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Suspended 7740 jobs: Unemployed graduates petition Lawan, NASS - ITREALMS

ITREALMS : The National Association of Unemployed Graduates (NAUG) has petitioned the National Assembly, especially the Senate to call i...

Monday, July 06, 2020

Suspended 7740 jobs: Unemployed graduates petition Lawan, NASS - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

The National Association of Unemployed Graduates (NAUG) has petitioned the National Assembly, especially the Senate to call its members to order, reports 
ITREALMS.

NASS had earlier this week, suspended the implementation of the proposed 774,000 public sector jobs recruitment expected to cushion the effect of the coronavirus pandemic as claimed by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.

In reaction, the group of unemployed graduates petitioned NASS leadership headed by Senator Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, urging them to stop interfering in Executive duties.


In an open letter, a copy of which was made available to ITREALMS and signed for the group by one Friday George, the unemployed graduates, said they have closely monitored the activities of some committees setup by the leadership of National Assembly.

Part of the letter entitled "Open Letter to the Leadership of the National Assembly: Call Your Committees to Order" read: 

"The purpose of these committees is of benefit to all of us, but when these functions affect the smooth running of government agencies; it should be a cause for concern.

"Section 88 of the Nigerian constitution gives the Legislative arm powers to only investigate the activities of government agencies and in no way interfere with how these agencies are run. The recent conduct of some of these committees is not only irresponsible but an embarrassment to our democracy.

"Nigerians are aware of the recent conflict between the National Assembly and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). It got so messy that at some point a top executive of the NDDC exposed names of National Assembly members who are beneficiaries of the alleged corruption carried out in the past. It is an open secret that majority of the National Assembly members are contractors in the NDDC and other government agencies/ministries. 

"Even as this agency is currently being audited, the committee that oversees their activities has constantly bullied the staff and leadership of the agency.

"Recently the Minister of State for Labor and Productivity, Barrister Festus Keyamo (SAN), was caught on camera, engaged in a heated argument with members of the House Committee on Employment and Productivity. 

"The junior minister complained that the members of the committee were pressurizing him to concede the selection process of the workers who the ministry engaged in all the 774 Local Government Areas. The workers were engaged to coordinate the process of employing 774,000 Nigerians. This task is the sole task of the executive.

"We call on the Leadership of the National Assembly to call its members to order, to avoid further embarrassment. The National Assembly lifted its budget from 150 Billion Naira to 190 Billion Naira; no arm of government interfered. The National Assembly uses many months to carry out functions that should normally take a couple of days; no arm of government interfered. Committees in the National Assembly engage numerous consultants to carry out tasks a single individual can handle; no arm of government interferes. Members should please focus on their legislative duties and seize to take-over the roles of the executive.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Nwuke decries Aguma's call to close APC state secretariat - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

The acting State Publicity Secretary, of the Rivers State All Progressives Congress APC, Mr.Ogbonna Nwuke has decried the recent call by 
Hon. Igo Aguma’s call for the closure of the State Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), reports ITREALMS.

Aguma's call, ITREALMS gathered was made on Thursday, 2nd July 2020, demanding for the closure of the State Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress, APC, located along the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway.

Nwuke in a statement with the caption “Igo Aguma's Call For The Closure Of The State Party Secretariat: A Case Of Two Women Who Appeared Before King Solomon” circulated to journalists Sunday stated that “the call by the suspended Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC who has been in Court ostensibly to protect the interest of his party came as a huge surprise.”

According to him, “It may be that the former Honourable member of the House of Representatives cannot bear to see a return of enthusiasm among members of the APC who have turned the State Party Secretariat into a beehive of activity.”

The statement reads: “Daily, as events have proved, members of the party awakened by the clarion call for unity, peace and progress amongst us throng the authentic State Party Secretariat to reaffirm their belief in the party, and their solidarity with the peoples' Caretaker Committee, which is led by Hon. Sokonte Davies, a seasoned politician, party administrator and technocrat.

“We would want to imagine that Hon. Igo Aguma was misquoted by the press. But we are shocked that the former lawmaker has not denied ever making such a suggestion. In the circumstance we are led to believe that jealousy, hate for progress, bitterness and desperation have beclouded rational thinking and affected his sense of sound reasoning.

“His outburst reminds us of the Biblical account of two women who appeared before the Israeli monarch, King Solomon. Whereas the one whose child died at night demanded that the king slay the surviving child of another, the true mother urged the king to spare the life of the baby.

“It is instructive to note that the mother insisted that the King of Israel as he then was should spare the child, stressing that when the baby grows, it would eventually know who the true mother is.

“It is clear that the child of circumstance that Igo Aguma wants to slay, going by this Biblical account, is the APC. Can this be the attitude of a true party man? Can this be the behaviour of someone who truly believes in the advancement of the party that he wants to lead?

“We are certain that Aguma has revealed his true colours to the Rivers people as well as all Nigerians who are watching his dance steps at this point in time.

“He has proven beyond reasonable doubt, in our opinion, that he has no love whatsoever for the APC. Except for the benefit of his shadowy paymasters who have unleashed him on the APC, the former lawmaker has shown by his actions and comments that he may indeed be an impostor on a mission to destroy.

“To say that we are shocked by his outburst is an understatement. We are glad that by his own utterances, he has let the rest of us who may believe that his intentions for the APC are genuine into the secret of his most secret mission. Igo Aguma is no better than that bitter woman in the Bible who wanted a poor and innocent child to die.

