News

0 78
Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser (NSA)

The presidential panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe arms procurement between 2007 and 2015 has been disbanded, according to reports by Punch Newspaper.

It was gathered that among other reasons, the panel, which uncovered a $15bn fraud in arms procurement, was scrapped because government believed it had outlived its usefulness.

Punch says its correspondent learnt that before its dissolution, the panel had begun moves to investigate the tenure of the present National Security Adsiver,  Babagana Monguno, as the Chief of Defence Intelligence between July  2009 and September,  2011.

The panel had submitted its first interim report in November 2015 while it presented the second report in January 2016 following which Buhari ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to investigate 18 serving and retired military officers, mainly from the Air Force.

The paper’s investigation revealed that the panel, which has AVM J.O.N. Ode (retd.) as the chairman, was dissolved by the NSA.

The paper writes:

A top government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the panel was asked to hand over to the EFCC.

The source said the anti-graft commission had already taken over the assignment.

When asked why the panel was dissolved, the source said the NSA who set up the committee was of the view that it had run its course.

“The NSA is of the view that they have run out of time. You know they have a time frame and he said they wanted to perpetuate themselves. And you know they have a budget and have been drawing money,” the source said.

But another top official in government, who craved anonymity, confirmed that it was disbanded to avoid a clash with the NSA.

The source said the committee ran into trouble with Monguno when members decided to probe his tenure as the Chief of Defence Intelligence from July 2009 to September 2011.

Meanwhile, a source close to the committee has told our correspondent that he is not aware of the dissolution.

“I have not been told officially that the panel has been dissolved. It was the President that set up the panel. We will wait for him to return,” he said.

According to reports in May last year, the panel during its investigation discovered that the total amount  involved in arms fraud was $15bn.

Apart from Ode, who is the panel’s president, the committee’s members include R/Adm. J.A. Aikhomu (retd.); R/Adm. E. Ogbor (retd.); Brig.-Gen. L. Adekagun (retd.); Brig.-Gen. M. Aminu-Kano (retd.); Brig.-Gen. N. Rimtip (retd.); Cdre T.D. Ikoli; Air Cdre U. Mohammed (retd.); Air Cdre I. Shafi’i; Col. A.A. Ariyibi; Gp Capt C.A. Oriaku (rtd.); and the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu. The panel has Brig-Gen Y.I. Shalangwa as its Secretary.

Following the submission of the panel’s second interim report, Buhari had on January 15, 2016 directed the EFCC to carry out further investigation into the alleged misconduct established against some retired and serving officers of the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Army.

Those affected in the order included embattled former National Security Adviser, Lt.-Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.); a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (retd.); and two former Chiefs of Air Staff, Air Marshal MD Umar (retd.) and Air Marshal Adesola Amosun (retd.).

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had disclosed the President’s directive in a statement made available to journalists.

Shehu had listed others that the President asked the EFCC to probe to include: Maj.-Gen. ER Chioba (retd.); AVM IA Balogun (retd.); AVM AG Tsakr (retd.); AVM AG Idowu (retd.); AVM AM Mamu; AVM OT Oguntoyinbo; AVM T Omenyi; AVM JB Adigun; AVM RA Ojuawo; AVM JA Kayode-Beckley; Air Cdre SA Yushau (retd.); Air Cdre AO Ogunjobi; Air Cdre GMD Gwani; Air Cdre SO Makinde; Air Cdre AY Lassa; and Col. N Ashinze.

He added that following the submission of the audit committee’s second interim report, the President had also directed the EFCC to investigate the roles of the officers as well as some companies and their directors in fundamental breaches associated with the procurements by the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Nigerian Air Force.

He gave the names of those affected to include:  Messrs Societe D’ Equipments Internationaux; Himma Aboubakar; Aeronautical Engineering and Technical Services Limited; Messrs Syrius Technologies; Dr. Theresa A. Ittu; Sky Experts Nig Ltd.; Omenyi Ifeanyi Tony; Huzee Nig. Ltd.; GAT Techno Dynamics Ltd.; Gbujie Peter Obie and Onuri Samuel Ugochukwu.

