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N8.3bn Scam: Minister, Others Under Probe

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Application of public funds in the on-going U-17 World Cup tagged: ‘Nigeria 2009’ are reportedly receiving the attention of relevant anti-corruption agencies in the country, even though spending is still being done on the project.

The controversial N8.2 billion contract for the upgrading of the Nigeria Television Authorities (NTA) facilities for the coverage of the competition, was said to have compelled the commencement of the probe, following public outcry on perceived underhand dealings in the award of the contract.

The contract was awarded to a United Kingdom-based company, Well Trade Services (WTS), in partnership with Sony Group, by a minister (names withheld), following an approval by the Federal Executive Council on July 15, 2009.

Checks revealed that the probe was multi-dimensional because of different angles to the contracts awarded for the competition, considering that the handling of funds approved for the competition by the Local Organising Committee, has also been a subject of probe.

The committee had been accused of frivolous spending, with about N40 million said to have been expended on biscuits and soft drinks. A source who preferred anonymity, revealed that given the proactive nature of some of the probing agencies, there might not be any need for petitions to be written against the minister and other public officers before investigations were launched into their activities, especially when there were compelling evidences to look into such matters.

The international dimension to the equipment upgrade contract was said to have been responsible for the early start into the investigation, since it was taken that it would take a relatively longer time to get all the facts in the matter.

It was also learnt that the early start was to make sure that facts gathering had gone far before the completion of the competition and the expected audit of the finances that would go into it by all the relevant agencies.

It was further gathered that the probe became compelling after it was discovered that South Africa, which is hosting the senior World Cup in 2010, paid about N2 billion less for brand new equipment.

Those involved are expected to provide answers to some riddles in the project, especially having to pay more for renovation, even when the said upgrade was said to be almost useless for the configuration NTA was having in place now.

Another issue is the late or non-delivery of the equipment contracted to WTS when the competition was almost ended and why the contract was not awarded directly to Sony, which would supply new kits at a lower cost of 20 per cent less than what was agreed with WTS.

With the broadcast right eventually going to AIT, those involved would also be expected to explain why the contract was still awarded, since FIFA made it known early enough that AIT came tops in its assessment. The contract awarded by the Nigerian government was to “Renovate from SD to HD 6 x 12 Camera HD OB van for £25,777,571.24; renovate from SD to HD 6 x 2 Camera HD SNG van for £4,389,798.89; renovate and upgrade 1 x IBC for £1,952,722.26, with the total project costing £32,120,092.39.

The total value in the nation’s currency amounted to N8, 351,224,022, (Eight billion, three hundred and fifty one million, two hundred and twenty-four thousand, twenty-two naira), with the currency exchange put at N260 to one British pound.

Government-owned South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), on September 9, 2008, signed an agreement with Sony for 380 million rand (about N6.3 billion), to supply brand new OB vans to broadcast the 2009 Confederation Cup and 2010 Soccer World Cup in High-Definition (HD).

The specifications of the OB vans supplied for the World Cup were far superior to that of NTA and were as follows: Four new OB vans. Identically- specified, each 30-ton vehicle is equipped with 18 cameras, and wired for 24, including 3 super-slo HD cameras. The interior is divided into four main areas; production, sound, video tape area (VT) ; and vision control.

Another grey area in the Nigerian contract is that though, Sony also bid for the direct supply to the NTA at a lower cost, the ministry allegedly decided to award the contract to WTS , which would in turn, buy the equipment from Sony.

A source noted that “the prices quoted by them (WTS) were for renovation as stated on the approved budget and quotation. Also, Sony on its own part, quoted directly to NTA for the same project. However, the same Sony Broadcast, which WTS claimed to be partnering, in quoting directly for the same project, refused to provide NTA a quote for renovation, as they believed that there was no value in renovating the present facilities.

Instead, Sony provided a cheaper quote for brand new equipment to NTA.”

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2023: CAN Pushes For Christian President, Self-Defence

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The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) has said that the next President should be a Christian to ensure balance in leadership.
YOWICAN also said rotation of the office of the President will promote equity, unity and peace.
The youths further protested the activities of bandits and kidnappers, threatening to resort to self-defence if nothing is urgently done by the government.
They warned bandits and kidnappers to desist from perpetrating evil and put a stop to the ongoing kidnappings and killings.
The Christian association also pledged collaboration with Muslims and Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) towards peace building.
These were contained in a communiqué at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of YOWICAN and read by its National President, Belusochukwu Enwere.
Enwere said, “The next President should come 2023 should be a Christian because the present administration, the president is a Muslim and so the President should rotate amongst the Christians and Muslims so that there will be balance in the leadership of Nigeria.
“We have competent Christian leaders who can represent and manage the affairs of this country. We urge our leaders to fully participate in politics so that we can produce a good president for Nigeria.
“As such the emergence of a Christian and youthful President come 2023 will be a true expression of equity, fairness and justice for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“That YOWICAN shall continue to collaborate and work in concert with brothers from the Muslim faith to pursue the desired peace, unity and progress of the nation; and more particularly under the auspices of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC),” the group said.
“YOWICAN decries the increasing rate of insecurity in Nigeria, yet commends the efforts of government and security agencies in combating the nefarious activities of bandits, killer herdsmen, insurgents etc.
“YOWICAN in the performance of Christian tenets and faith believes strongly in peaceful coexistence, but this piety should not be construed as cowardice, therefore kidnappers, bandits, killer herdsmen, terrorists and unknown gun men should not push Christian youths to the extreme, such as to make them consider deploying self defence strategies as the last option,” Enwere said.
According to him, despite the efforts so far made in combating crime, YOWICAN observes the urgent need to curb the rising wave of attacks, killings, destruction of lives, properties, farmlands and livelihood of innocent citizens within the Northern states, and specifically within Christian communities in Southern Kaduna.
The CAN youths demanded the immediate release of all abductees and particularly the students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna State, who have been in captivity.
The NEC meeting held at the National Christian Centre on Saturday was attended by National Executive Members, Zonal Leaders, State Leaders (drawn from the 36 States of the Federation plus the FCT) and representatives from the Blocs/denominations under CAN.