“The ability to determine the headquarters of any political party belongs to its National Secretariat. The official records of the APC shows that its State Secretariat exists where Hon. Sokonte Davies and members of his team are operating from.

“Aguma has none to blame for his fate. He chose to serve those who thrust him upon the APC rather than obeying the spirit of the decision of the High Court which enjoined him to go and rebuild the party in the company of his colleagues.

"We repeat, for the avoidance of doubt, that 28 out of 38 statutory members voted Aguma out because of the indiscretion he exhibited by acting as a sole administrator.

“We urge all reasonable minds to ignore the call by Igo Aguma. It is baseless, uncharitable and unbecoming of a Democrat and a Progressive.”

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Sunday, July 05, 2020

Lai Mohammed pledges to implement post-COVID-19 report on Creative Industry - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has received the report of the Post-Covid-19 Initiatives Committee on the Creative Industry, with a pledge to ensure a diligent implementation of the recommendations, within the realms of available resources.

“Let me assure you that we will study the report with the same seriousness that you employed in preparing it, with a view to ensuring its full implementation, within the realms of available resources,'' the Minister said while receiving the report at a virtual meeting in Abuja on Friday.

“I thank you all for your sacrifice and commitment. I look forward to working with you as we strive to give the Creative Industry its pride of place,” he said.

Alhaji Mohammed said the report, which he described as very rich and detailed, is also very timely, coming at a time that the Federal Government is looking more towards the Creative Industry to help revamp the economy, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Based on the feedback that I have received, I have no doubt that the report you have just submitted is a culmination of painstaking efforts by all of you, and will go a long way not just in aiding the recovery of the Creative Industry from the negative effects of the pandemic, but also in putting the industry on the right path to sustainable growth in the years ahead,” he said.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee and ace comedian, Ali Baba, thanked the Minister for the opportunity given to him and his members to serve the nation, and assured that the report is a reflection of all the views of all the players in the nation’s
Creative Industry.

The Committee, which was inaugurated by the Minister on 19 May 2020, comprised the following members: Ali Baba (Chairman); Hajia Sa'a Ibrahim (Vice Chairman); Bolanle Austen Peters; Charles Novia; Segun Arinze; Ali Jita; Baba Agba; Kene Okwuosa; Efe Omoregbe; Prince Daniel Aboki; Chioma Ude; Olumade Adesemowo; Dare Art Alade; Oliver Enwonwu; Alhaji Saleh Rabo; Bala Hassan; Ali Nuhu; Tajudeen Owoyemi; B.M.
Dzukogi; TY Bello; Lanre Da Silva Ajayi and Anita Eboigbe (Secretary)

Uj. N. Dominic/Editor

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Pix: The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, at the virtual presentation of the report of the Post-Covid-19 Initiatives Committee on the Creative Industry in Abuja on Friday.

OBJ, no successive govt gave us 'preferential treatment' says Dr Babalakin - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

Chairman of Resort International Limited, the parent company of Bi-Courtney Limited, Bi-Courtney Aviation Services and Stabillini Visinoni, Dr Wale Babalakin, SAN, has said neither he nor his companies enjoyed any preferential treatment from the regime of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and the successive governments, reports 
ITREALMS.

This was disclosed in an exclusive interview extract in The Punch newspapers, published on Sunday, July 5, 2020, according to the Group Corporate Affairs Manager, Resort International Limited, Mikail Mumuni and made available to ITREALMS.

Dr Babalakin was responding to a question on whether his companies were favoured by government in the concessioning of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos Terminal 2 (MM2) as well as the purchase of the old Federal Secretariat, Ikoyi, Lagos.

He told The Punch that “You see, the biggest challenge in Nigeria is ignorance. All these issues you’ve mentioned can easily be verified. The facts can be ascertained. But strangely enough, nobody seems to care about the truth. What we have in Nigeria, which is sad, is propaganda rather than factual, in-depth reporting of situations. I’m happy that you have presented these issues because they will enable me tell the public what happened. I will start with the Federal Secretariat.”

He recalled that “There was an advertisement in the newspapers that disused government buildings that were becoming environmental problems would be converted to good use. The old federal secretariat building in Ikoyi, Lagos was advertised; it was the most hotly contested bid that I have ever participated in. At last, three bidders remained. One of the bidders was Dangote.”

“The bid spanned almost two years with the government setting up at least three different committees to verify the bids. We (Resort International Group) emerged as the preferred bidder and paid for the property in accordance with the bid. I don’t know anybody who was interested in the bid that was excluded. I’m not aware that anybody who put in a bid did not have a chance to defend his bid.”

He stated that “Post-mortem, after we’ve came up with our own ideas of converting the place to apartments, interests began and these interests were negative interests. But I don’t want to go into that now. I just want to say that there was no peculiar advantage for us (Resort International Group). We paid N7bn for the property in 2005. And at today’s cost, I want you to imagine how much the value of that money would have been today.”

Stressing that the “Obasanjo’s Government gave us no preferential position on the old federal secretariat., He said “Let me tell you about the old Federal Secretariat building. It was a well-conceived project. We moved to site around December, 2015. We had completed the design, totally prepared the buildings, and removed all the partitions for construction.

