News

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Information Minister, Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said the Federal Government will soon adopt a policy to give the right of first refusal to indigenous consultants in its projects.
 
The Minister disclosed this in Abuja on Friday when he received the Public Relations Consultants Association of Nigeria (PR CAN) on a courtesy visit to his office.
 
He said even when a foreign consultant is coming into the country, the company must involve indigenous consultants.
 
“I remember that at the last Federal Executive Council Meeting, it was hotly debated that in all forms of consultancy we should as a matter of policy insist that no consultant should come without his own Nigerian partner. That way we believe that it will make it easier for us to develop the capacity, skills and the expertise of our home-grown consultants,” Alhaji Mohammed said.
 
He said when enacted, the policy will not only give impetus to job creation but it will also assist in the development of the capacity of the indigenous consultants.
 
“When you involve your own consultants in your projects, you are not just taking expert advice, you are also employing people who have already bought into the project and who appreciate the fact that the success of that project is the success of the country.
 
“We believe in skills and technology transfer but if you don’t give your people a chance, who is going to give them a chance? People argue that the Nigerian consultants don’t have the requisite experience. Even if that is the case, how will they get it if you continue every time to shun them and you prefer foreign consultants? These foreign consultants got to where they got to because they were given the opportunity from their country,” the Minister said.
 
He said once the policy is active, government ministries and agencies will begin to involve consultants like PR-CAN in their programmes.
 
Alhaji Mohammed said even in the development of the “Change Begins With Me” Campaign, indigenous consultants also made their contributions to the project and he expressed the willingness to continue to engage them in the national re-orientation campaign.
 
In his remarks, the President of PR-CAN, Mr. Johnson Ehiguese, sought to make available the skills and expertise of the association to support the government’s policy communication programmes.
 
“Honourable Minister, the overriding reason for our seeking this audience with you today is to share some of our thoughts and ideas with you on how we, as professionals in the area of strategic communications can, with your assistance, contribute our quota to supporting the numerous policy communication programmes and campaigns which you superintend by virtue of your office,” he said.
 
He expressed the optimism that the numerous challenges confronting the government can be effectively tackled through effective and proper communication.
 
Mr. Ehiguese expressed the association’s appreciation to the Minister for “the great job you are doing in trying to bring about genuine change in our country, as well as to market the government’s policies and programmes.”
 
He also extended an invitation to the Minister to serve as Guest Speaker in the 2017 PR-CAN Gold Medal Lecture coming up in Abuja, an invitation which the Minister has accepted.

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French President, Emmanuel Macron

Emmanuel Macron, 39, has been inaugurated as France’s president and pledged to overcome division in societies.

Macron, a centrist, took over on Sunday from President Francois Hollande, the socialist whose five years in power were plagued by stubborn unemployment and attacks.

Macron – France’s youngest ever president – beat his far-right rival Marine Le Pen to the presidency, winning more than 65 per cent of the May 7 vote.

“The whole world has watched our presidential election,” Macron said in his inaugural speech as president, which took place at the Elysee Presidential Palace.

He added that “the world and Europe have today, more than ever, a need for France. They want a France that is sure of its destiny.

“The world needs what French men and woman have always taught it — freedom, equality and fraternity.”

He said France was not in decline, but at the start of an “extraordinary renaissance”, adding that he would boost employment, protect companies and engage with French people who feel ignored.

“Republican secularism will be defended. We must find the deep meaning of what unites us today … France is only strong if it is prosperous.”

Francois Hollande is delighted at the election of the former investment banker.

Hollande launched Macron’s political career, and brought him from the world of investment banking to be an advisor and then his economic minister.

“I am not handing over power to a political opponent, it’s far simpler,” Hollande said.

Meanwhile, Macron is expected to reveal the closely-guarded name of his prime minister on Monday before flying to Berlin to meet German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

It is virtually a rite of passage for French leaders to make their first European trip to meet the leader of the other half of the so-called “motor” of the EU.

Pro-EU Macron wants to push for closer cooperation to help the bloc overcome the imminent departure of Britain, another of its most powerful members. (Reuters/NAN)

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Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II

The Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, at the weekend, announced that it had suspended its investigations into the accounts of the Kano Emirate Council.

The anti-graft commission had earlier in the month flagged off investigations into the finance of the emirate council following petitions from undisclosed sources over alleged abuses since the inception of the present Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II.

