Tag Archives: reps

Probe N4.4bn missing fund – Reps to Lawan, Gbajabiamila

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The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President Dr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of House of Representatives Mr Femi Gbajabiamila to urgently probe allegations that N4.4 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in three audited reports by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.

In an open letter dated January 30 and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “By exercising strong and effective leadership in this matter, the National Assembly can show Nigerians that the legislative body is a proper and accountable watchdog that represents and protects the public interest, and is able to hold both itself and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to account in the management of public resources.”

The agency believes that if the matter is not satisfactorily addressed, the allegations would undermine public confidence in the ability of the National Assembly to exercise its constitutional and oversight responsibilities to prevent and combat corruption, and to ensure the public interest, transparency and accountability in the management of public resources.

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SERAP also expressed concerns that the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds amount to fundamental breaches of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations, including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

The letter, read in part: “Any failure to promptly, thoroughly and independently investigate these serious allegations, prosecute suspected perpetrators, and recover missing public funds and assets would undermine public trust in the ability of the leadership of the National Assembly to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.”

“The Auditor-General noted in his 2015 report that the National Assembly account was spent N8,800,000.00 as unauthorised overdraft, contrary to Financial Regulations 710. The National Assembly also reportedly spent N115,947,016.00 without any documents. Another N158,193,066.00 spent as cash advances to 17 staff between January and June 2015 is yet to be retired.”

“The Senate reportedly spent N186,866,183.42 to organise Senate Retreat and Pre-Valedictory Session for the 7th Senate, although the money was meant to pay vehicle loan. The Senate also reportedly spent N15,964,193.63 as bank charges between July and December, 2015, contrary to Financial Regulations 734.”

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“The House of Representatives also reportedly spent N624,377,503.30 to buy 48 Utility Vehicles. However, 14 vehicles were not supplied. The House also failed to make the 34 vehicles supplied available for verification. Similarly, the House spent N499,666,666.00 as cash advances to staff to carry out various assignments but has failed to retire the money.”

“The House of Representatives also reportedly paid N70,560,000.00 as overtime and ‘special’ allowances to officials who are not legislative aides between November and December 2015 without any authority.”

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“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly failed to remit N30,130,794.10 deducted from the salaries of the Executive Chairman and the Commissioners as car loan.”

“The National Assembly Budget and Research Office reportedly spent N66,303,411.70 as out-of-pocket expenses without any documents. The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies paid N246,256,060.51 by cheques, despite the prohibition of payments by cheque by the Federal Government, except in extreme cases, and contrary to Financial Regulation 631.”

“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2017, the House of Representatives reportedly spent ₦95,212,250.00 without due process and without any documents. The National Assembly Management Account also reveals that N673,081,242.14 was spent between April and October 2017 without any documents. The Auditor-General reported that the funds may have been misappropriated.”

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“The Senate Account also reportedly shows that ₦1,364,816,397.95 was spent on store items without any documents to show for the spending. The Auditor-General stated that his office was denied access to the store and to the Senate’s records.”

“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies also reportedly failed to remit ₦2,181,696.50 from contract of goods and services. The Institute also paid ₦67,296,478.00 without any payment vouchers.”

“We would be grateful if you would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the leadership of the National Assembly to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the National Assembly.”

“The Auditor-General also noted in his 2018 report that the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies failed to remit N577,634,638,20 due from contracts and supplies, even though the deductions were made. However, the Institute claimed that it was the National Assembly that was required to remit the money, as it is the body that maintains the account on behalf of the Institute.”

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“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the country’s international obligations including under the UN Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Nigeria has ratified both treaties.”

The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); and Mr Mohammed Abba, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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#Newsworthy

Group of Reps proposes legalization of Cannabis [Nigeria]

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When this bill is passed, Nigeria will join the league of 30 other countries that have legalised the use of cannabis.

The House of Representatives has proposed a bill that will legalise the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis better known as marijuana or Indian hemp in Nigeria.

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The bill, which has already been read the first time and was slated for second reading before the House proceeded on Christmas and New Year break is sponsored by Hon. Miriam Onuoha (APC, Imo). Onuoha, who represents Isiala Mbano/ Onuimo/ Okigwe federal constituency of Imo State, is a firsttimer in the lower chamber after defeating her closest rival Obinna Onwubuariri of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the rerun election that was held in 18 polling units in the constituency in January this year.

It is titled “A bill for an act to decriminalise the growth and use of cannabis, to establish a system for the registration and licensing of cannabis growers, users and control, to legalise the growth, sale and use of cannabis and set out a legal framework for the registration and licensing of cannabis growers and producers in Nigeria; and for related matters.”

Although the bill was listed on the order paper on December 21, it could not be debated due to the absence of the sponsors on the floor of the House.

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Investigation revealed by NoRM‘s known Media that the proposed legislation will be considered when the House reconvene on January 26, 2021

A synopsis of the bill obtained by New Telegraph shows that it is “to regulate the cultivation, possession, availability and trade in cannabis for medical and research purposes.”

The objectives of the bill include to: “Provide for a registration and licensing system for cannabis farmers and processors; establish a registration and licensing system for cannabis farmers and processors; regulate the cultivation, processing, availability and trade of cannabis for medical purposes and promote public awareness about the cultivation, processing, availability and trade of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes and its use in relation to medical or health purpose.”

The bill, however, prohibits issuance of cannabis licence for medical use if such a person is without a proof that “he is either a medical doctor and intends to use it for medical purposes or a pharmaceutical company who intends to use an amount of cannabis, which may be determined as required, in producing a medicine for the cure of a certain disease or an epidemic.”

