ensure transparency beginning from next month, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said.
According to Kachikwu, the move was part of his resolve to usher in a new dawn of transparency in the national oil firm, stressing that transparency must be the watchword of every staff in the new NNPC.
Kachikwu, who stated this at his maiden town hall meeting with employees of the corporation at the NNPC Towers in Abuja on Tuesday, said the new NNPC will be a corporation anchored on the foundation of clearness.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, confirmed this to our correspondent in a telephone interview and also in an electronic mail.
“I want transparency. Beginning from next month, I want to be able to publish what the company makes. I have told the President that as from next week I will be sending him weekly reports,” the new GMD reportedly told employees of the national oil firm.
If implemented, this will be a departure from what used to be obtainable at the national oil firm. It will be the first time in ages that the NNPC will be publishing its financial transactions for the public to see.

Source: The Punch

You goofed on Jonathan’s agricultural programme, Adesina tells Oshimhole

Immediate past Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has slammed Edo State Governor, Adams Oshimhole, for describing the Agricultural Programme of former president Goodluck Jonathan as a scam.
Adesina, who is warming up to assume office as the President of the African Development Bank next month, said it was unbecoming of Oshimhole to tag Jonathan’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda, ATA, as a dismal failure.

In a statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media, Dr. Olukayode Oyeleye, the former minister said it was most uncharitable for the governor who was in a better position to know the success of the ATA to attempt to discredit it for reasons best known to him.
Disagreeing with Oshimhole, Adesina insisted that the ATA was a real success story and not a sham as claimed by the governor
“Foremost, it is a bad public relations stunt, not expected from the governor. Secondly, his comments detract from the ATA – a reform that was vigorously pursued and implemented by Dr Akin Adesina, now president elect of African Development Bank,” the former minister said.
” For reasons of safeguarding the economy and strengthening the confidence of the international community in Nigeria, genuine efforts towards ensuring food security and diversifying the economy away from oil should not be subjected to cheap politics as the negative impact that follows such public comments could be to the nation’s detriment.
Governor Oshiomole ought to know better that, under ATA, efficient distribution of subsidised farm inputs – also known as the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS), reached 14.3million farmers with 1.3million MT of fertiliser, 102,703 metric tons of improved rice seeds, 67,991 metric tons of improved maize seeds, 6,171 metric tons of improved cotton seeds, 130 million stems of cassava, 45.5million seedlings of cocoa, nine million seedlings of oil palm amongst many other crops between 2012 and 2014.
“Those inputs helped produce an additional 21million MT of food that has acted as a buffer against inflation with the devaluation of the Naira.
“At a time that the nation desperately needs to build upon the achievements of the immediate past minister of agriculture, Governor Oshiomole can only do the Edo people some good by recognising the fact that lending by commercial banks to agriculture increased from 0.07 per cent in 2011 to five per cent in 2014 while banks lent a total of N27.5 billion to fertiliser and seed companies.
“As the chief executive of a state so blessed with natural resources so highly favourable to productive agriculture, Governor Oshiomhole ought to think rather on how to make Edo more enterprising. In doing so, an area he is expected to be more interested in, should be agriculture.
