Nigerian Military Kills 10 Terrorists, Destroys Bomb Making Factory

The Nigerian military on Saturday said it killed 10 insurgents and destroyed a bomb manufacturing factory near the country’s border with Cameroon.

This is according to the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Sani Usman, who made this known in statement made available to journalists on Saturday.

Colonel Sani said the military made tremendous gains in the various sectors in the ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency in the northeast.

According to him, troops from the 121 Task Force Battalion moved through key villages along the border and linked up with the Cameroonian forces.

The villages included Mararraba, Angwan Fada Dale, Wizha, Bokko Timit, Bokko Nasanu, Bokko Hide, up to Ngoshe.

During the operations, Mr. Usman said Boko Haram hideouts in the area were cleared.

“In the process, the troops killed 10 Boko Haram terrorists and also rescued 45 persons which included 17 women and 28 children,” the army spokesperson said.

“The troops also discovered that the terrorists cratered the road linking Pulka, Mararraba and Ngoshe and safely detonated 5 IEDs buried by the terrorists.

“In addition, they also destroyed an IED manufacturing workshop in the village. They also cleared Sino village.”

Besides, he said the Cameroonian forces knocked out gun trucks belonging to the insurgents, raided and cleared several IED making factories along the border towns.

On a sad note, the military reported that a patrol team from 5 Brigade, traversing Dogon Gida and New Marte stepped on an undetected IED buried by suspected terrorists.

Four soldiers suffered various degrees of injuries and their vehicle badly damaged.

Mr. Usman said the wounded soldiers were evacuated by Nigerian Air Force, while the affected team was reinforced to continue with the patrol of the area.

In another flank, he said troops from the 25 and 26 Task Force Brigades, in conjunction with Cameroonian forces, carried out clearance operation against the insurgents around Ngoshe village.

While the Cameroonian troops carried out the clearance, their Nigerian counterparts provided blocking forces at strategic points where they decisively dealt with terrorists that tried to escape, Mr Usman said.

Osun’s Strategy Against Unemployment

By Ayo Akinola and Bola Akande

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed that no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. This figure could be a conservative estimate of the actual number of unemployed youths in the country, going by previous statistics released by NBS, which put the number of jobless Nigerians at 20.3 million.

The above is a reflection of previous governments’ inability to design policies that will create more jobs, or provide enabling environment that could encourage both individuals and the private sector to expand employment opportunities without let or hindrance.

It is in line with the above that the Osun State Government established an office known as Osun Job Centre. This is in pursuance of a key component of Governor Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola-led administration’s Six Point Integral Action Plan which is banishment of unemployment from the state. The Job Centre is established as a State Government-funded one-stop employment agency with desk offices located at each of the 30 local government areas.

The Centre will act as a facilitator between job seekers and employers by providing employment information and services to a wide range of people, from the unemployed looking for employment, the underemployed looking for better jobs, to employers advertising job openings. It is aimed at eradicating barriers to employment by promoting education, training and business enterprise. It will contribute to the personal development of the labour force through the creation of opportunities for their productive engagement and utilisation.

The centre provides employment service tools such as an infrastructure for the business community to post its skills needs as well as in-house computers with free access to the internet.

To provide a venue where job seekers can meet and network with representatives of prospective employers from diverse sectors of the economic with the possibility of securing employment.

However, the private sector also has a role to play in creating employment, as experience has shown that government alone cannot provide all the needed jobs.  Unemployed persons will also have to start working towards self-employment, through which they may even provide jobs for others.

Unemployment and poverty have become serious problems that all levels of government must tackle with sincerity of purpose to keep the nation’s youths productively engaged and out of avoidable trouble.

These efforts by Osun government are worthy of emulation by other states of the federation. Governor Aregbesola once declared that Osun, out of the 36 states, has the lowest rate of unemployed people, particularly among her teeming youths, due to the determination of his administration to banish poverty and unemployment among its people.

This new move at establishing a job centre is just one of them. These efforts were recently corroborated by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, when he declared that Osun is one of the states with lowest in poverty.

