Agency Presents 2015 Budget To Reps For 2016

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Capital Market, led by Tajudeen Yusuf, was shocked to discover that the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) presented same copy of its 2015 budget in 2016.

This discovery put on hold the budget defence session of the agency.

Yusuf said: “We expected this yesterday to take the budget defence of the IST but we realised that the budget for IST in the 2016 budget proposal is just an exact copy of its 2015 appropriation. It is word for word, figure for figure. And Items dealt with and completed in 2015 were repeated.

“We looked into the budget about two weeks ago and, apart from the issue of personnel that the agency treated late in 2015, the 2015 budget for IST was okay.”

IST Chairman Ngozi Chianakwalam refused to speak with reporters on the issue.

The Senate, House of Representatives and the Ministry of Finance are to meet to straighten the inconsistencies in the 2016 budget proposal, the chairman said.

Also, at the same committee yesterday, the MD/CEO of Nigeria Commodities Exchange, Baba-Ari Zaheera, appealed to the committee to assist in an enabling law to make the agency more effective.

The NCE boss said the passage of the bill on Warehouse Receipt System ( e-WRS) would make the Exchange more relevant in the country.

The Nation

Teenage Suicide Bomber Refuses To Detonate Vest At Dikwa IDP Camp

A teenage girl packed with explosives by Boko Haram ripped off her vest to avoid taking part in the attack on Borno Internally Displaced Persons camp (IDPs) in Dikwa, Borno State on Tuesday.

Two others with her, however, walked into the middle of hundreds of people lining up for food before they blew themselves up in the attack that killed 58 and injured 78.

It was the most lethal attack launched by the sect in recent months.

A Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) fighter Modu Awami said yesterday that the third would-be bomber, looking about 14, has confessed.

Awami, who helped question the girl, said she was scared because she knew she would kill people.

A rescue official who confirmed it, said the girl has given officials information about other planned bombings.

Army Sends Seven Generals To EFCC

The Army last night released 12 senior officers to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for probe.

The EFCC is investigating their role in the $2.1billion arms deals.

Those found guilty of fraud by the EFCC will be tried by a Military Court Martial, The Army said.

A statement by the Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman, which did not release the names of the affected officers, said: “The Nigerian Army wishes to inform the public that 12 Army officers have been sent to the EFCC for investigation.

“These comprise three serving Major-Generals and one retired, three Brigadier-Generals, four colonels, and one Lieutenant Colonel.

“However it should be noted that at the end of the commission’s investigations, those found culpable will be tried by a Military Court Martial.”

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.


EU Pledges $50 Million To Fight Boko Haram

President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to redouble efforts and ensure that Boko Haram is completely defeated, and rendered incapable of targeting even soft targets.

 This pledge by the Nigerian President comes as the European Union has promised the sum of 50 million dollars to assist Nigeria in the fight against the terror group.

German President, Mr Joachim Gauck, made the pledge on behalf of the EU after holding bilateral talks with President Buhari in the Presidential Villa.

The German President commiserated with Nigerians on the recent attacks and called for good government and development if Nigeria must conquer terrorism in the long term.

During a visit to Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, Mr Gauck had also pledged that Germany would assist Nigeria with the technical know-how to successfully fight terrorism.

President Buhari met with President Gauck a day after he returned from his 6-day vacation in London.

The Nigerian President returned to the country on Wednesday night and was received at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja by top government officials.

Missile Launch: Comply With UN Directives, Nigeria Tells North Korea

The Federal Government has expressed concern over the recent missile launch carried out by North Korea.

Nigeria urged the North Korean authorities to comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to ballistic missile program  and return to the six-party talks.

A statement issued by the ministry of foreign Affairs said the Nigerian government is concerned by the recent missile launch by North Korea on Sunday, February 7.

The statement reads: The Federal Government of Nigeria is concerned by the recent missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Sunday, February 7, 2016.

“It must be restated that Nigeria has consistently called upon the government of North Korea to abide by the extant United Nations Security Council resolutions and not to take any action that will jeopardize peace and security in the Korean peninsula and the world in general.

“UN security council resolution 1718 requires North Korea to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program. Nigeria would therefore like to see North Korea comply with this and other relevant council resolutions.

“Nigeria supports the commitment of the United Nations Security Council and member states of the UN in working towards a diplomatic and political solutions leading to the full demilitarization of the Korean peninsula.

“While we reaffirm our support for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and strong commitment to nuclear non-profile ration and disarmament, the Federal Government encourages North Korea to return to the six-party talks.”

Extra N10bn Discovered In Education Budget Is A Typographical Error

The Senate on Thursday said that it has reconciled the N10 billion “padding” found in the budget of Ministry of Education.

Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund, Senator Binta Garba, disclosed this to journalists in Abuja, at the connection of Federal university of Lafia to the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN).

The National Assembly had last week raised the alarm over the discovery of N10 billion padding in the education sector budget while it took the minister of Education to task over it.

Garba said the N10 billion padding actually belonged to the Universal Basic Education (UBE) which was made in a typographical error.

