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Thursday, 9 April 2020

Nigerians Call For Probe Of AGF Office Fire Incident

Nigerians Call For Probe Of AGF Office Fire Incident

The Federal Government was asked yesterday to launch an investigation into the fire incident which destroyed a section of the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) in Abuja yesterday.

The office is home to the records of revenue generation and disbursements among the three tiers of governments. It also archives the government’s fiscal accountability and transparency monitoring platform (Treasury Single Account).In addition, it stocks all records of states’ domestic and foreign indebtedness.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said there must be a full-scale probe into the circumstances surrounding the inferno, giving its uncanny timing and the significance of the offices involved.

“Nigerians are anxious to know those behind this wicked arson because the fire outbreak reportedly occurred on the part of the building, which hosts critical offices including the Treasury Single Account, Funds, Federation Account Allocation Committee and Revenue Department,” the party said yesterday in a statement by National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan.

“Our party expresses shock that the fire incident came on the heels of our heightened calls for a forensic audit into the hazy oil subsidy regime of the President Buhari-led administration for which trillions of naira are being claimed to have been spent.

“This is in addition to recent demands for an investigation into allegations of fraud and diversion of COVID-19 intervention funds, as well as the social investments programme of the Buhari government since 2015.

“Already, the National Assembly, riding on the gale of demands by Nigerians, and championed by the PDP, has raised queries on spending in respect of social incentives programmes.”

It added: “Our party, therefore, calls for an immediate investigation to determine the actual cause of the fire, as well as ensure that critical documents and data on government revenue and expenditure are immediately retrieved.The PDP also demands that the complex be immediately cordoned off to enable an uncompromised inquest into this ugly incident.”

Similarly, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) urged Nigerians to demand a forensic investigation by independent criminal forensic scientists. It said this would ascertain the real motives or otherwise behind the incident barely 24 hours after the Senate uncovered an alleged monumental heist in the Federal Government’s schools feeding programmes.

In a statement by National Coordinator Emmanuel Onwubiko and National Media Affairs Director Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said Nigerians must not accept any unconvincing stories but insist the government comes clean on how it has been unable to transparently render accounts of revenues generated from internal and external sources.

HURIWA said too many things were wrong with how Federal Government officials administer public finance.It questioned claims in the media that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) generated billions in revenue since 2015, yet the finance minister goes cap-in-hand begging for foreign loans.

“Something is not adding up,” HURIWA said concerning the “sudden fire incident at the office of the Accountant General of the Federation barely few hours after serious suspicion of misuse of public funds running into billions was raised by the usually pliant and docile National Assembly.”

It said the incident was too coincidental, coming at a time of mounting accusations of fraud and failure by the Federal Government to account for how the billions budgeted for the payment of N20,000 COVID-19 palliatives to poor Nigerians were spent.

“HURIWA strongly believes that the fire is too suspicious to be dismissed as a mere accident or happenstance. In Nigeria, public officials are known to always set their offices ablaze in a bid to cover up their tracks. Questions are being asked on how over N60 billion was reportedly blown away by the Federal Government in the guise of implementing conditional cash transfer to some ghosts and some political nitwits rather than to the millions of poor Nigerians.

“How did this cash get shared and frittered away in a few hours? To whom did this humongous cash get to, and where are the records since the National Assembly only yesterday raised the alarm? And 24 hours later, there was a fire at the office of the Accountant General of the Federation?

“We are not accusing anyone of theft. We have not called any officer of the Federal Government a thief. But certainly, we smell a rat. What we know is that this fire is too suspicious to be dismissed as a mere accident or happenstance.”
Ensure Equity And Fairness In Distribution Of Stimulus Package ..Senate President Tells FG

Ensure Equity And Fairness In Distribution Of Stimulus Package ..Senate President Tells FG

Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Wednesday urged the executive arm of the government to ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of the stimulus package across the country.

Lawan, according to a statement by his spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, in Abuja, made the appeal during a meeting of the National Assembly leadership with some members of the Presidential Committee on COVID-19.

