CJN Directive, A Boost To Anti-Corruption War – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s recent directive on the need to strictly administer the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act as the turning point in the country’s fight against corruption.

The Minister, who made the remarks in Abuja on Wednesday while receiving a delegation from Deutsche Welle, the German International Radio, said with the pronouncement, there was no hiding place for corrupt persons in Nigeria.

“We are happy to report that yesterday the fight against corruption received a very robust support from the Judiciary when the Chief Justice of Nigeria announced to the world that henceforth, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act will become operational and with this, it means that the long delays and adjournments that have been associated with corruption trials will be a thing of the past,” he said.

Mohammed described the development in the Judiciary as the biggest institutional support for the fight against corruption in Nigeria, saying henceforth frivolous motions and unnecessary adjournments will no longer be impediments to the fight against corruption.

Reiterating an earlier statement by President Muhammadu Buhari, he said the Administration would fight corruption relentlessly and mercilessly, saying that was the only remedy for the maladministration, under-development and poverty that had plagued the country.

On the economy, the Minister said the Federal Government was courageously tackling the challenges of the economy and assured that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“The challenges are painful but the outlook is very bright. We know that with our discipline, we are going to manage cost, maximize our revenue, block leakages and we are very confident that we will manage the economy in a manner that over 30% of it will be devoted to capital projects,” he said.

Mohammed, therefore, urged the Deutsche Welle to always project correctly the focus of the Administration, which was the fight against terrorism and corruption and the revamping of the economy.

In his remarks, the leader of the delegation and Head of the Hausa Service of Deutsche Welle, Mr. Thomas Mosch, commended the administration of President Buhari for its media-friendly disposition.

“I just wanted to use this opportunity to thank you for the good collaboration we have experienced so far since the new government came into office. We have not experienced any problem working here in Nigeria, because there were other times our experiences in Nigeria were not as easy for us,” he said.

Mr. Mosche disclosed that the Deutsche Welle was collaborating with several Nigerian broadcast outfits in the exchange of programmes in the areas of the economy, education and promotion of African culture.

CJN Directive, A Boost To Anti-Corruption War – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described the Chief Justice of Nigeria’s recent directive on the need to strictly administer the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act as the turning point in the country’s fight against corruption.

The Minister, who made the remarks in Abuja on Wednesday while receiving a delegation from Deutsche Welle, the German International Radio, said with the pronouncement, there was no hiding place for corrupt persons in Nigeria.

“We are happy to report that yesterday the fight against corruption received a very robust support from the Judiciary when the Chief Justice of Nigeria announced to the world that henceforth, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act will become operational and with this, it means that the long delays and adjournments that have been associated with corruption trials will be a thing of the past,” he said.

Mohammed described the development in the Judiciary as the biggest institutional support for the fight against corruption in Nigeria, saying henceforth frivolous motions and unnecessary adjournments will no longer be impediments to the fight against corruption.

Reiterating an earlier statement by President Muhammadu Buhari, he said the Administration would fight corruption relentlessly and mercilessly, saying that was the only remedy for the maladministration, under-development and poverty that had plagued the country.

On the economy, the Minister said the Federal Government was courageously tackling the challenges of the economy and assured that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“The challenges are painful but the outlook is very bright. We know that with our discipline, we are going to manage cost, maximize our revenue, block leakages and we are very confident that we will manage the economy in a manner that over 30% of it will be devoted to capital projects,” he said.

Mohammed, therefore, urged the Deutsche Welle to always project correctly the focus of the Administration, which was the fight against terrorism and corruption and the revamping of the economy.

In his remarks, the leader of the delegation and Head of the Hausa Service of Deutsche Welle, Mr. Thomas Mosch, commended the administration of President Buhari for its media-friendly disposition.

“I just wanted to use this opportunity to thank you for the good collaboration we have experienced so far since the new government came into office. We have not experienced any problem working here in Nigeria, because there were other times our experiences in Nigeria were not as easy for us,” he said.

Mr. Mosche disclosed that the Deutsche Welle was collaborating with several Nigerian broadcast outfits in the exchange of programmes in the areas of the economy, education and promotion of African culture.