“For that reason, Governor Oshiomhole ought rather to be keen on how the intervention that brought agriculture from policy oblivion to a sector that is now widely embraced could be replicated in Edo State within the remaining number of months he has to spend as a governor.
“He ought to have been asking, for instance, the erudite, resourceful and hardworking former minister, how he was able to achieve so much within so short a time.
“If Governor Oshiomhole knows how to play the politics well, he should be thinking of how to leverage on the former minister’s growing relevance at the continental level as the new head of the biggest development financial institution in Africa.
” He is supposed to be expressing interest in the increased investment in the fertilizer sector totaling $5billion from major companies such as Indorama, Dangote, and Notore.
” He should have been asking his special assistants to study how usage also rose from 13kg per hectare in 2011 to 80kg in 2014, or how seed companies in Nigeria grew from 11, producing 14,000 metric tons of improved seeds, to 134 companies doing 174,000 metric tons of seeds.
“The governor should be asking how Nigeria become the world leader in the use of ICT to reach farmers directly with farm inputs and how the World Bank is trying to scale out this efficient system of ensuring high productivity of small holder farmers across Africa.
“It is grossly unfair for Governor Oshiomhole not to recognise that ATA of 2011 to 2014 was Nigeria’s equivalent of the ‘green revolution’ that took place in Asia in the 1960s and 1970s, where new highly productive varieties of rice and wheat, and the chemical fertilisers that helped them achieve their potential, led to a doubling and tripling of yield and self-sufficiency.
“Particularly troubling is the fact that a political leader of a State as enlightened as Edo State could feign ignorance at the fact that the number of integrated rice mills, needed to produce parboiled rice, preferred by Nigerians, has grown from just one in 2010 to 24 in 2014.
“Equally worrisome is he fact that he is unaware that our parboiled rice milling capacity increased from 70,000 metric tons to 800,000 metric tons. His former colleague in Lagos, at some point, had bought as many as 56 trailer loads of paddy rice from Kebbi (a major massive producer of rice under ATA) for processing into ‘ Eko Rice ‘ brand in Lagos. It means Governor Oshiomhole’s criticism is fraught with irregularities.
“Realising that the demand for import quality-grade parboiled rice was estimated at 2.5million Metric tons (MT) in Nigeria, the gap in milling capacity prompted the Federal Executive Council to approve a N9billion fund to support private sector companies to acquire nine new 36,000 metic tons per annum factories to further raise the capacity to 1.2million MT, leaving a national supply gap of 1.3million MT that was to be met by controlled imports under the new rice policy.
“The new Rice Policy, aimed at reducing the amounts of rice imports and instead encourage new domestic rice investments in the nation, has led to new investments in rice production and milling of over N500billion, including N200billion by Aliko Dangote, of which a 200,000MT per annum mill and 10,000 hectares will be located in Edo State. Is Governor Oshiomhole aware of this?
The former minister also lambasted Oshimhole for claiming that the past government frittered away over N800billion on waivers for rice millers and others, killing local rice production and making agriculture unattractive.
He made it clear that contrary to the governor’s claim, the total amount owed the government by rice importers, who imported beyond their approved limit, is estimated at N30billion, an information that is conspicuously displayed on the website of the Nigerian customs.
“It has to be emphasised here again that it was the immediate Dr Adesina that the took up the fight against the erring importers, asking them to pay what they owed the government.
“The truth is that under ATA, Nigeria has made giant strides towards achieving self-sufficiency in rice. Between 2011 and 2014, a total of six million rice farmers were reached with improved rice seeds and fertiliser and an additional two million hectares cultivated.