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They include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark and Finland.

Others are Germany, Greece, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Italy, Poland, Jamaica, Lesotho, Romania and Dan Marino. The rest are Luxemburg, Switzerland, Macedonia, Tury, Malta, Mexico, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

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#Newsworthy

[Nigeria] Bill to establish army varsity passes second reading before Reps

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The lawmaker said that the bill, when passed into law would encourage and prove the benefits of education to the people.

A bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria Army University, Biu, Borno, to make comprehensive provisions for its management and administration has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill, which originated from the Senate, seeks to give legal backing to the university, which is already in existence, was presented by the Majority Leader, Rep. Ado Doguwa.

Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP-Abia) argued that the army did not need a university to address the security challenge in the country.

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He said that rather than establish new institutions, the Nigerian Defence Academy and the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji should be strengthened.

Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) said that should the house pass the bill, Air Force, Navy, Civil Defence and other security agencies will also want to establish universities.

The lawmaker said that the country was already faced with the challenge of insufficient resources saying that establishing new institutions would further stretch the purse.

Supporting the bill, Rep. Ahmed Jaha (APC-Borno) said that Borno has only one federal university which is located in Maidugiri.

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He said that in the southern part of the state, there were no fewer than 60,000 orphans and widows as a result of the activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

According to the lawmaker, the ideology of the terrorist group is to discredit and abolish western education.

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Jaha said that in 2018, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) approved 1,000 university slots for candidates but over 2,000 applied.

He said that in 2019, JAMB approved 15,000 slots but over 26,000 thousand candidates applied.

Jaha appealed to members to support the bill to enable children in the region to access university education.

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Also, Rep. Abdulrazak Namdas (APC-Adamawa) explained that the Nigerian Defence Academy is strictly for soldiers while and the Armed Forces Command and Staff College is for senior officers.

Namdas, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Army, said that Army University is open to both military personnel and civilians.

He said that military officers travelled abroad for further studies and trainings saying that with the establishment of the university such studies and training could be done here in Nigeria.

The legislator said that Nigeria had about 200 million citizens and that it needed more universities to meet the demands for higher education.

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When the matter was put to a voice vote by the Speaker of the house, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, members unanimously voted in support of the bill.

In his ruling, Gbajabiamilia referred the bill to relevant committees of the house for further legislative actions.

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#Newsworthy

Fayose blast Reps after Buhari’s invitation; call them ‘toothless bulldogs’

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The House considered a motion moved by members from Borno State on the recent killings of 43 rice farmers by Boko Haram insurgents.

Ayodele Fayose, a former Governor of Ekiti State, has labelled members of the House of Representatives as ‘mere toothless bulldogs’ that only exist on paper in the eyes of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Fayose made the claim while reacting to a resolution by the House of Representatives to invite the President to brief the House on the true state of security in Nigeria.

According to him, he would be surprised if Buhari honours their invitation.

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Recall with NoRM that the decision to summon President Buhari was taken at Tuesday’s plenary.

The debate became rowdy after the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said it would be inappropriate to invite Buhari to disclose the actions being taken towards handling the security situation in the country.

Gbajabiamila described it as counter-productive.

Reacting to the development, Fayose, in a tweet via his Twitter handle on Tuesday, said: “I will be surprised if the President honours the House of Reps invitation.

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“The National Assembly that is supposed to be representing the people should know by now that in the eyes of this President, they only exist on paper because they are mere toothless bulldogs.

“Some of those Rep members at the forefront of the invitation of the President to appear before the House should expect EFCC invitation, freezing of their accounts or arrest for plotting to bring down the legitimate government of the President. I warned,” Fayose tweeted.

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#Newsworthy

Ebonyi: PDP suspends Reps members, senators over Umahi’s defection to APC

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The three Senators are Sam Egwu, a former governor of the state, Michael Ama Nnachi and Obinna Ogba.

The People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Ebonyi has suspended the three Senators from the state and five House of Representatives members over anti-Party activities.

The suspension came as a surprise as the elected members on Wednesday vowed to remain in the party, despite the defection of Governor Dave Umahi to the APC.

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But the PDP Chairman, Barrister Onyekachi Nwebonyi suspended them, accusing them of anti-party activities.

The suspended House of Representatives members are Chukwuma Nwanzunku, Sylvester Ogbaga, Livunus Makwe, Idu Igariwey, Victor Aleke and Chris Usulor.

The party further invited them to appear before its disciplinary Committee to defend themselves over the allegations today.


#Newsworthy…

[Nigeria] FRSC set to bear firearms – Reps

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A member, Solomon Maren, added that the committee would discuss the matter with the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) operatives will begin to bear firearms to curtail the excesses of road users in Nigeria.

The House of Representatives Committee on FRSC made the disclosure during the corps’ 2020 budget performance and 2021 budget defence, on Thursday in Abuja.

The Chairman, Akinfolarin Mayowa, explained that the 1992 Act of FRSC allowed the corps to carry guns, NRM reports.

Mayowa said the implementation had become necessary to ensure laws were obeyed and to allow the FRSC function effectively.

He disclosed that the committee would meet with Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and also write to President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the Act.

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The lawmaker said there were more risks on the roads, adding that the FRSC should now bear arms.

FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, decried incidents where motorists threatened personnel on duty.

Oyeyemi stressed that weapon bearing for protection would curtail violent road users and protect officers.

He confirmed that the corps has 280 formations, with presence in nearly all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.


