Reps Receive NFIU Bill Conference Report

The conference report of both chambers of the National Assembly on the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency (NFIU) bill was on Tuesday laid before the House of Representatives.

This came a week after the Chairman of Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi, accused his House of Representatives counterpart, Akinloye Babajide, of hindering the progress of the bill by not attending scheduled meetings of the conference to fine-tune the bill.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, had on Sunday in a social media message assured that the bill will be passed this week.

The bill seeks to make Nigeria’s Financial Intelligence Unit, currently under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), totally independent.

The NFIU, which is domiciled in the EFCC, was in July 2017 suspended by the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units for not being independent.

Egmont Group is a global financial intelligence gathering of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) of 156 countries.

It is a platform for members to share expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

BREAKING: Reps Pass Vote Of No Confidence On Fayemi, Bawa-‎Bwari

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed a vote of no confidence on the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, and the Minister of State, Mr Abubakar Bawa-Bwari.

Both ministers shunned a sectoral debate on the steel sector scheduled today to find solutions to the abandoned Ajaokuta Steel Plant.

The motion on the no-confidence vote was moved by the Leader of the House, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

Missing N10bn NHIS Fund: Reps Summon Adeosun, Emefiele

The House of Representatives committee on healthcare services has invited the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele over N10 billion said to have been deducted from the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Also summoned were the Minister of National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo-Udoma and the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze.

The deductions, which became a public issue just as the reinstated Executive Secretary of the NHIS, Prof. Usman Yusuf, resumed duty, had generated a fresh controversy at the agency.

It had initially been tagged as “missing,” prompting the House Committee on Healthcare Services summoning Yusuf on Wednesday to explain what happened to the N10bn.

The panel, headed by Hon Chike Okafor (APC, Imo) said the amount was domiciled at the CBN but appeared to be deducted ‘arbitrarily’.

The money was taken in two tranches of N5bn in December 2016 and N5bn in January, 2018.

Executive Secretary of NHIS, Prof Yusuf Usmam, speaking before the committee, described the allegations as “misleading and irresponsible”, stating that N10bn missing was deducted from the NHIS Treasury Single Account, as unremitted revenue, by the Federal Ministry of Finance between December 2016 and January 2018

He said the transaction was done in two tranches, with N5bn deducted in each of the transactions in December last year and January this year.

Yusuf said “In December 1, 2016, NHIS got a memo from the Federal Ministry of Finance stating that NHIS is a revenue generating agency.

“I went to the minister and the Accountant-General of the Federation and told them that NHIS is not a revenue generating agency. “On 28 December, 2016, N5bn was deducted from the NHIS Account; another N5bn was deducted on 11 January, 2018, totalling N10bn.

“The money was deducted as surplus unremitted revenue from the agency. I don’t know whether it has been used or what it was used for,” he told the panel.

The committee chairman, Okafor said the panel would get to the bottom of the matter to ascertain how and why the amount was deducted.

The committee insisted on hearing from Adeosun, Adewole, Udo-Udoma, Emefiele, Idris and Akabueze before deciding on the next line of action to take.

The motion was immediately endorsed by the session to summon the aforementioned officials of government.

Reps Move To Ensure Prosecution Of Electricity Equipment Vandals

The House of Representatives on Thursday mandated its committees on power, police affairs, interior, national security and intelligence and federal judicial to examine and find out ways to prosecute vandals of electricity infrastructure across the country.

This resolution followed an adopted motion sponsored by Hon. Francis Charles Uduyok.

The lawmaker, in his lead debate, said the failure to prosecute vandals is majorly responsible for the epileptic supply of power in the federation.

Uduyok disclosed that the country loses about five hundred million naira (N500,000,000) annually because of vandalization of electrical equipment.

He said section 1 (9) and (10) of the miscellaneous offences act, cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 prescribes punishment for vandalization of power equipment.

Reps Ask FG To Enlighten, Assist Herders On Ranching

The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to educate and encourage herdsmen on the benefits of ranching instead of the proposed cattle colonies in states of the federation.

Adopting a motion by Mohammed Onawo (Nasarawa-PDP), the House urged the federal government to consider a soft or subsidised loan scheme for cattle owners to buy land as a means of encouragement for them to ranch.

