Public servants in Rivers State have been advised not to enter into loan transactions with any organisation without clearance and authorisation with the Office of the Head of Service.
Head of Service, Barr Samuel LongJohn gave the advice last Friday in his office in Port Harcourt while receiving a report from a committee set up to verify the status of the Unique Port Harcourt Civil Servants Cooperative Investment and Credit Society Limited in respect of loans purportedly granted to civil servants for the purchase of plots of land situated at Aluu in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the State.
He said a circular had already been issued to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on the patronage of loan facilitators, noting that the directive became necessary due to numerous complaints from civil servants over unwholesome deductions made from their salaries.
Barr LongJohn said that based on the report of thecommittee which discovered gross irregularities in the operations and activities of the Unique Cooperative Society, a meeting of civil servants involved in the transaction would be convened to give them the opportunity to indicate their interest to either get a refund of monies deducted from their salaries or continue with the deal at their own risk.
He disclosed that following petitions by concerned civil servants on the loan deal, a directive was issued to the Accountant-General that further deductions be paid into an escrow account pending the outcome of the Committee, stressing that since the deal involved the salaries of workers, it was expedient that due diligence be carried out as well as ensure that deductions are in line with extant Civil Service Rules which stipulates that deductions from workers salaries should not exceed 33 percent of their income.
The Head of Service thanked members of the committee for doing a thorough job and promised to implement their recommendations.
Earlier while presenting the report, the Chairman of the committee, Barr Rufus Godwins said after a painstaking investigation of the operations of the Unique Cooperative Society, it was discovered that the activities of the organisation were illegal since the provisions of section 33 of the Cooperative Societies Law of Rivers State prohibits Cooperative Societies from granting loans to persons outside their membership.
Barr Godwins, who is also the Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, further noted that the cooperative society failed to furnish the committee with evidence of a sale of land agreement between it and the land owners nor tendered any document to show the grant of any loan facility by Ecobank or any other bank for the provision of loans to civil servants, adding that although the cooperative society showed evidence of a part payment of N14 million to the land owners through one Barr Okachi Ordu, the document did not indicate the total cost of the land, the outstanding balance and number of plots of land covered by the transaction.
Based on these findings, the committee described the operations of the cooperative society as ‘utterly irregular.’ “The committee finds that the purported loan and sale of land transaction between the cooperative society and some civil servants, even if well intentioned, is utterly irregular and has not crystallised into the desired advantage of the civil servants concerned. This is because there is no evidence before the committee that any civil servant who has signed the loan agreement with the cooperative society has so far benefitted from either the loan, or the allocation of land as promised by the cooperative society”, the chairman noted.
The Committee therefore recommended that the operations of the Cooperative society, including its purported loan scheme and the resultant salary deductions from Civil Servants be suspended pending the regularization of their operations and activities in accordance with the Cooperative Societies Law of Rivers State, Cap 33 of 1999.
It also recommended that the Principal Officers of the cooperative Society be cautioned against venturing into such programmes without proper knowledge of the workings and operations of such scheme and condemned the leadership of the Cooperative Society for the use of negative publicity and campaign of calumny against the Office of the Head of Service and the resentment of the assignment of the Committee.
The nine member committee, inaugurated by the Head of Service in June 2013, comprised representatives of the Surveyor General, the Director Treasury, the General Manager of the Rivers State Housing and Property Development Authority, the Chairman and Secretary of the Unique Cooperative Society, the State Chairman of the Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Emecheta Chukwu, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor, Mr. Eddy Oloko, who represented the interest of beneficiaries, and Mr Brown Whyte, who served as Secretary.
Of recent, there has been a proliferation of organizations which claim to offer sundry services including loans, equipment of all kinds and household items which has resulted into huge deductions from salaries of civil servants who entered into such arrangements that sometimes violate the provisions of the Civil Service Rules.
Traders Protest FG’s Move To Restore Festac Town
The move by the Federal Government to restore Festac Town in Lagos to its original status has sparked up protest among traders occupying Agboju Amuwo Planks and Building Materials Market.
The traders on Wednesday, protested at the FHA office in Festac Town against the demolition of their market, following the demolition of illegal structures by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) ahead of the restoration.