#Newsworthy…

Rep, Senate assures speedy passage of 2021 Budget. [Nigeria]

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The president presented the budget estimates before a joint session of the National Assembly

Presiding officers of the National Assembly, Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, have pledged to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.

The two lawmakers made this known on Thursday in separate remarks after President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2021 budget estimates.


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In his brief welcome address, Mr Lawan expressed the readiness of the parliament to pass the 2021 budget before the end of the year.

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“We expect that before the end of the year, the 2020 budget would have been fully implemented,” Mr Lawan says.

He said the passage of the 2020 budget and assent in good time was a clear indication of the smooth working relationship between the executive and legislature.

He added that the implementation of the 2020 budget has shown remarkable improvement compared to previous years.

He also said he hopes the 2021 budget would be targeted at a consolidation of the gains of the 2020 budget, adding that it should also be targeted at creating more jobs.

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Nigeria has in the past seven years operated an irregular budget circle.

Promise kept – Gbajabiamila
In his closing remarks, Mr Gbajabiamila also thanked his colleagues for making the budget circle of January – December a reality.

“We promised that we would pass the budget promptly, free of the rancour that had bedevilled the process in time past. We delivered on that promise.”

“I thank my colleagues in the National Assembly for the dedication and commitment they showed last year during the appropriation process.”

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“Senators and members of the House of Representatives toiled night and day, sometimes through the night and into the wee hours of the morning to ensure that we achieved our commitment to return to the January to December budget cycle as envisaged by the constitution.

“I do not doubt that we will exhibit the same commitment to nation-building and deliver a good budget on time. We cannot afford a return to the old practices, and we must do everything in our power to avoid such an outcome.”

“We also promised to pass a budget that reflected our priorities – healthcare, education, public infrastructure and the development of an economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels and gives to all Nigerians, the ability to achieve their dreams equal to their effort and commitment,” he said.

He said, however, that more needs to be done to assure Nigerian that the National Assembly will continue in this regard.

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He also seized the opportunity to announce a new protocol in the National Assembly.

“Let me also use this opportunity to announce a new protocol in the House. Henceforth, all ministries, departments and agencies who come to defend their budget proposals, will do so without their security details present.”

“We must take this course of action to prevent the unacceptable proliferation of sidearms in the hearing rooms during such engagements.”

“Additionally, the House intends to adhere to the COVID-19 social distancing protocols, and we need to be able to limit the numbers of people in these hearing rooms at any point in time,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Reps meet with NLC, TUC over alleged strike.

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The House of Representatives has waded into the crisis between the Federal Government and the organised labour over the recent hikes in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and electricity tariff.

The Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress had jointly declared their readiness to embark on a nationwide strike and protests to compel the Federal Government to reverse the hikes. The hikes had generated nationwide criticism.

The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Sunday met with President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba; and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, among others.

Both Wabba and Gbajabiamila decried that the negotiations between the government and the workers to prevent the imminent strike had failed.

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“We, in the House of Representatives, are on the same page with you,” the Speaker told the labour leaders.

Gbajabiamila, however, warned against the dire consequences of shutting down the government at this time, urging the workers to suspend the planned action.

Olaleye hailed the Speaker for always intervening in labour matters.

The meeting has now gone behind closed doors.


#Newsworthy…

China loan: Reps argues dirty with Amaechi

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A heated argument ensued on Monday between the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Agreements and Protocols, Nicholas Ossai.

The committee is investigating the $500billion loan agreement between Nigeria and China for the Federal Government’s rail projects.

While the public hearing was ongoing, Amaechi said Nigeria was very unlikely to get the remaining loans from China because of the investigations being carried out by the House.

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He accused the Committee of pursuing a political agenda, alleging that Ossai had approached him on the South-South Rail Project.

Following the increasing rise in Amaechi’s tone, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, stormed the venue of the hearing and called for a 30-minute break.

The minister was later discharged and asked to reappear before the lawmakers on Tuesday at 12 noon.

This is the second time the Minister would be summoned before the Committee over the foreign loan meant for railway projects.

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On July 29, he appealed to the National Assembly to halt its probe of the 500 million dollars loan from the Chinese government.

Amaechi warned that the loan which is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects may be truncated by the Chinese government if it suspects that there is a disagreement between the executive and the legislature.

He also argued that constant probing or investigation may suggest that an arm of the government does not agree with the loan and may cause the Chinese government to withdraw it.

Amaechi noted that while the lawmakers have the powers to conduct such a probe, he begged them to do so after Nigeria has obtained the loan to prevent the proposed projects from suffering a setback.


#Newsworthy…

China loan: Amaechi appears before Reps.

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The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has appeared before the House of Representatives Public Hearing on Treaties and Protocols.

Speaking during the hearing in Abuja on Monday, Amaechi disagreed with the committee, saying he is unaware of a N33 billion contract by the Ministry of Transport but only a $1.6 billion contract.

He said the action of the committee is political.

The minister who appeared before the committee for a second time maintained his position that Nigeria is now very unlikely to get the remaining loans from China due to the investigations being carried out by the House.

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According to him, the committee probe suggested that the different arms of government do no support the loan.

The committee is also interested in the number of Nigerians and Chinese involved in the Federal Government rail project.

Amaechi’s comments come three weeks after he begged the lawmakers to halt its probe of the 500 million dollars loan from the Chinese government.

He warned that the loan which is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects may be truncated by the Chinese government if it suspects that there is a disagreement between the executive and the legislature.