“We had also created a demo room where you could see what a two-bedroom or three-bedroom flat and a penthouse would look like. We had pre-sold half of it to other people, and one day, two years after, some people claiming to be agents of the Lagos State Government overran the place and stopped us from building. We couldn’t believe that this was happening in modern Nigeria.

“So, we made entreaties to the state government, but we discovered that the government’s argument was that the building ought to have been sold to the Lagos State Government and not anybody else. We saw that that argument was so mundane and irresponsible because if the Lagos State Government was interested, it should have put in a bid. If it did, then it could say it wanted some preferences because it is a government. But it didn’t participate in the bid at all. It waited for two years after the project had commenced and then overran the place in the most uncivilized manner.”

Dr Babalakin said “We lost an unthinkable amount of money, but fortunately for us, our lawyers anticipated the interference of the Lagos State Government, and had provided in the agreement that the Federal Government would be responsible for obtaining a no-objection approval from the Lagos State Government, if necessary.

“So, it was actually the Federal Government’s responsibility to protect us from the state government. I continue to thank the body of lawyers, Babalakin and Co; they have really supported me in my various endeavors because without that clause, today, we would have been orphans. Because of that clause, we went to arbitration against the Federal Government and we won.

“The arbitration also awarded us substantial damages and cleared the coast for us to resume our work.”

On when his company would move back to site, he said “We will resume work as soon as all the ancillary issues are sorted.”

He said “ There are so many abandoned projects and there are so many abandoned buildings. But everybody points to the experience of the old federal secretariat and they are reluctant to participate in it. So, because of the unlawful action of the Lagos State Government, its revenue base has been short-changed, the availability of accommodation has been reduced and the environmental image of Lagos has been worsened.”

Dr Babalakin said “ For every major project you stop unlawfully, about 12 other good projects will refuse to come in and that is the position today. There is no single major individual project going on in Lagos today apart from Dangote Industries. This is because there is no enabling environment. Capital is very shy and timid; it only goes to secure places where the rules are known and where you are sure that if you put in your money and follow the rules, you are likely to get your return. But when the rules are opaque or subject to the whims and caprices of certain people, who will bring money?

On the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos Terminal 2, he said “For MM2 also, there was a well-advertised bid for the airport and there were responses. At the end of the day, some companies emerged as the winner and we emerged as the reserved bidder.”

He asked that “If (former) President Obasanjo had something to do with it, why didn’t we emerge as the winner?”

Recalling that “A year later, the Minister of Aviation called us and said the preferred bidder had not delivered on their commitment and told us to come in as the reserved bidder. When we came in, the design we were given by the authority was just a shed; we were told to build a shed for Nigerians as their Airport.

“I had gone to South Africa for a meeting and South Africa was then completing its domestic airport. When I looked at it, I cried that we were going to build a shed in 2003, when South Africa had just completed a domestic terminal that looked like something out of this world in 2003.

“So, I came back and told the then minister, Mrs Kema Chikwe, what I saw. She looked at it and was amazed. She advised me to make a presentation. We went through the whole process and our design was approved. That is the MMA2 you see today; to actualize it, we brought in South African architects and supported them with Nigerian architects.

“That is why 13 years after it was completed, there is no airport terminal in Nigeria that has the flow of MMA2 because it was well-thought out and designed.”

He said “If we had been allowed to continue, phase two would have been completed 10 years ago and we would have had one of the best Airports in Africa.”

On the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, he said there was also a competitive bidding for the concessioning.

According to him, “For the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, again, there was a bid, there was a response to the bid and we emerged as the preferred bidder. I’m not aware of anybody who submitted a bid and didn’t receive any consideration. So, I don’t know where the complaint is coming from.

“But what is most sad is the picture that we were in default on the project. That story is totally false. We got approval for the project not under Obasanjo and it went to council (Federal Executive Council) under late President Umaru Yar’Adua. It was Yar’Adua that approved the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway project.

“We were to design, build, operate and transfer. We began the design and discovered that the current road had outlived its usefulness. It was built or completed around 1977. From Lagos to Ibadan, the plan in 1977 on that road was to have it fenced and the fencing actually started but was not completed.

“There was no town on that road; you had to go outside the road to see Sagamu. But today, the road has been so messed up that so many towns had emerged on the road. You have Ogere, Sagamu, Redeemed, NASFAT, Mowe and Isheri all on the road. We brought the best designers in the world to put it together while maintaining palliatives on the road and traffic control.

“We had traffic controllers on the road, patching the road and putting the design together. We actually started full construction in October 2012.

“We finished the design and submitted our inception report (with the first and second design) to the Federal Ministry of Works. It took the ministry two years to be able to get back to us on this design. We lost two years to the ministry, with over 50 consultants that we had been paying for two years.

“We thought it was time to brief former President Goodluck Jonathan; he gave us an appointment and we went with all the consultants who gave a display of what they were going to do to transform Nigeria’s infrastructure the way MMA2 transformed Nigerian aviation.

“The former president expressed satisfaction and directed the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission to work with us and conclude the process. But a few weeks later, the project was terminated. It was a scandal. We had sunk an unthinkable amount of money in actualizing that project. The project on that road included seven overhead bridges. I’m not even sure there is one overhead bridge on the one being built now.