The chairman of the commission, Alhaji Muhyi Rimigado, explained that the probe was suspended in the light of the fact that the Kano House of Assembly had commenced a similar investigation on the emirate’s account.

The Rimigado told Sunday Sun on phone that the commission had sought and was waiting for clarification from the State House of Assembly on the matter.

He also hinted: “You know that we are also a product of the Kano State House of Assembly. We are not expected to be investigating a matter in which they are also investigating. We report both to the executive and legislature on the same manner.”

He explained further: “Section 16 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Law  (2004) did not allow us to investigate a matter concurrently.”

The Kano State House of Assembly had on Wednesday raised an eight-man committee to investigate the alleged misconduct of the Emir of Kano, Malam Muhammad Sanusi II.

The committee, headed by the member representing Warawa Local Government, Alhaji Labaran Abdul, was also assigned the responsibility to investigate allegations of misappropriation of funds from the coffers of the emirate council.
The House raised the Committee after a member representing Nasarawa Local Government Area, Alhaji Ibrahim Gama raised a motion of urgent public importance on the matter. The committee has two weeks to submit its report.

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Another major cyber-attack could be imminent after Friday’s global hit that infected more than 125,000 computer systems, security experts have warned.

UK security researcher “MalwareTech”, who helped to limit the ransomware attack, predicted “another one coming… quite likely on Monday”.

The virus, which took control of users’ files, spread to 100 countries, including Spain, France and Russia.

In England, 48 NHS trusts fell victim, as did 13 NHS bodies in Scotland.

Some hospitals were forced to cancel procedures and appointments, as ambulances were directed to neighbouring hospitals free from the computer virus.

On Saturday, Amber Rudd, UK home secretary, said all but six NHS trusts’ systems had been restored, but that “there’s always more” that could be done to protect against computer viruses.

After taking computers over, the virus displayed messages demanding a payment of $300 (£230) in virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock files and return them to the user.

BBC analysis of three accounts linked with the global attack suggests the hackers have already been paid the equivalent of £22,080.

MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an “accidental hero” after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.

The 22-year-old told the BBC: “It’s very important that people patch their systems now.

“We have stopped this one, but there will be another one coming and it will not be stoppable by us.

“There’s a lot of money in this. There’s no reason for them to stop. It’s not really much effort for them to change the code and then start over.

“So there’s a good chance they are going to do it… maybe not this weekend, but quite likely on Monday morning.”

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A staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Christian Nwosu has pleaded guilty to receiving N30 million as bribe from the N23 billion alleged Diezani bribe meant to compromise electoral officers before the 2015 general election.

Nwosu was among three INEC officials that were on Wednesday docked by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, before Justice M. B. Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a 7-count charge bordering on receiving gratification to the tune of N264,880,000.

Nwosu and the other accused persons-Yisa Olanrewaju Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir had, on March 27, 2015, allegedly received bribes from a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, ahead of the 2015 general election.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you, Mrs. Diezani Allison – Madueke (still at large), Christian Nwosu, Yisa Olanrewaju Adedoyin and Tijani Bashir on or about the 27th day of March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired among yourselves to directly take possession of N264,880,000 (Two Hundred and Sixty-four Million, Eight Hundred and Eighty Thousand Naira) which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: gratification and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2002 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Another count reads: “That you, Christian Nwosu on or about the 27 day of March, 2015 in Nigeria within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court directly used the sum of N30,000,000 which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: gratification and you hereby committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2)(a) of the money laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.”

Both the second and third defendants, Adedoyin and Bashir, pleaded not guilty to the charges..

However, the first defendant, Nwosu, pleaded guilty to the charge preferred against him.

Counsel to the first defendant, Adaku Ngbangba, pleaded with the court to grant her client bail on self-recognizance, adding that “he is a first-time offender. He has put in over 20 years in service. Given his honestly, I urge you, my Lord, to grant him bail on liberal terms.’’

Counsel to the second defendant, Ngbangba, as well as counsel to the third defendant, Nelson Imoh, also pleaded with the court to grant their clients bail on self-recognizance.

In his address, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that the first defendant had entered a plea bargain agreement with the Commission.

He said: “We received the sum of $115 million kept in the custody of Fidelity Bank Plc, which was subsequently converted to N23bn.