“The indication (in Osun) is that because there is a lot of investment on the people, poverty has been reduced and that is what we (the Federal Government) are trying to achieve in Nigeria,” Osinbajo said.

Aregbesola was quoted as saying: “The development of micro and small businesses forms a core component of our poverty alleviation and economic empowerment strategy.

“This is part of our six-point integral action plan that, among others, seeks to banish poverty, unemployment and hunger.

“We have designed programmes aimed at unlocking our people’s creativity and genuinely set them on the path of self-employment and self-reliance.

“I am certain that our people are hard-working and would at all time take pride in working to earn a decent living.

“With the numerous programmes we are implementing, we are on the road to change the fortune of our state and lives of our people for better.

“Many of these programmes such as OYES, O’REAP, O’YESTECH, O’MEALs, O’Schools, O’Beef and O’BOPS, among others, have offered many of our youths self-reliant job opportunities.”

  • Ayo Akinola, is a publisher and media consultant based in Lagos and Bola Akande is a former commissioner for Human Resources and Capacity Building, Osun State

Oluwo Salutes Osun Police Gallantry, Congratulates Aregbesola On Security Investments

The Oluwo of Iwo, Oba AbdulRasheed Adewale Akanbi, on Saturday commended what he called the gallantry of the men of the Nigeria Police Force Osun command while armed robbers made attempt to rob banks in Ikirun on Friday.

Oba Akanbi also congratulated Governor Rauf Aregbesola for having the foresight to consider security as the first major thing to be put in place ahead of everything adding that if not for the adequate provisions made for the police by the Aregbesola Administration robberies such as this would have been carried out with law enforcement agencies looking helpless.

The monarch, in a statement on Saturday which was signed by Spokesman for the Palace, Prince Dauda Abimbola, said without adequate security, investments either local or foreign, would remain a mirage.

“There is no doubt that Osun is impregnable for criminals and this is commendable. This can easily be attributed to the foresight of Governor Aregbesola in considering security most paramount. I am aware of the state’s heavy investments in security equipment. I am aware of about 25 highly sophisticated Armoured Personnel Carriers provided the police which are so common on our roads in Osun. I am ware of the many patrol vans. Everywhere you, there is a sense of security because you see these highly motivated men and women of the police and other agencies prepared for their jobs.

“What happened in our state on Friday was test case again on the preparedness of our security agencies to combat crime. We must congratulate the government for this and we most salute the gallantry of the officers who showed confidence and prevented the men from their evil plot,” the Oluwo Said.

While congratulating both the Police and the state government, the Oluwo urged them not to relent adding that criminals of today employ new tactics to overwhelm their victims.

He added, “I want to urge the government and the police to intensify efforts in the area of security. Our attempt to promote our culture through tourism would be a mirage if visitors feel unsafe. I also urge residents of the state to be vigilant while cooperating with the law enforcement agencies in the efforts to make Osun uncomfortable for criminal activities.”

Free Feeding: Kaduna Govt Sacks Headmaster, Suspends 2 Others For Diverting Pupils’s Biscuits, Oranges

The Kaduna State Government has sacked two senior education officials and suspended two others for diverting food meant for the feeding of primary school pupils. The Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Dr Shehu Adamu, said at a news briefing in Kaduna on Thursday, that the officials had circumvented laid down procedures of the government’s Schools Feeding Programme, which commenced in January.

“A School Support Officer in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area (LGA), Ibrahim Abdullahi has been sacked for supplying oranges and biscuits meant for school pupils to a fruits vendor in Birning Gwari to sell for him. “Also, the Headmaster of L.E.A Labi, in Karji, Kubau LGA was also sacked for collecting bribe from a vendor who received government money but did not cook. “Instead of returning the money she shared it with the headmaster.

“We have also received a report that the Headmaster of Nuhu Bamali Primary School in Kaduna South LGA loaded his car with pupils’ oranges and drove out. “The headmaster has been suspended until investigation is concluded and if found guilty, he will also be sacked. “The police is also investigating the Headmaster of Nomadic Fulani School in Ricifa, Soba LGA for inflating the number of pupils in the school.