“Also, our project had proper lay-bys; you didn’t have to buy petrol on the road. You had to go off the road for about one minute where you would find a restaurant, small hotel and all the facilities you would require. We had three of such on each side of the road. We also had a truck bay that could accommodate 12,000 trucks and was expandable because we counted the number of trucks on the road then and they were about 4,000. Now, we are told that they are about 6,000.” Dr Babalakin also spoke on his experience with the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON).

“I never owed AMCON any money and I give gratitude to my lawyers. When the airport agreement was mercilessly violated, when we were deprived of all our rights and our revenues were curtailed, our lawyers went to court and got a judgement for N132bn against the Federal Government. As soon as AMCON was created, our lawyers went to court to say that we had a judgement credit of N132bn against the Federal Government and if there was any Federal Government agency that we owed money, they should set it off. And it was approved by the courts.

"AMCON appealed and the Supreme Court confirmed the N132bn Judgment credit in our favour and the set off of all our liabilities to AMCON from this credit standing in our name with the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“We had about N20bn to N30bn we were alleged to be owing AMCON and based on this set off, we were entitled to a credit of N100bn. That is the law today, irrespective of any propaganda of AMCON.”

He noted that “Our company, Resort International, the owners of the old Federal Secretariat, paid N7bn. We borrowed N4bn for construction and pre-sold half to an entity on certain terms and conditions and used the money to build. When AMCON came, we explained to it that we didn’t have any debt, that we owed N4bn and it was even current. We have paid N1.3bn and it was a five-year loan, out of which we had done about two years and would pay the balance. But AMCON refused and took us to court. When we got to court, we counter-claimed that we didn’t have any debt, save the N2.3billion or N2.7 billion, and that the other thing AMCON was claiming was a debt was an equity investment.”

Saying that “You can’t turn an equity investment to a debt overnight,” Dr Babalakin noted that “ When we got to court, AMCON had no document that we owed any money, yet it had published our names for seven years that Resort International owed money to AMCON.”

He said “The court did the right thing and held that we owed no money, that AMCON had libeled us and that the court awarded us N3bn as damages for libel. We think the libel award was very little, but, at least, we made a statement. Today, based on Nigerian laws, we are not indebted to AMCON. Whatever you hear to the contrary is propaganda. I think AMCON wants to go on an appeal but I don’t know what the basis will be.”

Nenye Dom/Editor

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Fr. Ebido: We're not debtors to flesh - ITREALMS

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 5/20) 

My Daily Blessing: May the Lord, who chose you, to be his very own, empower you to live a life worthy of your calling! Amen!

Narration: I watched a video clip on social media recently. It shows how debt collectors came to the house of a woman and were ready to impound her mighty Escalade Jeep! She thought it was a joke, and refused to cooperate. However, the debt collectors very professionally managed all her ‘gra-gra’ (face-saving-maneuvers), and even tantrums, to take the car away. She and her daughter were actually about to go out in the vehicle before it was impounded! She lost that vehicle because she bought it on credit, but defaulted consistently in her payment. Many people in the ‘developed’ world lose their houses, motor-boats, vehicles, among others, in this way. 

During this Covid19, as millions lose their jobs, the spiral effect will be loss of many other things they bought ‘on credit’ if they fail to make payment as at when due (unless they manage to ‘refinance their credit’). 

Over there, only a privileged few are free from some form of debt, because the financial system is built in such a way as to enable people buy virtually anything on credit (using credit cards), or mortgage plan (for houses) and then pay gradually over time. It does add quality to life, but it comes with a huge burden overtime. If you have piles of debt with little finances, you might lose everything. 

The avaricious become easy victims. Here in Nigeria (and Africa), we don’t enjoy such privileges yet on any measurable large scale; we pay cash for everything! So we enjoy ‘lower’ quality of life. However, we do have a beautiful advantage: we are not up to our eyeballs in debt. Most of what we have (houses, cars), we own. You should thank God if you are not a debtor to anyone. It’s exhilarating to be debt free. It is even more exciting to be free from sin! 

In the Second reading for today (Rom 8:11-13), St. Paul tells us that “we are not debtors to the flesh”(v.12) because to live according to the demands of the flesh leads us to gradually lose everything we have worked for towards spiritual transformation. 

He reminds us that “you are not in the flesh, on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you” (v.9). This “Spirit” is that of Christ, the Holy Spirit. If it dwells in you, “he will give life to your mortal bodies” so that you cannot continue to live like a slave to the demands of the flesh. I am sure the one reading this will say, “it’s easier said than done!” 

Martin Luther, the reformer, like many before and after him, struggled with that text, and as an Augustinian monk, tried to ‘beat his body into submission’ (by flagellation) but failed. He later found in “sola fide!” (“faith alone!”), and “sola gratia” (grace alone) the answer to the elusive salvation and the ‘freedom from sin’ we enjoy in Christ Jesus. He concludes from the same St. Paul, that “It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins is apprehended.” 

Our works (human efforts), avails nothing, but merely “fruits” of that saving faith. 

According to him, “As long as we live in the flesh, sin lives in us,” but we take cover under the wings of Christ’s flesh, as chickens, under the hen, lest God sees our sin. This faith in Christ’s covering, is our righteousness. So, if that is the case, is it fair to ask, “do we have an active power over sin at all?” Or, as St. Paul asks, “do we then continue to sin so that grace may abound?” (Rom 6:1). Paul replied, “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”(6:2). This brings us back to square one. Luther has a point, but only bandaged the wounds. I will look at how the Catholic tradition tries to resolve this problem tomorrow. Happy Sunday!