Mr. Onawo, a former speaker of the Nasarawa State house of assembly said the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers have posed serious security challenges in Nigeria.

“Most of those clashes stem from the practice of herdsmen roaming in the wild across the length and breadth of the country in search of grazing pastures for their cattle and as a result, trespassing into, and damaging crops in farms”

He emphasised that the decision to establish cattle colonies in each state could be in violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Land Use Act as those colonies will remain the exclusive reserve of the individual state governments and as such, would not guarantee total freedom to the herdsmen.

He added that the ranching will offer longer lasting solution to the recurring conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, if the herdsmen would be fully sensitised and educated about the benefits of the program, as it would enable them assume full ownership of those ranches.

The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to liaise with state ministries of agriculture to speedily educate and encourage the herdsmen on the benefits of ranching.

The federal government had announced plans to commence the establishment of cattle colonies in states that have indicated interest.

Nigerians have expressed mixed reactions over the proposal for cattle colonies. Some states like Benue and Taraba, which have experienced clashes between farmers and herdsmen, have rejected the proposal, while others like Kogi and Kano supported it.

Reps Quarrel Over Imo/Rivers Position On Omoku Killings

A quarrel has broken out between members of the House of Representatives from Rivers State and their colleagues from Imo State over the pardon granted wanted persons by Governor Rochas Okorocha.

The suspects reportedly took part in the January 1 deadly attacks in Omoku, Rivers State, where about 22 people were killed.

While the Rivers State Security Council declared them wanted, Okorocha reportedly granted the suspects amnesty.

A motion brought on the floor of the House in Abuja seeking to “condemn” Okorocha’s action has caused disagreements between lawmakers from the two states.

You Cannot Sell National Theatre, Reps Committee Tells FG

Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Culture and Tourism have opposed the proposed plan by the Federal Government to sell the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos State.

The lawmakers on Monday insisted that the national asset cannot be sold as it remains a national monument.

They made their position known during an interactive session between the committee and the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Chairman House Committee on Culture and Tourism, Representative Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama said selling the national edifice is not in the best interest of the citizens of the country.

“There are two issues that are not budget-related that we require you and the Minister to look into as a matter of urgency. I am sure that you received the resolution of the House about the proposed plan to sell the National Theatre as part of our National Assets. We cannot sell National Theater.

“As the representative of the people, we will stand for Nigerians to any level within the powers of the law to ensure that it is not sold. I want you to please, look at it,” Ogbeide-Ihama said.

He argued that the culture and tourism sector can provide the enabling environment for skill acquisition and employment opportunities for Nigerian youths aside boosting the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Ogbeide-Ihama said the spate of clashes among ethnic groups in the country would be drastically reduced if Nigerians are given the opportunities to appreciate the festivals, carnivals and cultural practices that abound in the country.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Culture and Tourism then urged the Minister to prevail on the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to provide funds for the development of the sector. He assured that he would reciprocate the gesture by pushing for adequate budgetary approval for the sector.

The Committee Chairman also expresses concern over the ‘neglect’ of the culture and tourism sector arguing that the sector can easily provide employment opportunities for the teeming population of youths and boost the gross domestic product of the country.

 

Killings: Reps Condemn Exclusion Of Kaduna, Plateau From Osinbajo Committee’s Visitation List

As Nigeria grapples with the herdsmen-farmers crisis which has led to the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians, two members of the House of Representatives have faulted the exclusion of Kaduna and Plateau states from the list of states to be visited by a committee.

The lawmakers made the claim on Thursday, February 8, while commenting on a motion brought by a member of the House, Sunday Katung, who represents the Zangon-Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency of Kaduna State.

The point of order was supported by the lawmaker representing Kachia/Kagarko Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, Mr Adams Jagaba.

Mr Katung had in his motion drawn the attention of the House to a statement from the Office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, saying a sub-committee had been constituted to visit states affected by killings on a fact-finding mission.

The 10-man working group set up by the National Economic Council (NEC) and headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to look into the herdsmen-farmers crisis, set up the sub-committee on February 1.

The sub-committee, which has Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State as Chairman, is however expected to visit Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Adamawa states.

This decision did not go down well with the lawmakers who believe that herdsmen-farmers clashes in Kaduna and Plateau predate that of other areas.