Others were  Spacewebs Interservices Ltd.; Oguntoyinbo Tayo; Oguntoyinbo Funmi; Delfina Oil and Gas Ltd.; Chief Jacobs Bola; Mono Marine Corporation Nig. Ltd.; Geonel Intergrated Services Ltd.; Sachi Felicia; Mudaki Polycarp and Wolfgang Reinl.

 

0 30

Two children have died in a fire that razed a part of the Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Jere local government of Borno state.

The camp which is one of the unofficial ones is located few kilometres from the state capital, Maiduguri.

According to eye witnesses, the flame spread quickly because the tents were erected with dried stalk which is a highly combustible material.

At least 400 families reportedly lost their homes to the disaster before men of the State Fire Service arrived the scene to prevent further spread.

Sources at the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said some of the IDPs are from Marte and Mafa areas of the state, while others are migrants from smaller villages and the state capital.

Survivors of the misfortune have blamed the incident on one of their fellow IDPs who was said to have been roasting groundnuts when the fierce wind blew embers from the fire she lit to the thatched shelters.

Unfortunately, the children could not be rescued from the flames in good time.

0 34

The Federal High Court, Abuja, will on February 28 rule on the application of Umar Mohammed seeking permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Justice John Tsoho fixed the date following an appeal from Hassan Liman, counsel to Mr. Mohammed, that he needed more time to provide the court with relevant documents to back his application.

Mr. Liman told the court that he came ready to move the application but was confronted with a counter affidavit by the prosecution “vehemently” opposing his application.

He said the reason that the prosecution gave was that the ailment for which Mr. Mohammed was seeking to travel abroad was treatable in Nigeria.

“In the light of this, we need to file a further affidavit because the defendant got a review of his health condition at the National Hospital, Abuja, but it is not before the court.

“We crave your indulgence for a short adjournment to enable us present all the necessary material in regards to our application before the court so that my lord can take a decision on the matter.”

The prosecuting counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, said that ordinarily, the prosecution would not object to the application since granting such an application was at the discretion of the court.

“We only did it to guide the court to take some precautionary steps in granting such an application.”

He said he had no objection to the application for an adjournment to enable the defence produce the necessary documents in court.

Mr. Mohammed, a retired air commodore, had on February 14 approached the court with an application seeking permission to travel abroad for medical treatment.

He told the court that he was suffering from the consequences of a plane crash he was involved in while still in service as an officer.

He, however, added that the request to travel abroad was not a ploy to delay the trial.

Mr. Mohammed is a former member, presidential team investigating the arms deal in the country.

The Department of State Services, DSS, had in July 2016, arraigned him over allegations of money laundering, possession of fire arms and violation of Official Secret Act.

He was accused of laundering $1.3 million (about N400 million).

0 31
Ali Modu-Sheriff, PDP Chairman

The factional PDP chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff has won his case at the Appeal Court. As a result of this latest development, the caretaker committee may have been nullified by the court, upholding Justice Abang’s judgement.

Recall that the power tussle between Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi have been ongoing for a very long time now.

It was gathered that the three judges of the court in a unanimous decision agreed that the Modu Sheriff is the chairman of the PDP.

Chieftains of the party from the two sides had at various fora expressed readiness to abide by the outcome of the appeal court verdict with a view to bringing lasting peace in the party.

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt had last year given legitimacy to Makarfi as the chairman of the party, while another court of coordinate jurisdiction in Abuja, headed by Justice Okon Abang, had ruled that Sheriff should be recognized as the chairman.

The PDP has not been able to play the role of leading opposition to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) because of the crisis ravaging it from within.

An appeal court in Abuja had on December 16, 2016, adjourned indefinitely, the separate hearing in the leadership tussle so as to pave way for the Port Harcourt division of the court to exhaust the case before it.