“He is also suspended and would be sacked if found guilty,” Adamu said. The commissioner disclosed that a query had been issued to the Education Secretary of Igabi LGA, for allegedly contracting men as food vendors for the schools feeding programme instead of women. “According to the report, the men would cook the food and hire women to serve the pupils in the schools. We are investigating the matter and he would be sacked if found wanting.”

The commissioner also said that the ministry was investigating allegations that some vendors were supplying soya bean sauce in place of egg sauce to pupils. He warned that any food vendor found engaged in the practice would be prosecuted. Adamu said the government would undertake the biometric data capture of all the food vendors contracted for the programme, to stop the replacement of the vendors from the original list by some mischievous officials.

He appealed to Parent Teachers Association and School-Based Management Boards to strictly monitor the programme and report anyone found undermining the process. Over 1.5 million pupils in over 4,000 primary schools are benefiting from the free feeding programme.


EFCC Declares Tompolo Wanted

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday declared a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, wanted.

The anti-graft agency in an advertorial signed by its Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said it declared Tompolo wanted following two bench warrants issued against him by a Federal High Court in Lagos, where he has been charged with N45.9bn fraud.

In the said advertorial which carried a photograph of Tompolo, the EFCC described him as a 47-year-old, dark-complexioned man from Okerenkoko, Gbaramotu Kingdom in the Warri South-WestLocal Government Area of Delta State.

The wanted Tompolo, whose address was given as No. 1, Chief Agbanu Street, DDPA Extension, Warri, Delta State, is said to speak both Izon and English languages.

The public announcement issued by Uwujaren read in part, “The general public is hereby notified that Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a. Tompolo), whose photograph appears above, is wanted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in relation to the offence of conspiracy, illegal diversion of the sum of N34,000,000,000.00 and N11,900,000,000.00 belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.”

Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos issued a bench warrant against Tompolo on January 14 after he shunned a summons dated January 12 issued on him by the judge to appear in connection with the fraud charges filed against him and nine others by the EFCC.
Justice Buba had then ordered the law enforcement agencies to produce Tompolo before him on February 8 for him to answer the charges, but rather than appear in court on January 8, Tompolo brought an application seeking to quash the bench warrant and arrest order.

The judge, who dismissed the application for lacking in merit, renewed the arrest warrant and directed all law enforcement agencies to produce Tompolo before him on February 19.

Tompolo’s lawyer, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), after failing to get the bench warrant vacated, turned down the responsibility of undertaking to produce his client in court.

Oyetibo said it was the responsibility of the prosecution to produce the suspect in court.
The EFCC filed 40 counts against Tompolo and nine others, including the immediate-past Director-General of NIMSA, Patrick Akpobolokemi.
The other suspects in the charge are Kime Engozu, Rex Elem, Gregory Mbonu and Capt. Warredi Enisuoh.

The suspects were charged along with four companies, namely: Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, Odimiri Electrical Limited, Boloboere Property and Estate Limited and Destre Consult Limited.

The suspects were accused of diverting and converting to their personal use a sum of N34bn and N11.9bn belonging to NIMASA.

The offence, according to EFCC, is contrary to Section 18 (a) of theMoney Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012 and were liable to punishment under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.


Egyptian Government To Expand National School Feeding Programme To Reach All Public Schools

WFP in Egypt has been supporting the National School Feeding Programme (NSFP) since 1968 and is currently reaching 636,000 children with its in-school fortified date bar snacks.

The Egyptian delegation at the board meeting in Rome on Tuesday presented its plan to further expand the NSFP so as to reach all government-funded schools. WFP’s strong partnership with the Egyptian Government is crucial in supporting this expansion, as the continuing working relationship between WFP and its government counterparts has been a best practice that ensured expansion of the programme and scale-up of operations.

The Ministry of Social Solidarity developed the strategy, in coordination with the Ministries of Education, Health and Population, Agriculture and Land Reclamation and key stakeholders.

“The Government considers school feeding as one of the mechanisms that complements the development of social protection in Egypt from an equity-based approach,” said Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali.