“Of this amount of money, it was alleged that the first defendant received a cash payment of N30, 000,000. 00 as Director and Administrative Secretary, INEC, Kwara State.

“The first defendant went to Fidelity Bank and signed for N264, 880,000. This was left in the bank in the custody of the third defendant who carried it in a Hilux bus and was making cash payment/withdrawals without going through any financial institutions.

“In the course of making the cash payments, the third defendant paid the first defendant the total sum of N30, 000,000 cash.”

Oyedepo further told the court that the first defendant was invited to the Commission’s office, where he made his statement under words of caution.

He stated that the receipt of payment of the money signed for by the first defendant was also retrieved by the Commission.

Both the statement and the receipt were tendered and admitted as exhibits A-A6 by the court.

Oyedepo also told the court that the first defendant had admitted essentially to the ingredients of the alleged offence in his statement to the Commission on December 12, 2016.

The first defendant in his statement, according to Oyedepo, admitted to have benefitted N30, 000,000.

Oyedepo, in his address, also stated that “the first defendant also gave account of the properties he used the money to acquire.

“He brought the title documents to the EFCC office.

“Having demonstrated remorse and given useful information to aid the prosecution of the case, he has entered into an agreement to forfeit the properties to the Federal Government.

The properties are listed in the paragraphs 1 and 2 of the plea bargain agreement.

“The EFCC has recovered the N5m left from the first defendant, having spent N25m to acquire properties.”

He also urged the court to convict the first defendant in line with the count seven of the charges and adopt the term contained in the plea bargain agreement.

Consequently, Justice Idris found the first defendant liable as charged on count seven.

He, however, deferred the sentencing of the first defendant to May 7, 2017.

The first defendant was ordered to be remanded in the EFCC custody till the next adjourned date.

Justice Idris admitted both the second and third defendants to bail in the sum of N50 million, with two sureties in like sum.

The sureties must have landed properties within the jurisdiction of the court.

The second and third accused persons must submit their international passport to the court.

They were ordered to be remanded in prison custody till the perfection of their bail conditions.

The case was adjourned to May 7, 2017 for continuation of trial.

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Governor Yari of Zamfara State

Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari has attributed the current outbreak of meningitis in the country to retributive justice from God.

The governor said the current outbreak of Type C Cerebrospinal Meningitis is God’s way of punishing Nigerians for their immoral conduct. 

The governor spoke in Hausa during an interview with State House reporters yesterday after meeting President Muhammdu Buhari.

Zamfara State is the most ravaged in the latest outbreak, accounting for 215 out of 336 deaths nationally. 

“What we used to know as far as meningitis is concerned is the ‘type A virus’ which had been tackled through vaccinations by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the governor said. 

“However, because people refused to stop their nefarious activities, God now decided to send Type C virus, which has no vaccine.

“People have turned away from God and He has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow,’ that is just the cause of this outbreak as far as I am concerned.

“There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured,” Yari stated.

“The most important thing is for our people to know that their relationship with God is not smooth. All they need to do is repent and everything will be all right.”

Asked whether leaders also need to repent, he said “leaders are doing their best by enlightening the populace and working assiduously for the good of all,” but that they cannot go from house to house and arrest offenders.

He said a meeting of stakeholders in the state had adopted a strategy to deal with the outbreak.

According to him, the five million doses of the vaccine announced by relevant organisations against the Type

C meningitis in Nigeria “is not enough for Zamfara people alone, not to talk of Katsina or Kano”.

He said Zamfara got 20,000 doses from the Federal Ministry of Health owing to the high rate of the disease in the state.

“Our Focus as a state now is to continue treating those who are infected with the disease, but as for vaccination, it has an international dimension.

“We have information that Nigeria will get the highest percentage of the 5 million doses available now. Apart from WHO, other International bodies such as the Bill Gates foundation and UNICEF are also currently focusing on how to tackle the outbreak.

FG ramps up control as death toll rises to 336

The death toll in the current outbreak rose to 336 and suspected infections figure is now 2,997, according to the  Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) latest report released yesterday.

Meanwhile the Federal Government “incidence management” response was switched on yesterday after the Emergency Operations Centre was activated on Monday.

The switch to incidence management is to “ensure that all activities across the country will be managed using a clear command and control structure led by an Incident Manager who reports through the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, to the Minister of Health,” the NCDC announced.