Both Makarfi and Sheriff have been operating from satellite offices following the closure of the national headquarters of the party, at Wadata Plaza in Abuja.

The crisis in the PDP is also raging in many states where Makarfi and Sheriff share the loyalty of members.

0 51
Second Republic Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme

Second Republic Vice President and founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Alex Ekwueme, yesterday, in Enugu, said the story of the party, sometimes, makes him weep, just as he alleged attempts by some people, who were not founding members, to convert the party to personal property, a situation he said is affecting the party adversely.

Ekwueme, while receiving the report of the PDP Strategy Review and Inter-Party Relations Committee at his Enugu residence, said the party was packaged to be a mass movement for all Nigerians just like the ANC of South Africa.

“The story of PDP makes me sometimes weep. When our founding fathers said the party would be in charge for 60 years or more, some thought they were just bragging; we started that way. In the first election on  December 5, 1998, we won massively across the country; we took control of 28 out of 36 states.

“In 1999, we ended up with 21 out of 36 governors; South-East and South-South were all PDP; 10 of the 19 governors in the North were PDP. It was a strong showing, we also had control of the National Assembly; with that showing, all we needed to do was to manage the party properly as envisaged by the founding fathers, making it a mass movement and expanding its power base.

“Unfortunately, some people who did not know how the party was formed or what informed its philosophy got involved in the party and decided to convert it to personal estate without regard to the underpinning principles of its formation and, gradually, we started to lose ground.

“At one stage, in my state, they decided to commence the re-registration of members so as to exclude members who they thought were not in their camp; that was the genesis of our present situation, coupled with lack of internal democracy. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been called to come and spearhead the process of bringing back people to our party; that was what late Yar’Adua invited me to do as soon as he took over as president.”

The former vice president expressed happiness that after the debacle of 2015, the party deemed it necessary find out what went wrong so as to take the party back to its original plan.

He promised to take time to read the report expressing confidence that with the caliber of persons involved, the party should get back to where it started if the recommendations are fully implemented.

Leader of the delegation and former foreign affairs minister, Alhaji Aminu Wali, while handing over the report, noted that it addressed the problems. “We’ve done a good job that will help revive the party. Impunity, to party discipline, impositions and intra-party problems were looked into and solutions proferred. We’ve presented the report to the caretaker committee.

“We’ve learnt our lessons; the indiscipline that bedevilled the party over the years was tackled. We want to rebrand our party and get back to the visions of the founding fathers which made it a winning party. We will revive the party and win back power by 2019,” Wali said.

Fielding questions from newsmen, a member of the committee and Chairman Daar Communications Ltd. Chief Raymond Dokpesi noted that PDP, “formed by eminent citizens, was set out to build a strong party for Nigeria, policies of government were packaged to be people oriented, but we made mistakes and lost 2015 polls; that loss opened our eyes to the problems in the party, hence, the setting up of this committee.

“There’s no faction in the party, there are a few dissidents who have right to express themselves. Our governors, senators, state chairmen, trustees are all with the caretaker committee. There’s no faction. We are all heading to Port Harcourt to get final decision from the court on the matter by Friday, February 17. PDP was a party in government and made sacrifices. We have pretenders in government right now, who don’t know anything about governance,” Dokpesi said.

0 30

The Anambra government says plans are underway to build six new modern abattoirs in three senatorial districts of the state.

Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra made this known when he inspected a FGN-UNDP project in Awka on Tuesday.

“The era of buying meat in a dirty environment is what we want to curb once and for all.

“We are going to do these abattoirs in six locations in the three senatorial zones.

”This abattoir behind me has the capacity to slaughter and prepare 40 cows per day. And that is about the meat consumption in this city, in this environment, in a day. It will replace the old and dilapidated abattoir.”

Obiano said the state would ensure that the abattoirs meet international health and environment standards.

The Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Mark Okoye, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the project sited on a one-hectare land would create over 120 direct jobs.

Okoye said funding for the project was collaboration between the state government and UNDP and it will manage by private investors.

The representative of the UNDP in the state, Ms Nneka Onwudiwe, assured the people of the organisation’s continued collaboration with the state government in all human endeavours.

NAN  reports that Obiano in October 2015 performed the foundation laying ceremony for the project estimated at N55.20 billion.

0 90
Governor Ayo Fayose

Ayo Fayose, governor of Ekiti state, yesterday stormed the office of the Minister of Finance in Abuja, Kemi Adeosun, to demand the release of the state’s share of last month’s statutory federal allocation.

He had earlier raised alarm that the All Progressive Congress (APC) federal government has stopped the state’s January allocation in an alleged effort to ground development activities in the state.

Dressed in a black trouser and multi-colored strip shirt, the governor drove into the premises of the ministry at about 3.30pm in a single Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) without any of his aide.

On arrival, he introduced himself to the ministry’s security guards who directed him to the minister’s office on the seventh floor of the building.

But the minister was not on seat as she was said to have been attending the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Presidential Villa.

He however met with other top officials of the ministry who assured that something would be done about the matter.

Speaking to Tribune Online while leaving the Ministry, Fayose advised the federal government not to do anything to harm the people of Ekiti state.

He said if the government has anything against him as a person; it should face him rather than visit the sin on innocent people of the state.

Fayose added: “Well, I’m hopeful that the money will be paid. I’m told that there is a mix up somewhere. I want to believe so. If it is in the realm of mix up, it’s ok. Ekiti workers are waiting to have this money to be paid with minimum delay.

“It’s well over two three weeks since we came for FAAC (Federal Accounts Allocation Committee) and I’m sure now that the minister has come back, it will not take time.

“But I hope this will not repeat itself because these are statutory obligations to my state. It is our right and by no means should politics take away our right.

“If the APC government has issues with me, they should face me and not deny the average man on the street their legitimate salaries having worked for 30 days.

“But I want to appreciate the minister; I want to thank her because she called me personally and assured me that things would be resolved.

“But I felt I should come because the people of Ekiti expect me to act on their behalf and that’s exactly what I have done.

“I didn’t meet that minister but I met the SA (Special Assistant) who assured me that the minister went to FEC and that when she is back, he would convey my message to her and he assured me that all would be fine in due course.”

When the Nigerian Tribune contacted the Minister of Finance on the issue, she said she was not aware of it.

Asked whether Ekiti state allocation was being withheld, Adeosun said: “Federal allocation is given monthly. I’m not aware of this.”

0 33
President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari last night thanked Nigerians for their prayers and kind wishes on his health.

In a tweet @MBuhari after he met with the leadership of the National Assembly— Senate President Bukola Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan —at the Abuja House in London, the President at 9.20pm wrote: “I thank them for visiting. I’m also grateful to Nigerians, Christians and Muslims alike, for their prayers and kind wishes on my health.”

President Buhari is on vacation and routine medical check-up in the United Kingdom.

He left the country on January 19 on a 10-day vacation, which was extended on doctors’ advice.

The delegation left the country yesterday morning, without Deputy House of Representatives Speaker Yusuff Lasun, who could not make the trip.

Lasun’s spokesman Wole Oladimeji said the deputy speaker was held back by a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament going on in Abuja..

It was learnt that the visit was at the instance of President Buhari, who reportedly asked the Senate president to come over to London for a “discussion,” which was not disclosed.

The Senate President was said to have been favourably disposed to the invitation.

It was not clear how Dogara and Lawan became part of the trip.

A source said Dogara was requested to be part of the trip by the Senate President.

The delegation arrived at the Nigerian High Commission official residence Abuja House in West London, where the President is staying, at about 8pm (Nigerians time)

President Buhari tweeted shortly after: “Pleased to receive Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and Senate leader Ahmad Lawan tonight.’