“School feeding provides children with a nutritional meal that responds to the nutritional needs of school children, improves their cognitive capacities, and also eases some of the financial burden on their families,” she added. “The government is exerting efforts to alleviate poverty and to eventually contribute to social and economic development.”

The importance of school feeding has also been stressed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who has announced that a national school feeding strategy is a current priority on the State’s agenda.

“We are working very closely with the Egyptian Government in targeting the communities most in need in Egypt with our school-feeding activities. The date bars that WFP provides to the children in schools are fortified with vitamins and minerals that provide 25 percent of the child’s daily nutritional needs,” said Menghestab Haile, WFP Acting Country Director in Egypt.

“The in-school snacks also act as an incentive for families to enroll their children in the schools,” added Haile.

The objective of the expanded NSFP is to eventually cover all government schools, acting as both a safety net and as a sustainable investment in human capital, thus fitting into Government’s efforts to achieve ‘Education for all.’

It will also contribute to the Egyptian Government’s work towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), signed during meetings of the United Nations last September. SDG2 focuses on eliminating hunger and achieving food security by 2030.

“The Egyptian strategy on school feeding is aligned with the 2030 agenda, in particular SDG2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition. The current (Government) programme covers 13.5 million students with total government finances of 957 million Egyptian pounds,” said Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Security, Ambassador Hisham Badr.

The European Union is one of the major contributors, along with the United States, Germany, and private-sector members, to school-feeding programmes in Egypt.

The Evolution of Brazil’s National School Feeding Program

Brazil’s school feeding program first started in 1954 to address child hunger and improve school attendance. “At the beginning it was about a matter of feeding kids to go to school,” says Eduardo Manyari, an international adviser to the National School Feeding Program. “Some of them were very hungry. Through this action, they attended school more often.”

Back then, the program was targeted to only the poorest parts of the country. In 2003, it was made a part of the national Zero Hunger Program to reduce hunger and ensure food security. At the time it was estimated that 44 million people, or 28 percent of the total population of Brazil, made less than $1 a day. But as the Zero Hunger Program brought down levels of poverty and hunger, overweight and obesity-related health problems began to rise.

In 2009, when the government enacted the School Feeding Law, mandating school meals to all students enrolled in public schools across the country, overweight and obesity were fast becoming a national issue. Today, an estimated one-third of Brazilian children between the ages of five and nine are overweight. That is why nutrition and nutritional education have become a central part of the school feeding program, says Albaneide Peixinho, who was the national coordinator for the school meal program for nearly 13 years. “Instead of just providing food because the population is hungry, the program is supposed to supply basic nutritional needs of the kids,” she says.

School meals are required to provide at least 30 percent of daily nutritional requirements in schools that offer two or more meals a day, 70 percent for kids enrolled in full-time basic education and at least 20 percent for those enrolled part-time. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a regular part of meals. Sodas and cookies are not allowed. And the levels of sugar and salt in each item on the menu have to be within nationally set limits.

“Right now, when we talk about nutrition, we’re teaching them good [eating] habits,” Manyari says.

This growing stress on the right kind of nutrition has made nutritionists key to this program. Every city or municipality hires a certain number of nutritionists depending on the number of students in public schools in their area.

“The nutritionist prepares the menu,” Peixinho says. The menu has to meet nutritional requirements. “Based on this menu, they decide what is going to be purchased by the school.” It is the nutritionists’ job to monitor the program and make sure each school abides by national standards.

“There are around 8,000 nutritionists working in the program now,” she says.

Nutritionist Christine Kojhi Golin, 29, works for the city of Sao Paulo, and her workday involves visits to a few schools every day. She supervises the preparation of the food in each school and monitors “the level of hygiene in the school kitchens, the stock of ingredients and how well the children accept the food.”

In almost every school I visited in the state of Sao Paulo and the city Brasilia, I watched kids eat their school meals with gusto. In each case, it was served hot, freshly cooked in the school kitchen. Staff in some schools confessed that kids have often refused to eat certain vegetables and fruits, especially the first time they are offered. This is a problem documented by studies as well. When it happens, school teachers, cooks and nutritionists work together to convince the kids otherwise. Sometimes it takes a cook telling the students how much love and hard work she had put into cooking the food. And sometimes it takes a teacher or nutritionist sharing meals with students.

