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INEC Deploys 108 Staff For Imo Guber Poll, Today



No fewer than 108 staff of Independent Nationa Electoral Commission (INEC) from Enugu State will be deployed for the conduct of the Imo governorship supplementary election rescheduled to hold, today.

Mr Josiah Uwazuruonye, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu State told newsmen yesterday in Enugu that the directive came from INEC headquarters in Abuja.

Uwazuruonye said: “As a result of what happened in the country concerning youth corps members, most of them are no longer eager to continue  as ad-hoc staff in respect of the election.

“Most of them still nurse the morbid fear that what happened in the North might also be extended to them in the East.

“INEC does not want to take chances in case we do not have full complement of corps members.

“We were given directive to deploy our competent staff to conduct the supplementary election in Imo State.’’

“If the situation arises where the corpers are not eager to participate, so INEC can as well make use of its staff.

“That is why staff from Enugu and other neighbouring states are being invited to report at Owerri for the exercise, if we do not have full complement of corps members to take part in the supplementary election.’’

The REC said that deployment of the staff to different local government areas in Imo rested solely on the INEC office in Owerri.

Uwazuruonye, however, enjoined INEC staff in Enugu State to live up to expectations and replicate a peaceful election just as they did in Enugu.

“We conducted a peaceful election in Enugu State. They should go and showcase that thing they did in Enugu,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman in Imo State, Chief Eze Duruiheoma, said yesterday that the governorship position in the state was still open.

“The party is working hard to retain it,” Duruiheoma further said in an interview with newsmen in Owerri.

The chairman was speaking on the party’s level of preparedness for the May 6 supplementary governorship election in four local government areas and a ward in the state.

“The governorship position in Imo is still open and that is why all hands are on deck for PDP to win the seat,” Duruiheoma said.

He added that the party was fully prepared for the exercise, adding that the resolve by INEC to organise the supplementary election in the affected areas was at the behest of the party.

“The decision for a supplementary election was canvassed by PDP.

“We demanded for an election in local government areas where it did not take place and that is what democracy is all about.

“You cannot say that a local government like Ngor Okpuala with 70,000 registered voters does not have a say.

“So, we canvassed that election must be conducted in the area. Good a thing, the INEC listened to the voice of reason,” Duruiheoma said.

He said the party could not have been ill-prepared for the supplementary election when its members demanded for it.

He further explained that as a law-abiding party, PDP would accept the result of the governorship election, provided it satisfied the basic requirements of the Electoral Act.

“PDP is a law-abiding party, we believe in due process, we believe in legal process and the rule of law.

“So, if the outcome of the election satisfies all these beliefs of ours, we will happily accept the result,” Duruiheoma said.

He argued that PDP remained the most popular political party in the state, adding that it acquitted itself creditably in the presidential, national and state assembly elections in the state.

The chairman said that the party won the majority of seats allotted to the state in the National Assembly and won 15 seats out of the 27 House of Assembly seats in the results already declared by INEC.

Duruiheoma described as “unfortunate” the protest by some APGA supporters, who demanded the release of the governorship results, shortly after the Collation Officer, Prof. Enoch Akobundu, declared the election inconclusive.

“”The action was unfortunate and antithetical to democracy,” he said.

He said that it was wrong for anybody or group to pre-empt the result of an election that was yet to be concluded.

He described the violent protest and threat to the peace in Owerri, the state capital, by some youths, who threatened to burn down houses of some prominent politicians in the state as “unnecessary”.

“It is not necessary to resort to violence. Four years are not eternity.

“And, of course, we are all qualified to govern Imo but the person that will govern the state is already ordained by God,” he said.

He argued that even though “there are people we wished to be winners of the election, we should not elevate our wishes that it must come through.”

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” Duruiheoma said.

He also took a swipe at “any leader that encourages that type of attitude,” saying that such a person “is doing a great disservice to the people of the state.

“Every candidate contested to win, you do not have to proclaim yourself a winner.

“This is very wrong,” he said, while appealing for calm and restraint by politicians ahead of the outstanding polls.

In a related development, INEC says it has put everything in place to ensure that the supplementary governorship and State House of Assembly elections in some parts of Imo today are free, fair and credible.