Details of what they discussed were being awaited last night.

The National Assembly presiding officers last Wednesday said they had telephone conversations with the President

The visit of the principal officers  to London followed last week’s visit by All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and erstwhile interim Chairman of the APC Chief Bisi Akande.

0 36

Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Olusola Saraki has assured that President Muhammadu Buhari who is on extended vacation in London on medical grounds is “healthy, witty and himself.”

In a statement issued after he visited Buhari along with Speaker of the House of Representstives, YakubunDogara , Saraki said there is no cause for alarm over the President’s health.

” We were delighted to see that President Buhari is doing well, was cheerful and in good spirits

” The Presdent l saw today is healthy, witty and himself.

” The President’s absence and imminent return show that there is no vacuum in government and our system of democracy is working with all organs of government fulfilling their mandate. And let me use the time tested cliche, there is no cause for alarm,” Saraki stated.

0 22
Aso Villa, Nigeria's seat of power

The Federal Government said yesterday that Nigeria’s recession was receding.

Proof: the about eight-fold over subscription of the government’s Eurobond (orders in excess of US$7.8 billion compared to a pre-issuance target of US$1bn).

Besides, the oversubscription, the government believes, has confirmed the confidence level of the international investment community in Nigeria’s economic reform agenda. A report in Issue 23 of Aso Villa’s Newsletter, Government at Work, released on Monday, also gave 11 other reasons why the government believes that the economy is on its way out of recession.

After two consecutive quarters of negative growth, according to the newsletter, the non-oil economy witnessed in Q3 2016 a modest return to positive territory at 0.03%.

It attributed this marginal growth to the continued good performance of agriculture and solid minerals, two sectors prioritised by the Federal Government.
According to it, agriculture grew by 4.54% in the quarter; crop production is at nearly 5% – its highest since the first quarter of 2014.
Growth in the solid mineral sector, the newsletter said, averaged about 7%.
The second reason why the government believes the economy is recovering is the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria, which it said substantially raised local rice production in 2016 (yields improved from two tonnes per hectare to as much as seven tonnes per hectare, in some states) and produced a model agricultural collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi states.
Thirdly, it said that the Fertiliser Intervention Project (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate) is on course to significantly raise local production, and bring the retail price of fertiliser down by about 30 percent.
Another reason given by the government is the taking off of the newly established Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), with initial funding of US$1.3bn (provided by the World Bank, German Development Bank, the African Development Bank and Agence Française de Development) to provide medium and long-term loans to MSMEs.
The newsletter states: “A new Social Housing Programme is kicking off in 2017. The ‘Family Homes Fund’ will take off with a 100 billion naira provision in the 2017 Budget. (The rest of the funding will come from the private sector).
“More than N800 billion  has been released for capital expenditure in the 2016 budget, since implementation started in June 2016. This is the largest ever capital spend within a single budget year in the history of Nigeria. These monies have enabled the resumption of work on several stalled projects – road, rail and power projects – across the country.”
The government also gave the implementation of the Social Investment and Empowerment Programme (SIP) as a reason for growth of the economy.
All the four components of the SIP, it noted, have now taken off.
The newsletter described the SIP as the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with more than 1 million beneficiaries so far: – 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries, 23,400 Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP) Scheme beneficiaries, 1,000,000 Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) beneficiaries, and ongoing Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) payments across nine pilot states.
It said: “Strategic Engagements with OPEC and in the Niger Delta have played an important part in raising our expected oil revenues. Already, Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by more than $4 billion in the last three months.
“Collaboration with China, proceeding from President Buhari’s April 2016 visit, has unlocked billion of dollars in infrastructure funding. Construction will begin on the first product of that collaboration, a 150km/hour rail line between Lagos and Ibadan, in Q1 2017.
“The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP), the Federal Government’s medium-term Economic Plan, is due for launch in February 2017, and will chart a course for the Nigerian economy over the next four years (2017 – 2020).” it stated