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While noting the lawmakers have the powers to conduct such a probe, he appealed to them to do so after Nigeria has obtained the loan to prevent the proposed projects from suffering a setback.

“The investigation being carried out by the National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.

“We have the approval to construct the Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines; we are also at the point of negotiating for the loans.”

“Summoning us to the National Assembly to come and address the loans would look like the government is no longer interested in the loan,” the minister said.


#Newsworthy…

Nigeria needs to impose deep cuts in cost of governance – Reps, Gbajabiamila.

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila says Nigeria needs to impose “deep cuts” in the cost of governance in the country.

Gbajabiamila said this on Thursday at the beginning of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) revenue considerations with revenue-generating agencies.

It was organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Finance.

According to him, with the country facing a fiscal crisis coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a need to reduce the cost of governance to free up revenue for infrastructure development.

“We have a responsibility to act with urgent determination to build the infrastructure of opportunity that is required to lift millions of our fellow citizens out of poverty,” the lawmaker said.

“We recognise that we cannot accomplish these objectives using loans and outside financing alone.

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“Therefore, we need to impose deep cuts in the cost of governance and improve internal revenue generation and collection so that we can free up resources that can then be deployed to fund policy initiatives that will enhance the lives of our people.”

While restating that revenue-generating agencies have a role to place in helping the country increase its revenue base, he lamented that there is a “consistent failure to adhere to the revenue remittance agreements to which many of these agencies have committed.”

The Speaker added: “We have credible reports that these desperately needed funds have in many cases, been diverted to finance unnecessary trivialities. At the same time, the Government is left scrambling for alternative sources to fund priority projects.”

He said as a critical part of the government, the legislature is backed by law to ensure the country’s resources are used judiciously for the betterment of the masses.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Reps to petition Buhari over disagreement to honour committee invites

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The House of Representatives is set to petition President Muhammadu Buhari over the refusal of some agencies of government to appear before its Committee on Public Account to answer questions over financial irregularities traced to them or clarify some records provided by other agencies.

The House Committee on Public Account is particularly not happy with the refusal of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefele, Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Managing Director of the Nigeria Port Authority, Haha Hadiza Bala Usman and the Bureau for Public Enterprises to appear before it over sales of federal government landed property across the country.

The agencies, alongside the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Petroleum Equalisation Fund failed to appear before the Committee on Public Account over the sales of some government property.

Chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Rep. Wole Oke told the Clerk of the Committee to forward a petition to the President through the office of the Secretary to the Federation and the Chief of Staff to the President informing him of the refusal of the heads of the agency to honour the invitation of the Parliament.

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He said the President should compel the agencies to honour the invitation of the House within seven days.

However, at its hearing on Wednesday, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Nigeria Electricity Liabilities Management Company denied selling any government property or being in possession of any proceeds from the sale.

Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria, Engr S.A. Abdulazeez said told the Committee that “TCN was not involved in the sales of federal government landed property.

When the Power Holding Company was privatized, all assets and liabilities were handed over to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO and so, we have no presentation to make”.

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Responding to, Director General of NELMCO, Adebayo Fagbemi said not all PHCN assets were transferred to the agency, adding that some of the property handed over to him were already sold before they were handed over to them.

He said that the gazette authorising the transfer also transferred some of the assets to other agencies including the Nigeria Electricity Management Service Agency and National Power Training Institute of Nigeria and the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET).

He disclosed that their schedules were transferred to the agency by the gazette, adding that some of the property listed in the schedules were already sold by the Presidential Implementation Committee, the Federal Capital Territory Authority, and the FIRS before they were handed over to the agency merely on paper.

He said those assets already sold should have been expunged from the list of assets handed over to them, adding that the agencies that took charge and sold the property should be in a better position to explain where the money realised from the sale was kept.

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He said NELMCO only recently got approval from the Bureau of Public Enterprises to begin the sale of about 52 government property, adding that the process of selling those property is currently being carried out.

Asked whether the property were sold before being handed over to them, he said: “the transfers were done officially in 2013 by the BPE and by 2013, some of them were already sold and the proceeds were never transferred to us”.

The Secretary to the Presidential Implementation Committee on the Sales of Federal Government landed property, Kola Adeyemi, however, confirmed that the property were sold and the proceeds deposited in a special account at the CBN created for that purpose.

He said the Committee never had access to the proceeds as the transaction was carried out in line with Presidential directives.


#Newsworthy…

Why I told Reps to stop chinese loans probe – Amaechi

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The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has reacted to the controversy trailing the Federal Government’s planned securement of $500million loan from China.

The House of Representatives had raised an alarm over clauses in Article 8 (1) of the Commercial Loan Agreement signed between Nigeria and the Export-Import Bank of China.

In the said agreement, Nigeria stands to concede her sovereignty to China should there be a default in the repayment of the $400million for the Nigerian National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone phase 2 project signed in 2018.

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The controversial clause in the agreement signed by the Federal Ministry of Finance on behalf of Nigeria and Chinese bank on September 5, 2018 provides:

“The borrower hereby irrevocably provides waives any immunity on the grounds of sovereign or otherwise for itself or its property in connection with any arbitration pursuit to Article 85 thereof with the enforcement of any arbitral award pursuit thereto except for the military asset and diplomatic asset.”

But Amaechi, who appeared as a guest on Media TV (known to Noble Reporters Media), explained that he told the National Assembly members not to probe the loan issue too much in order not to scare the lender.