FG Concludes Framework To Add 1,286MW To National Grid Via Solar Energy

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), yesterday, revealed that the ministry has concluded the framework for the approval for 14 major solar projects which put together will generate about 1,286 megawatts for the country.

The Minister made this known while speaking alongside the Minister of Environment, Mrs Amina Mohammed, at a meeting with the French Minister of Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs with her delegation at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

According to him, the framework which is the first phase provides the forerunner for the financial agreement upon which others would move forward.
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Meanwhile, the Director-General, Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Engr Eli Jidere Bala, has revealed that Nigeria needed to generate 300, 000 Megawatts of electricity by 2030 to sustain it’s energy demand and supply adding that Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) 7 highlighted the need to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.

He stated this in Abuja yesterday at the opening ceremony of a 2-day stakeholders workshop organised by the Nigeria Society of Engineers (NSE) with the theme, “Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria: Engineering Perspective”.

Minister Seeks Increased Exploitation Of Solid Minerals From States

The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has asked states in Nigeria to develop their solid minerals deposits to develop and improve the economy.

Dr. Fayemi stressed that the misconceptions of the states on the constitutional provision should not be an impediment to complement the Federal Government’s effort in their states.

The Minister gave the admonition on Wednesday while giving a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of Annual Conference of Nigerian Mining and Geo-sciences Society in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State.

It was held at a banquet hall opposite the Government House.

Mining engineers and geo-scientists across Nigeria gathered to deliberate and find working solution on how the governments could diversify the economy from oil to other mineral resources which abound in the country.

The President of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, Professor Gbenga Okunlola, decried the abandonment of solid minerals for crude oil which has been experiencing deep turbulence in the world market.

He thanked the present administration for showing interest in diversification and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intensify efforts in the implementations of the proposal submitted in order to improve the economy.

The Minister in his keynote address, explained that the aspect of the constitution which gave the exclusive control of the mineral resources to the Federal Government should not be misunderstood by states.

“The states can enter into joint venture to develop mineral resources in their states.

“The Federal Governments is ready to partner with states in the development of their mineral resources to improve the economy,” Dr Fayemi told the gathering.

He further asked state governments to monitor the holders of mining licences in their various states to ensure proper monitoring of the nation’s solid minerals.

In his remarks, the State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, noted that solid minerals had the potential of generating significant revenue for the country but had been largely underexplored due to reliance on crude oil.

He added that 30 per cent of the world mineral resources and 40 per cent of gold and diamond were found in Africa but not tapped.

The Minister and some state government officials later paid an inspection visit to a factory in Ilorin where he was shown round the nail, motor spare parts and other sections of the industry.

He expressed the determination of the Federal Government to continue to encourage and support the local industries to grow and reduce importation of items that Nigeria could produce.

FG To Unveil New National Aviation Policy – Minister

The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said that the Federal Government would unveil a new national aviation policy within the next two weeks.

This is contained in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja by Sunday Iyogu, the Principal Information Officer in the minister’s office.

According to the statement, Mr. Sirika made the disclosure when a delegation from the Department for International Development (DFID) Nigeria, led by its Deputy Head, Nick Hamer, paid him a courtesy visit.

He said the ministry would engage relevant parties, the media and members of the public, to acquaint them on government’s policy direction and programmes towards actualising the change agenda in the sector.

The minister said the government recognised DFID’s positive participation in the social and economic activities of Nigeria, of which the nation had benefited from investments and guidance of the British Government.

Mr. Sirika, therefore, pledged the readiness of the government for continuous support and partnership with the DFID where necessary.

Earlier, Mr. Hamer had said that the visit was to explore areas of partnership in aviation sector especially in the area of security and safety of the nation’s airports and users.

“DFID is a United Kingdom Government’s department responsible for administering overseas aid and the goal of the department is to promote sustainable development and eliminate world poverty,” he said. (NAN)

FG To Save N4bn Annually On Travel Discounts

Foreign trips, which government officials embarked upon between 2012 and 2014, gulped N248 billion, the ministry of finance revealed on Tuesday.