Prayer: Eternal Father, you have redeemed us in Christ Jesus. We can no longer be slaves to our sinful habits and inclinations. Send your Spirit and renew my life, and redeem the soul thou has made! Amen!
🙏🏽©️Fr Augustine Ebido, O.P.

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Saturday, July 04, 2020

FRSC promotes 2 ACM to DCM from north central - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

The Federal Road Safety Commission Board has promoted two Assistant Corps Marshals (ACM) from the North Central geopolitical zone to the rank of Deputy Corps Marshal (DCM) with immediate effect, reports 
ITREALMS.

This, ITREALMS gathered was the outcome of the board's meeting of 3, July 2020 after due consideration of the report submitted by the Establishment Committee in respect to the 2019 promotion.

According to the Corps Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem, the promotion was conducted to fill up the slot for the North Central geopolitical zone occasioned by the retirement of DCM Julius Asom on 1 July, 2020. He gave the list of the promoted Officers as; Assistant Corps Marshal ( ACM) HZ Fomsuk who until his promotion is the ACM in charge of Command Administration and Strategy and ACM Samuel Obayemi, the Zonal Commanding Officer in charge of Zone RS 2 Lagos who is to proceed on terminal leave immediately.

The Board Chairman, Mallam Bukhari Bello expressed his satisfaction with the high level of transparency and objectivity that heralded the whole process and urged the promoted Officers to show more commitment and rededicate themselves to achieving the Corporate mission of the Corps which is to eradicate road traffic crashes and create a safer motoring environment in the country.

He stated that the promotion exercise is part of the Commission's drive towards rewarding excellence, and hard work in line with the administrative philosophy of the present leadership of the Corps.

Kazeem added that the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, equally congratulated the newly elevated Officers for their excellent performances during the exercise.

While noting that every promotion comes with greater responsibilities, Oyeyemi charged them to put in their best in the course of their duties as their new ranks call for more focus and dedication.

Oyeyemi admonished those who were not fortunate this promotion year to keep hope alive for the best as opportunities still abound for promotion in the future.

Speaking further, the Corps Marshal promised to improve the general welfare of the personnel of the Corps to the satisfaction of all. As such, he beckoned on all personnel to be of good cheer and put in greater efforts towards the realisation of the Corporate mandate of the Corps.

The Corps Public Education Officer disclosed that the promotion exercise began with medical examination, physical fitness test, computer based examination, and oral interview.

On decorating the newly promoted Officers, the Corps Marshal immediately directed that the two affected Officers are to be decorated in strict compliance with Presidential directives and NCDC guidelines on physical distancing and other preventive measures against the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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Ebonyi NUJ chairman arrested by Police - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

The Ebonyi State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists was in the early hours of Saturday thrown into confusion as its Chairman, Comrade Tony Nwizi, was arrested by operatives from the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, purportedly on the orders of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.

The number one journalist in Ebonyi, following vague information available at the time of this report, was said to have been arrested as a result of an undisclosed petition against him from yet to be known quarters.

When contacted over the disturbing development, spokesperson of the Ebonyi State Police Command, DSP Loveth Odah, said she could not precisely say the location the policemen came from.

Odah, however, noted that some policemen came into Ebonyi State on Friday from the Anti-Kidnaping Unit of the Lagos State Police Command, requesting for endorsement to enable them effect an arrest.

Odah further noted that it was not clear whether they came for Nwizi as visiting policemen do not disclose the identity of their target.

“I know some Policemen came into Ebonyi yesterday from Anti-Kidnaping Unit of Lagos State Police Command. They wanted their papers to be signed, so that an arrest can be effected," she said.


Additionally, she said, “We are still on the matter, in order to confirm if he was the one that they came for.

“The identity of who ever they came for is not usually disclosed.”

The NUJ said on press statement Saturday: “Nwizi is a perfect gentleman and we wonder why the Police could order his arrest at this time.

“At this time, nobody can completely state the location of Comrade Tony Nwizi, the content of the petition and the allegations leveled against him.

“We are very sure he will be released. Tony is one of the most reliable persons to deal with.”

Meanwhile, a cross section of the Journalists in the State have decried the arrest, describing it as both panicky and embarrassing, especially as there was no known crisis within the Council in particular and the State in general involving the Chairman.

They called on the Police to ensure the safety of the journalist who they unanimously described as a peaceful man with admirable attributes.

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Friday, July 03, 2020

Edo Decides 2020: 'Am still in the race' Omorogban, explains why NCP dragged INEC, Malami to court - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

The National Conscience Party (NCP) and its flagbearer in the forthcoming Edo governorship election, Pastor Peters Osawaru Omoragbon, have explained why they dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, to court over the omission of the party in the provisional list recently released, reports ITREALMS.

INEC, 
ITREALMS reports has tentatively fixed the Edo governorship election for September 19, 2020.

Confirming this to 
ITREALMS, Pastor Omoragbon, said his party has filed a suit challenging INEC alongside the AGF at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

“… With Suit Number FHC/L/CS/544/20, we have challenged INEC’s current decision to omit our Party’s name from the political parties fielding candidates for the Edo State elections,” he said.