In attendance at the meeting, according to the statement, were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.

The statement added that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker Idris Wase, some principal officers and relevant Senate and House committee members also attended the meeting.

The Senate President said all parts of the country should be considered in the intervention initiatives of the Federal Government.
Read Also: Lawan urges sacrifice, commitment in leadership

“We must ensure that there is equity. That there is fairness in the interventions. Every part of this country should have something to ameliorate the situation whether it is Coronavirus infected or not.

“In fact, some of our states had been in a very difficult situation before the outbreak of Coronavirus and such interventions will definitely help,” Lawan said.

He urged the relevant agencies of government to ensure that they streamline their activities along the provisions in the 2020 budget and avoid duplication of projects.

“In our stimulus package, we need to ensure provisions that will streamline with what is already in the 2020 budget so that we don’t do duplication.

“In our last meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning indicated that the executive is proposing a N500billion stimulus package.”

House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila is demanding an all-inclusive relief package for Nigerians to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the people.

He spoke yesterday at a meeting between the leadership of the National Assembly and the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefiele and the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari and others, for an update on the COVID-19.

The Speaker said one of the most effective means of alleviating the financial burden of the stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of the virus is for the government to give a 100 per cent waiver on the electricity consumed by every household in the country.

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, Lanre Lasisi, quoted Gbajabiamila as saying that without the cooperation and collaboration between the Executive and the Legislature, such laudable idea may be impossible to achieve.
NNPC To Handover Refineries To Private Companies

NNPC To Handover Refineries To Private Companies

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will no longer be involved in the management of refineries after their rehabilitation, the agency’s Group Managing Director (GMD) Mallam Mele Kyari, hinted on Wednesday.

Speaking on Arise TV breakfast programme – the Morning Show, Kyari said that upon completion of the ongoing rehabilitation, a company will be hired to manage the plants on an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) basis.

He said: “We are going to get an O&M contract, NNPC won’t run it. We are going to get a firm that will guarantee that this plant would run for some time. We want to try a different model of getting this refinery to run. And we are going to apply this process for the running of the other two refineries.”

The NNPC boss said the government plans to get private partners to invest in the refineries and run them on the NLNG model where the shareholders would be free to decide the fate of the refineries going forward.

Kyari stated that the model, which is totally different from previous approach, will guarantee the desired outcome for the refineries.

He said the decision to end the fuel subsidy regime was taken in the interest of ordinary Nigerians as it will free up funds for the various tiers of government to develop basic infrastructure in education, health, transport and other sectors
Chadian Govt Denies Accusing Nigerian Army Of Inaction In Fight Against Boko Haram

Chadian Govt Denies Accusing Nigerian Army Of Inaction In Fight Against Boko Haram

The Chadian Government has dismissed videos and images claiming the President Idris Derby  accused the Nigerian army of inaction or non-participation in the fight against Boko Haram. The Chadian Embassy, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said it “rejects and denounces this regrettable misinformation”, saying it was aimed at deteriorating the relations between both countries, and the cooperation and dynamic interaction established between their defence and security forces.

The embassy described Nigeria as the number one economic partner of Chad and security challenges. It said the cooperation established in the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Multinational Joint Task Force was strong such that nothing could distract both countries from their goal of restoring peace, stability and security to the region.

Telecom Companies Not Laying 5G Cables....NCC

Telecom Companies Not Laying 5G Cables....NCC

The Executive Vice- Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta, says telecom operators are not laying 5G fibre optic cables in Lagos and other parts as claimed in videos, audio and text messages circulating on the social media.

Danbatta, in a statement on Wednesday, said the laying of fibre optic cables, which was ongoing, and the other telecoms equipment by mobile network operators was to expand their network infrastructure across the country to provide more efficient services to consumers.

The NCC boss said the claim that some digging and laying of fibre optic cables by telecom operators in Lagos and in some other states was connected to 5G equipment deployment was totally wrong.