Mr Katung said: “The crisis of the herdsmen has its bud in Southern Kaduna and if the visitation takes place in Kaduna and Plateau, a different story will be told because peace has returned to the Plateau and peace is returning strongly to Southern Kaduna.”

The lawmaker believes the states should be included on the visitation list as it would send a goodwill message to the people who he said are already reconciling at the grassroots.

Confirming that the crisis emerged from the southern part of Kaduna, Mr Jagaba disclosed that the number of deaths recorded was more than that of Benue State.

He also said that excluding the states from the list was unfair, noting that the committee would be treating the symptoms of the crisis and not the issues on the ground.

The lawmaker, who said “we need to be included,” alleged that the security agencies are aware of the whereabouts of the culprits in Southern Kaduna.

He further stressed the need for governance to be run in a way such that every citizen would be given a sense of belonging.

The motion was consequently adopted by the House while its Committee on Public Safety and Intelligence were mandated to liaise with the Office of the Vice President to ensure the inclusion of Kaduna and Plateau on the list of states to be visited.

The committee has also been asked to report back in two weeks’ time.

Reps Accuse AGF, EFCC Of Manipulating Course Of Justice In Saraki’s Trial

The House of Representatives on Thursday accused the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of alleged “manipulation” of justice by reopening the corruption case against the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Justice Danladi Umar.

The House noted that Malami and the EFCC had earlier cleared Umar of any wrongdoing in the alleged corruption act involving about N1.8billion.

However, the House said the same AGF and EFCC had made a U-turn recently by filing two corruption charges against Umar before the Federal Capital Territory High Court.

Umar presides over several high-profile corruption cases at the CCT, including the celebrated case involving the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and some top judicial officers.

In a resolution in Abuja, lawmakers condemned the actions of the AGF and the EFCC in the renewed filing of corruption charges against Umar, accusing them of plotting to arm-twist Umar so that he could deliver judgments in a “pre-determined direction” on the cases before him at the CCT.

The Minority Whip of the House, Mr. Yakubu Barde, who moved a motion on the matter, recalled that the same AGF and EFCC had “previously cleared the said Umar of the very same allegations that form the basis of the two-counts (against him).”

He argued that it was not possible for the same judge who was facing corruption trial to preside over other corruption cases, including Saraki’s, and be expected to be fair to all parties.

The motion reads partly, “The House is further concerned that the EFCC had previously issued a statement absolving Justice Umar of any wrongdoing and is now being charged and asked to try the Senate President with the tendency to give an impression that a game is being arranged to meet certain pre-determined result, portraying our legal system as capable of being manipulated, should be of great concern to everyone.”

Reps Order Police IG To Apologize To Gov Ortom

The House of Representatives has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to apologise to Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who was described as a “drowning man” by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood.

The House on Wednesday debated a motion on the killings by herdsmen in Benue State, specifically asking the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to apologise to the state governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom.

The IGP is being asked to apologise for a statement made by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, calling Ortom a “drowning man.”

Moshood made the statement on Channels Television programme, Morning Rise, on Tuesday, February 6.

Senate, House Of Reps Agree On Order Of 2019 Polls

The Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed on the order of the 2019 general elections.

The concurrence was reached by both chambers of the National Assembly at a Joint Conference.

The House of Representatives had on January 24, 2018 re-ordered the elections.

Based on the reordering, the the National Assembly election is to hold first, followed by gubernatorial and state assembly, and then the presidential election.

The timetable released earlier by the Independent National Electoral Commission has it that the Presidential and National Assembly elections are to hold first, while the governorship and state assembly polls are to follow.

The House amended section 25 of the Principal Act and substituted it with a new section 25 (1).

According to the section, the elections shall be held in the following order: (a) National Assembly election (b) State Houses of Assembly and Governorship elections (c) Presidential election.

Similarly, section 87 was amended by adding a new section 87 (11) with a marginal note: “Time for primaries of political parties.

“The primaries of political parties shall follow the following sequence (i) State House of Assembly (ii) National Assembly (iii) Governorship, and (iv), President.

“The dates for the above stated primaries shall not be held earlier than 120 days and not later than 90 days before the date of elections to the offices.”

All these received concurrence of the two chambers on Tuesday.