Gov Ahmed Seeks FG’s Intervention On Federal Roads In Kwara

The Kwara State Governor, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed has called for more support from the Federal Government in the area of infrastructural development, especially federal roads, in the state.

Governor Ahmed made the call when he received the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, at Government House, Ilorin, on Monday. According to the Governor, the call became expedient as a result of sustained pressure on the state government on federal, state and local government roads across the state.

Governor Ahmed added that, the intervention of the Federal Government on federal roads would ensure cost savings for the state government in addressing other projects left untouched.

The Governor urged the Federal Government to hasten work on the completion of Ilorin-Ogbomosho-Oyo-Ibadan road as well as Jebba-Ilorin road to ease the movement of people and goods from the Northern part of the country to the Southern part.

“The issue of road, the issue of energy are very germane to our growth and development. We’ve come thus far with very poor levels of maintenance, that is why as a country we are faced with a huge challenge in infrastructure which has impeded the much desired economic growth that Nigeria should have witnessed”, he said.

Governor Ahmed expressed the readiness of the state government in allocating lands in urban and developing environment for the Federal Government’s Housing scheme.

Earlier, the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola said the Federal Government had commenced verification of Federal roads constructed by the Kwara State Government for reimbursement assuring that the Federal Government would reimburse the state and other states of the federation once their claims were verified.

Mr. Fashola said already there is an Inter-Ministerial committee put in place by President Muhammadu Buhari to verify claims on money spent on Federal roads by the various state governments.

Mr Fashola who said the Federal Government has identified Jebba – Ilorin road as one of the most strategic economic corridors in Nigeria that require urgent attention added that frantic efforts was been made to restore normalcy to the road in view of its strategic economic nature.

How Sacked DG Spent N200b On 2015 Elections

Of the 26 Directors-General and Heads of parastatals sacked yesterday, no fewer than 10 may be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission(ICPC) for investigation, a source said last night.

It was gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari opted to give some of  the chief executives the push, following  reports of large-scale fraud in their agencies. One allegedly spent N200 billion on last year’s Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) presidential campaign.

Some of the former chief executives also awarded contracts to cronies.

The agencies under the searchlight of either the EFCC or the ICPC include National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), National Broadcasting Commission(NBC), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Bureau of Public Enterprises(BPE), National Women Development Centre(NWDC); Industrial Training Fund(ITF); Nigerian Investment Promotion Council; Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSIT), among others.

A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “At least 10 of those sacked chief executives will be handed over to the EFCC and the ICPC. The report on their misconduct is ready for these  anti-graft agencies to act upon.

“All security agencies received the list of those affected about 24 hours before the formal announcement. They will all be placed on surveillance until cleared.

“Some of them have actually appeared before EFCC and ICPC in the last eight months. Their cases are under various stages of investigation.

“The revelations are mind-boggling and it is sad that some of these chief executives continued with the impunity even after a new government had taken over.”

Responding to a question, the source added: “The President bid time to get intelligence report on the atrocities, recklessness and outright graft by some of these former CEOs before sending them packing.”

The source gave an insight into some of the infractions.

He said one of the former chief executives allegedly withdrew N200 billion (using curious sub-heads)  to fund the campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He cited the case of how a DG was implicated in a N68 billion fraud and other illegal expenditures and loans allegedly secured without proper approval.

The source also claimed that a  former female chief executive was alleged to have donated N700million to the PDP’s presidential campaign in January 2015; furnishing of an office at N800million which donor agencies can supply at no cost and the construction of a store at N240million instead of N40million.

In another instance, one of the heads of the media agencies could not account for all the advertisement cash raked in by his medium during the 2015 campaign.

Instead, about N5million was recorded as revenue from adverts during the 2015 polls.

The DG was said to have acquired a licence for an electronic medium and diverted the sophisticated equipment to the new private  outfit after using public funds to procure them.

A DG of  a sensitive agency was alleged to have hidden over N15billion in a secret account in violation of the extant regulations of Treasury Single Account(TSA).

One of the affected DGs presided over an agency which was generating about N9billion internally but as at the time he was sacked, he left more than N6billion debts for the agency.

Despite the remand of her Personal Assistant in prison over alleged N17million bribery, a DG waited till Monday for President Muhammadu Buhari to wield the big stick.