“Yes, it’s meant for the Universal basic Education where they lumped it. I think the issue is not with the ministry but that of the office of the National Planning and Budget.

Okorocha Agrees To Recall Suspended Workers

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo has finally agreed with the leadership of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), to immediately recall all suspended workers and stop everything about concession in the state.

The agreement ends the halt of economic and social activities in Owerri following a mass protest organised by the NLC.

The National President of NLC, Comrade, Ayuba Wabba, read the statement to the protesting workers shortly after the conclusion of their negotiation with Imo Government.

The statement was signed by Princess A. N. Eluwa -Solicitor General of Imo, for the government, Chairman NLC in Imo, Austin Chilakpu, Chairman, TUC, Ezeji Ezeji and eight others for NLC.

Wabba directed the workers to suspend the protest and go back to work.

The agreement stated that government would source for funds to pay workers which would be verified by the joint committee of government and labour.

According to the agreement, government would fund its operations with not more than 30 per cent of the verified revenue for the month.

The committee would apply the balance of 70 per cent in the settlement of salaries of public servants and pensioners.

The organised labour had shut down the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, all ministries and offices including the LGAs and the state Secretariat as workers trooped out for the protest.

The protesters were led by the National President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba and other national leaders including the state chairmen from South/East, South/South and North.

They matched from the secretariat of the Nigeria Medical Association along Port Harcourt road, toward Imo Government House, where they blocked all major entrances.

Wabba had demanded for immediate recall of all sacked workers and stopping further sack of workers in the state without following laid down procedures.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Oyegun has appealed to Gov. Rochas Okorocha to adopt the spirit of flexibility in handling issues concerning workers.

He told newsmen at Government House, Owerri that workers and government needed to cooperate with each other to get the state out of the present situation.

“If a child is crying continuously and refuses to stop despite everything done to pacify him, something needed to be done”, he said.

Oyegun also appealed to workers in the state to face the fact and have a round table with government on possible solutions that would continue to unite them.

He said the party leadership was concerned about the welfare of the people of the state.

Okorocha had insisted his idea of concession was for the interest of the people of state.

According to him, he never sacked any worker in the state nor owed any but merely suspended them because of indolence.

He condemned Imo labour union for bringing down the national leadership of NLC to shut down the state.

The governor said he was ready to abide by labour proposal to be collecting 70 per cent of the total revenue for the state, if that would bring about peace to him.

“Imo, despite being an oil producing state, gets one of the least allocations from the Federal Government and that has not helped matters.

“For the past 10 months, Imo has been getting between N1.9 billion and N2.3billion monthly with a wage bill of over N4billion.

“The state had to look for external sources to make up to pay salaries every month and take care of its other obligations”, he said.

Okorocha, therefore, stressed the need to make some adjustments in the present situation so as to save the state from collapse.

PM News

Buhari Returns To Nigeria After Vacation

President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to the country after spending a five-day vacation in the United Kingdom.

Buahri arrives from vacation Buahri arrives from vacation2 Buahri arrives from vacation3 Buahri arrives from vacation1

According to SaharaReporters, the Presidential jet departed London for Abuja at exactly 13.45hrs GMT.

He was said to have stayed at an apartment in the Knightsbridge area of London, where he took a well deserved rest until today.

He is expected to be in Nigeria for the next two weeks, but will resume his foreign tour on February 24, if everything goes as planned, with a three-nation state visit to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

While in Saudi Arabia, President Buhari is expected to perform the Umrah, as well as visit Makka and Madina.

Retain My Budget Plan – Fashola Begs Senators

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN on Wednesday led the management team of his Ministry at the 2016 Budget Defence Session of the Senate Committee on Works with a passionate appeal that the focus and plan of the proposed plans be retained in order to achieve the much desired change and positive objectives of the Budget.

The Minister in his presentation of the main thrust of the Medium Term Sector Strategy 2016 – 2018 Budget proposals of his Ministry explained that the objective is to ensure that on going projects in the six geopolitical zones of the country are completed within the shortest possible time as distinct from the practice in the past, where the inadequate budgetary provision is spread thin over so many projects without much being completed.

According to Fashola, economic roads that will ensure connectivity between hubs of commerce and generate employment; roads bearing the heaviest traffic and those nearing completion are being given priority over the next three budget cycles, urging the Senate to trust him and the Ministry to deliver the desired objectives by not changing the proposed plans.

From the proposals, the first priority projects envisaged for the 2016 Budget are those on arterial highways and major river crossings which carry high volume of traffic and are critical to the economic well-being of the country with a total length of 2,192.76 km, distributed across the various zones.

“Some members of the Committee, have of course, pointed out that they wanted to see a plan. There is a plan before you and it is a plan that I appeal that you should kindly look at in more detail. It is perhaps different from what has been done before, and if we have done this budget method where we put X Naira in the Budget and every constituency takes a part of it in that Budget year and it doesn’t lead us to the conclusion of a project, I think the time has come to try something new,” he said.