According to Festus Akanbi, special adviser to the finance minister, the ministry had to reach out to airlines to negotiate discount for officials in order to cut spending.

Akanbi said the government intended saving over N4 billion through discounted airfares.

“A review of government overhead expenditure from 2012 to 2014 showed that travel was the largest single expenditure item,” Akanbi said in a statement.

“A cumulative total of N248 billion, equivalent to about 18 per cent of total overhead expenditure, was spent on travel during the periods.

“This translates to N83 billion per annum. So, at a conservative discount of 5 per cent on ticket prices,‎ the estimated savings per annum is approximately N4 billion.”

The statement said given the large amount spent on travel, it was imperative that the efficiency unit prioritises travel as a key focus area for cost cutting and generation of savings.

“To this end, the efficiency unit is negotiating with local and international airlines for discounts commensurate with the large number of ticket purchases made by government annually.

“The savings generated will increase funding available to the government for capital investment.

“Also, the efficiency unit has made proposals to the appropriate government authorities for the introduction of guidelines that will reduce the need for travel by localising the activities that necessitate travel, where feasible.

“Other overhead expenditure items including insurance, advertising and fuel, where the government’s bargaining power can be leveraged, are also being reviewed.”

Minister Inaugurates Inter-Ministerial Committee On Digital Switch-Over

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has inaugurated an Inter-Ministerial Committee on the Digital Switch Over (DSO) with a commitment to meeting the deadline by June 2017.

”We don’t have an option, we must meet the 2017 deadline. Otherwise our TV sets will be useless to us. We cannot afford to be left behind,” he told the Inter-Ministerial Committee that comprises representatives of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture as well as that of Trade and Investment, Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Nigeria Customs Service.

The representatives of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Nigerian Communications Commission, National Broadcasting Commission, DigiTeam Nigeria, Set-Top Box Manufacturers, Signal Distributors, CCNL, and Television Enterprises (TVE) are also members of the committee.

At the inauguration in Abuja on Tuesday, Alhaji Mohammed said Nigeria, along with all ECOWAS member countries, will be transiting from Analogue to Digital broadcasting by 2017.

“The significant thing about this deadline is that as of today we have agreed with all other ECOWAS member states that June 2017 will be the cut-off line for all of us to move to Digital. To that effect, uniform equipment and transmission channels have been agreed for all the member states, he said

The Minister reminded the Inter-Ministerial Committee that failure to meet the deadline would amount to violating an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Treaty, which Nigeria and other ECOWAS nations have ratified.

He said that already, Nigeria has recorded some progress towards meeting the deadline, having licensed signal distributors and 13 Set-Top-Box Manufacturers, in addition to reaching agreement with the Content Aggregators as well as software companies.

Alhaji Mohammed said Jos has been selected for the Pilot Project, noting that the Plateau State capital was selected because of its historical role in the transition from black and white to colour television in Nigeria, its mix of local, regional and national television stations as well as its cosmopolitan nature.

He said the advantages of a successful DSO include freeing spectrums for broadband Internet, making available between 30 and 40 Free-To-Air television stations, easier collection of Radio and Television taxes by local governments and job creation through the local manufacture of Set-Top-Boxes and provision of contents.

FG Launches $1m Technology Partnership With UNIDO

In collaboration with the United Nations International Developemnt Organisation (UNIDO), the Federal Government yesterday launched the first N300million Investment and Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) in Nigeria.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah who described the development as timely, said the move would accelerate the industrial revolution mantra of President Muhammadu Buhari administation while supporting the diversification of the economy.

Discussing the benefits of the ITPO to the country, he said it would attract technologically-based Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and Local Direct Investments (LDIs) into the country, adding that the African continent stood to benefit from the Office as its services would be extended to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states.

“Nigeria has all it takes to drive and sustain the activities of the Office at home and abroad,” the minister said, adding that the country’s large market, natural resources, agricultural endowment and skilled labour would drive and sustain the activities of the ITPO.

He said the ITPO would collaborate with the relevant minsitries department and agencies (MDAs) to enhance and drive efforts for attracting investment, acquiring and promoting access to technology, developing small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) through capacity building and cluster development.