“With this new coordinating structure, the country will have a tight, multi-partner team of experts pulled from the most competent agencies focusing on outbreak control in Nigeria,” Lawal Bakare, technical advisor for communications at NCDC said.

The central command is similar to response to Ebola viral disease outbreak in 2014, but the command centre for meningitis will be headed by John Oladejo, head of emergency preparedness and response at the NCDC.

Experts from  the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC, NPHCDA, WHO, UNICEF, Africa CDC, US CDC, Medecins Sans Frontieres, AFENET, University of Maryland and E-Health Africa will have roles on different components of the meningitis outbreak—all coordinated in one place.

So far, half a million doses of Meningitis C vaccines have been distributed to affected states for immediate vaccination in response to the outbreak.

An additional 823,970 doses of the vaccine are expected from the United Kingdom to support vaccination in other affected states.

The EOC will begin state-wide vaccination today in Zamfara and then move on to 15 more states.

“We are confident that we have turned the tide, and with increasing vaccination activities, expect a reduction in number of cases,” said Bakare.

“Importantly, lessons learned from this outbreak will help the country prepare for the future.”

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Senator Gbenga Ashafa (APC), Lagos East

Worried about the recent outbreak of Meningitis, the Nigerian Senate Tuesday, 4th April, 2017 passed a resolution directing the Federal Ministry of Health, National Centre for Disease Control and other relevant agencies to carry out a nationwide immunization of children and adults who are susceptible to the disease of meningitis.

The attention of the Senate was drawn to this outbreak by a motion titled “Outbreak of Meningitis. Need to Curb the Spread and stop further deaths” sponsored and moved on the floor of the upper chamber by Senator Gbenga Ashafa , representing Lagos East Senatorial District, with 16 other Senators as co-sponsors.

The Senator expressed his worry over the outbreak of the disease, which has claimed several lives in the North especially, Zamfara Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger States and has recently spread to the Federal Capital Territory as well.

He noted that this particular disease is a new strand of meningitis and as such its vaccines are not commercially viable.

Some of the other Senators who contributed to the debate on the floor of the Senate include Senators, Sabi Abdulahi (Niger North), Tijanni Kaura (Zamfara North), Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), Mao Ohuabunwa (Abia North), Abdulfattah Buari (Oyo North), Sam Anyanwu (Imo East) and others.

The Distinguished Senators in their contributions called on the Federal Ministry of Health to be Pro-active in tackling issues of this nature and not wait for such outbreak to happen before steps are taken to prevent same.

The Federal Government was also called upon to provide the Ministry of Health with sufficient funds to engage in Nation wide immunization of citizens against such diseases like meningitis and prevent same from ever occurring.

 

The Senate thereafter resolved that the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies/parastatals to work closely with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to acquire more vaccines to protect Nigerians against the spread of the disease while also advising the Nigerian Police, Prison Authorities, NEMA and IDP camps to concrete steps to prevent an outbreak of meningitis in their prisons, police cells, detention centres and IDP camps. It was also resolved that the vacinnes should be administered freely in all public health institutions.

 

In conclusion the President of the Senate, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki commended the steps taken so far by the Federal Ministry of Health and urged that the process of Nationwide vaccination should be expedited. He also assured that more funding would be made available to the Ministry for disease control and prevention in the 2017 Budget.

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Professor of Law, Itse Sagay

Itse Sagay, chairman of the presidential advisory committee against corruption, has maintained that the senate lacks the power to summon him and urged any aggrieved lawmaker to sue him for defamation.

The senate had resolved to invite Sagay over his criticism of the red chamber for refusing to screen 27 resident electoral commissioners and seeking the sack of Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

After a point of order was raised by Bala Ibn Na’Allah, deputy senate leader, the senate referred the matter to its committee on ethics and privileges.

Sagay had shortly thereafter responded saying the senate lacked the power to summon him.

Reacting again, Sagay has written to the senate a letter titled, ‘Re: Resolution summoning me to appear before the Senate’.

The senior advocate of Nigeria addressed the letter to Bukola Saraki, senate president.

“My attention has been drawn to the well publicised resolution of the Senate, summoning me to appear before it to justify my criticism of the illegal call on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman of the EFCC,” the letter read.