“The reason why I said that is because we have already applied for $5.3billion to execute the rail from Ibadan to Kano. We are about applying for about $3billion to execute the rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

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“Don’t forget the National Assembly approved that loan. It is unconstitutional and impeachable if you take a loan without the approval of the National Assembly. So the same National Assembly that approved the loan is now questioning the same loan and the terms of the loan having looked at it before.

“If I am the lender, I will be worried. If they get worried, they will say ‘No, we will not approve the remaining loans you have applied for,” he said.

Amaechi who described the loan as the cheapest so far, said the Chinese loan is a concessionary loans at 2.8 percent interest.

He explained that before meeting China, the Federal Government had already approached other countries who didn’t approve the request on the ground that they didn’t have money.


#Newsworthy…

Reps should stop N500m Chinese loan probe – Amaechi appeals

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The Minister Of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has appealed to the National Assembly to halt its probe of the 500 million dollars loan from the Chinese government.

Amaechi made the appeal during an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Protocols on Wednesday.

According to the him, the loan which is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects may be truncated by the Chinese government if it suspects that there is a disagreement between the executive and the legislature.

The minister also argued that constant probing of the investigation may suggest that an arm of government does not agree with the loan and may cause the Chinese government to withdraw it.


#Newsworthy…

NDDC: Publicise your claims – Reps ask Akpabio

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The spokesman for the House of Representatives, Rep. Benjamin Kalu (APC-Abia) has alleged that the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, has not proved his allegations against members of the parliament.

In a statement, Kalu challenged the minister to go public with documents to prove that 60 per cent of contracts in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was awarded to lawmakers.

He recalled that Akpabio had made the allegation at an investigative hearing on the alleged N40 billion financial malfeasance in the NDDC.

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He recalled that the Speaker of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabimila, challenged the minister to publish the list of the members within 48 hours.

According to him, instead of publishing the list for the world to see in the interest of transparency, the minister chose to send an eight-paragraph private letter to the speaker.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio PHOTO:Twitter

Kalu explained that the letter by the minister made reference to projects of 2018 which pre-date the 9th House of Representatives and had little to do with the bogus allegation.

“The House, therefore, reiterates that the minister was given an ultimatum to publish names and not to write a personal letter to the speaker.

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“The minister is hereby cautioned to desist from spinning tales and is invited to go public as instructed.

“Nevertheless, it will interest Nigerians to know that paragraph three of the minister’s letter fully exonerated the 9th Assembly.

“Also, in paragraph seven, the minister completely withdrew his previous statement about 60 per cent of the NDDC projects being awarded to members of the 9th Assembly.

“It is also instructive for Nigerians to note that the total number of projects in the 2019 NDDC budget was 5959 out of which 5416 projects were rolled over from 2018, which the 9th Assembly obviously had no influence or control over,” he said.

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Kalu said that Akpabio presented an ineffectual spreadsheet of only 266 projects out of which about 20 projects were attracted by past members of the National Assembly as constituency projects.

He said that the projects were given to the members as contractors, but in furtherance of their representative mandate for the constituency.

According to him, the projects presented in the Akpabio’s letter are not within the scope of the investigation and has do nothing to address the leadership’s ultimatum.

Kalu said that contrary to the mischievous narrative being peddled on the internet, the only mention of the Chairman of the NDDC Committee of the 9th House of Representatives, Rep. Olubumi Tunji-Ojo in that letter, was as to his alleged request for the complete payment of 19 contractors.

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The legislator said that the contractors had approached Tunji-Ojo with complaints about NDDC’s non-payment for their services.

He added that the allegation had been completely refuted by Tunji-Ojo and for which there is no evidence linking him.

The spokesman, however, said that the directive to press charges against the Akpabio has not been lifted by the House as the leadership was busy considering the weight of the minister’s letter.

“If it does not clear the doubt and wrong perception, it will be sent to the court for clearance as the speaker stated,” he added.


#Newsworthy…

Reps insist Akpabio must publish names of lawmakers who got NDDC contracts

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The House of Representatives has asked the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, to publish the names of the members of the National Assembly who got contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Spokesman for the House and Committee Chairman on Media Affairs and Publicity, Benjamin Kalu, said this in a statement on Tuesday.

He noted that the minister had alleged that 60 percent of all the NDDC projects were awarded to members of the lawmakers between the months of January and May 2020.

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Kalu explained that following the claim, the leadership of the 9th House issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Akpabio to publish a list of the lawmakers.

He decried that rather than doing as instructed, the minister wrote to the Speaker of the House, adding that the content of the letter was irrelevant to the issues raised.

The House spokesman revealed that the lawmakers were already evaluating the minister’s letter and the directive to press charges against him have not been lifted.

He said if the letter does not address the issues raised, it would be sent to the court for clearance as the speaker had stated.

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Kalu, therefore, urged Nigerians to continue to ask the right questions as to what happened to the N81.5 billion said to have been mismanaged by the NDDC in six months.

A file photo of the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, during his appearance before a House of Representatives Committee on July 20, 2020.

Read the full statement below:

SEN. AKPABIO’S PERSONAL LETTER TO THE SPEAKER EXONERATES THE 9TH HOUSE BUT FAILS TO MEET THE ULTIMATUM, THE MINISTER IS INVITED TO PUBLISH THE LIST AS INSTRUCTED

Following a motion unanimously adopted by the House, an investigation was ordered into the activities and financial malfeasance of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and its Interim Management Committee (IMC) between the periods of January to May 2020.

In a coordinated and calculated attempt to distract Nigerians from the ongoing investigation, the Minister of NDDC and the leadership of the IMC raised spurious allegations against members of the National Assembly.