The Tide recalls that there was a petition to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, in 2020 about illegal structures that had taken over Festac Town.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the restoration of Festac town organised by FHA, last year, its South-West Zonal Manager, Mr Akintola Olagbemiro, said, “This year, we commenced the restoration of Festac town, following the consent judgement from the court against illegal occupants of Festac land.
“Our action is to save the residents from the insecurity that has taken over the entire Festac town as a result of illegal structures everywhere”.
The chairman of allottees of First Gate to Third Gate, Mr Kole Olatunji, in his remarks at the meeting said the land from First Gate to Third Gate was allocated between 1985 and 1999, noting that with the consent judgment, original owners of the land as allocated should take over their plots.
But the chairman of plank market, Muhammed Bello, protested the seven-day notice given to traders to vacate the place without alternative arrangements.
Bello said: “How do they expect us to remove our wares in seven days?
“What we want is that they should allow us to remain there and we will pay whatever amount they ask us to pay”.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of Cane Chair and Furniture Association, Emmanuel Okoye said: “We need freedom. Let them tell us where they want us to stay. That place was swampy. We filled the place with several millions of Naira which we got as loans.
“We also rely on loans to do our business. Whatever the government wants us to pay; we are ready to pay to remain there. We have been there for 27 years. What we lost to the demolition is over N300 million”.
Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills Five, Injures Two In Ogun
No fewer than five persons were on Wednesday burnt to death, while two others sustained first degree of injury in a fuel tanker explosion at Ajilete, along Owode-Idiroko road, in Yewa South local government area of Ogun State.
Eyewitness accounts revealed that a truck bearing 33,000 litres of petroleum product was descending the steep portion of the road when its tank suddenly detached from truck’s body and tumbled to the ground with a bang.
The explosion, the witnesses said, killed five persons on the spot, while two other persons were injured.
The Tide learnt that the seven victims were all residents of the area where the accident occurred.
Confirming the incident, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Commander, Idiroko Unit, Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, said five deaths were recorded in the accident which occurred at about 8.15 am on Wednesday.
According to him, the remains of the dead had been claimed by their families.
He disclosed that a bus and a motorcycle were also caught in a web of the explosion and razed.
He said, “no vehicle rammed into the tanker. The tank dropped off from the back of the tanker and exploded. The number of persons involved are seven; five dead, two injured.
“The driver had taken away the head of the truck as at the time we got there. But we have allowed the police to take charge and handle that aspect”.
Travellers To Access $4,000 As CBN Boosts Forex Supplies
Nigerians travelling abroad can now access a maximum amount of $4,000 foreign exchange from banks following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement to increase forex supplies.
The CBN had said in a recent statement that it had concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet legitimate needs.
This followed the warning by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to Deposit Money Banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
The purposes to access forex included Personal Travel Allowance, Basic Travel Allowance, tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment proceeds, the CBN had stated.
Sources from some of the banks said those travelling on business trips could also access a maximum amount of $5,000 for each trip.
At a virtual Bankers’ Committee meeting last week, the bankers discussed how the CBN intended to assist with forex to ensure availability for the upcoming summer period and the return of students to school in September.
The CBN also said the BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations.
The committee observed that the rates were going up.
It stated, “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market.
“So what the Central Bank is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times, and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank.
“And what we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the Central Bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down”.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said, “I think again as part of the Central Bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses”.
The Managing Director, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan, said, “All banks are available to ensure forex need is met.”
Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.
- City Crime5 days ago
10 Offenders Convicted Under Anti-Piracy Law – NIMASA DG
- Politics5 days ago
NUJ Hails Wike As Pride Of Democracy In Nigeria
- Politics5 days ago
PDP Rep Harps On Justice, Dialogue To Secure Nigeria
- Politics5 days ago
Ex-APC National Chairman Tasks Party On Responsive Leadership
- Politics5 days ago
‘No Man Would Have Done What Wike Has Done’
- News5 days ago
Etche Diaspora Donates Equipment To Six Hospitals
- Sports5 days ago
Is Musa’s Super Eagles Career Fading?
- Politics5 days ago
Makinde Denies APC Defection Rumours