Omoragbon insisted that he is fully still in the race to salvage the people of Edo State, declaring “I am still in the race, no retreat, no surrender,” and urged his supporters not to despair, especially since the list is provisional and not final.

The defendants in the current case, 
ITREALMS gathered are the Attorney General of the Federation and, and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

In this suit, NCP is seeking reliefs to declare INEC action without an order of a court of competent jurisdiction, as “unlawful, arbitrary, oppressive, repressive, partisan, undemocratic, an abuse of power and office, and a breach of the Plaintiffs’ right to fair hearing guaranteed in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The party also described INEC’s action as crooked, recalling that if NCP had not gone to court in 2002 and was denied registration without first applying to INEC, there would have been no locus standi for them to go to court in the first place.

“This is the crux of my resolve to continue participating in this election,” he told 
ITREALMS, stressing that the suit would serve as evidence of NCP commitment to political participation in Nigeria.

By extension, Omoragbon pointed out that INEC’s action amounted to disenfranchisement and denial to exercise his freedom to associate.

This action is not mine alone but also of leadership of the Party led by the national chairman Mallam Tanko Yunusa, who is the second Plaintiff in the above suit under the coordination of the party secretariat.

“We communicated with INEC, the State Security Service, the Nigerian Police as required by Law. We have our evidences. We conducted our primaries and it was duly recorded before the deadline for party primaries,” he said.

The NCP gubernatorial candidate maintained that his campaign is continuing in earnest and would advance with the people’s programme under the 10-Care initiative of the party manifestoes, both vigorously and vehemently.

“We shall not retreat, nor shall we surrender our struggle to the corrupt tendencies of the ruling class,” he asserted.

Further, Omorogban emphasised that the court action by him and NCP is “a battle for the enthronement of the Rule of Law in Nigeria using the Edo State governorship election in September as a litmus test.”

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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AFRICMIL berates AGF Malami over depressing statement on whistleblowers - ITREALMS


ITREALMS:
The African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) has restated its call for an honest implementation of the federal government's whistleblower policy as a way of ensuring the success of the war against corruption, reports 
ITREALMS.

The Centre highlighted fair and upright application of the rules as one of three key areas in engaging the whistleblowing policy. Other areas are creating awareness and advocating effective whistleblower protection.

A press statement signed by Chido Onumah, Coordinator of the Centre, AFRICMIL said the signals from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice which give the impression of unfair treatment of a whistleblower, John Okupurhe, were “disturbing”. “The outcome of the reported interactions between the whistleblower and officials in the AGF's office is depressing,” the statement said. “You do not expect a whistleblower to be so shabbily treated that the only conclusion an unbiased observer would reach is that there is a grand plot to deny him his due.”

AFRICMIL described as worrisome the statement credited to the AGF to the effect that beyond providing information or exposing stolen public funds, whistleblowers would have to recover the funds and lodge them in stipulated accounts before they are rewarded.

The Centre accused the AGF of misreading the whistleblowing policy document released by the federal government in December 2006, adding that there is nowhere in the document that says whistleblowers have a responsibility to recover fund after providing information to the relevant authorities.

Section 12 of the whistleblowing policy FAQ document available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning say: “A Whistleblower responsible for providing the Government with information that directly leads to the voluntary return of stolen or concealed public funds or assets may be entitled to anywhere between 2.5%-5.0% of amount recovered. In order to qualify for the reward, the Whistleblower must provide the Government with information it does not already have and could not otherwise obtain from any other publicly available source to the Government. The actual recovery must also be on account of the information provided by the Whistleblower.”

“According to Onumah, “That document only says whistleblowers would get their reward following the supply of information that leads to the voluntary return of stolen or hidden funds or assets. It did not say whistleblowers must recover the funds or assets as the AGF is interpreting.”

AFRICMIL said the duty of ensuring recovery is statutorily that of the security agencies working with the administrators of the whistleblowing policy. The organization cited, for example, the Ikoyi apartment incident where upon the exposure of funds concealed in the apartment, security agents moved in and recovered the looted funds. “That recovery was not made by the whistleblower but by security agents. And the whistleblower was rightly paid what is due to him even if after some embarrassing official delay,” the statement added.

The organization advised the AGF to promptly retract the portion of his statement that has apparently distorted the facts in the whistleblowing policy document, warning that failure to do so will be a costly disincentive to the patriotic duty of whistleblowing. According to the statement, “no reasonable citizen will blow the whistle on stolen or hidden public funds if he is also the one to recover the funds and deposit in a bank.”

AFRICMIL said instead of appearing to cut the image of a huge stumbling block in government's anti-corruption efforts, the office of the AGF should focus on redirecting its purpose toward desirable societal ends by working harmoniously with the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) and other anti-corruption agencies to ensure a faithful implementation of the whistleblower policy.

The statement called on President Muhammadu Buhari to show commitment to genuine anti-corruption war by ensuring that whistleblowers get the protection they deserve. It urged him to ensure swift investigation of the petition sent to him by lawyers of John Okupurhe, the whistleblower in the alleged fraud in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), both in the interest of justice and the survival of whistleblowing as an important tool for fighting corruption in Nigeria.

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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FOI request: HEDA questions N30b CBN contract awarded to Isa Funtua - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

Leading anti-corruption group, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) has raised questions over the award of N30b contract to 
Bulet International Limited, reports ITREALMS.