“National paddy rice production rose by an additional 7 million MT and the nation reached 85 per cent sufficiency in rice production.
” Furthermore, for the first time in Nigeria, rice cultivation is twice a year, in the wet and dry seasons. We have also seen the rise of thousands of small mills fitted with destoners and polishers producing parboiled rice of similar quality as imported rice. With the new investment in large scale rice mills, imported rice will soon become a thing of the past.
“The governor may wish to ask the leader of the cocoa value chain, an illustrious son of Edo State, who served under the immediate past minister of agriculture in revolutionising cocoa production, Edo was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the efforts to increase cocoa production base through the free distribution of cocoa pods for raising seedlings in many farms in the cocoa-producing states.
” In the Oil Palm value chain, a total of 9 million sprouted oil palm sprouted nuts were distributed to 45,353 small and large oil palm estate owners between 2013 and 2015. Additional Crude Palm Oil (CPO) production due to these interventions is projected to be 400,000 MT of crude oil palm which would close the gap of 350,000MT of crude oil palm that is currently being imported. There has been well over N100billion new investment in crude oil palm production in the country.
“Nigeria’s agriculture sector has undergone major reforms and transformation in the past three and a half years under the leadership of the immediate past Honorable Minister of Agriculture and President-elect of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.
“Governor Oshiomhole would benefit from data originating from the National Bureau of Statistics, showing that the agricultural sector grew by 9.19 per cent (year-on-year) in the third quarter of 2014, up by 2.7 per cent from Q3 of 2013. The agricultural sector grew by 38.53 per cent between 3rd and 4th quarters of 2014, with crop production being the main driver, with a growth of 43.5 per cent. The Agricultural Transformation Agenda has proven to be a well-thought-out policy with great gains for Nigeria.
“It was Philip Asiodu, the former super permsec who recently opined that ‘What has killed this country is the refusal of any new government to build upon what their predecessors had done.”
” If ATA is allowed to continue as conceived and implemented under Adesina, Nigeria could reach an additional 32 million farmers by 2019, up from 14.5million farmers reached with inputs between 2012 to 2014, reaching at least 8 million of unemployed youths.
” Under ATA, a production of 7.1 million MT per annum of rice paddy was achieved With the new investments in milling, milling capacity could rise to 5 million MT and Nigeria will be self-sufficient in rice production by 2017. It is indeed shameful for a country like Nigeria to import rice
Should ATA continue, cassava processing capacity, currently just below 100,000MT/annum and a bane of the cassava industry, will be raised to 675,000MT per annum by 2019. Same thing with maize production, from the achievement of over 12 million MT/annum in 2014 (compared to 9million MT/year in 2011), we will increase this to 18 million MT/annum by 2019 to accommodate the rise in demand for food, poultry feed, and maize for the milling industry.
“For Sorghum, we will go from 9.76million MT in 2014 to 13 million MT by 2019 to cater for the increase in demand from the malted sorghum and high energy food markets. We can produce 1.2million MT of soybean by 2019, up from 700,000MT achieved in 2014 (compared to 500,000MT in 2011).
“Same for cotton, from 240,000MT/annum in 2014 ( was 125,000MT in 2011) to 500,000MT/annum by 2019, Cocoa production from 350,000MT exported/annum in 2014 to 700,000MT exported/annum by 2019; crude oil palm, production from 800,000MT/annum in 2014 to 1.6million MT/annum in 2019 and Nigeria will become self-sufficient in CPO.
“It is uncharitable and against the interest of Nigerian public to politicise issues of agriculture and food security as Governor Oshiomhole did in his criticisms of that sector.