Besides, the award of some contracts before the inauguration of President Buhari led to the sack of some of DGs.

The Nation

FG Sacks Another 18 Heads Of Federal Agencies And Parastatals

Eight months, 17 days after taking office, President Muhammadu Buhari disengaged yesterday, 26 Executive Officers of government agencies.

The action is the first to be taken as there are over 500 of such agencies.

A source said the President gave the head of the agencies time to adapt to his administration, but they failed the test of integrity, adaptability and loyalty.

“They were too deeply committed to the past,” he added.

A statement by Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir David Lawal, said the President approved that the most senior officers in the sgencies should oversee the activities of the organisations pending the appointment of substantive Chief Executive Officers.

The government agencies affected include: Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Voice of Nigeria (VON), and News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Others are National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).

Also affected are: Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TET Fund), National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Petroleum Equalisation Fund and the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC).

Others are: Bureau of Public Procurements (BPP), Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Bank of Industry (BoI), National Centre for Women Development (NCWD), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Nigerian Export-Import Bank and National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic In Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP).

Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed met early in the morning with the CEOs of the six information-related agencies under his ministry to announce to them the government’s decision.

These are: Directors-General of NTA, Mr. Sola Omole, FRCN (Mr. Ladan Salihu), VON (Mr Sam Worlu), NOA (Mr. Mike Omeri), NBC (Mr. Emeka Mba) and NAN Managing Director.

Omeri, at about noon, handed over to Mrs Ngozi Ekeoba, promising to forever be an advocate of the NOA’s activities.

Mrs Ekeoba is the most senior director. She is in charge of Political, Civics, Ethics and Values in the agency.

Omeri expressed his gratitude to the past and present administration for the opportunity given him to serve the nation as NOA Director General and for the support given to the agency during his tenure. Omeri was appointed as Director General of NOA on January 16, 2012.

The Nation

MURIC Condemns Distribution Of Condoms On Valentine’s Day

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AHF, on Sunday 14th February, 2016 distributed 500,000 units of condom across different locations of Abuja to commemorate Valentine’s Day. The Foundation also organized concurrent distribution in six states in Nigeria and 36 countries worldwide.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns this action. It is not only misleading but wrongly timed.

Apart from the promotion of sexual licentiousness, public and indiscriminate distribution of condoms to both married and single individuals (including secondary school students) on Valentine’s Day is both a disservice to history and a dishonor to St. Valentine himself.

MURIC wishes to straighten the records in view of this crude attempt to distort history. The proper way to mark Valentine’s Day is to mount a strong campaign against premarital sex in particular and sexual promiscuity in general. This is based on the fact that St. Valentine himself died fighting against these societal evils.

Students of history will recall that Emperor Claudius outlawed marriage in the 5th century and forcefully conscripted young men into the army. Sexual recklessness followed the issuance of this decree. St. Valentine confronted the emperor’s draconian decree and joined young men and women in marriages in order to bring sanity back to society. He was subsequently arrested and executed on 14th February, 270 C. E.

It is therefore an attempt to distort history for any group to mark the day by distributing condoms. Valentine’s Day is not a day for encouraging young girls to lose their virginity. It is not a day to promote fantasies and secretive datings. All these lead to fornication, adultery and the attendant pains of abortion, teenage pregnancy, single motherhood and irresponsible parentage.

St. Valentine can be better honoured and productively remembered by mounting a campaign against premarital sex, encouraging preference for marriage to immoral relationship, showcasing the beauty of the institution of marriage as opposed to celibacy, promoting family values, and highlighting responsible parentage.

By the same token, we opine that the distribution of condoms gratis to the public as a way of fighting HIV and AIDS is sheer window-dressing. Those who are genuinely interested in stopping the AIDS scourge are advised to strike at the roots. Indecent and provocative dressing among women is at the root of sexual recklessness in society. Any country which succeeds in controlling this phenomenon will find it easy to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases to their barest minimum.

In conclusion, we remind Nigerians that every single habit in society is a parameter for judging its people, its present as well as its future. We owe it a duty to check today’s immoral practices to avoid descent into the abyss of Sodom and Gomorrah. We charge religious leaders to focus on the reorientation of moral values in general and the reengineering of sexual perceptions in particular.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

Senate Caucuses Meet Over Saraki’s Pending Trial At The CCT

Members of the Senate met separately at various caucus levels on Monday to discuss the fate of Senate President Bukola Saraki, who is to resume his trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal over alleged false declaration of assets.