The new Supervisory Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the State, Mr Aniedi Ikoiwak, gave the assurance in Owerri on Wednesday.

Ikoiwak addressed a meeting with representatives of the participating parties, security agencies and other stakeholders.

It will be recalled that INEC ordered the supplementary polls in four local government areas and a ward in Imo because the April 26 elections in the state were inconclusive.

“We are here to conduct elections in Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Mbaitoli and Ngor Okpala local government areas as well as Orji Ward in Owerri North Local Government area and we have set upon ourselves to do just that.

“It is not our duty to elect who should govern the state or represent the people; it is the duty of the Imo electorate to do that”, he said.

Ikoiwak said that to ensure a level playing field for all the parties, the commission had drafted four new RECs, national commissioners, electoral officers, collation officers and Returning officers to organise the elections.

He appealed to the candidates to caution their supporters against violence during the exercise, adding, “INEC alone cannot make the election credible; we need the support of everyone to succeed.”

He noted that some youths lost their lives in the course of the general elections, saying that such people paid the supreme sacrifice for the sustenance of democracy in the country.

“Their death is enough for us to agree that there will be no more bloodshed during elections,” he said.

The supervisory REC told the parties that materials for the elections would arrive in the state yesterday and that their representatives would be invited to inspect them.

He restated that the parties were allowed to be represented by only one agent in a polling unit during the elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, also gave the assurance that the today’s rescheduled polls would be free, fair and credible.

Jega, represented by a National Commissioner in INEC, Mr Ishmael Igbani, said the commission attached importance to the supplementary election in Imo.

The Commissioner of Police in charge of election in the state, Mr Tambori Mohammed, said security agencies were fully prepared to ensure security before, during and after the elections.

Mohammed warned that any person caught violating the electoral laws would be arrested and prosecuted, no matter how highly placed.

Heads of security agencies, party chieftains, APGA governorship candidate, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and PDP Chairman in the state, Mr Eze Duruiheoma (SAN) attended the meeting.

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Foreign Exchange Inflow Falls To $4.97bn



Foreign exchange inflow into the economy fell by 59.8 per cent in April according to figures obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) monthly report on ‘Foreign exchange flows through the economy’.
Part of the report read, ‘Aggregate foreign exchange inflow into the economy declined sharply, reflecting tepid global economic recovery, which undermined foreign trade and capital flows across countries, despite the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
“Foreign exchange inflow through the economy dropped by 59.8 per cent to $4.97bn in April 2021.
“The decrease was attributed, largely, to a sharp decline in autonomous inflow, particularly invisible purchases and official non-oil receipts, which declined by 63.1 per cent and 75.2 per cent, to $2.95bn and $0.81bn, respectively, in April 2021.”
According to the report, a breakdown of activities showed that foreign exchange inflow through the CBN was $1.66bn in April 2021, a decrease of 55.8 per cent below the $3.76bn in March 2021.
It added that inflow through autonomous sources, at $3.31bn in April 2021, was 61.6 per cent below the level in March 2021.
The CBN also said that aggregate foreign exchange outflow through the economy fell by 13.7 per cent in April 2021.
Aggregate foreign exchange outflow through the economy fell by 13.7 per cent to $2.74bn, below the $3.18bn in the preceding month.
Outflow through the CBN declined by 10.4 per cent to $2.58bn, compared with the $2.88bn in the preceding month, due largely to the bank’s policy on foreign exchange market.
It added that outflow through autonomous sources, at $0.16bn, decreased by 46.0 per cent in April 2021, compared with March 2021.
Overall, it said, the country recorded a lower net inflow of $2.23bn in April 2021, compared with a net inflow of $9.19bn in the preceding month.