Source: Vanguard

PDP chief: Anyim tricked Jonathan to sign N1.2b deal

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Anyim Pius Anyim unilaterally acquired the multi-billion-dollar Centenary City on the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Road, Abuja, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief alleged yesterday.
PDP’s National Vice Chairman (Southsouth zone) Dr. Cairo Ojougboh said he was ready to face the ex-SGF in court to prove his sole ownership of the controversial housing estate.
At a media briefing in his Abuja home late Monday, Ojougboh, reacting to what he described as “the show of shame”, which he said Anyim sponsored against him on Monday,  accused the former SGF of acts of desperation “to cling onto his loot and spoils of office without putting into consideration the millions of Nigerians he is depriving of the dividends of democracy”.
Calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe transactions relating to the Centenary City, Ojougboh said Anyim persuaded former President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the Centenary City documents without the ex-president reading the contents or consulting his advisers.
The Centenary City project is sitting on a land area covering over 1, 500 hectares, the size of three districts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The PDP chieftain has petitioned President Buhari, stating the facts relating to the transaction and the role played by Anyim in what he described as “a scam” perpetrated by a United Arab Emirates company, allegedly operating as a front for Anyim.
Ojougboh said: “Yes, the former president signed the papers as presented to him by the former SGF. He was not properly briefed because of vested interests.
“I can defend him; he was not part of the fraud. If Jonathan had been properly briefed, he would not have approved the project, let alone going to perform the ground breaking.
“The former President thought that the Centenary City was for the good of all Nigerians because of the centenary spirit. Unknown to him, it was the private project of the former SGF and his cohorts.
“I am calling on President Buhari now to revisit the centenary city project and he will be shocked that the project is owned by a private individual, but procured with government funds”.
According to Ojougboh, the original landlords demanded compensation from the Federal Government, “but the sponsors of the project used a private firm to pay them N1.2 billion. He asked: Where did they source that money from?”
He continued: “How can an individual still serving in the government get such a huge sum to pay compensation without government knowledge?”.
Ojougboh alleged that the money was paid into a private company’s account.
He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari should direct the Department of State Services (DSS), the police, the Directorate of Military Intelligence as well as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to look into the matter.
“The President must insist that each of these security agencies should carryout independent investigations so that the depth of the matter would be reached. I am available to offer the much I know from my independent quests on the matter”.
Ojougboh, a medical doctor, insisted that the project was a scheme used to defraud the Federal Government in taxes, stressing that the Free Zone status given to the multi-district estate was a fraud.
Ojougboh also quoted Anyim as saying that the project was worth $4 billion, adding that the process violated the rules guiding the granting of free trade zone  status by the Nigerian Export Processing Zonal Authority (NEPZA).
The PDP chieftain, who was chairman of the board of NEPZA during the project’s conception, said the board did not approve a free trade zone status for it.
“I can categorically attest to the fact emphatically and unequivocally, that the board did not approve the grant of the status of free trade zone to centenary city.
“Centenary city cannot be a free zone because it is purely a residential estate within the confinement of the Federal Capital Territory and it is implicit that those who live in the free trade zone will require re-entry visa for ingress and egress.
“I make bold to say that the Federal Government has no equity in the Centenary City project and that Senator Anyim Pius Anyim is the sole owner of the 3000 acres of land owned by the Centenary City, Abuja.
“This is against the tenets and spirit of the Public Service rules for a public servant to own such a business whilst in government,” Ojougboh said.
The party chieftain stated that his attention was first drawn to the scam by the Anti-Corruption Network, and that he had voiced his opposition to the anomaly.
“It was meant to give import duty to the owners through the back door. The consequence was to rob Nigerian masses of their land, revenue and retard the industrial growth of the nation.
“Therefore, for every one job the project creates today, it robs the nation of over 10 jobs in taxes and industrial development”. Ojougboh stated.
Ojougboh raised some questions for Anyim:
  • Does the law establishing the FCT allow for a free zone? Is it in the Abuja mater plan?
  • How did Pius Anyim obtain the N1.2 billion resettlement fees?
  • In whose custody is the Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) of the Centenary City?
Anyim’s media aide, Mr. Sam Nwaobosi, declined comments because, according to him, the matter is in court. In a telephone conversation with reporters in Abuja yesterday, Nwaobosi said Anyim would not take up issues with Ojougboh.
Said he: “Senator Anyim has gone to court to sue him for defamation on the previous press conference and interviews that he granted in which he accused Anyim of almost all these things you said he is saying now.
“So, the matter is already in court and Senator Anyim does not wish to take up issues with him on matters that are already in court.
“Since he feels aggrieved by what Cairo (Ojougboh) has been saying and writing against him, he is pursuing a very civilised cause by going to court to plead his case.
“So whatever Ojougboh is saying, he will have an opportunity in court to explain and then plead his case.”
Source: The Nation