It was gathered that the lawmakers discussed the issues peculiar to their interest, especially the likely effect of the trial of Saraki at the CCT.

The Supreme Court had on February 5 ruled that Saraki should face his trial over false asset declaration.

There are fears among senators, who resume plenary on Tuesday (today), which they suspended two weeks ago, that there could be another move to challenge Saraki’s leadership at the Senate over his trial.

It is further feared that Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, may be removed if they are found guilty by the CCT.

Investigations by one of our correspondents revealed that the Peoples Democratic Party caucus in the upper chamber met in the house of one of their leaders and resolved to support the Saraki/Ekweremadu joint ticket.

A PDP senator, who craved anonymity, told one of our correspondents on Monday that his colleagues had agreed to maintain decorum in case the All Progressives Congress Senators, who are against Saraki’s leadership, decide to create any scene on the floor today.

The Senator from the South-East geopolitical zone, said, “As members of the opposition, we are ready to pass another vote of confidence in Saraki because he is truly a stabilising factor in the nation’s legislature.

“He commands a lot of respect among majority of members. He is accessible and he carries everyone along, not minding your political party or group affiliation within the Senate.

“So, as PDP senators, we believe that the Senate President should be given the benefit of the doubt as he pleads his case before the tribunal.”

However, one of our correspondents learnt that the Senate Unity Forum, the group that pushed for the emergence of Senator Ahmad Lawan and George Akume as Senate President and deputy respectively, also held another marathon meeting at an undisclosed location on Monday.

None of the members spoke on record but one of them from the South-West said they met to perfect their strategy to produce the next Senate President in case Saraki was indicted at the court.

The lawmaker added, “We have been meeting as members and strategising on an individual basis. I can assure you that we have our game plan, which we will keep to ourselves.”

Asked whether the nation should expect a rowdy or stormy session during plenary today, the Senator said, “We are senior citizens, we can’t fight on the floor. We are already winning the battle; very soon, you will see us in action.”

The leadership of the Senate was also said to have engaged in another round of strategic meetings on Monday, which allegedly led to an emergency meeting between the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, and President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Villa.

But Ndume told journalists in his office that his visit to the Villa on Monday had nothing to do with Saraki’s case as he ruled out a possible rowdy session during plenary on Tuesday (today).
He said, “I have been a friend of President Buhari for a long time and had continued to visit him and will not relent. As the Leader of the Senate, there are lots of consultations that are necessary between the executive and the legislature.

“I am happy to be seen or called a mediator: I am the Senate Leader and we do consultations, I go to do consultation and we should be doing that more often. When the President was in Kaduna on retirement, I was one of the few persons who would go to visit him; so this time round, it will not change.”

Ndume had, last Tuesday, met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo alongside some of his colleagues while Buhari was on vacation.

SUNDAY PUNCH had reported exclusively that the visit of Ndume and his delegation to Osinbajo was part of the ways the embattled Senate President was seeking the Presidency’s intervention in his case before the Code of Conduct Tribunal over the alleged false declaration of assets.

He, however, told State House correspondents at the end of his meeting with Buhari on Monday that he was at the Presidential Villa to consult with the President ahead of Tuesday’s resumption of the Senate.
He said there was nothing unusual about his visit except that he had been embarking on similar visits in the nights.

Ndume said, “I hope you people know that I am the Senate Leader and this is an APC (All Progressives Congress) government. So if the Senate Leader comes to see the Vice President or the President in the Villa, is it supposed to be a surprise?

“I guess it is because most often, I come in the night but this time, I came in the afternoon and it becomes very strange.

“There are issues that are really on the ground. One is the budget. We also have two bills before the Senate that we need to start working on when we resume tomorrow: the Money Laundering Bill and the Criminal Information Sharing Bill.

“There are issues other than those that are really on the ground. This is how we are supposed to be doing it earlier. That is, coming to the Villa to consult and guide the proceedings in the Senate appropriately.

“Other than that, I don’t want you to see it as an unusual visit. I will be doing this often because this is how it is supposed to be.