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The Minister claimed under oath that 60% of all the NDDC projects under investigation were awarded to members of the House between the months of January and May 2020.

Following this disturbing allegation, the leadership of the 9th House issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Minister to publish a list of the legislators allegedly awarded 60% of the entire projects of NDDC between January and May 2020.

Instead of publishing the list for the world to see in the interest of transparency, the Minister in his usual diversionary tactics, chose to send an irrelevant 8-paragraph private letter to the Speaker regarding projects of 2018 which pre-date the 9th House of Representatives and had little to do with the bogus claims he made.

The House, therefore, reiterates that the Minister was given an ultimatum to publish names and not to write a personal letter to the Speaker. The Honourable Minister is hereby cautioned to desist from spinning tales and is invited to go public as instructed.

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Nevertheless, it will interest Nigerians to know that paragraph 3 of the Minister’s letter fully exonerated the 9th Assembly. Also, in paragraph 7, the Minister completely withdrew his previous statement about 60% of the NDDC projects being awarded to members of the 9th Assembly.

It is also instructive for Nigerians to note that the total number of projects in the 2019 NDDC budget was 5,959 out of which 5,416 projects were rolled over from 2018, which the 9th Assembly obviously had no influence or control over.

Therefore, unable to prove his claims, the Minister presented an ineffectual spreadsheet of only 266 projects out of which about 20 projects were attracted by past members of the National Assembly as constituency projects, not as contractors, but in furtherance of their representative mandate.

The projects presented in the Minister’s letter are not within the scope of the investigation and do nothing to address the leadership’s ultimatum for him to publish the list of names of the members who he claimed took 60% of NDDC projects from January to May 2020.

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Also, contrary to the mischievous narrative being peddled on the internet, the only mention of the Chairman of the NDDC Committee of the 9th House of Representatives, Rep. Tunji Ojo in that letter, was as to his alleged request for the complete payment of 19 contractors who had approached him with complaints over NDDC’s non-payment for their services.

This is, however, an allegation which has been completely refuted by Rep. Ojo and for which there is no evidence linking him.

The one member of the House mentioned in that letter only attracted the project to his federal constituency, in the same manner that the NDDC MD, EDFA, EDP, Chairman etc applied to the Commission for attention to the needs of their people and were obliged.

This attraction of projects does not in any way mean that contracts were personally awarded to them.

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Additionally, the letter also listed the names of contract awardees with no evidence linking them to those who attracted the projects to the beneficiary communities. It takes lifting the corporate veil for the directors to be seen and the Corporate Affairs Commission is there to establish who the real owners of the companies are.

Until then, it is wrong to attempt to establish a nexus which currently does not exist. The document remains a mere spreadsheet of people who attracted projects to their communities in furtherance of their representative functions.

Furthermore, the directive to press charges against the Minister has not been lifted by the House as the leadership is busy considering the weight of the Honourable Minister’s letter. If it does not clear the doubt and wrong perception, it will be sent to the court for clearance as the Speaker stated.

Once again, the letter’s annexures showing 2018 projects have no relevance to what was requested from the Minister because it was outside the scope of his claims, it was also not comprehensive but selective by mentioning only one current member for attracting projects to his constituency and not for receiving contracts.

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The House is mindful of a letter currently before it where the Minister also applied to attract several projects to his Senatorial Zone during his time at the Senate, does it mean the contracts were awarded to him?

Nigerians are encouraged to ignore the deflections of the Honourable Minister and continue to ask the right questions as to what happened to the money of the region which has led to a gross disservice to Niger-Deltans.

Nigerians should start asking the right questions and demanding the right answers; and the right question remains, “What happened to Nigeria’s ₦81.5billion under the charge of NDDC in the space of 6 months?”

Signed

Rep. Benjamin O. Kalu

Official Spokesperson


#Newsworthy…

Reps should prosecute Akpabio over NDDC contract claims – Ubani

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The controversy trailing the corruption scandal in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has continued to spark mixed reactions in the country.

Amid a series of drama, confrontation, and war of words, the National Assembly is investigating the allegation of corruption in the agency.

Among the latest dramatic events from the probe is the heated argument between a lawyer, Mr Monday Ubani, and the spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Mr Benjamin Kalu, during their appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics.

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Ubani, who is also a governance expert, and Kalu, who is also the House Committee Chairman on Media Affairs and Publicity, disagreed over the allegation by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, on the complicity of some lawmakers in the contract scam in the NDDC.

The Powerful Politicians

A file photo of the Minister of Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio, during his appearance before a House of Representatives Committee on July 20, 2020.

While the lawyer stressed that there were evidence that some lawmakers have been indicted, the lawmaker insisted that there was nothing of such.

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“We are waiting for them (the House) to initiate criminal prosecution against Godswill Akpabio; when they now try it, they will get to know the names of those that are there with them,” Ubani said.

According to him, the lawmakers cannot initiate any criminal prosecution or civil prosecution when the minister has names of members of the present House that have been indicted.

Ubani alleged that the annexure attached to the minister’s letter to the House contained the names of the lawmakers, including the chairmen of the Senate and House committees investigating the NDDC.

He said, “Both committee chairmen; there are other members of the House that are there, including some powerful politicians.

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“Let me tell you what happened in the House. In the morning, the Speaker was saying that he had referred this particular matter to the Clerk, asking that lawyers should be engaged to initiate criminal perjury and civil defamation against Akpabio when he has not gotten the letter.”