The Minister called for the establishment of a league between UNIDO ITPO Nigeria and existing ITPO networks in Italy, China, Baharain, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

The ITPO Coordinator at the Investment Promotion Division of UNIDO, Ms Lucia Cartini, said the choice of Nigeria as the host for the lead ITPO was a joint decision of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and member states of UNIDO, adding that it was based on the consideration that Nigeria has enormous ability to drive and sustain the project.

“Nigeria was chosen not only because Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, but also because there is abundant human and material resources to feed the sustainability needs of the ITPO,” she said, adding that the country offered excellent opportuites, especially in the non-oil sector of the economy.

According to her, the ITPO office will be cited in Lagos because the city is more economically active than Abuja.

Oronsaye Trial To Start Immediately, Court Rules

The trial of Stephen Oronsaye, former head of the federal civil service, will commence immediately after his arraignment, an Abuja high court has ruled.

Paul Uket, counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had asked the court to remand the accused person in prison after he pleaded not guilty to the charges of corruption and obtaining by false pretence brought against him by the EFCC.

“In view of the plea, my lord, we urge this court to remand the accused person in prison custody,” Uket said.

But Joe Agi, counsel to Oronsaye, faulted the submission of the EFCC, stating that he was ready for a day-to-day trial.

“It is unfortunate that the prosecution will say remand the defendant in prison so that we can go and prepare,” he said.

“Only yesterday, the chief justice of Nigeria, re-emphasised it will now be misconduct on the part of judicial officers who do not hear corruption cases day-to-day. So, if EFCC say they want to go and prepare, they have come to court unprepared.

“We are prepared to start this case day-to-day.”

Thereafter, the court stood down the case for an hour, after which the calling of witnesses by the prosecution would begin.

On Tuesday, the EFCC arraigned Oronsaye before Justice O O Goodluck of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) high court, Abuja, on a fresh two-count of corruption and obtaining by false pretence.

According to the EFCC, the fresh charges followed the completion of its investigation, and on the evidence that the former top bureaucrat allegedly abused his position as chair of the presidential committee on the financial action task force to fraudulently obtain a total sum of N190m, being part of the N240m grant, which the committee received from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“The grant, investigation revealed, was allegedly paid into an account in Access Bank operated by Oronsaye without the knowledge of other committee members and he proceeded to invest the funds for personal gains,” the anti-graft agency explained.

The charges read: “Stephen Oronsaye a.k.a. Mr Steve Oronsaye on or about 12th June, 2013 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of the high court of the federal capital territory whilst being the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force and in such capacity entrusted with certain property to wit: the sum of N90,000,000.00 ( Ninety Million Naira) committed breach of trust in respect of the said sum by converting it to your personal use through the investment of the said sum of N90,000,000.00 in Access Bank Plc’s Bankers Acceptance for a tenor of 90 days at 9.0% interest rate in violation of the extant financial regulations

“Stephen Oronsaye a.k.a. Mr Steve Oronsaye on or about 30th December, 2014 at Abuja within the jurisdiction of the high court of the federal capital territory whilst being the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force and in such capacity entrusted with certain property to wit: the sum of N100,000,000.00 ( One Hundred Million Naira) committed breach of trust in respect of the said sum by converting it to your personal use through the investment of the said sum of N90,000,000.00 in Access Bank Plc’s Bankers Acceptance for a tenor of 90 days at 12.0% interest rate each in violation of the extant financial regulations.”

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In addition, these new charges are different from the existing charge for which Oronsaye, Osarenkhoe Afe, and their accomplices are being prosecuted before the federal high court, Abuja on a 35-count of fraud and money laundering involving N2bn.

In this charge, Oronsaye and his co-accused are alleged to have been complicit in several contract awards during his tenure as HoS, using two companies – Frederick Hamilton Global Services Limited and Xangee Technologies Limited – for shady biometrics enrollment deals to the tune of N2bn.