“Again, I was consulting the President on a personal basis long before he became the President, so it is not unusual.”

When he was asked to comment on the report that he was serving as an intermediary between Saraki and the President, Ndume said, “I am not the Senate President. The question should be directed to the Senate President.”

When probed further, the Senate Leader said, “You are asking me what I do not know. I consult and if I have to mediate on anything, there should be a problem. I do not know of any problem.”

Source

FG Sacks Heads Of Government Owned Media Organisations

The Federal Government has disengaged the heads of the six information-related parastatals under the Ministry of Information and Culture.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the disengagement during a meeting he held with the Chief Executives of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Voice of Nigeria (VON), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Monday .

The Minister directed the disengaged Chief Executives to hand over to the most senior officials in their various establishments.

He thanked them for their service to the nation and wished them  “best of luck” in their future endeavours.

The affected Chief Executives are the Directors-General of NTA, Mr. Sola Omole, FRCN (Mr. Ladan Salihu), VON (Mr Sam Worlu), NOA (Mr. Mike Omeri), NBC (Mr. Emeka Mba) and the Managing Director of NAN (Mr. Ima Niboro).

President Buhari Sacks DG Budget Office

President Muhammadu Buhari sacked the former Director-General for the Budget Mr. Yahaya Gusau, announced today in a press release from his Senior Special Adviser for Media and Publicity Femi Adesina. The press statement issued by Mr. Adesina expressly states that the new appointment is connected to “officials responsible for budget scandal.”

The Buhari administration has been repeatedly confronted with embarrassing revelations connected to its budget provided to the National Assembly for approval in December 2015. News broke in January 2016 that the Presidency stole the budget from the Senate chambers hours before it was due to be reviewed by Senate members. Interviews with sources by SaharaReporters found that Ita Enang, the Senior Special Adviser to the President for National Assembly Matters (Senate), was involved in this theft and was inconspicuously trying to reintroduce a new budget.

Following this scandal, more details emerged that there were unnecessary and lavish allocations in the budget which provoked outrage on social media and among many National Assembly members. President Buhari stated that he would find the culprits responsible for placing these expenses into the budget without his approval.

Mr. Tijiani Mohammed Abdullahi was appointed to replace Mr. Gusau today, according to Mr. Adesina’s statement.

Additionally, President Buhari approved the appointment of Mr. Ben Ifeanyi Akabueze as the Special Adviser on Planning to the Minister of Budget and National Planning. Mr. Akabueze is not replacing anyone and this is a new role created by President Buhari, according to Mr. Adesina during a phone conversation with our correspondent.

The full press release can be found below:

 

President Buhari Officials Responsible For Budget Scandal

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Mr. Tijjani Mohammed Abdullahi  as the Director-General (Budget).

Mr. Abdullahi, a fellow of the Certified National Accountants of Nigeria, and a banker of repute with experience in managing public finance, will replace the current Director-General (Budget), Mr. Yahaya Gusau.

The new Director-General (Budget) is expected to work with the Minister of Budget and National Planning to efficiently deliver on the mandates of the Budget Office of the Federation.

President  Buhari has also approved the appointment of Mr Ben Ifeanyi Akabueze as the Special Adviser on Planning to the Minister of Budget and National Planning.

Mr Akabueze who is the immediate past Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos State, has worked in senior management positions in Citi Bank, Fidelity Bank, United Bank for Africa, NAL Merchant Bank, Sterling Bank and BIA Consulting Limited, among others.

He is Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers; Fellow, Institute of Credit Administrators and Honorary Fellow, Chartered Institute of Bankers.

 

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media & Publicity)

February 15, 2015

It’s Govt Duty To Ensure Success Of Indigenous Firms – Saraki

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has said all arms of government have a duty to ensure the success of indigenous manufacturers as a way of rebuilding the economy and putting Nigerian youth to work.

Saraki while receiving a delegation from the Innoson Motor Manufacturing Company, Nnewi, led by Chief Innocent Chukwuma, the Chairman and founder of the company, in his office today (Monday) said government should use legislative actions and policy initiatives to protect the local industries as a deliberate way of reviving the economy.

Innoson Motors is the only Nigerian company manufacturing automobile of different ranges and it is based in Nnewi, Anambra State.