“The moment the letter came that has this list of all the members that are implicated, remember how the Speaker ended? He said ‘this matter is now rested; I will now refer this matter to the Ethics and Privileges Committee’ which means this matter has died a natural death,” Ubani added.

Akpabio Exonerated Us

In a swift reaction, Kalu who is also a lawyer, faulted the allegations by Ubani, stressing that the Akpabio had exonerated the lawmakers in his letter.

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He said, “With due respect to my senior colleague, he is wasting the time of Nigerians and your airtime, what is he referring to? What I have here is a document from the minister; the original document.

The lawmaker, therefore, challenged Ubani to mention the names of the members of the 9th Assembly who constituted 60 per cent of the project of the NDDC as claimed.

He also questioned if the two members said to have been named by the minister as purported beneficiaries of the contracts constituted 60 per cent.

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While he noted that he could not speak for the Senate, Kalu insisted that the name of the House Committee Chairman, Olubunmi Ojo, was not mentioned in the document.

The said document, he stated, referred to the events in 2018 and has no relevance to the probe of the agency between January and May 2020.

“It has no relevance; if we were before the court, it will not be admissible. It will be flung out of the court,” the House spokesman said.


#Newsworthy…

NDDC: Reps seek investigation into invasion of Joy Nunieh’s home

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The House of Representatives has mandated its committee on Police Affairs to investigate the circumstances surrounding the invasion of the home of the former acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Joy Nunieh.

The resolution was reached during plenary on Thursday following a matter of urgent public importance raised by the Deputy Majority Whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who queried the motive behind the invasion.

The lawmaker believes the action was done to prevent her from giving her testimony before the House committee on the NDDC.

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Armed security operatives surrounded the home of Joy Nunieh, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital at about 4 a.m on July 16, 2020, in an attempt to break into her apartment for hours without success.

Ms. Nunieh reached out to the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike who swiftly responded to her distress call and came with his aides to challenge and stop the attempted arrest.

Wike eventually asked the operatives to leave the former NDDC MD’s premise, an order which was grudgingly complied with.

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Afterwards, the governor asked Ms. Nunieh to get into a vehicle in which she was transported back to the State House where she is currently taking refuge.

A file photo of former acting NDDC MD, Dr Joy Nunieh, defending the agency’s 2019 budget before lawmakers in February 2020 at the National Assembly in Abuja. Twitter: @NDDCOnline.

Narrating her ordeal to newsmen, the ex-NDDC boss thanked the governor for his intervention, saying Wike is a man of his word.

According to Ms. Nunnieh, the security operatives stormed her residence at about 4 a.m that day with the intent to whisk her away but she refused because they did not have a warrant.

Terrified, she then reached out to Governor Wike but was not able to get through the first time because his number was switched off.

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“I tried to reach him but the phones were switched off, so I called some people and they said these people might not be real policemen.

“They said they (security operatives) came to take me away, I said for what? Do they have a warrant for arrest? They said no warrant of arrest, so I left it.

“About 6 a.m they broke the gate and later Senator Magnus Abe now called me that he had reached the Commissioner of Police who said he didn’t know anything about it (the arrest).

“So the CP called, I sent him my address, they told me the CP was downstairs but the CP was not downstairs, it was the Deputy Commissioner who was around; so I opened the door, they wanted to grab me, I now pushed back the door and locked it.

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“I got through to my governor, they tried to break the back door, its a security door so they kept hitting for over one hour and they couldn’t get access.

“So my governor came, asked them for their warrant of arrest and why they did not invite me to the police, that I will come, instead of going to take a woman like a criminal.

“So, the governor took me in his car and here I am refuging in the Government House.

“I want to thank his excellency for keeping to his word that nothing should happen to the daughter of Rivers State,” Ms. Nunieh narrated.


#Newsworthy…

NDDC: Reps to set legal suit against Godswill Akpabio

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The House of Representatives has resolved to institute a legal suit against the minister of Niger Delta Affairs, following the expiration of a 48-hour ultimatum.

On Tuesday, the House issued an ultimatum to the minister to publish the names of lawmakers whom he claimed had received contracts from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

The clerk has been directed to issue a criminal complaint of perjury and civil defamation suit against Mr. Akpabio.

Meanwhile, the Senate ad-hoc committee investigating financial recklessness in the NDDC has concluded its investigation and has presented its report before the Senate.

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In the report read by the committee chairman Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, he said the NDDC spent 1.3 trillion Naira between 2015 and May 31st, 2019.

Many of these expenses he said contravened the law and were extra-budgetary.

He said the committee observed process errors and infractions, as well as substantial payments, were made to staff in the form of unjustifiable allowances.

File: A collage juxtaposing the Speaker of the House of Reps, Femi Gbajabiamila, and the Minister for Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.

The investigation further revealed that the NDDC paid 4.9 billion Naira to staff for numerous allowances including COVID-19 relief, tour duty allowances, overseas travel, and international scholarships.

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Curiously, the payment for overseas travel and scholarship was during the lockdown and cessation of flights abroad.

The committee also observed that the ministry of Niger delta is culpable if negligent supervision of the NDDC.

It further observed that the performance of the interim management committee IMC is a major issue as the record of the IMC has not shown any record of prudence and it should be dissolved.

The committee also raised an alarm over the forensic audit called for by President Buhari, stating that it is at a rudimentary level with the recruitment of the auditors still underway even after eight months.


#Newsworthy…

Reps committee frowns as CBN Emefiele refuses to honor their invitation again

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Chairman of the House of Representatives adhoc committee which is investigating the privatisation process of the power sector, Ado Doguwa, has once again frowned at the refusal of the Central Bank governor to honour the invitation of the committee.