ICPC probe: ‘Super rich’ civil servants rush to sell houses

ICPC Chairman Ekpo Nta
These are not comfortable times for some ‘super rich’ civil servants as they are said to be rushing to sell their choice houses and state-of-the-art automobiles in order to avoid losing the properties to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft crusade.
Already, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has reportedly confiscated some buildings said to have been owned by public servants whose earnings are said not to support ownership of such grand structures.
Our correspondents learnt on Tuesday that some civil servants now bombard estate agents in the Federal Capital Territory in order to aid the quick sale of their properties, while financially buoyant buyers were said to have started cashing in on the development.
One of our correspondents gathered that the sale of properties in Abuja since the new administration came on board had increased by about 30 per cent.
In fact, it was learnt that property sales in the FCT increased “tremendously” within the past four weeks, in contrast to the lull that characterised the sector from January to May this year.
Real estate agents in the Federal Capital Territory told The PUNCH that the increase could be attributed to the recent probes of government officials and the resultant confiscation of their properties by the ICPC.
ThePUNCH had reported exclusively a few weeks ago that the ICPC would commence a clampdown on very wealthy civil servants.
On August 16, SundayPUNCH reported that the ICPC had seized 24 landed properties that belonged to three officers of the Niger Delta Ministry.
It stated that the properties were seized because they were “excessive of the emoluments of the affected officers.”
The commission had also explained that the properties were seized in pursuant to Section 45 (4) a – (b) of the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act 2000.
The ICPC had, among others, said, “Whereas the commission is investigating a matter involving some staff of the Niger Delta ministry, wherein certain movable and immovable properties owned by the said staff are in issue. And whereas the commission is of the opinion based on the aforementioned investigation that these movable and immovable properties owned by these people who are staff of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are excessive, having regard to their present emoluments and all other relevant circumstances.
“The commission hereby notifies the entire public that all movable and immovable properties owned by these staff and listed hereunder are seized.”
Real estate agents that spoke with our correspondents explained that some private individuals had started consulting real estate agents, requesting assistance in disposing of their properties.
“The probe has created panic. Private persons now consult us, requesting our assistance in helping them sell their properties. Of course, they won’t say they are trying to avoid probe, but most of us know that that is what they are avoiding,” an agent and member of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, who pleaded not to be identified, said.
When contacted, the immediate past National President/Chairman of Council, REDAN, Chief Olabode Afolayan, said that the property sector had witnessed an unprecedented boom in the sales of properties in the past few weeks.
He said, “In the last couple of months, you could see that there was no activity at all. Between January and May, it was like there was no activity at all. So, what we are experiencing now shows that people are coming back to business and we hope that things will soon take normal shape.”
When asked if the rise in sales of properties could be attributed to the anti-corruption stance of the President and the recent sanctioning of some civil servants, he said “that might not be far from the truth.”
Afolayan said, “That might not be the case with estate developers because we are not government officials, rather we sell our own properties. But for owners of existing properties who are beginning to offload their belongings, then it might be for the reason not too far from what we are experiencing now, in which we have a government that is going to be proactive in addressing corruption and is not going to condone any form of negativity that will affect the system.
“But for us, it is a different thing because we have our own businesses and many of our businesses are funded by financial institutions. We sell our properties now because we don’t want the devaluation of the naira to catch up with our businesses.”
Afolayan’s successor and incumbent President of REDAN, Mr. Ugochukwu Chime, told one of our correspondents that it was expected for the sales of properties to increase, adding that many government officials of the past administration might want to dispose of their properties now.
He said, “We have not done any study now. However, it is a seasonal thing. Some of the officials of the past government will not want to leave Abuja just like that, it is not possible. Those who are coming with the new government have moved massively into Abuja and they are willing to buy.
“Those of the past government will want to sell their properties to either meet their needs or may do so not to leave Abuja just like that.”
The FCT Chairman of REDAN, Mrs. Binta Ibrahim, said she could not attribute the haste by civil servants to dispose of their belongings to probe, but noted that the sales of properties had increased.
“People are buying properties and sales have increased since the new administration came onboard, particularly in recent times. However, I cannot say if those selling are civil servants who are trying to avoid corruption probe by the President or not,” she said
Meanwhile, the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria has applied to the ICPC for information on civil servants alleged to own properties worth billions of naira.
The union said that it asked the anti-graft agency to furnish it with the details of civil servants that were discovered to have used proceeds of corruption to purchase properties in Abuja, Lagos and other cities of the country.
The General Secretary, ASCSN, Bashir Lawal, said this on Tuesday when our correspondent asked him to react to the ICPC report in which many civil servants were alleged to own high net worth and choice properties.
Lawal declined to comment on the report, saying the union needed to see the content of the ICPC report before it could offer a response to it.
Lawal said, “We need to confirm whether the owners of the properties are real civil servants; at times, some people are brought into the civil service; so, are we talking of people brought into the service by politicians or the real civil servants?
“We have called for details from ICPC; when we get the details, we will react appropriately.”

Source: The Punch

Buhari to probe Jonathan’s sale of NITEL/MTEL

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered investigation into the sale of Nigerian Telecommunications, NITEL, and Mobile Telecommunications, MTEL, under the administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan.
The telecom company was sold for $252m to NATCOM consortium in December 2014.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Communication and Technology, told State House Correspondents on Tuesday after briefing the President Buhari that the president had directed him to raise a memo on the whole transaction to ascertain if there were any underhand dealings.
The official also disclosed that President Buhari expressed worry over the quality of service rendered by the telecom operators in Nigeria.
He said: “The President was concerned about the liquidation of NITEL. He is not opposed to its privatization but he wants to know and he want us to bring a memo on how the whole transaction was undertaken so that he would know whether Nigeria was shortchanged.
“The President was concerned by the quality of service of telecom operators. The President is very concerned about the whole issue of privatization that is hindering the investments in ICT infrastructure, and he will personally champion this. The President talked about the potentials of the ICT sector in generating employment.”
Source: Daily Post