He said one of the actions government should quickly introduce is to ensure that local industries are patronized by government agencies so that Nigerian manufacturers can enjoy the advantages accruing from the big market that her population offers.

“That is why this eighth Senate is determined to amend the Procurement Law to ensure that government agencies patronize Made in Nigeria products. I am sure the House of Representatives is in support of this. It is our joint responsibility to ensure that you succeed. If you are successful, a lot more small and medium scale enterprises will draw inspiration from you and they will become successful.

“That will help to create jobs which is one of the mandate presented to us by the youths of this country during the last elections. We in the legislature will look at all laws and help to create an enabling environment for local businesses to thrive in Nigeria”, he said.

The Senate President said using laws to protect locally made goods is not peculiar to the country as it has been done in the United States under President Herbert Hoover in 1933 while India and China have also enacted similar laws in the past.

He lamented a situation where a company like Innoson only sold about 3,000 vehicles in 2015 when Nigerians buy about a million vehicle annually, adding that If Nigerians patronise Made in Nigeria cars it will force foreign manufacturers to set up plant here.

In his remarks, Mr Alfred Nwosu, said the Innoson Group started from manufacturing of motor cycles and graduated to tricycle before it is now producing different range of utility and luxury vehicles.

He said the Group has 7,000 Nigerians on its pay roll while there are 300 youths from the Niger Delta area undergoing training that were hitherto held abroad.

Nwosu commended Saraki and the Senate leadership for their prompt response to the request for audience sent by the company, an opportunity that had eluded the company in the past.

“In less than 48 hours of contacting the Senate President, we were told to come over. We are encouraged by your views on Made in Nigeria goods. What we need is the support, encouragement and inspiration from decision makers like you”, he said.

Also yesterday, the Senate President urged the South East Amalgamated Market Traders Association (SEAMATA) to look inwards in view of the present economic challenges facing the country.

He specifically charged members of the executive of the association who visited him in Abuja that it is time for them to find ways of producing locally most of the goods they have been importing into the country.

Earlier, the President-General of SEAMATA, Chief Okwudili Ezenwankwo had called for urgent measures by the Federal Government to ease their access to foreign exchange that is used to import the goods they sell.

Ezenwankwo said that 70 per cent of traders in the South East would be thrown into the labour market if nothing urgent is done to enable the traders access forex. He lamented a situation where goods imported by the traders since December 2015 are still lying at the ports accumulating demurrage simply because the clearing authorities are yet to receive confirmation from the countries of origin of the consignments.

He called on the Federal Government to fix an exchange rate for the Naira rather than leaving it at the mercy of market forces.

He added: “The $10,000.00 limit of what one can take across our borders is another major constraint to our business.”

Halliburton Scam: How Ex-NBA Pres JB Daudu, Damian Dodo And 3 Others Shared Money

Mr. Damian Dodo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, has told interrogators how five lawyers, who prosecuted multinational firms implicated in the $185 million Halliburton bribery scandal, were paid close to $26 million as legal fees. EFCC operatives Dodo, who was interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for over eight hours, last Thursday, said the five lawyers were duly engaged by the Federal Government to handle the case and bring culprits to book, having been  indicted by their respective home countries. Dodo’s defense is contained in a response he made to the EFCC, a copy of which Sunday Vanguard obtained last night.

Meanwhile, EFCC operatives were said to be scrutinizing government accounts, last night, to ascertain where the refund was made. The four other lawyers involved in the case, it was also learnt, may be grilled by the anti-corruption agency. In  his response to the EFCC, Dodo  maintained that he and the four other lawyers carried out their job so successfully that the Federal Government, in appreciation, conferred  on some members of the legal team  national honors.

The SAN explained that the five top lawyers involved in the prosecution of the companies reached an understanding with a former Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, to be paid from fines  imposed on the indicted companies since he had complained that the Federal Government did not have a budget for their legal fees. He pointed out that they followed the precedent set in the case involving Pfizer and Kano State Government on one hand, and the Federal Government on the other, in which the drug manufacturing company was made to pay the legal fees of the lawyers involved in the amicable settlement of the matter.