This is the second time the Central Bank governor has failed to honour the invitation of the committee.

Mr Doguwa says the Central Bank governor has been busy expending taxpayers’ money but has refused to appear before the committee to account for those monies.

He, however, said the committee will take all necessary actions to compel him to appear before the committee even as he questioned if the CBN governor has something to hide.


#Newsworthy…

Reps will make provisions of fund amid fight against GBV – Femi Gbajabiamila

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the House would provide funds for the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the 2021 budget to be presented to the National Assembly in September.

Gbajabiamila said apart from budget funds, the House would also provide all necessary support as well as partner with relevant stakeholders for the fight against GBV to succeed.

The Speaker stated this on Wednesday in response to a request by the country representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, who led a delegation of United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) Spotlight Initiative on a courtesy call to his office in Abuja.

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Gbajabiamila said the issue of gender-based violence in the country has become disturbing hence the need for all stakeholders to come together to nip it in the bud.

He assured the delegation that the House would work on the Sexual Harassment Bill forwarded to it by the Senate as soon as members return from their annual recess.

“You talked about the Senate Bill, though we’re going on a long vacation, I can assure you that as soon as we come back, the House will work on the bill,” he said, noting that after due diligence, the Green Chamber will speedily concur with the Senate.

A file photo of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

“On the issue of funding, as I said, it’s like a pandemic. There’s no way you can confront a pandemic without funding. The budget is coming in September, and once it comes, we’ll make sure adequate funding is provided for this issue.

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“On the issue of domestication of the VAPP 2015 and the Child’s Rights Act, my office has done a lot. We had a conference with the Speakers of the State Assemblies. The Chairman of the Conference of Speakers promised that they would domesticate it in Bauchi, and I’m glad to say that it has been done.

“We’ll continue to engage with others to see that they domesticate the laws. This is something we’re championing, and we’ll continue to do that. For us in the House of Representatives, we’re giving this issue all the seriousness it deserves.”

Gbajabiamila said the issue of gender is prominently featured in the Legislative Agenda of the House, a new version of which would be launched on Saturday.

The Speaker commended members of the delegation for the work they have been doing, saying he hoped there would be a sustained partnership between them and the House to end gender-based violence in Nigeria.

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The leader of the delegation, Elisabeth Mueller in her remarks said everybody has the responsibility to say no to gender-based violence.

She said they would advocate for a budget line to be committed to the fight against gender-based violence, adding that the House should also ensure that the funds are released accordingly when appropriated.

As part of their work, she said they were working on a concept to organise engagements with different stakeholders including Speakers of State Assemblies.

While commending the Senate for passing the Sexual Harassment Bill, she called on the House to concur so that it will be assented to by the President.


#Newsworthy…

NDDC MD, Daniel Pondei leaves hospital after earlier ‘slump’

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Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei has left the hospital.

Prof Pondei who earlier today slumped as the House of Representatives committee on NDDC grilled him is said to have left the hospital where he was taken, about an hour ago.

Pondei was being grilled for over an hour when he slowly slumped over his desk, appearing to have fainted.

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Several people present at the hearing rushed to his aid, propping him up and attempting to stabilize him, while the proceeding was halted.

Soon after, Pondei appeared to be in a seizure with a man holding open his mouth as others held him upright.

Afterward, he appeared to regain and lose composure intermittently and had to be moved out of the session.


#Newsworthy…

NDDC: Drama as Daniel Pondei slumps during Reps interrogation | Video

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Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Daniel Pondei, appeared to faint as the House of Representatives committee on NDDC grilled him on Monday.

The committee is in its fourth day of public hearing as it investigates alleged financial misappropriation at the agency.

The controversy had seen strong allegations of corruption traded between the Minister and the former MD of the NDDC, Joi Nunei, who appeared before the lawmakers via Zoom on Friday.

Pondei had been grilled for over an hour when he slowly slumped over his desk, appearing to faint.

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Several people present at the hearing rushed to his aid, propping him up and attempting to stabilise him, with the proceedings halted.

He then appeared to be in a seizure with a man holding open his mouth as others held him upright.

Acting Managing Director of the NDDC, Daniel Pondei appears to faint on Monday during interrogation on Monday.

After he appeared to regain and lose composure intermittently, he was moved out of the session.

The development led to a brief discussion about the next step to take. A move to have the session adjourned was shouted before the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Thomas Ereyi-Tobi, called for a 30-minute recess.

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Lawmakers investigating corruption allegations in the NDDC had on Friday summoned Pondei and the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, to appear before them today (Monday) as the country sought to understand how budgetary allocations to the agency had been spent.

This is not the first time an appearance by the NDDC MD before the lawmakers will come to a halt under dramatic circumstances.

The NDDC boss had walked out on the lawmakers on Thursday, last week, after accusing the Chairman of the Committee, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, of being an interested party in the investigation.

He said as long as Tunji-Ojo presided over the investigation, the Commission would not get a fair hearing. He then refused to make presentations before the committee and walked out.

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Angered by the move, the lawmakers resolved to issue a warrant of arrest compelling Professor Pondei to appear before the lawmakers and make a proper submission.

The lawmakers, however, decided to summon him again, and at the start of his appearance, he apologised for his action.

Although he said he “regretted” the incident which happened last week, before he was questioned by the lawmakers, the Chairman of the Committee recused himself from the session, leaving Hon. Thomas Ereyi-Tobi, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee to preside.


#Newsworthy…