In one of the counts in the amended charge dated November 2, 2015, Oronsaye is alleged to have, in connivance with Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina (now at large), Osarenkhoe Afe and Fredrick Hamilton Global Services Limited in July 2010 “disguised genuine nature of the sum of N161,472,000 derived from an illegal act to wit, conducting procurement fraud by means of fraudulent and corrupt act on the contract extension of biometric enrolment purportedly awarded to Innovative Solutions Limited by the office of the head of service of the federation, without following due process, an offence punishable under section 14 (1) (b) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.”

Cluster Logistic Limited and Kangolo Dynamic Cleaning Limited were also alleged to have connived with Maina (alias Abdullahi A. Faizal now at large) in February 2014 to “transfer the sum of N33,800,000 to West Waves Bureau De Change from the account of Cluster Logistic Limited maintained by Maina”.

The case before the federal high court has no bearing on the new information filed at the FCT high court.

FG Asks ECOWAS Court To Dismiss Dasuki Case

The federal government on Tuesday urged the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice to dismiss the case of Sambo Dasuki, former national security adviser (NSA), who is seeking the enforcement of his freedom from his three-month-long detention.

Dasuki, who was rearrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) in December 2015 after perfecting the bail conditions stipulated by Nigerian courts, asked the ECOWAS court back in January to enforce his fundamental rights as enshrined in the African Charter on people and human rights.

According to PRNigeria, in the legal action instituted by his counsel Robert Emukpoeruo, the former NSA asked the ECOWAS court to declare as unlawful, unconstitutional and breach of his fundamental rights, his rearrest without a lawful court order.

The applicant also prayed the court to declare the action of government in keeping him in a dehumanising condition after bail as unlawful and violation of his right to dignity of human person, privacy and family life, which are guaranteed and protected under Section 34 and 37 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right and Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

He also asked the ECOWAS court to declare the invasion of his privacy, home, and correspondence at his Abuja and Sokoto residences between July 16 and 17, 2015, during Ramadan, and forcible and unlawful seizures of his property without any lawful order or warrant of a court, as constituting a gross violation of his fundamental right under Section 44 of the Nigerian Constitution and other relevant laws.

He therefore prayed for an order for his release and that of his property.

Besides seeking his release to face charges against him in court, Dasuki also demanded compensatory damages of N500 million against the government for its “egregious violations of his right as guaranteed under the law”.

However, at the hearing of suit on Tuesday, the federal government, through its counsel, T A Gazali, objected to Dasuki’s case, arguing that the ECOWAS court had no jurisdiction to enforce the bail conditions because it could not sit as an appellate court to the Nigerian court. He therefore urged the court not to entertain the case.

But counsel to Dasuki, Wale Balogun, urged the court to dismiss the objection of the federal government and assume jurisdiction on the breach of fundamental rights suit as instituted by his client.

Balogun told a panel of three justices of the ECOWAS court led by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke that what Dasuki was asking for was the enforcement of his fundamental right to freedom, having being arrested and detained for more than three months without trial or any lawful court order.

Justice Nwoke, who had earlier granted accelerated hearing in the matter, adjourned it to April 11, 2016 for ruling on the jurisdiction of the court.

FG To Establish Technology Development Bank

The Federal Government is in the process of establishing a science and technology development bank, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has said.

Onu said this when the leadership of the National Association of Motor Mechanics and Technicians led by its president, Mr. Suleiman Oseni, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja on Monday.

The minister said the bank would assist the informal sector close technological gaps and give financial assistance for research and innovations activities across the country.

He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration was committed to fulfilling the promise made to Nigerians to harness the abundant human and natural resources in order to build a better Nigeria by creating jobs and wealth through the application of innovations in the science and technology sector.

Onu said the ministry had commenced the process of establishing the bank with a view to implementing a venture capital component, which would help catalyse the process of technological development in the country.

He called on the association to brace itself for the challenge of population growth in the country by improving on the quality of time spent by the public at workshops and make honesty and reliability their watchwords.

Onu reiterated the pivotal role the informal sector offers in creating employments and job opportunities for teeming youths in Nigeria.

In his remarks, Oseni called on the government to help develop ancillary industries for the production of car components and accessories to engage mechanics in Nigeria.

He also called on the ministry to establish an all-inclusive research department that would different professionals to approach a problem from different perspectives.

The Punch