If the students still don’t accept the food, then the nutritionist has to figure out a new recipe that might be more acceptable. If there are children with special needs, such as specific allergies, then she has to prepare a separate menu for them.

But a nutritionist’s duties don’t end there. In addition, “we also work with teachers and parents doing nutrition education activities,” says nutritionist Isabelle Pinheiro Dias da Cruz, 25, who often works with Golin. When teachers are aware of good food habits and nutrition, they can encourage their students to eat healthier—more fruits and vegetables and less junk food and sodas. Educating parents ensures that children eat healthier at home too.

It is too soon to say whether these efforts have had a measurable impact on the numbers of overweight and obese children in Brazil—there has been no national level study to prove this. But the meals have certainly improved in quality. “When I took office, I found that most schools were serving cookies and juices to students,” says Peixinho. This study shows that the school meals have gotten healthier and fresher in the past decade. Data collected by the Brazilian government shows that in 2004, 57 percent of school menus offered vegetables. By 2010, that went to 90 percent. And this presumably is having a positive impact on children’s health.

“I’m certain that the food we are giving to the children is of very good quality,” Golin says. And that makes her proud of her work, she adds.

Photo credit:  Rhittu Chatterjee

Pulitzer Center

FG Condoles Victims Of Dikwa IDP Camp Suicide Bombing In Borno

…orders formidable security around camp

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria, has expressed profound condolences to the families of victims of yesterday’s suicide bombing of an IDP camp in Dikwa, Borno State, and also the entire people and government of the state.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande.

The Vice President prayed are that the Almighty God will comfort families of the victims and grant the injured persons quick recovery.

The Vice President stated that it is indeed regrettable that the heartless terrorists chose to unleash their wickedness on people who were taking refuge from previous acts of destruction in their homes.

He reassured the nation that the full weight of the federal government’s force will be deployed to hunt down the perpetrators of this evil act and also to confront terrorists continuously in the protection of life, liberty and property of all Nigerians: there will be no hiding place for terrorists.

Mr. Laolu stated that, “Prof. Osinbajo has given directives that formidable security in and around the IDP Camps in the country be beefed up and renewed measures put in place to guard against future occurrences.”

Aregbesola Orders Reopening Of Sealed Iron And Steel Rolling Mills

By Mustafa Ahmed Tijani, Osogbo

The Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has ordered the immediate reopening of the two Iron and Steel Rolling Mills recently closed at Ikirun and Ile-Ife.

This was contained in a press release signed by the General Manager and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Environment and Sanitation, Alhaji Ganiyu Oyeladun in Osogbo.

The Governor enjoined the two factories to always ensure that gaseous waste emanating from their factories are adequately treated before being discharged into the environment.

They were also advised to maintain a high standard of sanitation and a sustainable approach towards best practices that is in-line with approved standard.

How Senator Akpabio, Governor Emmanuel Procured Controversial Supreme Court Judgment

An inside source within Akwa Ibom State Government has spoken to SaharaReporters about a shady deal Governor Udom Emmanuel and his predecessor, former Governor Godswill Akpabio, struck with justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria prior to the apex court’s judgment on Wednesday February 3, 2015 validating the state’s governorship election.

A source close to the Attorney General of Akwa Ibom State told SaharaReporters that the “negotiations” on how to “capture the Supreme Court” started in late December of 2015, shortly after the Nigerian Court of Appeal made an omnibus nullification of elections held throughout Akwa Ibom State.

The source, who sought anonymity, disclosed that the state’s immediate past governor, Mr. Akpabio, who is the minority leader at the Nigerian Senate, had reached out to Justice John Inyang Okoro of the Supreme Court to help broker a deal with Chief Justice Mahmud Mohammed and other justices of the Supreme Court to overturn the Appeal Court’s judgment.

“Akpabio was instrumental to the elevation of Justice Okoro to the Supreme Court by former President [Goodluck] Jonathan in 2013. As such, it was payback time,” said the source, adding, “Initially, we thought that it would not be possible to penetrate the Supreme Court, but Justice Okoro and other powerful forces made it possible.”