HEDA had obtained details indicating that the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) awarded a contract to Bulet International Limited, a company alleged owned by Ismaila Isa Funtua, at a whopping N30billion in 2019 for the expansion of its parking lot.

HEDA made a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2011 demanding the CBN provide details of the contract and evidence that the award of the contract passed through due diligence and process. HEDA gave CBN seven days to supply details about the contract. The rights group also promised to monitor the implementation of the process using a retinue of its technical experts.

'Given the volume of transactions, It is in the interest of the public to know the processes that led to the award of this contract and to know whether there was appropriate bidding in line with laid down principles", HEDA said.

The group said Nigerians also deserve to know the state of the project, how much has been paid to the contractor and whether the contract is being executive in good faith.

"As the apex bank in Nigeria, the CBN has the constitutional and moral responsibilities to ensure due process, transparency and diligence in all its dealings and transactions. Unfortunately, we have not seen evidence to support this in some instances. Information about who gets what contract and how much should be public knowledge which the CBN should make available through its various organs including but not limited to providing details of such huge contract on its website. This has not been done. It is important to ensure that transparency remains the guiding principle of the CBN," HEDA said.

HEDA in the request filed by its legal officer, Rebecca David asked the CBN Governor to supply information on when was the contract for the renovation of the parking lot awarded, who was it awarded to and how much was the contract sum.

The group also requested for the details on the procurement procedure employed in awarding the contract.

"The CBN as the apex bank should set standards for all other financial institutions. The wave of transparency blowing across the world needs no visa to enter any country, including Nigeria. We expect the CBN to be the standard bearer in transparency and accountability. This is why the HEDA's request is very important" David said.

Nenye Dom/Editor

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

Lagos discharges 40 COVID-19 patients - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

The Lagos State has discharged some 40 COVID-19 patients who have fully recovered from the virus, reports 
ITREALMS.

COVID-19 Incident Commander, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu disclosed this to 
ITREALMS in Lagos on Thursday evening, during his daily updates on the pandemic.

Those discharged includes 17 females and 23 males as well as 2 foreign nationals.

"Today, 40 #COVID19Lagos patients; 17 females and 23 males including 2 foreign nationals were discharged from our Isolation facilities today to reunite with the society," he said.

Sanwo-Olu also pointed out that the patients comprised 19 from Onikan Isolation Centre, 7 from Gbagada, 3 from Mainland Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, 8 from Agidingbi and 3 from LUTH Isolation Centres.

According to him, they were discharged after full recovery and testing negative to COVID-19.

He enjoined Lagosians to continue to adhere strictly to #PhysicalDistancing and #handhygiene principles #ForACOVID19FreeLagos.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Lagos NUJ crisis: Elders Committee intervenes - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:
Crisis rocking the Lagos State council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) may have escalated to reach a group of elders who are now calling for truce, reports 
ITREALMS.

This is coming as planned congress on Saturday, July 4, 2020 may not equally hold to give the committee time to harness all peaceful interventions.

A press statement made available to ITREALMS endorsed by the duo of former Council Chairman, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, and former President, National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Mrs. Toro Oladapo on behalf of Elders' Committee, their attention have been drawn to the crisis brewing in the council in Lagos State.

"We urge the different sides to the dispute to exercise restraint and refrain from any act of omission or commission that may bring the State Council and indeed the Union into disrepute.

"Pursuant to the need to ensure a peaceful atmosphere under which the matters at stake can be addressed and amicably resolved, we have invited the Chairman, the Vice Chairman, the Secretary and all other members of the State Executive to a crucial meeting on Saturday, July 4 at 12pm in the temporary Secretariat of the union at LTV/Radio Lagos premises.

"We have also appealed to them that the Congress planned for this Saturday, July 4, 2020, following an earlier rescheduling, be further postponed to July 11 to give room for the intervention of members of the committee," they submitted.

They equally requested for peace in the press statement entitled: 
Crisis in Lagos NUJ: A call for caution by Elders' Committee.

ITREALMS recalls that in the last dispensation of Lagos NUJ, its activities were fleeced with fraudulent activities include a housing scam led by Mrs. Ifenyinwa Omowole and Mr. Deji Elumoye under the NUJ-NAWOJ PenJewel Housing Estate with millions of Naira unaccounted for till date.

Ayo Midele/Editor

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Whistle-blowers: AfDB Governors sets up Independent Experts - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

Rising from its meeting of July 1, 2020, the Bureau of the Boards of Governors of the African Development Bank Group has set up three-member independent experts in response to Whistle-Blowers complaint against the President of the bank, reports ITREALMS.

Also, the Bureau recalled its communiqué issued on June 4th 2020 informing the general public of its decision to authorize an Independent Review of the Report of the Ethics Committee of the Boards of Directors relative to the allegations made by Whistle blowers.
ITREALMS gathered from the Communique that the Bureau agreed on the Terms of Reference for the Independent Review at its meetings of 18 June 2020 and 1st July 2020 and selected three persons namely, Mrs. Mary Robinson, Mr. Hassan B. Jallow and Mr. Leonard F. McCarthy to constitutea High-Level Panel of Independent Experts to conduct the said Review – individuals with unquestionable experience, high international reputation and professional integrity. The panel will be chaired by Mrs. Robinson.