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NNPC Denies Funding 2019 Elections With Oil Traders’ Bribes



The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has  reacted to an allegation that fees that trading firms paid agents to win oil contracts from the corporation might have raised funds for the country’s past two elections.
Nigeria’s past two general elections held in 2015 and 2019.
The contest for the presidential seat was mainly between ex-President Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, while it was between Buhari and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar in 2019.
Buhari was declared winner in the two elections.
Citing lawsuits in London and New York, Bloomberg had reported last Friday that an ex-BP Plc oil trader alleged that cargo allocations by the NNPC could have contributed to preparations for general elections in 2019.
The report said a former Glencore Plc employee in July admitted paying a middleman $300,000 to secure a crude shipment from the NNPC, understanding the money would be spent on the nationwide election that took place four years earlier.
The NNPC, through its Direct Sale of Crude Oil and Direct Purchase of Petroleum Product scheme, awards contracts that allow companies, including international trading houses and indigenous firms, to lift crude oil in return for the delivery and supply of petroleum products. The contracts are usually for one year. 
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr Garba-Deen Muhammad, has, however, refuted the allegation.
“[It’s] not true, and I think that is obvious if you read the story with an open mind,” he said via a text message to a national daily. 
Jonathan Zarembok, who left BP’s West Africa desk last year, was quoted as saying in the suit that he suspected that fees paid by the United Kingdom energy giant to obtain NNPC contracts would go toward the 2019 elections.
He filed an employment claim against BP, alleging that he was fired for raising concerns about the large sums being transferred to intermediaries to win business in Nigeria.
Zarembok was quoted as saying in a witness statement made public this month that emails sent in 2017 by a BP executive in Nigeria were a “clear red flag” and implied “there would be pressure to pay bribes”.
According to Bloomberg, the emails discussed how preparations for elections would get underway in 2018.
“We understand what that means,” the executive wrote.
He said the company then wired $900,000 in fees to a local agent after securing two oil cargoes from NNPC.
“BP is defending in full and denies all allegations made by the claimant,” Bloomberg quoted the company as saying in a statement.
It said BP declined further comment while Zarembok’s case at a London employment tribunal continues.
The report noted that similar details emerged two months ago, when Anthony Stimler, who left Glencore in 2019, pleaded guilty to corruption and money-laundering charges.
It said Stimler was notified in September 2014 that “Foreign Official 1” was asking all NNPC clients to pay an advance on each cargo “in connection with a then-upcoming political election,” according to US court filings.
He then had Glencore wire $300,000 to an intermediary company, which prosecutors said was used “to pay bribes to Nigerian officials.”
US prosecutors outlined how Stimler and others paid bribes worth millions of dollars in several countries, including to NNPC officials, between 2007 and 2018, according to the report.

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VAT War: PNG Backs Southern Govs -Says It’s Part Of Restructuring



The Convener of Pro-Nigeria, Mr. Lai Omotola, has broken silence on the Value Added Tax (VAT) war currently going on between the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and five southern states. 
The five southern states include Rivers, Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, and Akwa-Ibom states.
From the time a Federal High Court in Portharcourt gave a ruling that state governments, and not the FIRS, have the constitutional power to collect VAT, the Rivers State and Lagos State had quickly passed bills authorising the states to collect VAT.
Reacting to the development, Omotola, in a statement, said that PNG was in full support of states collecting VAT.
“We in PNG support the development and the subsequent stand by Lagos State and Rivers State in creating a law to enable their states to collect VAT. Others who have joined in the bid are states like Ogun, Ekiti and Akwa-Ibom states.
“This is a welcome development because we feel that it is lawful and it is in sync with the intention of our founding fathers that every state should be collecting VAT.
 “It will also show fiscal restructuring towards economic development and at the end, Nigeria as a country will be better for it”, PNG posited.
The group also condemned the reception given by President Muhammadu Buhari to the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode at the Presidential Villa following the defection of the latter to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), recently.
According to Omotola, the President should show reason why Nigeria should still believe in his fight against corruption and believe him as the upholder of basic morals on the account of his red carpet reception to Femi-FaniKayode at the Presidential Villa. 
“Our concern is that this same man is currently having a battle with the Nigerian state via the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on corruption charges.
“Although the law states that one is innocent until proven guilty, it is morally unjust for a President to receive with a red carpet and stand beside a person against whom the EFCC has established a case, stating unequivocally that he had defrauded Nigeria; and the same matter is still in court; therefore, to now see him being honoured by the President has thrown hope for this country into the wind”, the statement added.

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