The source revealed that Mr. Akpabio and Governor Udom directed the state’s Attorney General to work closely with Justice Okoro to ensure that the judgment favored the PDP.

“A pre-hearing conference was held in Abuja between the AG, Justice Okoro, Justice Chima Centus Nweze [another Supreme Court justice], some PDP members and the governor’s legal,” our source said. According to him, Justice Nweze actually coached the governor’s team on the issues they should emphasize in their briefs, so that the Supreme Court would depend on those briefs to overturn the Appeal Court’s judgment.”

Our source disclosed that Justice Nweze instructed the lawyers representing the state government to argue that, since the maker of the card reader accreditation report did not tender the document, no “probative value” should be attached to it. The government’s lawyers were asked to stress the point that the other parties had no opportunity for cross-examination.

In addition, the lawyers were told to argue that the petitioners’ case was contradictory. “Justice Nweze asked our lawyers to emphasize that, even though the petition contended that there was no election in the state, they went ahead to tender the card reader accreditation report, voters register, ballot papers and other documents used during the election,” said our source.

“Another technical point the justices told the lawyers to use was that the Appeal Court’s judgment did not overturn the decision of the electoral tribunal which had rejected the evidence of forensic experts called by the petitioners. Yet the petitioners went ahead to rely on the evidence of forensic experts on the total number of persons accredited based on the voters register during the election.”

Regarding the petitioners’ argument that there was no collation of results, Justices Okoro and Nweze coached Mr. Nwoko and the PDP lawyers to argue that the petitioners had failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove their case. They were also told to argue that even the court could collate election results, where the need arises. The Supreme Court justices taught Mr. Nwoko and his legal team to argue that non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act must be proved polling unit by polling unit.

A senior lawyer familiar with the state government’s arguments told SaharaReporters that they were mere technicalities that should not have been used to settle the legal dispute. He said, for example, that it was not legally mandatory for the maker of a duly certified public document, like the card reader accreditation report, to personally tender the document.

Said the lawyer: “In the case of Akwa Ibom, the report was duly certified by INEC which conducted the election. All the parties, including INEC, relied on this same report in their pleadings. They even said they would produce it at the trial. So the issue of cross-examination of the maker of the report does not arise because the authenticity of the document was never disputed by any of the parties.” He asked, “What contradictions are they talking about? The argument that the petitioners cannot say that there was no election and still go ahead to tender ballot papers, voter register and other documents is ridiculous. What the petitioners said was that no election known to law was conducted in Akwa Ibom State. Election is only election if it complies substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act. In any event, the said ballot papers were mangled and destroyed by corrupt INEC officials. Why should anyone who said he conducted [an] election destroy ballot papers purportedly used for the said election? The voters register also showed that only 448, 307 people were accredited, as opposed to the more than 1.2 million votes declared. What other demonstration did they expect when the petitioners had used the voters register during trial to cross-examine witnesses called by the respondents which showed that most of the witnesses called by the respondents were not accredited?”

The lawyer described as “nonsensical” the argument that the Court of Appeal did not overturn the tribunal’s rejection of the evidence of the forensic experts. He remarked that the petitioners had specifically appealed against the rejection and the Appeal Court upheld the appeal. “The law does not require the court to use a particular language to express its positions. It is also untenable for anyone to ask the petitioners, in a case like this, to call witnesses in all the polling units in the State. If that were so, then the trial would not have been concluded in one year,” he said, adding that the card reader report and the voters register proved there was over voting in all the 2982 polling units of the State.

The lawyer further contended that the petitioners had established numerous cases of multiple signing, mutilation and alteration of results and collation forms in 27 out of the 31 local government areas of the state.

“It is rather strange for the Supreme Court to just throw away all the evidence of non-compliance and corrupt practices,” the lawyer stated. He added that the verdict left the impression of an attempt to justify a pre-determined outcome. “Does it mean that the judges who sat over this case at the tribunal and the Appeal Court were not sound in law? How can the Supreme Court just reject the very card reader that brought sanity into our electoral process? Is INEC not empowered by the Constitution and the Electoral Act to issue binding guidelines for elections? Where in the Electoral Act is ticking of names of voters as evidence of accreditation provided for?”