Atte takes over Customs as Dikko resigns

The Nigeria Customs Service yesterday demonstrated that its a stickler for due process when the most senior officer, Deputy Comptroller General, John Atte, took over the mantle of leadership following the resignation of Abdullahi Dikko as the Comptroller General.
The action may have foreclosed the usual rivalry often seen in most government agencies that do not have a strong succession plan.
Atte, a Deputy Comptroller General (DCG) in charge of Finance, Administration and Technical Service (FATS) is the most senior officer and he is expected to hold forth till President Muhammadu Buhari either confirms him or appoints a new CGC.
Spokesman of Customs, Wale Adeniyi told Daily Sun that “Atte is in charge now and we await the President to state who a substantive CG will be,” he said.
Following Dikko’s resignation, top senior Customs officers have begun lobbying to take over the CG’s position considered as one of the most lucrative positions in Nigeria’s public service.
Daily Sun learnt that top Customs officers within the ranks of DCG and Assistant Comptroller-General (ACG) are romancing influential politicians to put in a word for them to be made the substantive CGC.
Aside Atte, other serving DCGs include Adewuyi Akinade from Oyo State who is in charge of Tariff and Trade; Musa Tahir from Yobe State is DCG Enforcement, Investigation and Inspection.
Others are Chukwuma Nwosu (Enugu State), Ibrahim Mera (Kebbi State) and Gabriel Aliu (Kogi State).
Next in rank to the DCGs are Assistant Comptroller Generals (ACGs).
The NCS has 17 ACGs and any of them also stands a good chance of succeeding Dikko if the Presidency so desires.
Dikko became CG from ACG, skipping the DCG rank.
The ACGs are Dan Ugo (Benue State) in charge of Excise and Duty, ACG Human Resource Development, Patient Iferi (Cross River); Strategic Research and Policy, Austin Warikoru (Bayelsa); ACG Tariff and Trade, Grace Adeyemo (Ondo); ACG Excise Department, Robert Alu (Nassarawa) and Coordinator, Zone B, Ade Dosunmu (Lagos State).
The other ACGs are Coordinator, Zone D, Paul Ukaigwe (Imo State); Coordinator, Zone C, Ahmed Muhammed (Jigawa State); ACG Human Resource Development, Adeshina Odumbaku (Lagos State); ACG Investigation and Inspection, Bello Liman (Sokoto State); ACG Industrial Incentives, Monday Abueh (Rivers State); Coordinator, Zone A, ACG Victor Gbemudu (Delta State); Madu Mohammed (Yobe State), who is serving on the NCS Board; ACG Information, Communication and Technology, Iya Umar (Adamawa) and ACG Finance and Revenue, Bridget Okafor (Anambra).
Recall that Dikko had earlier written a letter dated August 3 to President Muhammadu Buhari in which he notified Buhari of his desire to proceed on voluntary retirement from August 18, 2015 when he would have clocked six years as Customs boss.

Source: Sun News

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Inspection of Election materials :Plans to Smuggle Materials More Ballot Papers Into Rivers INEC Revealed

Credible report reaching us now reveals that unscrupulous INEC officials in Rivers State in connivance with PDP agents are scheming to smuggle ballots and other materials into the INEC office in Port Harcourt to shore up the embarrassing shortfalls been experienced since inspection of materials began.
According to the report, used ballot papers available at the INEC are way too short of the humongous number of votes allocated to PDP candidates during the election, necessitating surreptitious moves to smuggle in more doctored ballots to shore up the embarrassing shortfalls.
Our source revealed that shortfalls of wide margins have been seen from ballots available to PDP candidates in the ongoing inspection of election materials.
Our source who pleaded anonymity, said very quicks actions are needed to forestall any irregularities.
The police and other security agents manning the gate of INEC office in Port Harcourt are enjoined  to take note of this development, and be on alert to bust the ignoble effort of electoral thieves who are allegedly trying to  cover their “illegal acts with more illegality”.
The statement also advised that all vehicles coming into the INEC office should be thoroughly searched.
Source: Feel Rivers