Continuing the Minister explained the essence of the new approach thus: “I am proposing something new but we are not inflexible about what we are proposing and as I have said in my previous meetings with the Chairman and the Vice Chairman, give us a chance, to change the way things have been done, then hold us responsible to the plan that we mutually agree with. But as Parliament, when it comes to Budgetary Appropriation matters clearly you have the yam and you have the knives and you can choose to cut as you wish Sir. Mr. Chairman, we have brought a plan to you Sir, it is different from what has been done before. The purpose of that plan is to address first, economic roads like the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, the Ilorin – Jebba road so that, a section at least can be completed.”

Acknowledging that every Lawmaker was entitled to make a case for his or her constituents, Fashola noted that if there was a clear cut plan as currently being proposed, each lawmaker could with some certainty explain to their people on the schedule of their areas within such a plan.

Explaining that it was practically impossible to have come up with a 10 – year plan in less than 100 Days of being in Office as suggested by one of the Senators, the Minister explained that it was important to come up with a practical proposal for implementation to avoid the danger of losing the entire dry weather while making elaborate plans.

Fashola noted that the time had come for the Senators to insist on what will make meaningful impact in the life of the citizenry by endorsing the Ministry’s proposal unlike what was done in the past.

“Let us also not forget that there are some contractors who were at work last year. The Budget of N19 billion passed through this National Assembly last year, l wasn’t here then. And perhaps that was the time to have put our foot down. We have another opportunity now to put our foot down and l hope that we do not miss it. In doing so my suggestion is that you trust us with this plan and you hold us to it subject to modifications that we may make and subject to the leadership responsibility that we will take in our various constituencies that next year, this is what will happen in this part of the country, in year three, this is what will happen in this part of the country, “he said.

Noting that such predictability would make for consistency, the Minister said such a plan if followed would also be in tune with the request for a 10 – year plan earlier made by a Senator.

“We can’t all be served at the same time, that really is the truth of the matter. Even if we are at a party, the stewards cannot serve all of us at the same time. They would normally start from somewhere, one end of the table until the food gets round. The choice for us to go and take the food from the service point means that we may not eat comfortably or that we may get rice and we may not get water. As leaders, our people are agitating, l understand it all too clearly but it is as leaders that we must all go back to them and explain that we are changing the plans slightly for better results”, Fashola said.

He added, however, that constituencies who are not benefiting in terms of roads could still be served by the other mandates of the Ministry. “Where we are not intervening in roads this year, we are probably intervening in Power or we are probably intervening in Housing, so there will be some service to one’s constituency. Where we are not immediately active, may be transportation is building a rail along that corridor and how we harmonise these is really the important thing”.

Explaining that the priority projects being proposed in the three cycles of the Ministry’s Budget had been considered at the Federal Executive Council, the Minister was certain that if approved, every geographical zone of the Country would be served in each of the Budget cycles.

Enumerating some of the economic roads to be accommodated immediately as the second Niger Bridge and the road leading from the Murtala International Airport in Lagos, Fashola said such roads would help revive the employment of workers who had been sacked when the contractors handling them demobilised from site.

He also explained that the plan was to strengthen the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to become the biggest construction outfit for government and therefore capable of handling some of the projects being contracted out.

According to him, the Agency would also be able to carry out maintenance work on some of the sections of the road in a State of disrepair before major construction work can be done on them.

While rounding off the session, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Works, Senator Kabiru Gaya commended the Minister and his team for the depth of work done within a short period to produce the proposal which seeks to do things differently and promised that his Committee would work with the Ministry to come up with a final Budget that will help achieve the desired objectives of both the Executive and the legislature.

PM News

200 Shiite Members Charged To Court, Remanded In Prison

Nigerian prosecutors on Wednesday charged nearly 200 members of a pro-Iranian Shiite group with illegal possession of firearms following December clashes with troops that led to claims of hundreds of deaths, their lawyers said on Wednesday.

They were however not arraigned in a proper court setting, but an improvised court room, within the Kaduna prisons, where they are being held.

Some 191 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were charged with illegal possession of firearms and causing a public disturbance, according to charge papers read out in court.

All the suspects pleaded not guilty.

“My clients were arraigned today (Wednesday) in court for the first time since they were arrested following the incidents in Zaria in December last year”, defence lawyer Husseini Ibrahim said after the court session.

No official death toll has yet been given for the two days of clashes starting on December 12, which were sparked when IMN followers blocked the convoy of Chief of Army Staff General Tukur Yusuf Buratai in the city of Zaria, in northern Kaduna state.

Following the clashes, the headquarters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) was raided and the group’s leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, was arrested and kept in custody.

The group said some 730 of its members were unaccounted for, “either killed by the army or… in detention”.

Human Rights Watch has said “at least 300” were killed while Amnesty International put the figures at “hundreds”.

Wednesday’s court hearing was held inside the central prison in the northern city of Kaduna where the suspects are being held for security reasons, according to prosecution lawyer Dari Bayero.

“The suspects were arraigned for illegal possession of firearms and public disturbance and incitement,” Bayero said.

Four of the accused who are under the age of 18 were released on bail while the rest were remanded in prison custody until March 29 when the court resumes, both lawyers said.

Government and local human rights commission has set up panels to probe the clashes.