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Clamping Down On Agitators Can Fuel National Crisis -OPC

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The Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) has advised the Federal Government against clamping down on agitators for self-determination, warning that such could lead to a national crisis.
OPC said this in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin, weeks after the raid on the residence of Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), during which two persons were killed.
The statement also followed Igboho’s arrest in the Republic of Benin after he was declared wanted by the DSS.
In the statement, the group “flayed Federal Government’s approach in Igboho’s ordeals, maintaining that the use and application of force on self-determination agitators has only justified Federal Government’s lack of respect for human rights and intolerance to the views of others.”
The group described the “treatment meted out to Igboho in Nigeria and also in Cotonou as very unpleasant, insisting that Federal Government ought to know that the citizens have rights and that such rights must be protected under the law.”
Oguntimehin said, “Unfolding events have shown that there are lapses in the way the Federal Government handles cases of self-determination agitators like Sunday Igboho, and I will like to state it clearly that the Federal Government must desist from clamping down on self-determination agitators because such move can only fuel national crisis.”
The publicity secretary urged the Republic of Benin to be fair with Igboho as he revealed that the rights activist will be facing immigration-related offences in the country, adding that he can also seek asylum to ensure his safety.
He warned against having Igboho brought back to Nigeria the way the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, was brought back from Kenya.
He said, “The Federal Government has been silent on the extradition order because it might trigger more crisis. You cannot treat Igboho the Nnamdi Kanu way, it would not work, so I am appealing to the Federal Government to learn from history and ensure that the fundamental human rights of the citizens are protected in such a way that we can begin to appreciate the fact that we truly follow the tenets of democracy.”
The statement said Nigeria and the Republic of Benin have no extradition agreement, adding that Nigeria has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
Oguntimehin said, “What Federal Government came up with were mere allegations against Ighoho such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence and the Government of Benin Republic had considered all that to be untenable and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“The case has been adjourned till Monday, July 26 to allow the Federal Government bring up whatever evidence they may have, and Mr. lgboho has been taken back to the police custody.”
He pointed out that the rights activist had been peaceful with his agitation, as he urged traditional leaders not to ignore him at his trying time.

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Nasarawa Monarchs Console Odili Over Brother’s Death

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The Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers has commiserated with former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili over the death of his elder brother, Chief Fidelis Obi Odili.
The Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers and Emir of Lafia, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad 1 (rtd), said monarchs and people of his state were saddened by the bereavement of the Odili family.
The Emir, who was accompanied by the Andoma of Domia, Alhaji Ahmaou Aliyu; and the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State, Engineer Emeka Woke, stated this during a condolence visit to Odili in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He described Odili as a very generous, hospitable personality and one of the best leaders that Nigeria has produced.
To this end, he declared that whatever affects him (Odili), affects people all over the country.
“We have come here to commiserate with you, to pass our condolences to you on behalf of all of our people, the people of Nasarawa State and our respective kingdoms.
“As one of the elders of this nation, very respectful elder of this nation, anything that affects you, will touch us, will affect us. We ask you to take heart.”
He further added, “You’re one of the best we have in this country. You’re very generous, hospitable. Your Excellency, not because you’re here, this is a statement of fact. You’re one of the best that this country has produced.”
The Emir of Lafia, prayed God to grant the Odili’s family the fortitude to bear the loss of their beloved one.
He also urged God to continue to keep Odili in good health so that he’ll continue all the good works that he has been doing and will continue to do for the nation.
“On behalf of all the chiefs that are not here, we commiserate with you”, he said.
Responding, the former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, said he felt honoured by the condolence visit and words of encouragement by the Emir of Lafia.
“I can’t find words appropriate to thank you for this consoling honour.”
Odili said he felt elated by the kind gesture of the Emir of Lafia.
According to him, the visit has further demonstrated the importance the Emir attaches to his relationship with the people of Rivers State.
“You’ve come with your colleague to pay this condolence visit, which was totally unplanned and unscheduled. But, like they say, people make out time for what they consider important.
“We feel honoured by your gesture, and so, we want to thank you and your colleague for this rare honour and for your kind words. Your friendship with our state goes back in history.
“Your new position in Nasarawa State has not altered it, rather it has strengthened it”, Odili added.

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