According to the lawyer, the respondents had contended that card readers worked effectively, claiming that they used incident forms where the readers failed. “The question is: where are the Incident Forms?” he asked.

Decrying the decline in the reputation of the Supreme Court, the lawyer noted that the petitioners had submitted 350 pieces of documentary evidence, including videos, accusing the Supreme Court of deciding to look the other way.

Our source in Akwa Ibom claimed that Justice Okoro held a series of clandestine meetings with Senator Akpabio, Mr. Nwoko and Governor Emmanuel before the February 3rd Supreme Court judgment. He said one of the meetings took place on Tuesday January 19, 2016, around 2 a.m. in the Reiz Continental Hotel in Abuja Central Business District.

The Supreme Court justices read their controversial verdict at night on February 3, 2015. Mr. Akpabio arrived at the court with great fanfare, after the Chief Justice of Nigeria and other members of the seven-judge panel had retired to finalize their judgment.

A retinue of journalists and policemen accompanied Mr. Akpabio to court. Once the former governor entered the courtroom, security agents at the Supreme Court blocked other people from entering or leaving the courtroom. Even before the judgment was read, Mr. Akpabio was heard stating that “it is all over.” He counseled the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Umana Okon Umana, and other APC officials to return to Akwa Ibom and “begin reconciliation.”

Shortly after Mr. Akpabio’s arrival in court, Nigeria’s Chief Justice and six other members of his panel returned into the court and upheld Mr. Udom Emmanuel as the elected governor of Akwa Ibom State. Justice Chima Nweze read the judgment.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to give reasons for its judgment on February 15, 2016.

In a fierce reaction to the judgment, Nigeria’s top election observer group, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), accused the Supreme Court of “legalizing electoral robberies,” adding that the court was “aiding poll robbers” and “ridiculing Nigeria before the global community.”

The United States Embassy in Nigeria, the European Union, and Nigerian Election Situation Room described the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Akwa Ibom State as a sham.

Sahara Reporters

TSA Hits N2.3trn With 98% Compliance By MDAs

… FG, IMF Urge States To Adopt System
The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF), yesterday said it has mopped up N2.3 trillion  into the Treasury Single Account (TSA).

Its Director of Funds, Mr. Mohammed Dikwa, disclosed this at the opening session of the workshop on TSA in Abuja.

He said with over  17,000 bank accounts being operated at the federal level in commercial banks, government had no choice but to introduce the TSA which has so far helped in mopping up about N2.3trillion into the various accounts maintained and operated at the  Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In similar vein, the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr.Alhaji Ahmed Idris, said 98 per cent of the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have complied with the TSA.

He said following government’s February last year directive, all federal MDAs are now on TSA operating their account successfully through the CBN.

Idris said: “As at December 2015, 726 MDAs, which are responsible for almost 98 per cent of the national budget have complied fully.”

According to him, the challenges encountered in the adoption of the TSA were entrenched resistance from banks and the MDAs, which the Federal Government has now overcome.

With the massive compliance, the AGF noted, the new challenge is that of capacity building , and the application of information technology (IT).

In her opening remarks, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who was represented by Mr. Adeseye Shefuye said the  balance, which changes daily as MDAs remit revenues and make payments, according to the latest reports from CBN exceeded N2.2 Trillion.

She said: “I can report that work is now ongoing within the Treasury, to determine how much of these funds can potentially be utilised to part fund the 2016 budget and how much relates to pending commitments. This, of course, will reduce the amount to be borrowed.”

TSA, she said,  has provided government with financial information on the revenues of agencies funded by government and has reduced revenue suppression.

She noted that the information is being used to drive government’s programme to enforce compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act and ensure that revenue generating agencies generate expected surpluses and remit to the Federation Account.

Mrs Adeosun said: “TSA has eliminated opportunities for brokerage and other corrupt practices that previously encouraged agencies to accumulate funds with commercial banks rather than apply them to their intended uses.