In the response to  the EFCC, it was stated that the legal team, raised by Adoke, was led by the then President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Joseph B. Daudu, with Mr. Emmanuel C. Ukala, Chief Godwin Obla, Roland Ewubare and Dodo as members. The companies  involved in the bribery scandal, and which opted for payment of heavy fines and non-prosecution by Nigeria, were: Halliburton Energy Services; Siemens AG; TSKJ, Technip of France: Snamprogetti of Italy; Kellog, Brown and Roots of the U.S; Japan Gas Corporation; and Julius Berger, JB, which was accused of acting as a conduit for the illegal transfer of $5 million.

To avoid prosecution, JB immediately opted to pay a fine of $35 million to Nigeria and, accordingly, was left off the hook. The professional fee in respect of the settlement by JB was paid into the account of JB Daudu and Co on behalf of the legal team. Siemens similarly opted for out of court settlement and paid  €30,000,000 to the Nigerian government.

The legal fee from the company was paid into the account of Godwin Obla of Obla and Co on behalf of the legal team. The settlement with Snamprogetti was reached by the legal team on December 10, 2010, and the sum of $30 million was recovered from the firm and paid into the account of the Federal Government while the legal fees for the lawyers were paid into the account of Godwin Obla for and on behalf of the team.

In the case of Halliburton Energy Services, the settlement attracted $32.5 million for the Federal Government while the legal fee went into the account of D.D. Dodo and Co. for and on behalf of the team. Japan Gasoline Corporation  attracted a settlement fine of $26.5 million for Nigeria and the legal fee for the settlement went into the account of D.D.Dodo and Co. In the statement to EFCC, Dodo said,”But in all, the professional fees and costs due the legal team as received by the trio of J.B.Daudu, Godwin Obla and D.D.Dodo were disbursed to members of the legal team as directed by their leader, J. B.Daudu.”

The statement went on:  “It is worth pointing out that relevant agencies of government were involved in the settlement agreements including the offices of the National Security Adviser and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. “The Secretary of the EFCC, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, witnessed three of the agreements, namely, Snamprogetti,Halliburton and Japan Gasoline Corporation on behalf of the Federal Government.”

The senior lawyer defended the payments made to them, arguing that the fees were legal. Quoting clause six of the agreement reached with the Japan Gasoline Corporation, Dodo, said,  “The Federal Government of Nigeria confirms that the reimbursement of the government legal costs to the designated counsel in the terms of the agreement is lawful under the Nigerian laws and regulations, and the government counsel has confirmed to the Federal Government of Nigeria that no proceeds of such reimbursement will be provided to any government officials”.

However, the EFCC,  set to invite all the lawyers involved in the case separately for their statements, does not seem satisfied with the submission by Dodo. The anti-graft body, Sunday Vanguard discovered, is trying to ascertain how the lawyers arrived at the legal fee of ten percent and, if indeed, the $200 million said to have been recovered from the culprits, was remitted to the coffers of the Federal Government. EFCC in search of accounts

As at last night, the operatives were combing records to confirm which accounts of  government the Halliburton fines were paid into and when. There were indications also that the former ministers and other top players in government linked with the matter may be invited to state their own side of the story. Irony of Halliburton case The irony in the case is that while the different countries, whose the multinational companies paid bribes to get major contracts for the construction of the LNG trains in Bonny Island in Rivers State, have since been convicted for bribery, Nigerian officials, who aided and abetted the scam, are still walking free and enjoying their loot.

The top officials are said to be wielding both political and economic power, thereby making it very difficult to bring them to trial. Most of them are said to have threatened to descend on the system if any move is made to prosecute them. But the current Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has warned that the Halliburton case and other criminal cases have not been closed. Malami said that given the zero disposition of the Buhari administration, it would be impossible to close such cases.

Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/02/halliburton-185m-bribery-scandal-efcc-yet-to-locate-refund/

SERAP Calls For Tougher Sanctions Against Corrupt Lawyers

Following growing allegations of corruption against some senior lawyers and their alleged complicity or facilitation of judicial corruption, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called “for tougher sanctions against those found to be involved if large scale political corruption is to be meaningfully combated and corruption-free judiciary is to become a reality.”

In a statement dated 14 February 2016 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said, “It’s not only professional misconduct but also a crime for a lawyer to knowingly assist or induce another to break, violate or attempt to violate the rules of professional conduct or commit a corrupt act and other action prejudicial to the administration of justice that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty,trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”

The statement reads in part: “Lawyers are officers in the temple of justice but improperly influencing a public official to achieve results by means that violate lawyers’ rules of professional conduct or knowingly assisting a judge or judicial officer in conduct that violates applicable rules of judicial conduct or other laws is a clear negation of this sacred duty.”