 “As we speak, any information suggesting or claiming that the equipment being deployed by the network operators is 5G equipment is pure misinformation deliberately orchestrated by individuals bent on creating ill-feelings in the industry,” Danbatta said.

Danbatta described the 5G claims as unfounded and ill-motivated and called on Nigerians to disregard them no matter who is making the claims.
Power Distribution Companies Support NASS Call For 2 Months Free Electricity

Power Distribution Companies Support NASS Call For 2 Months Free Electricity

Power distribution companies on Wednesday announced that they were in support of the proposal by the National Assembly and the Federal Executive arm of government that Nigerians should get two months of free electricity.

Speaking through their umbrella body, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, the Discos stated that modalities for the free power would be worked on and made public in due course.

The Executive Director, ANED, Sunday Oduntan, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday night.

He said, “The electricity distribution companies recognise the challenging effects of the coronavirus on the economic and daily lives of our customers.

“In fulfillment of our commitments to the nation, we hereby align ourselves with the efforts of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive to mitigate the hardship that is currently being borne by our customers and other citizens all over the country.”

Oduntan added, “We are committed to working with them to ensure more efficient power supply within this difficult period, as the nation battles with the ravages of COVID-19.

“We are also completely aligned with the plans to ensure palliative measures, including free electricity supply to all Nigerians for two months, to make life easier, during the lockdown period. Details of implementation to come soon.”

He reiterated the commitment of the Discos to improving service delivery to the nation during the period of the coronavirus pandemic and thereafter.

Meanwhile, the management of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company on Wednesday said it had set aside N100m to support the fight against COVID-19 pandemic within its operational area.

The electricity company said this while donating food items worth N10m to the Oyo State Government as part of measures to combat COVID-19 in the state.

IBEDC also donated N5m to the University College Hospital Ibadan in support of the institution’s efforts at combating the deadly virus.

The Chief Operating Officer, IBEDC, John Ayodele, during the presentation of the relief items at the Ministry of Agriculture, Oyo State Secretariat, said the food items were part of the N100m earmarked to support the states in its areas of jurisdiction.

Ayodele, who was represented on the occasion by the Regional Head of IBEDC, Peter Oyelami, lauded both the government for measures taken in the fight against the scourge.

He said, “IBEDC, as a law-abiding corporate citizen and socially responsible organisation, has earmarked about N100m for relief items namely rice, noodles and semovita.

“This gesture encompasses the states we cover namely Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Kwara, and partly Niger, Kogi and Ekiti states.”

In a related development, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution has donated four truckloads of rice to support the palliative measures in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Rivers states.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, PHED, Dr Henry Ajagbawa, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday by the Manager, Corporate Communications, John Onyi.

He also promised regular supply of electricity during the period of the lockdown to enable the residents to live a comfortable life.

“The same donations taking place here are being replicated across all the states within our coverage.”
Kidnapped Bauchi Governor's Brother Released After 13 Days

Kidnapped Bauchi Governor's Brother Released After 13 Days

The Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, has expressed happiness over the release of his elder brother, Adamu Mohammed, by kidnappers.

Mohammed was kidnapped on March 25, 2020 at Ungwan Jaki in Bauchi metropolis.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Bauchi State Command, Kamal Abubakar, said Adamu was released on Tuesday and had reunited with his family.

Abubakar said, “The victim (Adamu Mohammed) has regained freedom and reunited with his family.”

He said he was not aware that ransom was paid before the release.

The governor who has been in self-isolation since March 23rd following his being positive for coronavirus, thanked the people of Bauchi State for their prayers, care and concern throughout the period of the abduction of his elder brother.

Meanwhile, Adamu said he had forgiven his abductors.

Adamu said this when he received the Deputy Governor, Baba Tela, who led top government officials on a visit to his residence in Bauchi.

He enjoined his kidnappers and others with the same thought to desist from such acts and amend their ways, saying it was not good for society.

Tela emphasised the need for prayers for the safety of the entire citizens of the state.