Naira rises to 217 against dollar

The naira appreciated against the United States dollar at the parallel market on Monday to 217, from 221 recorded on Friday.
The naira rose on the back of weak demand for the dollar at the foreign exchange markets.
Forex traders linked this to an improved dollar liquidity occasioned by the sustained sales of the greenback by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Reacting to the rising fortune of the local currency, the Acting President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said, “The market has started feeling the effect of the dollar sales by the central bank in the last two weeks and tight measures introduced to prevent cross boarder currency trafficking.”
The CBN had increased the frequency of dollar sales to the BDC operators two weeks ago to twice-weekly from the usual once a week previously in a move meant to increase liquidity in the market and support the local currency.
Traders said bank customers were no longer willing to hold dollars after the central bank banned dollar cash deposits into domiciliary accounts.
“We expect to see more rallies in the market if the central bank could sustain its support for the naira,” Harrison Owoh, a bureau de change operator said, Reuters reported.
The naira was unchanged at the official interbank market at 197 to the dollar, where the CBN has maintained a tight control by pegging it to the rate of 197 to the dollar
The naira had weakened on the parallel market to as much as 245 to the dollar last month, on persistent dollar demand after central bank limited importers’ access to dollars on the official interbank market to buy a wide range of goods, in order to save the external reserves.
The local currency later rebounded to 216 at the parallel market as Deposit Money Banks started rejecting cash deposits in dollars a few weeks ago.
The naira had, however, weakened to about 223 last week before rising to 217 on Monday
Analysts expect the naira to continue rising, saying it is good for the economy.
The Head, Investment and Research, Afrinvest West Africa, Mr. Ayodeji Ebo, had said that the gains made by the naira was good for the economy, adding that it would help the CBN to gauge the true value of the currency in the event of a possible devaluation in the near future.
“If there is a convergence between the interbank and parallel market, the CBN may possibly review its restrictions imposed on the forex market,” he added.
A currency analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said if the trend continued, the naira might rise to as much as 200 against the dollar.

Source: The Punch

Albino commits suicide over alleged discrimination

Picture Credit : Edebi Efemena

For allegedly being discriminated against, a 23-year-old albino, Ugochukwu Ekwe on Sunday committed suicide in the Festac area of Lagos State.
The incident occurred at 311 Road, B Close‎, after the deceased’s parents went to church.
‎It was alleged that the deceased had attempted suicide last month after complaining of the discrimination he suffered from people as a result of his pigmentation.
He was said to have been rescued by a friend who arrived early enough, but he succeeded on Sunday after refusing to follow his parents to church, it was learnt.
A source in the neighbourhood told The Nation that his parents discovered his body hanging on the ceiling fan when they returned from church.
He said: “On arrival from church, his parents were shocked to discover the body of their son hanging from the ceiling fan in one of the apartments.
“One of his siblings was said to have raised alarm which attracted curious neighbours.
“I was returning from church when I saw people gathered in front of the block of flats. When I enquired, I was told that Ugochukwu had committed suicide.
“He finished his secondary school education since 2009. I also learned he had threatened to take his life, saying he was frustrated.”
“Later, we saw some policemen from Festac division who removed the body.”
When contacted, spokesperson for the police command, DSP Patricia Amadin said she was yet to get details from the Area ‘E’ Commander, Frank Mba.

Source: The Nation

FG committed to revamping economy – Osınbajo

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), on Monday reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to revamp the economy for the betterment of Nigerians.
Osinbajo said the focus of the administration is to quickly revamp the economy and rebuild the country by galvanising collective energy towards a common purpose.
He said the new focus calls for a paradigm shift.
The Vice President said this at the opening ceremony of Scenario Planning for National Change Workshop, organised by the National Institute for Policy a d Strategic Studies, NIPSS, in collaboration with Reos South Africa.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Head of Service, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, said the focus would involve a shift in both things the country is doing and the way they are being done, adding that it would require a massive change of mindset and a new way of engaging for the future.
He said with the important aspect of the society fractured, it can only find its way to work together through scenario planning to chart a common course, adding that scenario is one of the tools that can bring different people together and make the reason together for common goal.
According to him, scenario planning uses the stories of what could happen in the future with diverse stakeholders to decide together how they want to influence the future.
It refers to a variety of quantitative and qualitative analysis used to project the future pathways or back casts from a preferred end point. National Institute to champion the project and as well integrate the initiative into national planning and strategy development processes.