“Yet, corrupt lawyers and judges often get away with their misconduct and crime. This impunity has contributed to the spo­radic and lax prosecution and punishment of officials responsible for large-scale corruption, while, conversely, imposing severe sanctions for petty corruption and criminals, so as to give the impression of justice. This situation violates the underlying legal and moral assumptions that all persons will be treated equally, fairly, and with respect.”

“Any lawyer who acts in such a way as to be directly responsible for the act of corruption or acts as part of a conspiracy to corrupt should face liability as a “principal” offender.” Even where a lawyer is not directly responsible for the act of corruption but facilitates or otherwise provides assistance to a principal offender, he/she should be liable as an accessory or accomplice. This accountability mechanism for lawyers and judges must follow due process of law.”

“The obligation on lawyers not to engage in illegal activities is vital in upholding professional standards and obviously extends to the activities of bribery and corruption, as lawyers must not themselves breach, or facilitate a breach, of the law.”

“For the sake of the legal profession, the cause of justice and effective remedies for victims of large scale corruption such as the arms procurement scandal, appropriate authorities particularly the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) have to speak out strongly against corruption in the legal profession.”

“The NBA has to provide strong leadership including by strongly and publicly speaking out against corruption in the legal profession and the judiciary, promoting tougher sanctions against corrupt lawyers even if those involved are senior members of the bar including SANs, and judges and creating, developing and actively promoting anticorruption initiatives for the legal profession if it is to remain credible, relevant and add value to the ongoing fight against large scale corruption in the country.”

“The NBA in fact has an abiding responsibility to consistently and proactively promote and ensure lawyers’ compliance with anti-corruption and ethics rules, and to encourage lawyers to carry out their professional duties diligently and conscientiously and refrain from doing anything which would expose the legal profession to ridicule.”
SIGNED
Adetokunbo Mumuni
SERAP Executive Director
14/2/2016
www.serap-nigeria.org
Lagos, Nigeria
Twitter: @SERAPNigeria

FG, Global Partners Complete Assessment Mission In Northeast

The Federal Government, the World Bank, European Union, and the United Nations have concluded a two-week recovery and assessment mission in the Northeastern States ravaged by insurgency as part of its on-going Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA) programme.

Led by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Dr. Mariam Masha, the recovery and assessment team visited Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi, Borno and Yobe States during which the team actively engaged with State Governors, decision-makers as well as top government functionaries, Civil Society Organizations, Private Sector players, Traditional Rulers, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Emergency Management, Humanitarian and Relief agencies and other active partners in the recovery efforts in the affected States.

In the course of the tour in the affected areas, the team of officials visited several camps and resettlement centres for the IDPs in the different states as well as insurgency –ravaged public institutions like hospitals, markets and military formations. The team also gained first hand knowledge of human and physical conditions in the camps and resettlement centres affording them the opportunity to empathize with the people and also reassured them of the commitment of the Buhari administration towards addressing their challenges.

In furtherance of the importance of the recovery and assessment mission, the team’s top level engagements with relevant stakeholders centred on sector recovery and needs assessment strategy in the three major components of Infrastructure and social services, peace building, stability and social cohesion as well as the economic recovery of the affected people in the six States.

The field visit by the technical and humanitarian experts from these critical global institutions primarily focused on validating the processes through which data are to be collected and how to develop internationally acceptable mechanisms to maintain contact with focal points in all the States.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government had last month unveiled this assessment programme which is a joint, high-level collaboration between the Government of Nigeria and development  partners – the World Bank, EU and the UN – aimed at supporting Government in its short, medium and long term efforts towards peace building and sustainable recovery in the North East region of the country.

It is a follow up to the agreements reached with the North-East states in respect of the sector and component work plans, data collection modalities and timelines and provision of quantitative and qualitative information by the States.

This assessment will also form the pivot for planning a broad-based public sector recovery programme for the NE, as well as leverage, synchronize and inform the financing initiatives and projects of Nigeria’s development partners, civil society organizations and private sector groups and organisations.