Equally, 
ITREALMS recollects that Mrs. Mary Robinson is a Barrister by profession and is a former President of the Republic of Ireland. She was also the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She, among other numerous global and national responsibilities, is the Chairperson of the Elders, a global body of wise persons concerned about the wellbeing of the world.

Justice Hassan B. Jallow is a former Attorney General (https://bit.ly/3irnkEb) and Minister of Justice (https://bit.ly/2VGG5K7) of the Republic of the Gambia as well as a former Justice of the Supreme Court of the Gambia (https://bit.ly/3irnxXZ). In 2003 he was appointed as a Judge of the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (https://bit.ly/2YSr75N) and later that year as the Prosecutor of the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). On 5 February 2017, Justice Jallow was sworn-in as the Chief Justice of the Gambia.

Leonard F. McCarthy is a former Director of Public Prosecutions, a former Director for the Office of Serious Economic Offences, and a former Head of the Directorate of Special Operations of South Africa. He served as the Integrity Vice President of the World Bank for nine years. Mr. McCarthy is currently the President of LFMcCarthy Associates, Inc., an integrity risk management company based in Washington, D.C, USA.

Further, the panel is expected to submit its report to the Bureau within a period of two to four weeks maximum.

“The Bureau expresses its utmost trust and confidence in the Panel’s ability to successfully carry out this important assignment and reaffirms its commitment to fully assisting the Panel in the process,” the communique signed by the Bureau chairperson, Ms. Niale KABA, Governor for Côte d’Ivoire; First Vice Chairperson, Mr. Christian ASINELLI, Alternate Governor for Argentina, and Second Vice Chairperson, Mr. Penda ITHINDI, Temporary Governor for Namibia.

Chuks Egbune/DoP

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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

FG hikes fuel pump price - ITREALMS

ITREALMS:

The Federal Government (FG) has hiked the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol to N143.80 per litre, reports ITREALMS.

Disclosing this through the the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) on Wednesday, FG said a new price between N140.80 to N143.80 per litre would apply for petrol with effect from this month.

The agency, in a circular dated July 1, 2020 to marketers, said:

“After a review of the prevailing market fundamentals in the month of June and considering marketers’ realistic operating costs, as much as practicable, we wish to advise a new PMS pump price band of N140.80-N143.80 per litre for the month of July 2020.

“All marketers are advised to operate within the indicative prices as advised by the PPPRA.”

This is coming as Nigerians lamented that barely four months of lockdown, that the federal government maliciously wicked by introducing any increase in oil at this time instead of bailout and palliatives.

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FIRS: Making stamp duty, new black gold - ITREALMS

Commentary@ITREALMS:

This matter of making the Stamp Duty (and by implication tax revenue) the next black gold has occupied my mind even long before I was appointed the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service. 


I have thought that given the way the Nigerian economy has been experiencing some difficulties due to unpredictable shocks in the competitive international oil market, it would be economically wise that the country begins to activate its latent tax potentials such as the stamp duty which has long been neglected. For me, the key to Nigeria's economic prosperity is the tax revenue driven by Stamp Duties in the face of dwindling oil revenue.

Although, the Stamp Duty Act has been in place since 1939, not much attention is paid to it. Yet, if properly harnessed and administered it can be a goose that will lay the golden egg for the Federal Government. My optimism stems from the fact that Stamp Duty has the potential to yield tax revenue in the region of trillions of naira per annum. For instance, after we carried out an analysis of transactions in the banking sector, we discovered that in 2019 alone the total volume of transactions both chargeable and non-chargeable was over N52 billion of which the total value of transactions was over N613 trillion. If you compute N50 Stamp Duty on the chargeable transactions, of course, your guess is as good as mine. Presently, feelers from certain quarters have it that if the records of stamp duties on chargeable transactions from the year 2000 to present were to be scrutinised it would be discovered that trillions of unremitted stamp duty revenue are realisable.

Thus, I feel excited when recently the President and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Inter-ministerial Committee on the Audit and Recovery of Back Year Stamp Duties. This is an important step towards diversifying the Nigerian economy.

It is obvious that oil revenue has contributed greatly to the various infrastructural developments so far achieved in the country. These developments are noticeable in all sectors of the economy, and they are too many to be accounted for in this short piece. Yet, despite this seeming developmental leap, Nigeria has progressively slid into an import dependent economy from its prime position as an export economy prior to the discovery of oil in 1958.

For me, therefore, it is reassuring that Stamp Duty is an enduring tax type that can withstand any economic shocks because of the varied instruments on which it can be charged. The table below highlights the various instruments on which the Stamp Duty is payable.




In addition to these instruments, any electronic receipt or electronic transfer, money deposited in any bank or with any banker or any type of account of an amount from N10,000 upwards shall attract a singular or one-off duty of the sum of N50. In the same way, Stamp Duty is payable on receipt (written, printed or in electronic form) for transactions or between corporate bodies or between a Corporate body and an individual, group or body of individuals, which value amounts to N10,000 and above.

This then is the hub of my optimism about making the Stamp Duty the next black gold for the Federal Government. Of course, this is not without its challenges. However, I am upbeat that my team and I are poised to scale the huddles, and to, as a matter of national interest and patriotic zeal, ensure that tax revenue, in deed, the Stamp Duty becomes the next black gold.



*Contributed by Muhammad, Nami, Executive Chairman,

Federal Inland Revenue Service.

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