“My criticism was anchored on Section 171(1) of the Constitution, which has empowered the President to appoint any person to hold or act in the office of the head of any extra-ministerial department of the Federal Government.

“Although I have not been served with any summons from the Senate, I deem it fit to take issue with members of the Senate over the threatened violation of my fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“However, the power to conduct enquiries is not at large. Thus, by virtue of Section 88 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution the National Assembly shall have power to direct or cause to be directed investigation into the conduct of any person, authority, ministry or agency of the Federal Government subject to the provisions of the constitution,” Sagay said.

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) cited three instances regarding the power of the national assembly to summon people.

Sagay said the cases of Innocent Adikwu v. Federal House of Representatives ((1982) 3 NCLR 394 at 416), Senate of National Assembly v. Momoh ((1983) 4 NCLR 269 at 29), and Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai v. The House of Representatives, National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & Ors ((2003) 46 WRN 70) showed that the senate lacked the right to summon him.

It reads further: “Applying the principle of law, enunciated in the above cited cases, I am fortified in my submission that the Senate lacks the constitutional power to summon me to justify my condemnation of the illegal actions of its members.

“The Senate cannot be accuser, prosecutor and judge in its own case. However, any aggrieved member of the Senate has the liberty to sue me for defamation in a competent court of jurisdiction.

“Consequently, I urge you to withdraw the resolution summoning me to appear before the Senate. If you fail to accede to my request, I will not hesitate to challenge the legal validity of the summons, once it is served on me.”

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Human waste was last week found in Coca-Cola cans in a bottling factory in Lisburn, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Following the discovery of faeces in the cans, Coca-Cola had no choice but to suspend night-time processing.

The beverage giant said that all the affected cans have been impounded and that the contamination did not affect any products that were on sale.

The police service of Northern Ireland said it had opened an inquiry into how faeces ended up in the cans at the Helllenic Bottling Company factory.

“Detectives are investigating an incident at commercial premises in the Lisburn area following reports that a consignment of containers delivered to the premises had been contaminated,” said a PSNI spokesperson.

“The investigation is at an early stage and there are no further details available at this time.”

Coca-Cola said it values the safety and quality of its products and that it was taking the matter “extremely seriously”.

“We are aware of an incident involving empty cans at our plant in Knockmore Hill, Lisburn. We are treating this matter extremely seriously and are conducting a thorough investigation in co-operation with the PSNI,” said the company.

“The problem was identified immediately through our robust quality procedures and all of the product from the affected production was immediately impounded and will not be sold. This is an isolated incident and does not affect any products currently on sale.”

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Emir Sanusi and President Buhari

Muhammadu Sanusi II, emir of Kano, says the praise singers of President Muhammadu Buhari are the enemies of his government.

He said they could destroy his efforts.

Sanusi’s statement is coming after Isa Misau, senator representing Borno south, had said the enemies of Buhari are within the presidency.

In an Instagram post on Friday, Sanusi said Buhari needs people who would be brave enough to tell him where he may be going wrong.

he emir said people were afraid of speaking out against “evil”.

“The praise singers around the President Muhammadu Buhari are the real enemies of the government who could destroy his efforts,” Sanusi said.

“I feel sorry for the people in government because they are surrounded by enemies. T‎he President needed people who will tell him where he goes wrong. I‎ ‎knew power was transient, I spoke the truth during my time at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), no matter the consequences.

“Some were afraid to speak out against evil because they were afraid of losing their jobs. All the people they were afraid of years ago, where are they today? For those who are still in power, remember that it is transient,‎ If you want to be a true Nigerian, tell the present government where they’re going wrong.”

The monarch added that the “only thing that is permanent is what you do for people when you were alive”.

He said public officer holders would be remembered for their service, not the amount of money they accumulate.

Sanusi noted that he was not surprised when he was asked to resign as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) during the last administration.

“I wasn’t surprised about my suspension; I knew it would happen, because I had been called and asked to resign, and I said ‘no’. I was not going to make it easy for anyone. ‎My answer was simple. You asked me to resign for telling you money has been stolen,” he said.

“Ask the minister to resign first. You forget that the person, either the President or the Governor, is also occupying a transient position. All the people that people were afraid of two, three years ago, where are they today? ‎Power is transient.

“If you’re a governor or a President or a minister, it does not matter how much you have; you will be remembered for service, not the amount of money you have that you cannot even announce.‎”